Looking for the perfect gift for the Chicago-lover on your list? Here are some meaningful gift ideas that celebrate the best of the city.
The Gift of Live Theater
This is a gift that keeps on giving. The Chicago Children's Theatre Holiday Pass, for example, gives you four tickets to any 2017-2018 Chicago Children’s Theatre production for one package price. From world premiere musicals to elegant tea parties and unique interactive productions, there’s an inspiring story for everyone. Packages start at $125.
For a grown-up option, the Tony Award-winning Steppenwolf Theatre has a Membership Pass that allows the recipient to create their own season experience, mixing and matching plays so they see what they want, when they want. There are also a number of extra member bonuses, including access to members-only events. Packages start at $125.
The Gift of Marine Life
The Shedd Aquarium's incredible Trainer for a Day program gives guests an exclusive chance to go behind-the-scenes at this world-class venue, home to 32,600 marine animals, from snails to whales. The Abbott Oceanarium's three-million-gallon tank makes it one of the largest indoor marine mammal facilities in the world. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is hands-on and personalized: You'll be able to watch as meals are prepared for five-dozen animals in the marine kitchen, step into reserve areas and stand poolside, learning and participating in the day-to-day duties of the trainers. The best part, though, is the chance to interact with dolphins, belugas, sea otters, sea lions and penguins. The program is open to adults and children ages 12 and older; children aged 12-15 must be accompanied by a paying adult.
In addition, the Shedd offers private penguin encounters, beluga encounters, and behind-the-scenes tours. Experiential packages start at $300. Visit sheddaquarium.org or call (312) 939-2438 to reserve your spot.
The Gift of Chicago's Best Bites
Strolling down State Street on a chilly winter's day, it's impossible to resist the aroma of hot, freshly popped Garrett caramel corn wafting from its downtown location at 26 W. Randolph St. Send your loved one a colorful tin packed with delectable Chicago Mix, and they'll have the perfect accompaniment to a winter Netflix marathon. Tin pricing starts at $30.
If Chicago's very own deep dish pizza is what your loved one craves, give a gift that will tantalize their tastebuds: a pack of Lou Malnati's Chicago Deep Dish Pizzas via TastesOfChicago.com. Choose from pizzas in quantities of 2, 4 or 6; all pizzas are 9" and serve two adults comfortably. Deep dish pizza packages start at $50.
The Gift of Zoo Life
Gifts for polar bears? Presents for tigers? Give special gift items directly to animals at Lincoln Park Zoo on behalf of a loved one. Chicago's free zoo, one of the oldest in the country, allows you to select from a wide range of fun, interactive and essential animal care gift items at www.lpzoo.org/wishlist. Some special gifts include boomerballs for an Amur tiger, full-length mirrors for fabulous flamingos, special food items for specific species, and much more. Gifts range from $1 to $100.
The Gift of a '4D' Puzzle
This challenging Chicago 4D Cityscape Puzzle recreates Chicago's famous skyline in three dimensions. The 127 building pieces feature all of the city's architectural icons, including Willis Tower, the John Hancock Building and Navy Pier. Each building fits into a pre-cut hole on a traditional 2D jigsaw board; the puzzle itself is composed of 831 pieces that form the city's street layout and islands. $44.95 at shop.architecture.org.
The Gift of Utter Nonsense
Utter nonsense! The Hilarious Accent Game-Family Edition was invented by a Chicago brother and sister duo. This hilarious game gives you the perfect excuse to gather the family together and laugh your heart out. Players combine silly accents with even sillier phrases to create sayings and actions that are just plain ridiculous. Players are encouraged to improvise, too. $24.99 online at target.com.