If you’re heading to Chicago this holiday season, count yourself among the lucky ones. December in Chicago is unlike any other time of year—the city known for its innovative architecture and world-famous attractions gets dolled up and decked out for the holidays.
At this point, it’s likely you’ve already found accommodation and made your travel plans. Now comes the fun part: Deciding which Chicago attractions will make it on your holiday itinerary!
Luckily, it’s never too late to find Chicago holiday travel deals on top Chicago attractions. With Smart Destinations, the options are endless for building an itinerary you’ll love at a price you’ll love even more. If you’re looking for ideas, see what sample itineraries we’ve scoped out to gather your inspiration.
Classic Holidays in Chicago
There’s really no “keeping it simple” in Chicago, because the attractions are just too grand, but if you want the best of Chicago combined with convenience, take a longer look at this option. With a Chicago Holiday Attractions package, you’ll save 29% off three attractions that go all out for the holidays: The Museum of Science and Industry, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the North Side Chicago Tour.
Christmas Around the World is a great way to kick off your venture, a festive display hosted in the MSI’s giant Rotuna. Then head to Lincoln Park Zoo, where the lights are glowing and the mulled wine is pouring and join in on a wild celebration alongside your favorite animals. Finally, hop on the North Side Chicago Tour and relax as you view the best sights and lights in Chicago’s North Side, home to many popular landmarks, like the Magnificent Mile and the John Hancock Tower.
Window Shoppers & Bargain Hoppers
For those of you who could shop till you drop or can’t resist a good bargain, this one’s for you. Magnificent Mile is Chicago’s shopping and fashion strip, which stretches along Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River on the South side to Oak Street in the Near North Side. While the retailers are known for being rather prestigious (think Bloomingdales and Cartiers), there’s nothing like a little window shopping along a promenade lined with elegant lights and holiday displays to get you in the holiday spirit.
After your window shopping, it’s time for some good old fashioned bargain hunting. For a truly unique experience, head to Christkindlmarket, a festival and holiday market in Daley Square celebrating German-American culture. Here you’ll find unique gifts like beer steins and hand-carved nutcrackers and have the opportunity to look around for a good price among venders competing for your business.
A Cultured Christmas
Chicago is recognized around the country as an art, music, education, and cultural haven, representing a diversity of ethnicities, styles, and mediums. The holiday season is the perfect time to get a taste of some of the Chicago attractions that showcase this vibrant culture.
Art-lovers can’t leave Chicago without first visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, which just so happens to be offering seasonal programming with the exhibition “Open Something Better, ” featuring the unveiling of various new works. You’ll also enjoy stealing a kiss under the Great Mistle Toe, which measures four feet in diameter and hangs from the Museum’s Grand Staircase.
Next, make your way over to Museum Campus for a visit to the Shedd Aquarium, a spectacular underwater world on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Shedd also has the holidays on the mind: The Aquarium has brought back A Holiday Fantasea, a holiday-themed aquatic show that features Santa Claus among the dolphins and sea lions; a 4-D screening of The Polar Express; special holiday ornaments in the gift shop, and various activities for kids. While at Museum Campus, you’ll also want to stop in at the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum, which both have their own holiday surprises in store. You can visit all of these museums at a discounted price with a Go Chicago Card.
Last on your list, but certainly not least, see if you can catch a play while you’re in the city! With ticket prices much cheaper than NYC Broadway show, you can see classics like A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life without breaking the bank.