Well, I normally look forward to updating this post about my favorite holiday activities in Chicago… but this year is far from normal ? So when requests starting coming in, I panicked a little bit. What do I even suggest?! What is even safe?!
Then you guys CAME THROUGH for me with so many awesome suggestions from limited capacity outdoor events to drive through light shows to drive in movies. Chicago and it’s suburbs have definitely gotten creative, and it’s really awesome to see! I guess there is more to do than just walk around your neighborhood and admire the lights… although that’s always fun too. Especially with a spiked hot chocolate in your mug!
Before we dive in, I just want to note that I got a lot of great suggestions for virtual and at-home activities, but I’ve been working on a separate roundup about that topic for next week. I wanted to keep them separate since those options are available to everyone no matter where they live. This post is solely for the people in the Chicagoland area who are itching to get out of their house… while wearing a mask and distancing, of course!
COVID Safe Holiday Activities in Chicago
Going to Zoo Lights is one of my personal favorite holiday activities. It’s pretty magical to walk around Lincoln Park Zoo completely decorated in lights. There’s even holiday music playing wherever you go! The only difference this year is that you need to purchase a ticket before you go – but at just $5, that is totally worth it. It looks like Thursday, December 17th is the only night that isn’t sold out, so if you’re interested grab those tickets now!
Unfortunately, The McCormick Tribute Skating Rink is closed this year – but you can still skate on the Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon! Due to COVID, they are limiting capacity and a reservation is required to skate.
This is the holiday activity that I am most excited about this year! On December 18th, 19th, and 20th from 5-8pm, Ravenswood residents are encouraged to “light up” their homes with their best holiday displays. They will have a welcome table at a different local businesses each night, where you can pick up a free glow-stick necklace and bracelet, and/or purchase a warm drink and some snacks.
This cute little Bucktown tavern has launched a pop up holiday market where you can get holiday cocktails like hot toddies and mulled wine, shop from their bottle selection, or even build a holiday gift basket with ingredients from local brands.
Replay Lincoln Park has turned their parking lot into a Christmas wonderland. For $75 per vehicle (you can have multiple people in your vehicle!), you will be able to watch a movie screening, plus appearances from Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves, The Grinch, and other holiday characters! Tickets are available multiple nights a week until December 24th.
Visit The Big Christmas Trees
Jack’s Winter Walk is a huge pop up village in the historic Goose Island. You can pick a Christmas Tree, capture one of their many Instagrammable moments, or just walk around with a hot chocolate and enjoy all of the decor! Due to COVID, masks are required and visits are limited to 1.5 hours.
Lincoln Yards is playing all of the classics right now, from Elf to Christmas Vacation! Tickets are currently sold out, but you can join their waitlists!
I actually didn’t know that the Chicago Botanic Garden had a light show, but it looks beautiful! They have a one way trail and limited capacity this year and you must purchase your ticket ahead of time.
This Drive Through Lights Show at Northbrook Court looks so impressive! For this show, you MUST stay in your car and you must also purchase tickets online before you go.
If you’re up for taking a drive out to Lisle, I hear amazing things about the light show at The Morton Arboretum. They are currently sold out, but additional ticket will be released every Monday if space becomes available.
My sister just went here and she said the kids LOVED it! A great option if you’re already out in the suburbs or can’t get a ticket to the Zoo Lights downtown.
Did I miss any of your favorite COVID safe holiday activities? Let me know in the comments!