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k12lima Oct 16th, 2009 05:13 AM

Christmas week in Chicago - special sites?
Our family of 5 (dh, 2 18 yr old sons, 16 yr old daughter and me) have been to Chicago several times, but rarely during Christmas week. We are driving from Ohio and staying the 21st overnight, seeing the new Cirque de Soleil show on the 22nd, and heading back afterwards. We will have most of an entire day, and one Monday night, in the city.

What don't miss activities occur in Chicago during Christmas week? Right now all I have planned for that day/night is to shop and see some Christmas decorations. But I would love to hear some other ideas!



CAPH52 Oct 16th, 2009 08:09 AM

I would definitely suggest that you check out the Chriskindlmarket:

Citylghts Oct 16th, 2009 10:14 AM

I second the above recommendation. As for decorations, be sure to visit Field's/Macy's on State Street. You can view the great tree in the Walnut Room from the 8th floor. You'll wait in line forever to eat there and the meal will only be so-so. The Renaissance Hotel on Wacker and the Palmer House traditionally have gingerbread villages in their lobbies and the decorations at 900 N Michigan are nice.

The Museum of Science and Industry has an annual exhibit through January 4 called <i>Christmas Around the World</i> that features 50 trees decorated to represent various countries. Since the amount of time you have is so short, it probably won't fit into your schedule. Travel via the Number 6 (Jackson Park Express) bus is around 30-mins each way, plus the time you spend in the museum.

kvick Oct 16th, 2009 01:58 PM

Since you'll be there overnight, you should make it a point to take in the lights along the the Mag Mile after dark.

exiledprincess Oct 17th, 2009 12:06 PM

Karen, with such a really short time frame, I, too, wouldn't recommend going to the Museum of Science & Industry, as it would demand too much of a chunk of your time.

OK, I'm going to give you two totally different scenarios:
A. You stay in the touristy areas - lots to do there.
B. You go out into the outlying neighborhoods and explore - lots to do there as well.

The Cirque du Soleil show is not going to be more like their usual fare. From what I understand (as this is a brand new type of theatre entertainment for them), it's supposed to be like vaudeville.

"Banana Shpeel" is playing at the Chicago Theatre. This is practically at the corner of Randolph and State Street. In the immediate area:

You are literally 1/2 block north from the Macy's holiday windows and the Great Tree inside.

2 blocks NE from the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. Also at the Daley Plaza, they normally have local choirs/groups/schools singing holiday songs at noon ("Under the Picasso").

The Chicago Cultural Center is 1 1/2 blocks to the SE - check their calendar.

You might wish to go to Millennium Park (2 1/2 blocks to the SE) for ice skating - entrance is free but a charge for ice skates.

The Art Institute is 3 1/2 blocks to the SE, just south of Millennium Park. They normally have holiday offerings. If you haven't seen the new Modern Wing yet, please do so.

So, you are staying where? With five in your party, it would have to be a suite or two rooms because of the city's fire code restrictions. But assuming it's in the Loop ("downtown"), River North or Magnificent Mile....

For your evening here, what I'd recommend is that you go to the ZooLights Festival (5-9 p.m.) at the Lincoln Park Zoo. It is free and easily accessible via #151 NB CTA bus which can be picked up at stops on State Street, south of Madison, and on N. Michigan Avenue. As a nice little bonus, if you go a little earlier in the afternoon, you can stop in at the Lincoln Park Conservatory (closes at 5 p.m.) for their Winter Flower and Train Show. It is also free everyday.

Your shopping foray: Think about something different than the usual Michigan Avenue and State Street. There are several areas that have boutique shopping and entertainment as well - although you can find some interesting shops if you just get off of those two streets. For example, here is one that was transplanted from N. Southport (mentioned below): P.O.S.H. - See for information.

For examples of areas other than the Mag. Mile and State Street (I'll give you some examples and then expound on the last):

#1. Clybourn Corridor. And at North Ave. & N. Halsted Street, you are literally only blocks from...

#2. The Halsted-Armitage-Racine (DePaul University) area of the Lincoln Park neighborhood. (You go right past the Steppenwolf and Royal George Theatres on your way north from #1.)

#3. Wicker Park/Bucktown. See for more information.

#4. Lincoln Square. See for details.

#5 (N. Southport) & #6 (N. Broadway). The N. Southport Corridor in Lakeview. The N. Southport Corridor is anchored around the historic Music Box Theatre - which will be having their annual Christmas Sing-A-Long with Santa Double Feature (usually "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and "It's a Wonderful Life" with James Stewart and Donna Reed). BTW, you don't have to take in both movies - just one will do. The sing-a-long is during the intermission between. This is a special event and you might wish to get tickets in advance.

In addition, especially for the men in your group: You are very close to Wrigley Field (which is 5 blocks to the east on Addison) and right on N. Southport is Southport Lanes & Billiards (where the pins are still set by hand). If your group wanted to separate, you could easily meet up again at the Julius Meinl (Viennese coffehouse). (shows a list and map of shops there)

In fact, if you wanted to make a day of it on the north side:

For the slower, more scenic route: Take the #146 or #145 NB up to the Hawthorne Place bus stop (3 stops N of Belmont). Get off the bus and walk the l-o-n-g block west to N. Broadway. Turn to your left - and just walk south - numerous shops and restaurants from there to and past Belmont. If you want to go back up to Addison when you are through with exploring there - without the walking, just jump on the #36 NB, which stops at Addison. Here is my neighborhood's website which gives you some information about the restaurants and shops in the area:

BTW, I'm sure that you've seen me mention Intelligentsia Coffee and Pastoral: Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine before, if you've followed these forums. Their original locations are on N. Broadway, just south of Belmont.

If you didn't want to go that route, walk north to Addison and either pick up the #152 WB CTA bus - goes right past Wrigley Field, in case you wish to stop in that area - to N. Southport.

For the faster, less scenic route: Take the Red Line to either the Belmont or Addison stations. If you go to Belmont, you'd be on the south end of these suggestions - N. Broadway is 4 blocks east. If you go to the Addison station, N. Broadway is 4.5 blocks east - N. Southport 5 blocks west - the #152 goes right past either way. Easy, easy, easy.

To get to the ZooLights Festival from N. Southport: Take the #152 EB to Sheridan and then transfer to the #151 SB.

To get to the ZooLights Festival from N. Broadway (depends on the weather): Walk east to Sheridan, pick up the #151 SB to the LPZ. OR - Take the #36 SB - or if you have walked as far south as Diversey - take the #22 Clark SB. Broadway and Clark converge at Diversey, where both busses travel on Clark SB of that street. At Dickens or Webster on Clark, you are only 2.5-3 blocks west of the LPZ.

So, the day could be:
Shopping in one and/or more areas;
Taking in a holiday movie;
Getting a meal;
Perhaps going to the Lincoln Park Conservatory Winter Flower & Train Show; and
Going to the ZooLights Festival.

P.S. I hope you explore when you are here, even though you don't have a lot of time. Please don't limit yourself. I think you'll really enjoy it and be very pleased you did.

exiledprincess Oct 17th, 2009 12:11 PM

Oh, forgot the link for the ZooLights Festival:

lurker Oct 17th, 2009 02:44 PM

Wow, fabulous nformation and very detailed - thanks for the links! I will also be in that city near the Holidays!!

exiledprincess Oct 18th, 2009 05:47 AM

lurker, if you would be so kind as to post some details about your visit, there could be suggestions made for your own situation.

These suggestions were specifically made for a family with older children in mind. If you don't have any, or if you have a younger child or children, of course, the likelihood is that they would be different.

k12lima Oct 18th, 2009 06:49 AM

Wow, Princess... thanks soooo much! I will definitely study your suggestions and be able to come up with some new things for us to do. By the way, we are staying at a Doubleetree Suites on Ohio.

exiledprincess Oct 18th, 2009 03:05 PM

k12lima, you are very welcome. You don't have a lot of time on your agenda so you'll have to pretty much choose one or the other option.

IMHO, one thing which *every* visitor should do is check Metromix (the Chicago Tribune's online entertainment website) to see if there are any particular events occurring when they are here, which might especially appeal to them. Although we can suggest certain activities or events which we think might interest most or many folks, you never know if there might be something unusual or special which is just what *YOU* want.

The Chicago Reader online was also another good source, although it has recently undergone a change of ownership and one never knows how that might affect the standards. (The Chicago SunTimes and its associated suburban publications also was just sold.)

Time Out Chicago also gives good information with respect to upcoming events.

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