As mentioned in previous posts, I adore being a tourist in my own city. I firmly believe that someone can never be too familiar with their hometown. I try to take as much time as possible to explore my hometown of Chicago, even during the chilly winter months. Chicago is different during the holidays than any other time of year… everything is decorated in lights and full of holiday spirit.
An annual holiday tradition of mine has always been to visit the Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago. This traditional German-American market has been a winter staple in Chicago for the past 20 years. And this holiday season, since it has been a significantly warmer winter, I made two “holiday themed” trips to the city.
The market features vendors from across the world. Specialty gifts, delicacies, and yummy food are sold at the market, which stays open from the Friday before Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.
My brother and I are big fans of the Bratwursts and hot chocolate, which can be served in a boot-mug. For the visitors over 21, spiced wine is sold in a boot-mug is a must at this market!
Chicago’s Christmas Tree
Up until this year, Chicago’s main Christmas tree was on display in the market, which takes place in Daley Plaza (on the corner of Washington and Dearborn St). This year, the tree made a move just a few blocks East to Millennium Park.
The short walk is worth it, because the tree looked more beautiful this holiday season than it has in past years. I don’t know if it’s because of the beautiful skyline that can be photographed behind it, or the amazing pictures you can take of it from the reflection of The Cloudgate Structure (The Bean).
Macy’s Holidays Window Displays
On the walk to Millennium Park, I highly recommend taking a look at the Macy’s Christmas window displays. Each year the windows are designed based on a theme, such as a famous children’s book or fable. This year’s theme was the solar system, and the displays were unlike anything I have ever seen.
Millennium Park also features an awesome ice skating rink (as does the nearby Maggie Daley park), admission is free and quick if you bring your own skates! Skate rental is only $10.
I also love the directions outside of the Wrigley Building near the Michigan Avenue bridge and Chicago River. It’s always decorated in a very minimal, classy way.
Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
For the first time this year, I was able to witness the magical experience which is Zoo Lights. While this takes place at both Chicagoland Zoo’s, Lincoln Park’s free admission makes this zoo take priority in my books.
I had never been to the zoo at night and it was one of the most amazing experiences, including witnessing a baby gorilla sleep right next to the window (and realizing at how similar they are to humans). I was two feet (and a thick window) away from a sleeping tiger. The most magical part of the night? A light show that occurs in middle of the zoo…
Zoo Lights takes place starting Thanksgiving and continues past the New Year. Admission is free.
To Do in 2016:
Chicago Holiday Lights Trolley Tour which features stops at both Christkindlmarket and ZooLights!