Top 5 Places to get in the Holiday Spirit in Chicago


With only 5 days left until Christmas, Chicagoans are braving the freezing temperatures to enjoy the festive Holiday activities. Admittedly, I did a horrible job of getting into the Holiday spirit last year. I didn’t take advantage of all the fun Chicago has to offer during this amazing time. But, I think I definitely made up for it this year!

I put up a tiny Christmas tree and other small Christmas decor items in my studio apartment. I bought some Holiday candles. I’ve been watching cheesy Christmas movies on Lifetime. I bought my presents with plenty of time to spare. I am certainly no Scrooge this year! I am filled to the brim with Holiday spirit. All that’s left to do is bake some Christmas cookies.

I also made sure to hit up these 5 awesomely fun festive spots in Chicago to really spark the Holiday spirit in me!

1. Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

How did I miss this last year? It’s free most nights, and has some amazing light displays. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get to see some animals frolicking about! Unfortunately for me, my favorite – the polar bear – was sleeping. I was able to hit up the zoo lights before it was below freezing, and I’m definitely glad I did! Nothing like some Christmas lights, music and animals to spread some Holiday cheer.

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2. Christkindlmarket

I went to Christkindlmarket in the Loop in 2014, but again, missed it last year. It’s another free event with adorable shops and delicious spiced wine to warm you up. I love going around to check out all the ornaments, trinkets and other accessories. Christkindlmarket also has amazing food! If you can’t go check out the Christmas villages in Europe (on my bucket list!) then Christkindlemarket is the perfect spot for you.

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3. Magnificent Mile

What’s better than buying Christmas presents for your loved ones while taking in an amazing display of lights lining the street? The Magnificent Mile did not miss a tree to string lights on when they were decorating. While I typically avoid the busy stretch of shoppers, I found myself over there multiple teams this season to marvel in the lights while shopping for my family (and maybe myself).

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4. Butch McGuire’s

Butch McGuire’s is an Irish pub in Gold Coast. They go all out for the Holiday season, and it’s incredible. Every inch of their ceiling is covered with Christmas lights and fun decorations. They have a mini train zooming around above the crowded bar. Everyone is in such a good mood at Butch McGuire’s, and it’s certainly hard not to be! When your in Chicago over the Holidays, you must pop into this bar. You’ll be glad you did!

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5. Walking the Gold Coast

One of my favorite traditions as a kid was strolling the neighborhood to check out the Christmas lights. We would vote for the best house on every street while taking pictures. I still love to do this in my neighborhood, even if my whole family can’t join me. It’s especially beautiful in the snow. There were some real charmers right outside my door!

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Those are my 5 favorite activities to do in Chicago during the Holidays. I’m so glad I was able to experience them all this year. All that’s left is my work Holiday dinner, then making it safely back to Cincinnati to spend time with my family and closest friends.

I’ll leave you with one last picture, of my tiny babe of a Christmas tree in my apartment:


I tried my best with what I had. I should have bought some ornaments from Christkindlmarket!

What are your favorite festive traditions to get you in the Holiday spirit? Comment below!

I'm Abby - a weekend getawayer, lover of beach volleyball, grilled cheese enthusiast and puppy dog admirer.

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