’Tis the season to experience all the holiday magic in the Chicago area! Whether you’re looking for something to make your weekend festive or to keep your little ones occupied while school is out, the list has got you covered. There are so many family-friendly options available, so pack up the kiddos and even the grandparents and check out some of my top sections for holiday activities in the city. Most are outside, so make sure to bundle up!
Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo is a beloved Chicago holiday activity. The whole zoo is illuminated with a dazzling light display and other festive offerings! This is also an affordable event with tickets only costing $5 Tues-Sun and FREE on Mondays. They also offer several events through the season like a Sensory-Friendly Night and an Adults Night Out evening, too! Pro-tip: try to get parking away from the zoo as their lot becomes a madhouse. There are parking options not too far away on Spothero!
This is a great two-for-one, family-friendly experience! You can start at the Christkindlmarket right outside of Wrigley Field on Gallagher Way where they have a market full of vendors selling everything from hot cocoa and mulled mine to ornaments, gifts, donuts, toasted nuts, and so much more! There is also a carousel for the kids! After spending some time in the market, you can make your way INTO Wrigley Field to check out the Winterland! The Christkindlmarket is FREE to attend, but tickets for Winterland are $5 each (I recommend purchasing ahead) and are stored in the BallPark App (parking also available for purchase).
Once in the Friednly Confines, you make your way onto the actual field where it has been transformed into an amazing Winterland full of festival rides, ice skating, photo ops, ice slides, and even rentable chalets! You can also check out the Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago & Aurora! These experiences are open until January 8.
If you love the beloved Christmas tradition of seeing the Nutcracker Ballet, but have little ones who can’t sit through a ballet— this one is for you! The Immersive Nutcracker is an amazing immersive, visual experience in the LightHouse Art Space (home of the Immersive Van Gogh) that submerses you into the Nutcracker Ballet. It is a completely family-friendly show. There were kids of all ages playing and dancing while parents and family members watched on. This was such a unique experience that my whole family enjoyed! You can get tickets on select dates through January 8.
Another family favorite is the Jack Frost WinterFest! This pop-up comes to Goose Island every year and just keeps getting better and better (my photos are from 2021!) This year, they added ice slides to the already amazing line up of things to do like ice skating, countless photo ops, festival games, and so much more! Jack’s is open through December 31 and I recommend getting tickets before you go— popular time slots will sell out!