When Christmas comes around, Chicago lights up. There’s no shortage of glowing, glittering tours to take you around Chicago’s best holiday displays.
Here are seven ways to sightsee this season.
1. Holiday Lights Tour with Chicago Trolley
Hop on these bright red rides and see Chicago lit up in all its holiday finery. You’ll whisk past the famous window displays at Macy’s on State Street, as well as numerous downtown and neighborhood sites in between the two stops: Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza and ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
- Chicago Trolley Holiday Lights Tours are available Nov. 23-Dec. 23
2. Two-wheeled fun: tours by Segway
For the adventurous, these two-wheeled tours are the way to go. Step onto the futuristic, self-balancing ride and you’ll be zipping around Millennium Park in no time. Head over to the theater district before hopping off to wander around Christkindlmarket.
- Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours are available Wednesdays-Sundays, Nov. 21-Dec. 21
- Segway Experience of Chicago is available daily, year round
3. Holiday dinner cruises
For unmatched views of the city horizon all aglow, board the evening dinner boats from Navy Pier. Delectable meals and dancing combine with holiday glitz along these Lake Michigan cruise ships.
- Holiday Cruises by Spirit Cruises are available on select dates in December
- Holiday Cruises by Odyssey are available on select dates in December
4. A season-sampling tour
Eat, drink and walk your way through shimmering lights and decadent bites. For three hours, this walking tour offered through Bobby’s Bike Hike hits all the indoor and outdoor highlights…and when it’s too cold, heads underground, as well! Bring your appetite for brownie sampling at the historic Palmer House, A Hilton Hotel (where brownies were invented), special seasonal craft beer, and the flavors of Germany at Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas festival, Christkindlmarket.
- Holiday Hike Tours are available daily, Nov. 20-Dec. 24
5. Sky-high helicopter tours
There is perhaps no tour that’s more memorable and magical than one that hovers you above the city. An aerial thrill ride that showcases the waterfront and the downtown skyline from thousands of feet in the air, Chicago helicopter tours will leave you in awe as you pass above beautiful landmarks such as Buckingham Fountain, as well as seasonal light displays like ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo and the shining white lights along The Magnificent Mile.
- Holiday Tours by Chicago Helicopter Experience are available November-early January 2019
- Holiday Tours by Vertiport Chicago are available November-early January 2019
6. Drinks, Daleys, and dead guys
A Holiday Tour of Drinks, Daleys and Dead Guys is a downtown walking tour (mostly indoor) that explores both classic and off-the-beaten-path sites and stories. You’ll even discover how Mayor Richard J. Daley saved the Christmas Parade! Fun highlights include a hot Tom and Jerry cocktail at historic and homey Miller’s Pub, viewing the Chicago Christmas Tree in Millennium Park, the Chicago Theatre with its famous marquee, and the new Muddy Waters mural.
- A Holiday Tour of Drinks, Daleys and Dead Guys with Chicago Detours is available Nov. 16-Dec. 29.
7. Winter walking tours
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t go on foot. Free Chicago Walking Tours recently launched two new winter walking tours. One will explore the Chicago Pedway system that crisscrosses underneath the city (and keeps walkers warm in the winter months). The second will be a Holiday Tree & Light Tour where guests can get a guided tour of the Loop and River North neighborhoods bedazzled for the holidays.
- Chicago Winter Pedway Walking Tour will be available Nov. 15 – March
- Chicago Holiday Tree & Lights Tour will be available Nov. 23. – Dec. 25
- Explore Chicago’s neighborhoods
- Chicago Holiday lights & Christmas displays
- Chicago ice-skating rinks
- Winter activities wish list
- Cures for cabin fever
- Chicago winter traditions
- Guide to holiday shopping