Let’s Explore! All the Fun Family and Festive Things to Do in Chicago this December

Happy December! By request from my Instagram community, I’m sharing some fun things to do with your kids in Chicago for the month of December. Although the pandemic has not totally gone away yet, it seems like Chicago is starting to get back to pre-pandemic festivities. I’ve curated a list of things to do in Chicago during this festive holiday month for you, your kids, and family. I tried not make this the same list as every other resource site in Chicago. I’m sharing things we have done or plan to do or hope to do in December in Chicago.

Amaze Light Festival

Holiday Lights in Chicago

Holiday lights is at the top of my list to share because I love everything about holiday lights and my toddler twins are obsessed when they see even small trees with holiday lights on them.

CTA Holiday Train

A holiday decked out CTA train is one of the best experiences in Chicago. Catching the CTA Holiday Train can be tricky, especially this year as they are not publishing the times the trains will be at each station. But…on December 5 and December 12, the CTA Holiday Train will ride around the Loop from 11 AM to 2 PM! This will help avoid overcrowding. Face masks are required. No strollers.

Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier

We plan to go to Navy Pier’s Light Up the Lake this week because it’s a new light show in Chicago and it’s indoors!!! So you don’t have to bundle up to enjoy the ice skating and kiddie train rides. You need to pay to enter (buy tickets online). It is pricey but I think of it as an indoor amusement park with plenty of photo opps for the family.

Amaze Light Festival

Amaze Light Festival in Rosemont

Although not in Chicago (Rosemont is close enough), Amaze Light Festival at Impact Field is a new immersive display of millions of holiday lights. We were there a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it! Amaze Lights Festival Light Festival features seven theme-based illuminated worlds, a “Thrill Hill” tubing slide, and holiday market. I loved that it was on the field and that the twins had plenty of room to run around. General admission tickets start at $23 for adults and $18 for children ages two to 12.

Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo

Our favorite is Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo and we’re so glad it’s back this year. It’s more budget friendly and free on Mondays and Tuesdays but you need to go online and reserve your spots!

Magical Experiences for the Family and Kids

Chicago Christkindlmarket

Going to Christkindlmarket is a tradition for our family. It’s like we stepped into a Christmas marekt in Europe. And this year, the Christkindlmarket celebrates its 25th anniversary. There are two locations – Daley Plaza and Gallagher Way right outside of Wrigley Field. The Gallagher Way location as more to do for kids with an ice skating rink. You can check out my blog post about it here.

Twas the Night Before…by Cirque du Soleil at the Chicago Theatre

We were able to catch the ‘Twas The Night Before….show before it ended on December 5. I know this blog post is published after the show has left the city but I wanted to include it on my list as it was a fantastic show but on by Cirque de Soleil at the historical Chicago Theatre. My boys loved the acrobatics and the magic of Cirque.

The Polar Express Train

The Polar Express Train Ride at Union Station has been on my list for many years. Luke has seen the movie but the twins are too young to grasp it . We may try next year but it’s a must do for us and any kid that likes trains.

Disney’s Frozen (Broadway in Chicago)

What a perfect month for Disney’s Frozen to be in Chicago and the return of Broadway in Chicago shows. I was lucky to attend opening night a few weeks ago. The show has some magical effects and is perfect for all the Frozen fans.

Dr. Seuss Experience

If you want a little break holiday from the themed activities. check out the Dr. Seuss Experience located at Water Tower Place. We love reading Dr. Seuss books and the boys loved seeing his books come to life in the nine different Dr. Seuss stories.

Santa Wonderland at Luft Balloons

Luft Balloons makes amazing balloon installations. This year, the team at Luft has created an immersive holiday-inspired pop-up comprised of thousands of balloons at their new loation at 2300 W. Fullerton. Great for baloon lovers and plenty of photo opportunites. We went last year and had a blast (no pun intended). Tickets are $12 per head.

Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park

I plan to wait for a mild day for this but I love the ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park.

Visiting Santa in Chicago

A must for our family in December is visiting Santa. There are so many places to see him in Chicago. Check our my blog post on where to take picture with Santa in Chicago here.

Scavenger Hunt for all Christmas/Holiday Trees in Chicago

As a fun family activity last year (and this year), we tried to find all the Christmas trees in city to take pictures in front of. It’s a great way to see the city! Here is my list of all the holiday trees in the city. Check out my Instagram guide on it too!

  • Millennium Park
  • Waldolf Astoria courtyard
  • Wrigley Building
  • Water Tower
  • Union Station
  • Pioneer Court
  • John Hancock Building
  • Lincoln Square
  • Chrstkindlmarket at Gallagher Way

Holiday Themed Bars and Restaurants

Although some of the holiday themed bars and restaurants are geared toward adults, I also think it’s a fun place to take kids (during the day). The decor is so fun and they’re great spots for pictures.

JoJo’s Shake Bar Winter Wonderland

The drinks here are huge with so many great toppings at JoJo’s Shake Bar in River North. Luke loved the milkshake and was surprised it came with cake, candy and donuts on top. It’s a festive place for a milkshake meal.

Wrigleyville Wonderland

Multiple bars and restaurants in Wrigleyville have transformed into holiday-themed destinations. Although this may sound like something for adults, I think it’s fun to take the kids to some of these restaurants during the day to check out the decor and enjoy a meal or two. Check out more at the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce website.

Park and Field

One of our favorite brunch places to go during December is Park and Field…not just for the food but teh fun holiday decor in the patio. We’ve taken pictures of the twins in the sleigh for 2 years in a row and plan to go back this year for another photo of them.

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