Midwest Christmas Tour

Winter in Chicago

Snow days and travel difficulties signal that winter has officially settled into the Midwest. People working on the Beach Cabin had trouble getting up the hill and even had to shovel their way in. (But just looks at this beautiful progress!)

Beach Cabin Renovation

For us, that means we are going to be hunkering down and taking advantage of all that the midwest has to offer as well as finding design inspiration along the way.

Grand Rapids-

Living in a place that inspired The Polar Express, we’d be remiss to not take advantage of more Chris VanAllsburg talent. He recently recreated the sets for The Nutcracker and they are amazing. This past performance of the Nutcracker at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids was one of the best I’ve seen (which is saying a lot because I’ve been in attendance most years since I was 10 year old).

If you are wondering where to get a bite to eat before or after the show, Butcher’s Union is a cozy Christmas stop. The food is spectacular and the decor is reminiscent of time spent in Chicago. Another cozy, small setting that we just recently discovered (even though it is in likely one the oldest buildings in Ada), is Nonna’s. It will take some planning as it is about 15 minutes from the theaters downtown but is worth the drive (and they do take reservations!). Both have beautiful decor and design (so much so that I forgot to take photos!)


We always try to do a December family trip to Chicago. During this trip, we stay close to or on Michigan Avenue. This year, we stayed here and had these breathtaking views of the Magnificent Mile. It is difficult not to be inspired by the Christmas lights and professional styling on this famous street.

Where to Stay in Chicago

(You can check out all of our best stops in this post.)

Winter in Chicago

This year, it was impossible not to take advantage of the 50 degree day, so Maggie Daley Park was the perfect match, stopping to watch the ice skating and, of course, checking out Cloud Gate. While Michigan winters are often cold and gray, Chicago winters seem to prefer more bright blue (but just as freezing) skies.

What to do in Chicago

The Macy’s Christmas windows on State Street were a short walk from the park. The trip wouldn’t be complete without a ride up the elevator to the 7 floor to check out the tree in The Walnut Room (maybe someday we will plan far enough in advance to actually eat at the restaurant). Clearly, experts are behind all of this holiday decor.

What to do in Chicago

What to do in Chicago

A perfect winter restaurant in Chicago is Gemini Chicago in Lincoln Park. The restaurant has  an excellent pre-fix menu specifically for the Lincoln Park Zoo lights (you can also order from the regular menu); it ends with three cookies and a to-go cup of your favorite hot beverage. The food is amazing and the children’s menu is impressive. We like to pretend that we are a city family and love seeing all of the other moms and dads enjoying a meal and conversation with their children in this trendy Lincoln Park restaurant. If you can’t make it out to Lincoln Park, we have also eaten at Carmine’s Restaurant on Rush, which is touristy but definitely gives you all of the good Christmas feels and hearty Chicago Italian meals. (Again! I need to improve my restaurant decoration shots.)

Where to Eat in Chicago


What to do in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is such a pleasant surprise! This renewed city is simply amazing. We spent some time in the Third Ward, checking out the Milwaukee Public Market where they were having an adorable gingerbread house contest. I’d model a home after this one…

We also checked out a delightfully festive rooftop bar, The Outsider. I’m assuming it is open air in the summer but is cleverly and cozily enclosed in the winter months…

Just look at the design and decor…

And also this gorgeous window box we saw on our way… #windowboxgoals

Even our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Milwaukee Downtown, displayed lovely and inspirational design…

What to do in Milwaukee

With its historical architecture and fitting decor, it is impressive that this hotel chain has incorporated a boutique feel.

What to do in Milwaukee

What to do in Milwaukee

What are your favorite Midwest Christmas Destinations/Traditions? Do any of these places correlate with your design style?

Midwest Christmas Tour

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4 thoughts on “Midwest Christmas Tour”

  1. Hope you had a lovely Christmas, Marta!! Great post, we’re heading to Chicago tomorrow so your suggestions are spot on 🙂

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