Holiday cheer is on full display in Chicago this time of year, both inside grand hotels and outside at the city’s lovely parks. Here are a few of the fantastically festive things to do in the Windy City this season.
Thompson Chicago is a hip Forbes Travel Guide Recommended property in the Gold Coast that has released its second annual holiday catalog featuring unique experience-minded gifts. This curated list of adventures consists of offerings that range from VIP shopping experiences in the glam neighborhood to a personal cocktail-making class.
Still, the unique item on the list is a trip with Big Game Air, a luxury travel company that transports fans via private plane to a sports arena to catch the big game in style.
ICE SKATING RINKS
The most iconic spot to lace up some skates is at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in front of the Bean in Millennium Park. Skate alongside Michigan Avenue while taking in the legendary architecture of the Windy City.
The Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park offers a completely different experience — instead of an oval rink, the ice follows a wide circular path that feels almost lagoon-like.
For a more luxurious winter activity, head to the fourth floor of Five-Star The Peninsula Chicago. The hotel’s outdoor roof deck rink is surrounded by pine trees, twinkling lights and gorgeous skyline views of the city. Indulge in gourmet hot chocolate or hot apple cider when you need a break from skating laps.
ENTERTAINMENT AND SANTA SIGHTINGS
The dreaded holiday trip to the mall to see old St. Nick is a whole lot easier in Chicago. Just head to level three of the 900 North Michigan Shops and enter your name into the virtual queue. Get your Christmas shopping done or enjoy a leisurely lunch while you wait for a text notifying you that it’s your turn to visit with Santa.
Afterward, head next door to Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Chicago for a drink or two at the pop-up Moët & Chandon Bubbles Bar (Fridays and Saturdays 2 to 7 p.m.) and sit in front of the fireplace in the property’s cozy, clubby bar while the kids enjoy a gingerbread house-decorating workshop.
Otherwise, reserve a time for the hotel’s popular holiday tea (through December), one of the best in the city.
It just isn’t Christmas without taking in a performance of The Nutcracker, and Chicago’s esteemed Joffrey Ballet puts on an excellent one. Forbes Travel Guide Recommended JW Marriott Chicago has again teamed up with the Joffrey to offer an enchanting holiday package that includes two VIP tickets to the show, an overnight stay, a swag bag packed full of signed merchandise from the dance company and in-room breakfast the following morning.
The hotel’s spa is also getting into the spirit of the season by offering two treatments inspired by the sweet ballet — a full-body brown sugar scrub followed by an application of vanilla body milk, and a pedicure featuring a cinnamon scrub and vanilla shea butter.