Family Fun

Colder Temps Bring the Most Heartwarming Family Fun to Chicago

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art

Frigid temps have come early, so let’s embrace it by getting in the mood for all things holidays. The Christkindlmarket, outdoor ice-skating, and the trees at the Museum of Science and Industry are unveiled this weekend. So bundle up and let’s go!

Photo courtesy of Corduroy/Broadway Playhouse

Cloudbuster at the Chicago Children’s Museum
The Chicago Children’s Museum always has so much to offer, especially in the winter when days at the parks are limited. Its newest addition has us so excited, and it’s one that’s here to stay! The 37-foot-high play structure is full of unique twists and turns—you’ll never experience it the same way twice. Explore multiple levels and reach the top “apartment” designed to look just like a Chicago apartment.
Details: Now open; $18 for nonresidents and $15 for Chicago residents

Make a Date With Santa
If you are ready for the holidays, you’re in luck. The Fashion Outlets of Chicago is roaring to bring Santa HQ back—and better than ever. There will be plenty of treats and fun attractions to get you in the festive mood early!
Details: Through December 24 (closed on Thanksgiving)

The beloved bear returns for the holiday season to the Broadway Playhouse to warm the hearts of families, who will see the production taken straight from the pages of the childhood-favorite book. The one-hour run time makes it perfect for toddlers and up.
Details: Through January 5, 2020; $16

Photo courtesy of the Fashion Outlets of Chicago/Jamming in My Jammies

“Christmas Around the World”
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, this annual show at the Museum of Science and Industry is worth your time. It’s hard not to be wowed by the 50 trees that showcase how the holidays are celebrated around the world. While you’re there, explore the other exhibitions that make this museum one of the best in Chicago!
Details: Through January 5, 2020

Visit the Christkindlmarket
It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of year to spread joyous cheer, bundle up, and eat festive snacks at this annual market. Find giant pretzels for the kids and a boot of warm beverages for you, and explore all the fun, German-inspired goods across the market.
Details: November 15–December 24; free to attend

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Join Mickey and Minnie at this annual parade and event on Michigan Avenue. We suggest getting there early if you want to see anything, but there will also be plenty to do while you wait: hang in the kids’ zone, visit Santa, and listen to live music. If the Friday crowds are too much, come back on Saturday to do all the activities with slightly smaller crowds.
Details: Parade on November 22, festival on November 23, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Photo by True Shot Studios/Courtesy of Christkindlmarket Chicago

Chicago Toy and Game Fair
For something fun and different, take your kids to this toy and game fair to preview tons of soon-to-be favorites and participate in a variety of interactive exhibitions—Frozen 2 scavenger hunt, anyone? Your children will come home in the know about next year’s hottest birthday gifts.
Details: November 23 and 24; $14 for adults, $7 for kids

Unwrapped at MCA
Get in the mood for the holidays at the Museum of Contemporary Art with this free event. Kids (and adults!) will love decorating a gingerbread replica of the museum (how cool is that?!), and to make it even more fun, you can grab hot chocolate from the Marisol coffee counter. There will be cooking demos, live music, and a holiday market with local artisans. A great day for the whole family!
Details: November 23, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; free

Photo by JB Spector/Courtesy of the Museum of Science and Industry

The Petty Kings Rock-and-Roll Brunch at Chop Shop
Come for the live music and stay for brunch while this Tom Petty cover band rocks hits like “Free Fallin’” and “American Girl.” The buffet brunch will include such all-American favorites as bacon, sausage, and eggs, with beer and Bloody Marys for the adults, of course.
Details: November 23, 10 a.m.; $40 for general admission and full brunch buffet, $15 for kids under 12

Polar Bear Express Train Ride
Hop aboard the Polar Bear Express for a one-hour adventure complete with a reading of The Polar Express, hot chocolate, and cookies on the way to meet Santa. A souvenir golden ticket and sleigh bell are yours to keep, and there will be plenty of other fun surprises along the way!
Details: November 23–December 29; $60 for adults, $50 for kids

It’s time to brush off those skates and hit the rinks, because starting November 15, most of the city’s outdoor rinks will be ready for action! You can visit the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park or the ice rink at Millennium Park for all the twirls and whirls you desire.
Details: Rinks open November 15

Photo courtesy of Maggie Daley Park

Marisol Drag Queen Brunch
Looking for something unique and delicious to do? The Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting a fantastic brunch, complete with story time from two of Chicago’s best drag queens, Lucy Stoole and Kat Sass. Enjoy the magic of Marisol, the beautifully designed Jason Hammel restaurant, while indulging in babka French toast or shrimp and grits with a side of culture for the whole family.
Details: December 1; story time at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., brunch 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m.