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The 10 best things to do with kids in December

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

Keep the kiddos from going stir crazy this month with a loaded lineup of family-friendly outings. December offers a slew of dependable oldies but goodies including Christkindlmarket, Caroling at Cloud Gate and A Christmas Carol. Grab your warmest coats and head outside to enjoy the best of the season.

1. The Sound of Music Sing-A-Long

The hills are alive and the whole family is invited to belt it out at this seasonal event. Each guest receives a free Magic Moments Pack, which includes props for key moments of the film. Wear your finest lederhosen to compete in the costume contest. (Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport Ave, Dec 2, 3 at 11:30am. $13, $8 for kids.)

2. Christkindlmarket 

The German market's Kinder Club offers an activity-packed scavenger hunt for youngsters. Moms and dads needn't fret—there's plenty of Glühwein to go around while the little ones drink cocoa. (Daley Plaza, Washington and Dearborn Streets, through  Dec 24: Sun–Thu 11am–8pm; Fri, Sat 11am–9pm. Free)

3. Winter WonderFest

When the weather outside is a touch too frightful, head to this 170,000-square-foot indoor playground for ice skating, rides and giant slides. (Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave. Dec 1–Jan 7 at various times. General admission $28; children $13.)

4. MCA Family Day

Get your play on at this interactive monthly program for kids and their adults. Come December, families can check out classic toys, create expressive sculptures, collaborate on a collective weaving and so much more. (Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago Ave, Dec 9 11am–3pm. Free)

5. Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo

More than 1 million twinkling LED lights are on display at the 36th annual tradition. Visitors are invited to sing to the reindeer, enjoy live music, check out ice-carving demonstrations and hang out by the 41-foot-tall Talking Tree. (Brookfield Zoo, 8400 31st St, Brookfield, IL. Through Dec 17: Sat, Sun at 4pm. Dec 26–31: Daily at 4pm. $17, children $12.)

6. Caroling at Cloud Gate

Bundle up and head to the Bean, where local choral groups lead guests through classic carols. (Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph St. Through Dec 15: Fri at 6pm. Free.)

7. Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum

Stroll through 50 acres of towering trees illuminated by colorful lights. The one-mile outdoor walking tour is dotted with concession tents and fire pits, so it's easy to make a night of it. (Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Rte 53, Lisle, IL. Through Jan 1: Daily at 4:30pm, closed Mondays except Jan 1. $7–$22.)

8. A Christmas Carol

Leave the bah humbugs at the door and reserve your seats for the Goodman Theatre's heartwarming holiday production. (170 N Dearborn St. Through Dec 31 at various times. $25–$105.)

9. Very Eric Carle

This play-and-learn exhibit offers activities inspired by Carle's classic children's tomes—transform into the Very Hungry Caterpillar, weave a web with the Very Busy Spider, compose a night symphony with the Very Quiet Cricket, find your light with the Very Lonely Firefly and make the Very Clumsy Click Beetle jump. (Chicago Children's Museum, 700 E Grand Ave, through Jan 7, 2018. $13–$14)

10. Ice Skating in Millennium Park

Lace up and check out this picturesque downtown rink with stellar skyline views. There are plenty of other places to skate in Chicago this winter—check out our complete guide to indoor and outdoor ice rinks(Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, 201 E Randolph St, through March 4, 2018. Free, $12–$14 skate rental). 

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