I wouldn't want to be anywhere other than Chicago around the holidays. The lights, the shows, the special events - and sometimes even a sprinkling of snow - make the season merry and bright. Here are 12 family-friendly holiday must-dos in Chicago!  

Enjoy the Holiday Lights from the Warmth of a Trolley

Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Bus Company's Holiday Lights Tour will take you to see the best of the best holiday decorations in Chicago. From the famed John Hancock Plaza tree to the lights along the Magnificent Mile, from historic State Street to the Christkindlmarket, you'll see the best holiday displays from the comfort of a warm trolley.


Make Your Own Snow Globe

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum offers monthly Creation Corner classes for families, giving everyone the chance to put their crafty skills to the test. This month's class (Dec. 20) will teach you how to make your own snow globe. You're sure to be inspired by the museum's creatures! 


Build Your Own Hot Chocolate

The Signature Room's (875 N. Michigan Ave) build-your-own Hot Chocolate Bar gives guests the chance to get creative with their hot chocolate. Choose from two hot chocolate bases - milk chocolate and white chocolate - then select your add-ons from an array of flavorful toppings including cinnamon sticks, peppermint sticks, housemade whipped cream in assorted flavors, housemade marshmallows, chocolate shavings, and flavored syrups. There's no sweeter place in the city to sip a hot cocoa.  


Run Away with the (Holiday) Circus

Cirque Dreams Holidaze, running December 17-21 at the Chicago Theatre, is a brand new cirque-style variety show. Featuring all the elements of a Broadway musical, a circus, and a family holiday show wrapped up into one bright, shiny package, it's a holiday spectacular that will knock your Christmas stockings off.


Delight in Holiday Window Displays 

Macy's on State Street

Since the early 1870s, Macy's on State Street has been wowing children and adults alike with its famed holiday window displays and 45-foot Christmas Tree - the giant centerpiece of the wood-paneled Walnut Room. Marvel at the window displays, finish up your Christmas shopping and then enjoy lunch treeside in the iconic Walnut room.


Make Crafts with Aunt Holly

Celebrate holiday memories with the entire family at the Driehaus Museum on December 13 and 20. Throughout the morning, Chicago's own Aunt Holly will tell lively stories and sing songs while families enjoy festive treats and create holiday art projects. Take home a complimentary family portrait taken in the elegantly festooned Ballroom to commemorate your day. Don't forget to see Santa Claus and share your dearest wish! Tickets include museum admission. 


Skate a Figure Eight

Ice Rink

Work off Thanksgiving calories at one of the Chicago Park District's outdoor ice skating rinks, sponsored by the Chicago Blackhawks, when they open for the season on November 28, weather permitting.  


Catch the Miniature Holiday Train

The Lincoln Park Conservatory's Show House turns into a Winter Wonderland filled with poinsettias, holiday trees, sparkling lights, and a model train that traverses the plantings and miniaturized Chicago landmarks. 


Step into the World of Clara in the House Theatre's The Nutcracker

This reinvention of the holiday classic is one of our family's favorite holiday shows. The House Theatre's The Nutcracker focuses on Clara's journey to save her family, reeling from the wartime death of her brother, from the Rat King. Be prepared for plenty of surprises as you step right into Christmas with Clara and her family.  


Spend the Holidays around the World

MSI Christmas Around The World

At the Museum of Science and Industry's annual Christmas Around the World exhibit, you'll find more than 50 trees and crèches, each festooned with traditional ornaments and decorations by members of Chicago's ethnic communities.


Find an Ornament for Your Holiday Tree at the Christkindlmarket


Every year, our family heads to the Christkindlmarket, a traditional German outdoor market on Daley Plaza, to pick up a special ornament for our Christmas tree You'll find everything your family needs to trim your tree, as well as chocolates, wooden Santas, hand-knit scarves and more. Save room for a pretzel and hot, spiced wine. 

Delight in High Holiday Tea at the Drake

After a busy day of shopping on the Mag Mile, relax with a hot cup of tea or cocoa, pastries, scones and champagne for Mom and Dad at Chicago's historic Drake Hotel. Carolers will serenade guests and a harpist will play your holiday requests.