The city of Chicago offers some pretty spectacular lights, sounds, and activities during the holiday season – but the suburbs are full of snowy, seasonal, sensational excitement too. Want proof? Here are 10 amazing places and events for holiday fun with your family this year.
1. Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum
Through January 1, you can come to this beautiful site in the western suburbs for a bit of natural holiday cheer. The mile-long outdoor tour takes you through the arboretum’s tree collections to experience the melding of technology and nature. Interact with trees in ways you never imagined, and enjoy treats and warming stations along the way.
2. Wonderland Express at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Kids who love trains will adore this annual exhibit, which is a true family favorite. Model trains travel in and out of miniature Chicago landmarks made from organic materials – while it snows, indoors! The event also includes ice sculpting, a holiday market, caroling, free movies, and visits to the greenhouses.
3. Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
Now in its 36th year, the seasonal celebration at the zoo features over a million LED lights, a talking tree, performances, a model railroad, Santa and Mrs. Claus, cooking decorating, singing to the animals, and zoo chats. Animal exhibits remain open until 8 p.m. in the evening. The event is open on weekend evenings through December 17, then runs December 26-31 and ends with Zoo Year’s Eve.
4. Christkindmarket Naperville
The same Christkindlmarket that comes to Daley Plaza every year also has a suburban home. Through December 24, you can visit holiday vendors at this traditional German market. Buy gifts, food and beverages, and enjoy seasonal events. It’ll be a bit crowded, but parking is definitely better than in downtown Chicago.
5. Home for the Holidays at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio
In Oak Park, the house where famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright lived hosts a free holiday open house on Saturday, December 2. Get a tour, enjoy refreshments, participate in a holiday design project, and see the way the home has been decorated in keeping with Wright family tradition. Event is free, but registration is required.
6. Celebrate the Season at Rosemont’s MB Financial Park
The Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the park at Rosemont takes place Friday, November 24 starting at 5 p.m. Starting that day you can also enjoy free ice skating, including the Sunday Funday Characters on Ice free skate from December 3-24. Then, take advantage of one of the great restaurants and entertainment venues surrounding the park.
7. Geneva’s Christmas Walk
Geneva’s event to kick off the holidays on December 1 hearkens back to Swedish tradition. At 6 p.m., Santa Lucia and Santa Claus arrive and the lighting of the great tree takes place. Roasted chestnuts, strolling carolers and a live nativity follow. Complimentary carriage rides are offered, and you can also participate in the Holiday House Tour on December 1 and 2 (tickets are $35 for tour and tea), visiting five architecturally unique homes decorated for the holidays.
8. Elf the Musical at the Paramount Aurora
The Broadway Series at this beautiful old theater in the far western suburbs will be presenting “Elf The Musical” through January 7. Based on the 2003 Christmas movie that’s become a seasonal classic, this version is a feel-good musical extravaganza that will make your holiday season a little brighter.
9. Take a Holiday Train Ride
If your family wants to ride the Polar Express or similarly-themed holiday trains, you can find one in almost every suburb! Tickets are still available. Our favorites include the Happy Holiday Railway from Union’s Illinois Railway Museum, and the South Elgin Polar Express.
10. Holiday Shopping
Chicagoland is a retailer’s paradise, and we have so many great places to get gifts. This season, visit one of the largest indoor malls in the country, Woodfield Mall, and all the stores around it (like Ikea). Or get your discount shopping done at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, which hosts a Black Friday event like no other. Want to enjoy some outside time in the (hopefully) snowy weather? Oakbrook Center and Westfield Shoppingtown Old Orchard are perfect. We also like the Promenade Bolingbrook and Aurora’s Chicago Premium Outlets.
Chicago Holiday Style isn’t limited to the city!
The suburbs are pretty fun here in Chicagoland, whether it’s warm or cold. Moving here? Moving out of here? Elite Moving & Storage has you covered. Get a free estimate from us, and let us know how we can help you with your moving and storage needs.