13 Fun Things to do in Chicago in December
Fun Festive Activities in Chicago for Everyone to Enjoy
Are you looking for a festive holiday destination to celebrate this year? Then Chicago is the place for you! They go ALL out for the holidays, making it a great place to enjoy the season with lights, hot cocoa galore, Santas, and more.
This city is a great place to visit in winter; there are so many things to do in Chicago in December! It’s festive and vibrant, but also beautiful when it’s covered in a blanket of snow. Chicago is designed to be a fun place no matter the weather, so even if it’s freezing out, there is so much to do and experience.
Read Also: What to Wear in Chicago Winter
If you’ve never been to Chicago, but are planning to go for the holidays, you’ll definitely want to check out some significant attractions as well, such as:
The Willis Tower
Things to do in Chicago in December
Breaking news! You don’t have to travel all the way to Europe to enjoy an authentic Christmas market! Chicago is home to Christkindl Market; with multiple locations, you can enjoy the holiday decorations, and different vendors, go shopping and sip on mulled wine to complete the experience!
2. Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park
There are multiple locations to enjoy a round of ice skating in Chicago, but our favorite is Maggie Daley Park! With a unique “ribbon” shaped rink, it feels like you are ice skating on a frozen river through a beautiful winter wonderland!
3. Sip on Hot Chocolate at BomboBar
Known for their extravagant s’mores hot chocolate in winter, stop by BomboBar for a truly unique experience. Be prepared to wait though, as it is very popular. I highly suggest going earlier in the day, rather than waiting for the evening. One of their hot chocolates makes for the perfect treat to stay warm while adventuring around the city.
If you enjoy Christmas lights and fun decorations, you have to stop by Macy’s in downtown Chicago! The windows all display their own holiday scene with extravagant decorations, music, and more. This is really fun for kids, but even adults will love it!
5. Giant Tree in Millennium Park
Home of the giant Christmas Tree, Millennium Park is another fun place to go to. With a 55-foot tree, completely decorated with lights, this is a Christmas sight to see! Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, this tree will put you in a cheery, festive mood!
For a truly magical dining experience, make a reservation at The Drake hotel for an afternoon holiday tea. Suit up in your holiday dress attire and enjoy an array of delicious pastries, teas, sandwiches, and more. This afternoon tea is a fun, yummy way to enjoy the holidays. If you’ve never been to one before, it’s such a lovely experience!
You can’t visit Chicago without walking down the Magnificent Mile, or "Mag Mile" on Michigan Avenue. With shops upon shops and lights all down the street, this is a great place to go window shopping, or maybe even find a gift or two! There is a store for everyone, from Disney to Anthropologie, and more!
8. Holiday Bars
There are some killer pop-up holiday bars in Chicago! If you enjoy a good cocktail, head to Wrigleyville, and walk around the Wrigley Field area. There are several in this area, you will not miss them. A few of our favorites are Christmas Club Pop-Up Bar and Santa Baby Bar. Remember these will be very busy and are more for the experience.
Go for a calmer holiday activity in Chicago and head to the Music Box Theater! This elegant 1920s theater is a wonderful place to visit any time of year, but visit in December and you’ll be able to catch a holiday movie classic or two!
10. Holiday Train
In true Chicago style, use the CTA and wait for the fully decorated holiday train to pass through the station. If you’ve never seen a fully decked-out holiday train, then you need to see this at least once! It’s fun for everybody, and you’ll most likely catch Santa waving at you! Check the holiday train schedule here.
While we prefer avoiding chains and rather supporting small, local businesses, the Chicago Roastery - Starbucks Reserve is honestly a fun experience. With five floors, you can find much more than your typical Starbucks coffee here. They also offer a full food menu, cocktails, coffee tastings, and more. Plus, the lights and decorations are so fun to admire here!
12. MSI Trees Around the World
If you only have time for one museum, make sure you visit the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). They have the "Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light" exhibit which showcases more than 50 trees decorated to highlight different countries and cultures around the world!
There's nothing quite like walking around a zoo at night while it's decorated in intricate Christmas lights. Experience this fun time at Lincoln Park Zoo throughout December! Admission is free on Mondays and $5 the rest of the week (at time of post). Fun for the family or for the adults!
While there is so much more to experience here, these are all necessary things to do in Chicago in December! You’ll be able to find Santas to take photos with, carols to sing along to, and tons of goodies to buy. Chicago is also home to a killer dining scene, so make sure you eat plenty while in town.
Read Also: 15 Fun Restaurants in Chicago
With lights and decorations and music all around, Chicago truly is the ultimate winter destination! And who knew you could find such a great European Christmas Market outside of Europe! Where will you be stopping in Chicago? Have you been during another time of year before or is this your first time?