Places to go; people to see. You’re buzzing around town like a regular holiday busy bee. Don’t forget to pencil in time to leave the hive for family entertainment. We’ve made it easy by rounding up ideas that range from holiday lights at the zoos to brunching with Santa.

photo: Cheryl Mann

IN THE CITY

Lakeview

Enjoy Milk + Cookies Happy Hour at A Little Photo Studio
Keep up with a fun childhood tradition and get your little ones photo with Santa! As a bonus, Blocks Babysitters will be on hand to help kids make snow globes and keep the kids entertained.  As a bonus, cookies and milk will be served, Christmas classics will be projected on the big screen and there will be a play toy corner. Fri. Event details.

Lincoln Park

Watch ZooLights Illuminate the Night Sky
One of the nation’s only free-admission zoos flips the holiday switch with ZooLights. With the light displays throughout the grounds your fam can stroll through the twinkling winter wonderland created by over 2 million lights, take photos with Santa, enjoy food and drinks, watch ice carving demos, partake in carousel rides and go-’rounds on the Lionel Train Adventure. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Loop

Experience the Magic of Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Cirque Dreams Holidaze brings its popular and electrifying stage performance to The Chicago Theatre. This critically-acclaimed extravaganza is a combination of a Broadway musical and a Cirque adventure wrapped into a spectacular holiday gift for the entire family. Fri-Sun. Event details.

Millennium Park

Skate with a Pretty Sweet View
Take a spin on the ice with a magnificent view at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Navy Pier

Get Your Winter Thrill Fill at Navy Pier
Get your thrill fill at Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest, which has rides for all ages. Being Chicago’s biggest and best indoor winter playground, it features 170,000 square feet filled with rides, giant slides, indoor ice skating and holiday decor that is sure to get you into the holiday spirit. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

South Loop

Spend a Night in Awe at Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker
The question isn’t if you are going to see this holiday spectacular. It’s when. This is the third year of Tony Award®-winning choreographer Christopher Weeldon’s Nutcracker, and the focus is on our very own city at the turn-of-the century. Brilliantly reimagined for a new generation, this new version of the epic tale centers on the 1893 World’s Fair. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

West Loop

Ooh, La, La! Jinglefest at Chicago French Market
Chicago French Market invites families for a day of holiday gift shopping and holiday cookie decorating, photos with the man in red and a letters to Santa station. Sat. Event details.

Wicker Park

Sneak in a Kids Night Out at The Laboratory
What could be more fun than a night filled with pizza, Spa Chemistry, and making your own signature holiday gifts? Kids strap on their safety goggles as they imagine, create, calculate, and design their own unique scented products perfect for giving this holiday season. Sat. Event details.

THE ‘BURBS

Brookfield

Brunch with Santa at the Zoo
Save up your appetite and head to Brookfield Zoo for a delectable all-you-can-eat holiday brunch buffet featuring an appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Claus, who will be available for photos. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Experience Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
Chicagoland’s largest lights festival, Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo features over one million LED lights. Indoor exhibits remain open for viewing of animals. Guests can take part in singing to animals and special Zoo Chats. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Homewood

Brighten the Weekend with Holiday Lights
The annual Holiday Lights in Homewood offers all the holiday traditions in one evening: reindeer petting zoo, holiday music, ice sculpting demos, tree lighting, a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and a special showing of Home Alone. Fri. Event details.

Lisle

Illumination at The Morton Arboretum
Returning for a 6th year is the crowd pleasing Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum.  Walk the mile-long path and gaze in amazement at the LED-lit trees through the winter woods.  Bright light shows set to The Nutcracker music and glowing trees that respond to touch and sound will amuse and stimulate the senses of all ages! Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Schaumburg

Build Memories at Holiday Bricktacular at LEGOLAND Discovery Center
LEGO fanatics are invited to explore holiday-themed builds, participate in their own challenges, take part in a scavenger hunt in MINILAND Chicago’s winter wonderland, take advantage of photo opps with a Christmas sleigh built entirely out of bricks and letter writing to the Master Model Builder with suggestions on future holiday builds. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

— Maria Chambers

RELATED STORIES:

ADVERTISEMENT

Indoor Water Parks That Will Save Your Winter

Holiday Shows That Will Dazzle the Whole Family

Timber Time: Christmas Tree Farms to Put on Your List

. . . and check out our Events calendar for even more suggestions.