Things To Do
The Season’s Best…
The “most wonderful time of the year” again graces the suburbs of Chicago, with gala events and festivities certain to make everyone’s season sparkle. This year, our Partners host a strong line-up of superb holiday memory-makers. So, browse our Season’s Best and Holiday Happenings guides to learn about the many seasonal celebrations the whole family can enjoy this year!
Stratford Square Mall
Spread the cheer and join us at Stratford Square for a holiday season of fun! From Photos with Santa, Storytime with Santa, Lunch with Santa, a Holiday Artisan Show, Crafts with Santa, holiday performances to a host of entertainment venues you can choose from to continue the fun! Bowling, movies, jump houses, kids train and so much more! Visit www.StratfordMall.com for more information on stores, entertainment venues and events.
Pick your own memories at Apple Holler orchard and family farm with a farm to table restaurant, bakery, gift shop, offering pick your own apples, peaches, pears and pumpkins. Visitors will enjoy four seasons of family fun and activities including; Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides, children’s shows, orchard and farm tours, school field trips, hayrides, barnyard animals and outdoor play areas. Apple Holler is located between Racine and Kenosha, WI at exit 337 off I-94 (5006 S. Sylvania Ave. Sturtevant, WI 53177) Call (262) 884-7100, or visit www.appleholler.com , for further information.
Ben’s Christmas Tree Farm
This year, treat your whole family to a wonderful day at Ben’s Christmas Tree Farm! Take in the sights as horse-drawn wagons ferry you into nine varieties of sustainably grown trees spread across the 50 acre farm. Once you have found your perfect tree, enjoy free hot cocoa in the warming barn, or visit the farm animals. Ben’s will retrieve, shake, and wrap your tree, and will even tie your tree to your vehicle, leaving you to enjoy a day in the country. Leashed pets welcome. Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 9am-4pm, Thanksgiving thru Christmas. Trees $6 to $9 /ft., most activities Free! See Benstreefarm.com for details.
Village of Arlington Heights
The Holiday Season is Wonderful in Arlington Heights! Arlington Heights is the perfect holiday destination for your family. It all starts with our grand Tree Lighting Ceremony on November 24th. Great events continue with Small Business Saturday on November 25th. Come out and shop at independent and national retailers in our award-winning Downtown. And don’t forget the Rotary Santa Run on December 2nd, a 5K race featuring hundreds of St. Nicks dashing through the streets. With great shopping, entertainment, and events, Arlington Heights is the place to be this holiday season! For more information, please visit www.DiscoverArlington.com for details!
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic presented by Com Ed and Meijer, is the area’s largest lights festival, and runs Saturdays & Sundays in December through December 17, and all week December 26 through 31. The event features over one million LED lights, a 41 foot talking tree, ice carvers, larger- than life-light displays, carolers, seasonal treats, warm drinks, and more. The Zoo opens at 10am with festivities starting at 4pm. Get info at BrookfieldZoo.org/magic .
Kohl Children’s Museum
17 interactive hands-on exhibits to spark curiosity and inspire a love of learning for children ages birth to 8. Through March 4th, test your design and construction skills in our Build It! exhibit. Recreate famous Chicago skyline sights, test the strength of your buildings on our earthquake table, and dive into our large blue Imagination Playground blocks to build whatever you can imagine! Autumn is our quietest traffic season, and the best time to see for yourself why we’re The Place Where Awesome Lives! Located at 2100 Patriot Blvd, Glenview. 847-832-6600. kcmgc.org .
11th annual Festival of Lights
Presented by the Aurora Noon Rotary Club
Enjoy the magic of the 2017 Festival of Lights. Featuring a 20’ tall SINGING Christmas Tree. This year we will be unveiling our illuminated “WEISNER Skating Pond” honoring the Past Mayor of Aurora. This is the largest FREE outdoor holiday light displays in Northern Illinois and is presented by the Aurora Noon Rotary Club in partnership with the City of Aurora. It is a mile long drive-through of spectacular displays. Staged at Phillips Park, 1000 Ray Moses Drive, Aurora. www.aurorafestivaloflights.com Open nightly 5 to 9; (5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday); Nov. 24 through Dec. 26.
Cascade Mountain…where kids ski free!
One of the most popular ski resorts in the Midwest is Cascade Mountain. Located on Interstate 90/94 between Madison and Wisconsin Dells, Cascade is a large area with 45 ski trails, 12 lifts and snow tubing. Phase I of a three-phase expansion project has was completed last season. This $9 million dollar project included two new lifts, nine new trails, additional snowmaking, an expanded main lodge, paved parking and base area improvements. The Wisconsin Dells is just 15 minutes away from Cascade, and the city of Portage is even closer. Families with children save a bundle at Cascade Mountain because kids 12 and under ski free when accompanied by a paying adult. For more information, go to www.cascademountain.com .
Have fun and be active during the holiday season at Funtopia Glenview! Tons of amazing attractions and awesome challenges for guests of all skills and levels. Come climb on our Fun walls, explore ultra realistic caves, dare sliding down a 20ft slide or challenge yourself on our Rope Course! With so many activities, we guarantee you will have a blast! Funtopia also hosts birthday parties and group events. 2050 Tower Dr., Glenview, IL 60026. For more information visit www.funtopiaworld.com/glenview or call 224-432-5453.
Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports
Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports located at 5750 Lakeside Dr. in Lisle Illinois is Chicagolands most convenient place to ski and snowboard. Whether it’s your first time on the snow, or you’re a seasoned pro looking to brush up on new equipment Four Lakes has the “anyone can do” attitude that is integral to your success at skiing and snowboarding! Experience all that Four Lakes has to offer! For more information, visit: www.fourlakesnowsports.com .
Participate in Downtown Oak Park’s annual Cookie Walk! A $20 participation fee includes a souvenir cookie tin and a map of over 45 participating shops and restaurants to collect a cookie or candy at each stop. Catch a glimpse of Saint Nicholas, enjoy a variety of family-friendly acts and warm up inside the hospitality tent with free hot chocolate and coffee. www.downtownoakpark.net Saturday, December 2nd from 11a.m. – 3 p.m. Marion Street, Lake Street and North Boulevard.
TransWorld’s Jewelry, Fashion & Accessories Show
Holiday Shopping At It’s BEST! Don’t miss TransWorld’s Jewelry, Fashion & Accessories Show coming to the Renaissance Hotel & Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL on November 30-December 3, 2017. Right before the busy holiday season, you will find jewelry, fashion, accessories, gift, beauty, home décor, gourmet foods, housewares, and more for that special celebration. NEW for this year’s show is KID’S DAY on Sunday, December 3rd only. Bring your kids (ages 9-16) on Sunday to shop and have a good time with you. Kids register on site only and will receive a FREE HOLIDAY GIFT. This is your special invitation to visit the Schaumburg Holiday JF&A Show. For complete details on KIDS DAY, and to register yourself, visit our website at: www.jfashow.com .
Westmont Park District
The annual Holly Days Winter Festival returns to Westmont! Join us on November 19 as we begin the festival with Decorating Day; shop at the Gift Bazaar, donate to the Food Drive and enjoy a tasty pancake breakfast prepared by the Lions Club. Opening Night, complete with the Frosty and Friends Parade and Santa’s arrival on Saturday, November 25 is not to be missed. Don’t miss our Snow-Much Fun Night on December 16 with sled dogs, ice sculpting, broom ball, curling and s’mores! For a complete list of Holly Days activities, please visit www.hollydaysfestival.com or by calling 630.963.5252.
Now part of Vail Resorts with $13M in Renovations. Celebrate 80 years of winter fun at Wilmot Mountain and experience our new Children’s Learning Center, Main Lodge transformation, three new quad lifts, expanded Terrain Parks, upgraded food & beverages and season long events! Ski, snowboard and tube with us this season. 11931 Fox River Road, Wilmot, WI. www.wilmotmountain.com .
Creek Bend Nature Center
Visit Creek Bend Nature Center for fun, interactive exhibits. There’s plenty to see and do – both inside and out! Learn all about oaks. See what the Fox River might look like below the surface. View bison in our prairie wild exhibit. Enjoy scavenger hunts, hikes and scheduled nature programs. Visit www.kaneforest.com or call 630-444-3190. At Creek Bend Nature Center, you can explore galore! Open Monday – Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., and Saturday – Sunday from noon – 4 p.m. Admission is always free. 37W700 Dean St., St. Charles.
Lombard Park District
Join the Lombard Park District’s annual lighting celebration in Lilacia Park! Activities include a visit with Santa and the Gold Medal Express train. Charming holiday displays light up Lilacia Park with a magical array of animated light shows, decorated trees, a giant gingerbread house, and much more. Youngsters can visit with Santa Claus, ride the delightful Gold Medal Express train, visit with their favorite holiday characters, and enjoy a spectacular show with complimentary hot cocoa and cookies. www.lombardparks.com. 630-620-7322.
Make holiday traditions at Naper Settlement! From Nov. 7 to Dec. 24, enjoy mid-century modern traditions and fun fads at the Home for the Holidays: Christmas in the Fabulous 1950s Exhibit. Enjoy Naper Lights and Christkindlmarket, an outdoor German market, as it transforms the grounds into a winter wonderland on select days from Nov. 24 to Dec. 24. Bring your children to Santa @ the Settlement on Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, 9 & 16. Visit www.NaperSettlement.org .
Cicero’s Christmas in the Park
All aboard for this year’s annual fantasy in the park in Cicero. Nov. 26th from 4:30 – 7 :30 p.m. Highlights of the day includes Santa’s reindeer, Jack Frost, Suzy Snowflake, Dr. Seuss characters, President Larry Dominick’s Winter Reading Train and more. Cicero Community Park, 34th & Laramie Ave. For more info call 708-656-3600 x 288.
Downers Grove Park District
Merry & Bright: A Victorian Christmas. Join us for a celebration of the season at this free family event! Learn about Victorian Christmas traditions, tour the holiday-decorated Victorian Blodgett house and listen to Victorian-era carolers. Stroll the park while warming up around a campfire and visit with Santa and his reindeer! Holiday snacks, hot cocoa, beer and wine will be available for sale to enhance the holiday cheer. www.dgparks.org Event is FREE. Saturday, Dec. 9 from 1 to 5pm at the Downers Grove Museum, 831 Maple Ave., Downers Grove. 630.963.1309 .
Add some holiday sparkle with a family visit to Cantigny in Wheaton. Plant lovers should attend the poinsettia display and sale on Nov. 17, followed by the Celebrate the Season Holiday Festival and Mistletoe Market on Dec. 2. Holiday brunches with Santa take place Dec. 2 & 23, or dine with The Grinch on Dec. 9! RSVP at 630.260.8260. Visit Cantigny.org for details and the full events calendar. For updates, text PARK to 36000.
Winter Cheer at Wheeling Park District
Start the season with Breakfast with Santa. Meet Santa and spend time with “Those Funny Little People” on Sat. Dec. 9, 10-11:30 am. Cost varies. It’s a “Noon Year Celebration” with festivities for every age child on Sun. Dec. 31, from 10 am-12:15 pm. Cost: $1pp. Winter Wonderfest comes to town on Sun, Jan. 14 from 1-4 pm. Cost: Free. Event locations/deadlines vary. Learn more at www.wheelingparkdistrict.com or call 847-465-3333.
Aboard Spirit, Winter’s Never Looked Better
Did you know that Spirit of Chicago cruises all year long? And aboard the cozy, festive decks, you’ll see a whole new side of winter. Bring your family aboard to see magical, winter views of classic Chicago sites like Buckingham Fountain, the Adler Planetarium, Trump Tower, Willis Tower and more! Your cruise will include a delicious buffet-style meal and DJ entertainment. For the highlight of your holidays, plan your cruise at SpiritofChicago.com .
Des Plaines Park District
Winter Wonderland Holiday Festival
This year, on the weekend of December 2nd and 3rd (10:00a-3:00p), Prairie Lakes becomes a magical place full of holiday fun for all ages. Santa will be there for free pictures. Enjoy free family entertainment, including a magic show, musicians, singers, and dancers. We have face painting, games & crafts, story time, and a beautiful model train display. Bring a non-perishable food item for the annual Des Plaines Self-Help Closet & Pantry food drive, and you’ll be rewarded with a free hot cocoa. Prairie Lakes Community Center, 515 E. Thacker Street, Des Plaines, IL 60016. For information, www.dpparks.org or call 847-391-5711.