Several years ago, my future daughter-in law told me that I would absolutely love visiting Macy’s in Chicago at Christmas. I love all things Christmas so I added it to my bucket list. I checked it of my list last weekend, but I want to do it again next Christmas.
Downtown Chicago is very crowded and busy during the Christmas. Late November is a less busy time to visit and weekdays are a little less crowded. We were concerned about getting access to everything we wanted to see but our visit turned out to be almost perfect.
Most of these events will be open until the first week of January.
Best Christmas Sights in Chicago:
Macy’s on State Street
Macy’s on State Street is a block long building with 8 floors and formerly housed the Marshall Fields Store. The store has pretty decorations including the pretty outside window displays and the 45 foot Great Tree in the Walnut Room. A Santaland is located on the 5th floor where children can visit Santa Claus. Merchandise includes department store items, a Holiday Lane Christmas Shoppe, and Frango Mints. There are several restaurants and bars but the Walnut Room is a popular Christmas destination. The Great Tree is located in the center and can also be observed from the 8th floor. The window display theme this year is “Reasons to Believe” and was unveiled November 4th.
The Walnut Room has a holiday menu beginning in early November. Reservations are not taken but customers may reserve their spot by checking in with the hostess desk on the 7th floor by the Frango Mint section. Customers are given a pager and approximate reservation time. Customer can shop and tour the Macy’s building while waiting to be called. Diners can view the Great Tree as they eat. The menu features home cooked meals, luscious desserts, and specialty cocktails. Live Fairy characters roam the restaurant with magic wands and buckets of fairy dust and are available to grant wishes. Holiday dining begins November 1st and ends Dec merry 31st. The Great Tree will be up until January 7th.
This little German market is located at 50 W Washington St. which is Daley Plaza. It opened November 17, 2017 through will remain open until December 24th during the hours of 11am to 9pm. Admission is free. Venders accept mostly cash only. German food, drink, pastry, Christmas ornaments, and gifts are for sale.
There is a large, prettty, glittering decorated Christmas tree at the entrance, an ice skating rink, and Christmas music. A tree lighting ceremony with music performances and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa held November 17, 2017. Other displays in the area include the wreathing of the lion statues at the Chicago Art Institute, caroling at the Cloud Sculture, and acticities at the ice skating rink.
Lincoln Park ZooLights
The Holiday ZooLights are open most nights beginning November 24, 2017 through January 7, 2018. Check the website for dates and time. (Lpzoo.org). The zoo has gorgeous 3D light displays, holiday food and drink, craft activities, live ice sculpture demonstrations, rides, shopping, and a musical light show. You can also visit the animals in the zoo. ZooLights Evenings are free.
Museum of Science and Industry
Christmas Around the World Exhibit and Holidays of Light
The exhibit opened November 16th of this year and will close January 7, 2018. This year was the 75th anniversary of the Exhibit. There are more than 50 trees on display featuring cultures from around the world.There are also cultural performances every weekend and snowfall every half hour everyday. We didn’t get there but the pictures on the website are gorgeous.
We rode the Amtrak to Chicago last Saturday and met my sister who lives in the suburbs. We gave her a basic plan of what we wanted to do and she mapped it out for us. It was about a mile walk to Macy do the train station. We arrived at Macy’s at 11:00 am and went dir toy to the reservation station in the Frango Mints are on the 7th floor. The line was very long already. My husband agreed to wait in line for the Walnut Room reservation pager, while my sister and I looked at the decorations.
We viewed the Great Tree from the 8th floor and walked around The Macy’s Store. The Christmas decorations were lovely. We walked around the outside of the store and viewed each building. My husband called said he had gotten the pager and that we had an hour and a half to sightsee. He wanted to relax in the bar next to the Walnut Room.
My sister and I had plenty of time to visit the Christkindlmarket, the lighted tree at Millennium Park, and the ice skating rink.
The Christkindlmarket was already busy. We managed to get a cup of hot chocolate in a souvenir cup, gingerbread cookies, and a cream cheese frosted pretzel. Very delicious! It was too crowded to shop.
The tree at Millennium Park was very pretty but looks much more impressive at night. We watched the skaters for a while and returned to Macy’s. After a short wait in the bar, we were seated at the edge of the Walnut Room.
The Walnut Room is magical. We ate chicken pot pie, turkey and mashed potatoes, and meatloaf and mashed potatoes as we viewed the Great Tree. It was very, very good and the tree is just beautiful. We had Poinsettia Cocktails which were sparking wine and pomegranate juice. The Poinsettia Cocktail come with a souvenir cup. For dessert, we shared a slice of chocolate Frango Mint Cheesecake. The Wish Fairy came a long and my sister and I each made a wish and was sprinkled with fairy dust! It was an amazing experience.
We made our way down the Miracle Mile to the John Hancock Building to catch the Holiday Lights Trolley Tour. We had tickets for 5:30. We were a little early so we decided to go to the Signature Lounge on the 95th floor. There were long lines to get in and by the time we into the bar, we just had time to use the restroom and look at the gorgeous views of Lake Michigan. The Signature Lounge is free and has some pretty impressive views of Lake Michigan and Chicago. Drinks and food are served there. The Women’s Restroom also has floor length window with views of the lake.
We boarded the Holiday Lights Trolley. The tour is 2 1/2 hours long.the tour begins with a stop at the Sprinkles Cupcake Shop where you get a “free” red velvet cupcake. The unusual thing about Sprinkles is that they have vending machines for cupcakes. The trolley then took us through the city to the Lincoln Park ZooLights. The guide played Christmas music and gave us a lot of historic information about that part of town. We spent about an hour at the zoo looking at the light displays and some of the animals. We returned to the Christkindlmarket and did. It actually finish the tour as we had already seen that area. The trolley finishes the tour by driving by Millennnium Park and State Street. The trolley was very nice but we probably would have enjoyed taking a taxi to the zoo and spending a little more time there instead.
We loved our Christmas trip. My only regret is that we did not stay another day and visit the Christmas Around the World Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.