Chicago at Christmas with Kids


It’s that time of year again, and whether you’re paying the Windy City a visit or call it home, Chicago at Christmas has plenty of fun and festive activities for the whole family. From impressive light shows to dazzling Christmas tree displays, not to mention the excitement of paying Christkindlmarket a visit. Here are some family-friendly and festive activities to do with your little ones.


Christmas Around the WorldChristmas around the world exhibit chicago

Museums abound in and around Chicago, and the Museum of Science & Industry (MSI) is one of the most renowned and kid-friendly ones out there. Along with its interactive and engaging permanent exhibits, MSI also hosts their annual “Christmas Around the World” celebration, where they decorate more than 50 Christmas trees, all showcasing a different country/culture. The result is a festive round trip that your little ones will enjoy and remember for years to come. Entrance to the Museum is $21.95 for 12 year olds and up, $12.95 for 3-11 year olds, and free for infants. 


Light Up the Lake

A trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Navy Pier, and that is especially true during winter with their impressive indoor light show. Take in the gorgeous Christmas lights. Drink hot cocoa. Hit the ice skating rink. Introduce the little ones to Santa for a priceless photo. Entrance to Light Up the Lake is $15 for 3 year olds and up. Infants enter for free.



Speaking of Chicago Christmas lights, the famous (and free) Lincoln Park Zoo hosts an annual breathtaking light show, ZooLights, that locals frequent during the holidays. This outdoor christmas light show is open at night (4:30pm-10pm), and is free on Mondays, $5 per person every other day. Folks can still visit the Lincoln Park Zoo for free before the light show during the day.


Fun time in Chicago at Christmas chriskindlmarket christmas market in downtown chicago with kids
Chriskindlmarket with kids. Photo by Alexandra Fung from Upparent


To wrap up our list of fun Christmas spots in Chicago, a trip to one of the Christkindlmarkets is an absolute must. These markets get busy during the weekends and nights when locals are getting off of work. Visiting the Wrigley Field or Loop (Downtown Chicago) markets is best done during a weekday (still expect a crowd, nonetheless). Both markets sell ornaments, wool hats and mittens, soft pretzels, roasted nuts, Raclette sandwiches, and more. The main difference between the two markets is size. The Loop is larger and receives more foot traffic, whereas Wrigley is smaller and has an ice skating rink. For a more family-friendly experience, we’d recommend the Wrigley Field market, as its smaller size makes it easier to navigate for families. Both markets are free to enter.


For curious parents who want to learn more about traveling with bébé in Chicago, our Chicago Destination Guide and Itineraries have been recently updated, containing helpful info for navigating this big, beautiful city with the whole family.

Have you visited any of these venues/events before? Let us know in the comments. Happy traveling!


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