The 15 best things to eat, drink and buy at Christkindlmarket
Christkindlmarket is here! One of the top holiday markets in Chicago, the market is open today through December 24 at Daley Plaza. We hit the market first thing this morning to scope out the 50-plus booths to find the best things to eat, drink and buy. Our picks: The Gluhwein-filled boot ($7 with mug, $6 refill) is back! The warming wine, found at booths #1 and #28, is a must for those freezing market days. Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas Christmas pyramid with choir singers ($106) from Käthe Wohlfahrt, booth #8: The Christmas pyramids spin when their candles are lit, mesmerizing us all. Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas German Leberkaese with sauerkraut ($7) from Traditional German Food (booth #17) is a beef and pork loaf that comes nestled in a bun with piquant sauerkraut. It’s hearty and satisfying. Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas Alpaca gloves ($45) from Winterbourne Alpaca, booth #50: Soft and sassy, just like our furry friend. Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas The wiener schnitzel sandwich ($7) at the Schnitzelhaus (booth #29) features tender meat and a bit of sauerkraut. Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas Hand-painted candleholder ($25) from Glaszauber Lauscha, booth #14: Light up your loved one’s home. Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas A trio of potato pancakes ($7) at Traditional German Food (booth #17) come with apple sauce or sour cream. Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas Make a tea set with this creamer ($37), teapot ($50) and plate ($48) from Polish Handcrafts–Eva’s Collectio
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Chicago's got an impressive list of December events that don't care whether you've been naughty or nice
The best indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks
Hit the ice, whether you're looking for a classic rink or something off the beaten path
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Get all the holiday feels at these spectacular shows
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The Germanic holiday village beneath the Picasso returns
Caroling at Cloud Gate
Hundreds of singers from choral groups across the city participate in this annual holiday tradition that takes place over the course of a month.
The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade marches down State Street
See photos of this year's Thanksgiving Parade make its way up State Street with giant character balloons, marching bands and even the Harlem Globetrotters.
Head to the Lincoln Park Zoo to see the lights (and maybe a few animals) at this annual winter tradition.
Things to do with kids
The best toy stores in Chicago
Christmas is the obvious time to check out these local toy stores, but we all know kids are happy to go shopping for toys on any day: birthdays, after a trip to the dentist, after a good report card, really anytime. Instead of perusing the goods online, check out these well curated shops, often with fun displays for hands-on playing, making the stores something like an indoor playground. And if you're an adult who happens to love toys (no shame), toy stores are the best places to nerd out with likeminded people.
Fun Christmas activities for kids in Chicago
There's no shortage of things to do with kids in Chicago, but during the holidays that's especially true. Christmas plays perfect for kids are happening nearly every night, the parks' trees are strung up with lights and Santa makes surprise appearances. Best yet, your kids are on full charm offensive in hopes of being on Santa's "nice" list, so now's the time to take your kids with you everywhere without fear of tantrums. RECOMMENDED: Christmas events in Chicago
Family winter vacation ideas in the Midwest
If jet-setting somewhere warm with the family isn’t in the cards this winter, embrace the cold weather by taking a quick getaway within the Midwest for things to do in winter like skiing and snowboarding, sledding and ice skating. If you’d rather experience the great indoors, check out one of these many indoor water parks, theme parks and shops and have no problem filling a weekend—and ensure a good nap on the ride home. RECOMMENDED: Things to do in Chicago this winter
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This 24.5-acre park features Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion and serpentine bridge; sculptor Anish Kapoor's 110-ton Cloud Gate (a.k.a. “The Bean”); and Jaume Plensa's Crown Fountain, with its ever-changing array of locals' faces spewing water very five minutes in the summer months. The Lurie Garden wows with year-round flower displays and monthly garden walks.
Chicago Cultural Center
Since being converted to the Cultural Center in 1991 (it used to be the Chicago Public Library), this city-block-wide institution now offers free classical concerts Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays. Most of the center’s classical offerings take place in Preston Bradley Hall on the second floor near the Washington Street entrance, but the Claudia Cassidy Theater (named for the Tribune’s venom-penned theater and music critic from the ’40s) on the Randolph Street side is used for experimental concerts, too. Concerts are always free.
Even when baseball’s not in season, there’s plenty to do at this legendary stadium, erected in 1914 and reinvigorated by an ownership change in 2009. Seasonal tours offer an insider peek at the Friendly Confines, and, come winter, you can skate on an ice rink just outside of the field. Keep your eyes on the website for quick-to-sell-out special events; in the past, they’ve included ice-hockey games, a college football match and inexpensive charity events that allow the public to prance on the field.
Things to do in Chicago neighborhoods
Explore vibrant murals, the city's best tacos and Thalia Hall
Visit the Museum of Science and Industry or walk through a beautiful park
Experience local art or take a walk in a quarry-turned-park
Take a dip in the lagoon at Humboldt Park or go for a stroll in Palmer Square Park