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Chicago Like a Local Blog

Unique perspectives on the city from the people who live here.

Author: Amy Bizzarri

Amy Bizzarri is a freelance writer specializing in family fun and travel, a Chicago public schools world language teacher, and an avid reader. She lives with her two kids – a tween boy and a toddler girl – in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Follow Amy and her adventures in Chicago and beyond on her personal blog, AmyWrites312.com.

Once upon a time, the thought of Santa Claus leaping down the chimney with a sack full of presents filled us with wide-eyed wonder and uncontainable anticipation. Every day felt like a month as we waited out the long winter to catch a glimpse of the Man in Red.

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival officially kicks off the holiday season in Chicago. Each year, more than 1 million people bundle up and enjoy a night of family-friendly entertainment. This year, the celebration takes place Friday, November 17, and Saturday, November 18. Here are seven reasons why you'll want to attend the 2017 Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.

In the short forward to his classic 1917 tome The Ideal Bartender, Tom Bullock, a St. Louis bartender and the first African American to publish a cocktail recipe book, mused, "Is it any wonder that mankind stands open-mouthed before the bartender, considering the mysteries and marvels of an art that borders on magic?" Widely considered an American invention, it wasn't until Prohibition ended in 1933 that cocktail lounges began to sprout up across Chicago, replacing the traditional, beer and straight hard liquor focused saloons.

Why go to see another run-of-the-mill movie when you can catch a live, world-class, kid-friendly show at a downtown theater for less than $8? The Exelon Family Series performances are designed for children ages 4–12 and hit the stage of the Harris Theater at 2 p.m. on Saturdays: that means you can spend a weekend afternoon with your whole family at the theater, complete with educational materials, discussion questions, and a "no hush" policy to allow for your young art lovers to experience the theater in their own way. You'll want to save some time to explore adjacent Millennium Park, too!

Chicago is filled with hidden history. From a cemetery concealed beneath the lovely green fields of Lincoln Park to a ghostly guest at a settlement house, some of our city's most historic sites have an untold, eerie side too. October is one of the best times of the year to visit these three (allegedly) haunted, yet history filled places. 

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrates the circle of life, with a focus on death and rebirth. Observed across Latin America, the festivities begin on November 1 and last through the night of November 2. Chicago, thanks to its large Mexican-American population, offers a number of ways to celebrates the traditions of Día de Los Muertos. We've rounded up four ways to celebrate this memorable holiday. 

Once a year, Chicago's closed-to-the-public architectural gems open their doors wide to welcome visitors from near and far. If you've ever dreamed of going behind-the-scenes, inside a Chicago masterpiece, you won't want to miss Open House Chicago, hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. This free, two-day public event, held this year on October 14 and 15, offers access to our city's exclusive, magnificent mansions, skyscrapers, theaters, private clubs, industrial facilities, private offices and sacred spaces. While the open sites can be discovered in just about every neighborhood in the city, this year marks the first time that the Northwest Side neighborhood of Logan Square/Avondale will be joining the mix.

Halloween time in Chicago is filled fill plenty of slightly spooky fun for the whole family. From a not-so-scary haunted house to a ghostly cooking class, there is something for every little ghost and goblin. Here are seven kid-friendly must-dos this Halloween in Chicago.

If you have a tween or teen in your life, you know that it's a tad more difficult finding theater that fits their interests (and attention spans). Enter the critically acclaimed Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which creates two full-scale, engaging professional productions, designed with older tweens and teens in mind, each season. Each year, the SYA poses a timely new question, examines the question through theater and then asks the youth-filled audience to come to their own answers and conclusions. This year's question is “When does a lie become the truth?"

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