Wintertime in Chicago: Three Great Ways to Celebrate the Cold in the Windy City

December is a magical month no matter where you travel, but for those who plan on visiting the iconic Windy City of Chicago, IL this Christmas season, there are many fabulous opportunities waiting. Whether you are there with your kids or just a kid at heart, consider these great options to get you in the holiday spirit.

Snow in Chicago

Winter WonderFest at the Navy Pier

Each year, Chicago’s Navy Pier is transformed into an indoor world of wonder for children and adults alike. Navy Pier is located on the banks of Lake Michigan and includes 50 acres of parks, gardens, walking paths, shops and Chicago attractions.

Winter WonderFest seeks to bring the magic of the holiday season to tourists and Chicago natives alike by offering indoor entertainment, rides, and activities. It runs from December 2, 2011- January 8, 2012 and includes an extensive list of rides, attractions and activities. Since the festivities are indoors, no matter the weather (which is always unpredictable in Chicago) you are sure to have a good time. In addition, admission to Navy Pier is included on the Go Chicago Card as well as ride passes for the carousel, Ferris wheel and Adventure Golf, meaning it can serve as one element of the total Chicago tourist package.

Ice Skating

What is more iconic than ice skating in winter? In Chicago, there are several venues that offer ice skating during the cold months. One option can actually be combined with Winter WonderFest, and that is at Black Hawks Indoor ice rink inside the Navy Pier; including ice skating with your admission to WinterFest is an additional $3, but includes the price of skate rental. Since the rink is indoors, this is an excellent option any time.

Those willing to brave the elements also have the option of going to Millennium Park’s McCormack Tribune Ice Rink located at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Washington Street. Millennium Park is the venue made famous by President Barak Obama’s acceptance speech in the 2008 election and is home to many additional activities, concerts and events all year long. Skating at Millennium Park is free and lasts through March. Skate rental is available onsite for $10.

German Shopping at Christkindlmarket

Each December, Chicago’s Daley Plaza is transformed into a traditional German holiday marketplace. With roots in 16th century Nuremburg, Germany, Christkindlmarket is a one-of-a-kind open air experience in the heart of Chicago. The market offers both the traditional European-style open air feeling and exhibitions with distinct American flare.

At Christkindlmarket, food vendors straight from Germany offer traditional beer and wine, sausages and wursts, and even traditional baked goods such as Stollen. There are also several crafts vendors from Germany and the US alike offering everything from blown glass to wooden toys and handmade ornaments perfect for holiday giving. Throughout the month of December (the market closes on Christmas Eve) there are also performances from local school choirs, German folk singers and other professional musicians.

Chicago in December

Of course, there are many great activities, museums, tours and sights to visit in this amazing city year-round, but clearly, spending time in Chicago in December provides tourists with a wealth of unique opportunities. This year, taking a trip to the Midwest may be the highlight of your holiday experience.