Every year at Christmastime, we head into Chicago for a weekend on the town. It is something that we all look forward to and is a great way to start the holiday season.
Lincoln Park Zoo Lights- This year, our ETA into the city was around 5pm, so we decided to check out the lights at Lincoln Park Zoo (the sun sets super early in Chicago this time of year, and for once, I appreciated the early sunset). Admission to the zoo is free, but you may want to bring along some money for the hot chocolate stands along the way or the mulled wine you can get to-go from the cafe by the pond.
There is also ice skating for a fee, but it may be worth it as it seems to be much more manageable with children than does skating downtown (read: no lines and a smaller rink). We all really enjoyed wandering around the zoo and taking in all of the different lights. I think our favorite display was the lights blinking along to various holiday songs.
Gemini Bistro- After about an hour, we decided to grab some dinner about 4 blocks up the street at my husband’s favorite pub, only to find it had changed ownership and was not serving food for another 45 minutes. So, we headed across the street to find something new… and LOVED it. The setting feels trendy (think marble-top bar), but there were also several tables with small children so we didn’t feel too out of place. We also found that there was a prix fixe menu (should you choose to go that way) just for people going to see the zoo lights.
It even included cookies and a coffee to go! Such a great idea!!!
Michigan Avenue- We drove up Michigan Avenue on our way to the hotel, and it was looking as magical as ever! The next day, we walked the Magnificent Mile with the children, stopping in several kid-friendly stores and window shopping at the others.
Really, there were so many children on Michigan Avenue that we did not feel in the way shopping there.
Maggie Daley Park– We have done this in the past but didn’t make it on this trip. Maggie Daley Park has it all. My kids really enjoyed the Play Garden when we were there, but there is also a Skating Ribbon and Climbing Wall that are on my list of things to check out the next time we are there.
West Egg Cafe- This is our favorite breakfast spot, especially when we are meeting up with friends in the city who also have children. On the past few occasions we have gone, we have received our own small room with a large round table that houses all of us, our coats, and our strollers. There is a door that is opened to the larger room, but it is nice to be somewhat isolated and not have to worry that we are disrupting someone else’s breakfast.
Home Alone House– Again, we didn’t squeeze this one in this year, but it is always fun to drive to the North Shore to check out the Home Alone house. If you are a family that perhaps has Home Alone on “in the background” from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, it is well worth the trip.
There are so many things to do around the holidays in Chicago that I almost feel like we should go back to fit a few more in before it is over! Next on the list are the Christkindlmarket (an open-air market derived from German and European traditions), the holiday windows at Macy’s on State Street, and breakfast at the Walnut Room.