Buckle up and take your holiday lights enjoyment to all new heights from Santa’s point of view, 1,200 feet above the bundled-up crowd. Chicago Helicopter Experience, a helicopter touring company with a heliport in Bridgeport, is offering adventure seekers sky-high views of Chicago’s magnificent light displays. Whether you’re taking the family or escaping for a much-needed date night, read on for an experience you won’t soon forget.
The charismatic pilot gives a guided tour of the lights at Lincoln Park Zoo, Navy Pier, Millennium Park and the Chicago skyline, which is breathtaking no matter the time of year but exponentially so during the holidays.
photo: Bird’s Eye View of LP Zoo
Duration of Tour
Expect the entire experience to last an hour. When you arrive, all participants must go through pre-flight training where staff covers safety procedures and passengers practice working the seatbelt. The time spent in the air is approximately 17 minutes.
photo: Navy Pier from 1,200 feet up
Transportation and Parking
There is plenty of free parking at the facility. If you opt for the train, hop on the Orange line and take the Halsted stop. The entrance kinda sneaks up on you, so keep your eyes peeled for the gravel lot.
While You Wait
You’ll be asked to arrive early for your flight, but you can entertain yourself and the kids with a variety of games like cornhole (aka bags), connect four, UNO and Jenga. There is also a separate room with a flight simulator, fun facts about Chicago, information on helicopter history and interactive games.
photo: looking onto Lake Shore Dr. from over Lake Michigan
Good to Know
- Be sure to bring your driver’s license, as you’ll need to show a form of identification just as you would at the airport.
- The helicopter seats 6, plus the pilot. You can schedule yourself for a tour open to the public or private tours are available upon request and for an additional cost.
- Passengers will be provided noise-canceling headphones with a headset. Be warned: everyone on board can hear what you’re saying through the mic.
- The cabin is temperature-controlled, so dress as though you’re going for a car ride.
- This tour is appropriate for any age, provided the kiddo can sit up on their own in the seat.
- Just in case you’re wondering, no one has ever gotten sick on the tour—the question was asked and answered. So, don’t get yourself worked up over concerns about motion or air sickness. You won’t experience the same turbulence you find on a plane ride—it feels more like floating in the clouds.
- After the tour, riders get a picture taken next to the helicopter and receive a digital copy.
CHE Chicago Heliport
2420 S. Halsted, Bridgeport
— Maria Chambers