Chicago has been named by several publications among the country’s top three destinations. Among the reasons: great theater, good food choices, world-class museums and friendly people who are willing to help with directions.
However, if visiting family or friends they also have some ideas of what to do and where to go. The problem is how to fit everything in a limited time and what ought to be done ahead of time.
A lot of Chicago holiday events start Thanksgiving weekend even when it comes early such as this year, 2018, when it feels like it is arriving ahead of time on Nov. 22.
Tip: The day after Thanksgiving is a mad shopping scene downtown and on the Magnificent Mile (North Michigan Avenue) so work up a turkey-sized appetite by spending Thanksgiving Day downtown, instead. Then, head to where-ever your feast is for your yummy reward. The next couple of days see a play or explore an area near but outside Chicago.
- It’s OK to watch on TV but to do something different, splurge and reserve a seat in the VIP section in front of Macy’s State Street store. Visit Chicago’s Thanksgiving parade to reserve seats. The parade is 8-11 a.m. on State Street.
- Do Macy’s State Street store holiday windows. If at the parade, take time to ooh and aah at the magical scenes in Macy’s windows. Started in Chicago by Marshall Field’s the department store windows have charmed shoppers State Street. Decorated with toys since 1897 and transitioned to holiday windows with Uncle Mistletoe in 1946, peering into the windows to see the stories and themes that Field’s and then Macy’s have is a beloved Chicago-area holiday tradition.Macy’s State Street windows will be decorated from Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 5, 2019.
- No, don’t leave downtown yet. Walk a couple of blocks west on Washington Street (south side of Macy”s) to Daley Plaza between Clark and Dearborn Streets to browse eat and shop at the Christkindlmarket. Based on the holiday market in Nuremberg, Germany, the Chicago version has also become a Chicago tradition since 1995. In 2018 it is up from Nov. 16 to Dec. 24.
- Over the weekend, use the Thanksgiving theme to see and then discuss “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live from Chicago.” The production, based on Frank Capra’s film, has also become a holiday tradition at American Blues Theater, Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. The show features an original score and holiday carols. Plus, the Bedford Falls “residents” treat the audience to milk and cookies. The show runs from Nov. 15, 2018 to Jan. 5, 2019. For tickets visit American Blues Theater.
- Drive north to the Chicago Botanic Garden to fall in love with the Wonderland Express. The train themes sounds like it maybe for kids but adults love it just as much because it includes terrific mock-ups of the Chicago area’s highlights from skyscrapers and Millennial Park’s “Bean” to Wrigley Field and from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, South Shore’s Cultural Center and the B’hai temple in Wilmette. Don’t worry about the “snow falling inside on your shoulder, its harmless. Do stop in the adjacent greenhouses to see poinsettias and topiaries. The Botanic Garden is just east of Edens Expressway at Lake Cook Road bordering Highland Park.This is a timed and ticketed event so for tickets go to Chicago Botanic WEX.
Plan ahead, then go for it!