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Visiting Chicago in December: Embracing the Winter Magic

Ammara Younas2023-12-04

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December in Chicago transforms the city into a mesmerizing winter wonderland. As the holiday season unfolds, the cityscape is adorned with sparkling lights, festive decorations, and a palpable sense of joy. In this guide, we'll explore why December is an ideal time to visit the city of Chicago and dive into the myriad activities that make this city truly magical during the winter season.

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Is December a good time to visit Chicago?

Absolutely! December in Chicago is a magical time when the city comes alive with holiday spirit. The festive atmosphere, combined with unique winter activities, creates an unforgettable experience for visitors. From enchanting light displays to festive markets, Chicago winters offer a plethora of seasonal delights.

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@cdats / Instagram

Reasons to Visit Chicago in December:

Christmas Around the World at the Museum of Science and Industry:

Chicago proudly hosts the annual "Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light” exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Explore a diverse array of trees beautifully decorated with Christmas lights, each representing a different culture's holiday traditions. It's a cultural journey through the spirit of Christmas.

Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park:

Embrace the chill and glide across the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park. Surrounded by the city's skyline, this unique ice skating experience is perfect for all ages. The crisp winter air and the joy of skating make it a must-do activity during your December visit.

Daley Plaza Christmas Market:

Immerse yourself in the festive ambiance of the Daley Plaza Christkindlmarket. This European-inspired market boasts charming stalls offering handmade crafts, seasonal treats, and unique gifts. It's an ideal spot to find one-of-a-kind treasures for your loved ones.

Chicago December Weather:

While December in Chicago can be chilly, the enchanting holiday spirit warms the city. Average temperatures range from 28°F to 35°F (-2°C to 2°C). The cool weather enhances the festive atmosphere, creating a cozy backdrop for your winter adventures.

Things to do in Chicago in December:

1. Millennium Park's Holiday Lights:

Marvel at the illuminated beauty of Millennium Park. The dazzling holiday lights transform the park into a magical spectacle. Don't miss the iconic Cloud Gate, affectionately known as "The Bean," surrounded by festive brilliance.

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@chidrone / Instagram

2. Lincoln Park Zoo Lights:

Experience the joy of the season at Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. The zoo transforms into a luminous display, featuring sparkling light tunnels, majestic animal-shaped lights, and seasonal music. Best of all, admission is free!

3. Navy Pier's Winter WonderFest:

Navy Pier turns into a winter playground during the Winter WonderFest. Indulge in festive rides, enjoy indoor ice skating, and explore the holiday-themed attractions. It's a family-friendly destination brimming with holiday cheer.

4. Artistic Delights at the Art Institute of Chicago:

Make a stop for the arts scene at the Art Institute of Chicago. Explore world-class art collections in a festive ambiance. The Art Institute's galleries offer a cultural escape amid holiday joy.

5. Christmas Lights Cruise on Lake Michigan:

One of the serenest ways to enjoy your time in the city without getting overwhelmed by the noise is to book a boat tour. Sail through shimmering city lights on a holiday-themed cruise and witness Chicago's skyline adorned with the magic of the season!

6. Hot Cocoa Heaven at Mindy's Hot Chocolate:

Indulge in decadent hot chocolate creations at Mindy's Hot Chocolate. A cozy spot to warm up and savor sweet delights in the winter chill.

7. Enchanting Displays at Chicago Botanic Garden:

Wander through a botanical wonderland adorned with twinkling lights at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The Garden transforms into a captivating realm of festive brilliance, offering a serene escape.

8. Magical Ferris Wheel Ride at Navy Pier:

Elevate your December visit with a ride on Navy Pier's Ferris Wheel. Lit up in holiday hues, it provides breathtaking views of the city's skyline. A perfect blend of adventure and festive charm.

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9. Winter Wildlife at Brookfield Zoo:

Embrace the seasonal spirit at Brookfield Zoo, where winter brings a unique charm to animal habitats. Discover how animals adapt and thrive in the colder months, creating a magical experience for visitors of all ages.

10. Holiday Shopping on Magnificent Mile:

Dive into the heart of Chicago's shopping scene on the Magnificent Mile. December brings exclusive holiday sales, festive storefronts, and a chance to find the perfect gifts while soaking in the city's vibrant atmosphere.

11. Festive Theater Productions:

Attend a captivating holiday-themed theater performance in Chicago's renowned theaters. From classic plays to modern renditions, the city's theaters come alive with performances that capture the spirit of the season.

12. Seasonal Eats at Christkindlmarket:

Delight your taste buds at the Christkindlmarket, where festive flavors and traditional treats abound. Savor German-inspired cuisine, warm spiced wine, and an array of delectable goodies in this charming open-air market.

Exploring these additional attractions will not only extend your December adventure in Chicago but also provide a diverse range of experiences, ensuring your visit is filled with joy, wonder, and lasting memories.

Is it too cold to go to Chicago in December?

While temperatures can be chilly, the festive activities and warm holiday spirit make the cold weather worthwhile. Bundle up in layers, and you'll find that the city's energy and vibrancy will keep you warm.

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@vpetrella11 / Instagram

How should I dress for Chicago in December?

Dress warmly with a combination of thermal layers, a good winter coat, gloves, a hat, and insulated boots. This will ensure you stay comfortable while exploring the city's winter delights.

What is the minimum temperature in Chicago in December?

The minimum temperature in Chicago in December typically hovers around 20°F (-7°C), so be prepared for cool weather during your visit.

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Mid-December in Chicago:

Mid-December is a peak time for holiday festivities. Explore Michigan Avenue's dazzling lights, sip hot chocolate while strolling along Lake Michigan, and be sure to visit the iconic Chicago Christmas Tree in Millennium Park.

In conclusion, Chicago in December is a magical journey through the heart of the holiday season. Whether you're admiring Christmas trees at the Museum of Science and Industry or savoring the festive treats at the Daley Plaza Christmas Market, the city offers a perfect blend of winter enchantment and holiday cheer. Embrace the chill, explore the city's iconic landmarks, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


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