Sometimes, in the rush of finals and getting ready for winter break, it can be easy to forget how absolutely beautiful the holiday season in Chicago can be. Despite how frigid Chicago winters can be, the city goes all out for Christmas so here is my guide to making the most of it for less than $25 in the remaining day or two before you head home!
Anyone who has been around me in the last couple weeks knows I have been in full Christmas mode since before Thanksgiving. With so much to take advantage of in the city and the impending doom of finals upon me, I embraced the holiday spirit early.
Every year there are a few staples of the holiday season that I always manage to get to, and I always manage to do it on a budget so here is my guide to the ultimate afternoon of Christmas in Chicago! Bundle up!
3 PM: Ice Skating
Millenium Park is one of my favorite places in the city during the year, and the ice skating rink by the bean is iconic. You can rent skates and brave the crowds if you’re up for it.
If you’re an experienced ice skater, then you’re best bet is to head over to Maggie Daley’s ice skating ribbon where you can rent skates and loop around the closed rock climbing structures. It’s a little less crowded, but the skaters go much faster so be careful! There’s a mini restaurant on one of the curves of the ribbon with great, but overpriced hot chocolate.
5 PM: Christkindlmarket
When you’re just a little tuckered out from ice skating, but not quite cold yet, take the quick walk over to Daley Plaza for Christkindlmarket. My first trip to Christkindlmarket was my first real experience with the city. I went with my dorm, taking the L into the loop, and fell in love with Chicago. I’ve been every Christmas season since, and it is one of my favorite places.
Even though the market is outside, the spaces between the artisan crafts and delicious snacks are a little warmer and the mulled wine was the first thing I had when I turned 21.
7 PM: Zoo Lights
Once you fill up on the snacks at Christkindlmarket, jump on the bus to catch the last hour or two of Zoo Lights! Every season they cover the zoo with incredible light displays that you can walk around.
There are so many twists and turns in the zoo and they switch up some of the displays every year, so there’s always something to discover. If you can make it all the way out to Lincoln Park they’re definitely a must-see.
9 PM: Millennium Park Christmas Tree
The best way to end your Chicago Christmas extravaganza is by swinging by the beautiful tree in Millennium Park. After leaving Zoo Lights you have to switch buses anyways to get back to the loop so you might as well go see the stunning tree to round out the night.
What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago during the holidays?