With friends and family visiting town, you probably already know of some of the Chicago traditions. You can always look at the holiday windows of Macy's on State Street, go shopping on the Mag Mile, and brave the cold for ice-skating in Millennium Park. But a magical part of holiday traditions can also be the spaces that we step into, and I'd like to give you some alternative architectural explorations for your holiday season.
Christkindlmaket in Daley Plaza
If you visit the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza, you can pair your downtown activity with a tour of the "Chapel in the Sky" tour of the Chicago Temple Building, located just across Washington street. Tours are offered every day of the week at 2pm. The tour guide takes you to the top of the skyscraper, then transfers you to a smaller elevator so that you can reach the chapel on the 26th floor. From the window, you can then look down on that Chriskindlmarket! The First United Methodist Church offers the tour for free, and it takes just about a half an hour.
The Driehaus Museum
The Driehaus Museum, which is inside the Gilded Age Nickerson mansion near the Mag Mile, has several special holiday activities. Find out what life in December in the late 1800s would have been like with costumed servants sharing holiday customs, including cookie recipe and special fashions of the time. You'll encounter them 11am-3pm, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in December. Also on Saturday, December 14 and Saturday, December 21 families can pay a visit to a historic-style Santa in the Ballroom, 9am-3pm.
Indoor Achitectural Tour with Chicago Detours
While a tour may not come to the forefront of your mind for a holiday activity, my tour company offers indoor architectural tours so that you can still explore Chicago without having to freeze. Our Loop Interior Architecture Tour goes by the holiday windows of Macy's, and you encounter lots of holiday cozy cheer over drinks on the Chicago Historic Bar Tour.
The cold weather makes me crave dim sum, and few people know about an awesome architectural excursion just a few blocks from Chinatown. You can tour the Second Presbyterian Church three days a week. You'll see stained glass Tiffany windows that are like glowing paintings, as well as the arts-and-crafts-style interior design. Tours are Wednesday from 1pm-3pm, Saturday 1pm-3pm, Sunday 12:15pm-2:15pm.
With whatever holiday activity you desire in Chicago this holiday season, remember that both good company and good architecture can make for a memorable experience.