chicago 2015 holiday activity guide

Winter Break 2015: Chicago Family Activity Guide

Ahh the Holidays! It really is my favorite time of year. I love all the traditions, music, and the Holiday spirit! This can be an especially fun time when you share it with little ones. I love to see the joy on their faces as they experience a bit of that holiday magic! That is until they are faced with boredom and cabin fever, then no one is happy! Luckily there are plenty of options for holiday fun for all ages in the Chicagoland area. There are too many options to name, but here are a few good ideas to get you started for a fun holiday break with your family.

Holiday Lights

Okay, okay. Maybe I’m stating the obvious a bit here. Holiday Lights are probably the first thing that jump to your mindchicago 2015 holiday activity guide when looking for a great winter weather activity, but read on all the same. Maybe there are some new options to consider.

Morton Arboretum – Lisle, IL – I pass this location every day during my commute, and I always get excited when the lights start to go up. This is certainly one of the most beautiful displays I’ve seen. They do offer events for young children, but this may be a better option if you have older kids who would enjoy this more than the blinking cartoon displays at other locations. This seems a bit more “classy.”

Zoo Lights – Chicago, IL or Brookfield, IL – This is a great evening outing for the entire family. Zoo lights are even better than most light shows, because you can see animals, and participate in other activities as well. Just bundle up, and be prepared for a bit of walking. I recommend you bring a stroller or wagon. Even if your little one is at that “I wanna walk by myself” age, you may want to bring the stroller as backup.

Holiday Trolley Express – Carol Stream, IL – This is a great somewhat indoor option that can help you avoid sensory overload or cranky fits from frozen fingers. The Carol Stream Park District offers a festive trolley ride to enjoy some of the beautiful light displays in the area, followed by some holiday fun.

Christmas Around the World – Museum of Science and Industry – This is a fabulous option, not only for great light displays, but also for tons of other fun stuff to do. Museum of Science and Industry sets up beautiful trees with decorations from around the world. Check their website in advance, because they also offer free holiday concerts or other events. When I went last year there was a Russian Children’s Choir performing holiday classics in Russian. It was beautiful, and a nice relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the museum.

Santa Claus

Ho! Ho! Ho! Again, I’m probably stating another obvious one here. Everyone knows you have to visit Santa at Christmas time! But what if your child can’t handle the sensory overload of a busy shopping mall or wait in the long line without a meltdown? Don’t worry. Santa doesn’t just sit at the mall all day! He likes to get out and meet kids at Holiday parties or pancake breakfasts. Here are some other Santa alternatives.

Breakfast or Lunch with Santa – Check your local listings. Many park districts, Boy Scout troops, or even rotary clubs offer pancake breakfasts with Santa for a reasonable amount. I even found one in Rolling Meadows that is free if you bring a canned food donation. Sit back and enjoy a nice breakfast with your family, and wait your turn to meet Santa in peace. Sometimes he may even have a chance to come over to your table and greet you!

Holiday Express – Again, check your local listings. I started to look at all the options, and there were too many to type! Almost every park district seems to be offering a fun “Polar Express” type outing this year. Enjoy a nice holiday train ride (Hooray, another indoor light show option too!) to the North Pole and meet Santa. Many of these train rides are also a pajama party like in the movie, and offer hot cocoa or other goodies.

Hannukkah Fun

Hanukkah oh Hanukkah! There are lots of fun ways to enjoy the Festival of Lights in the Chicagoland area. Here are a few of the most exciting suggestions I found.

Menorah Workshop – select Home Depot locations – enjoy Hanukkah snacks while you learn to make your own menorahs!

Hanukkah Concerts – There are many options out there for concerts as well, but I recommend you look into the one at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Hanukkah Happenings – Vernon Hills, IL – raffles, crafts, photos, dreidel spinning, and more!

Hanukkah Party: A Special Time for Families with Special Needs – Northbrook, IL – I couldn’t have been more excited when I heard about this! This is a great opportunity for some of our own families from here at North Shore Pediatric Therapy to get together and enjoy the holiday. Celebrate with music, games, a candle lighting, and the Hanukkah story.

Indoor Alternatives

Candy and Craft activities – check your local park district, library, Home Depot, craft store, or candy store. Many are offering free or inexpensive classes to make candy, holiday cookies, ornaments, or holiday decorations.

Doll Tea Party (with Fancy Nancy) – Arlington Heights Park District – I went to many Doll Tea parties as a girl, and I loved them! Let your little one dress up like their doll for extra fun.

Holiday movies – many of the small local theatres offer a free or $1 screening of holiday classics. Check with your local theatre for more information.

Frozen® party – Heller Nature Center – Highland Park, IL – Let it go! Let it go, and let the kids go have a blast. This sounds like a ton of fun. It makes me want to braid my hair and hug a snowman, but unfortunately this ones for kids only. Darn it!

Grinch’s candy cane hunt – Park Ridge, IL – Why wait until Easter when you can have a candy cane hunt right now?!

See, there is no reason to get the Winter blues! There are plenty of exciting options out there. For more great ideas check out Oaklee’s Guide or Chicago Kids, or check with your local library and park district. Whether you stay in, or go out, enjoy your holiday season. Happy Holidays!