Museum of Science and Industry - Christmas Tree - Blog

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 (not a blizzard, please) - make the season merry and bright. Here are seven family-friendly holiday must-dos in Chicago!  

Christmas Around the World (and Charlie Brown) at the Museum of Science and Industry  

The annual Christmas Around the World festivities at the Museum of Science and Industry are even brighter this year thanks to the special new Peanuts exhibit. Charlie Brown and the Great Exhibit profiles artist and creator Charles Schultz and all his lovable characters - from Snoopy to Linus. Take a Peanuts tour of holidays - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day and Valentine's Day - with all your favorite friends.

At the 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. The Holidays of Light exhibit features decorations, interactive information and related workshops on such celebrations as the Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah and Visakha Puja Day. Check the museum's Web site for daily special programs.  

Window Shopping and Lunch at Macy's on State Street

Since the early 1870's, Macy's (formerly Marshall Fields) 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 holiday shopping (don't forget the Frango Mints - once again made in Chicago!) and then enjoy lunch tree side in the Walnut Room. 

Lincoln Park ZooLights 

Enter a snow blanketed winter wonderland illuminated by millions of festive lights at Lincoln Park Zoo's annual ZooLights. Enjoy visits with Santa Claus, live music, holiday crafts and large-scale ice carving. Escape from the chill by visiting with your favorite animals, especially the crocodiles, pygmy hippos and meerkats at the Regenstein African Journey. ZooLights runs every weekend from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. (Closed Dec. 24 and 25). As always, admission is free!

Zoolights - Blog


Every year, our family heads to this traditional German outdoor on Daley Plaza market to pick up a special ornament. 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. 

Holiday Tea at the Drake 

After a busy day of shopping on the Mag Mile, relax with elegant holiday decor, live musical entertainment, pastries, scones and champagne for Mom and Dad!  

The House Theatre's The Nutcraker 

This reinvention of the holiday classic has been our favorite holiday show of the year. 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. I found this version both hilarious and heartwarming.  

Take a Ride Around the Loop Aboard CTA's Holiday Train 

Every year, the CTA decks out a plain old six-car CTA train in red bows and garland, and thousands of sparkling lights outline the windows and train-top. Even the hand poles get into the holiday spirit and are decorated to look like candy canes! In the middle of the train are Santa and his reindeers, his sleigh perched atop an open-air flatbed car, and at each stop, Santa and his elves hop off to treat passengers to minty candy canes. Normal CTA fares apply.