It’s the most wonderful time to visit Chicago. Christmas in the city is nothing short of spectacular. The streets are lined with lit trees, decorations are everywhere, and there’s an undeniable spark in the air that you don’t get any other time of year. With so many things to do, I’ve put together five things not to miss this holiday season. I started this round up last year and it felt right to do it once again. With Christmas on the brain, why not?! Next week, I have two Christmas dinners with friends, one at the Walnut Room (pictures for sure coming) and one at Eataly because no one knows how to celebrate Christmas like the Italians...trust me. See below for our five recommendations this Christmas and tell me what your favorite activities in Chicago are during the holiday season in the comments below.
1 - Grab a Hot Cocoa at the Christkindlmarket for a photo then head to Mindy’s HotChocolate for a real hot cocoa. Myth or Fact...the hot cocoa at the Christkindlmarket is the best you’ve ever had. Both. It used to be amazing but for some reason, in recent years it hasn’t been the same and it’s expensive. So here’s the trick. Go to the special hot cocoa booth, get your collector mug for the photo. Drink as much as you want and then head to Mindy’s HotChocolate in Logan Square for some of the real good stuff. It’s the thickest, creamiest, richest, dreamiest hot chocolate you will ever drink. And it’s served with a homemade marshmallow. It doesn’t get better than this.
2 - Head to The Delta for festive cocktails. My best friend and I went to The Delta for the first time last week for a special media party where we got to try some tasty cocktails and mini bites. If you ever have a chance to go there, you have got to get the fried chicken. It’s so crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth tender on the inside. The flavors are out of this world and the atmosphere is friendly, welcoming, and fun. The Delta is serving two special holiday drinks this season, one of them being The All Star, a cocktail that lives up to its name. Featuring pisco, chile, coconut, thyme, and lime...it’s refreshing and goes down a little too easy. I could have several of these before realizing that I’m in trouble. My recommendation? Start with an order of the Red Hot Tamales and then go all in with an order of the Fried Chicken and Hush Puppies. It’s comfort food at its finest and in a cozy dining experience.
3 - Dine at the Walnut Room...if you can grab a table. The Walnut Room is notorious for rarely having available reservations. Unless you make them a year in advance or something to that nature, be prepared to wait in line for a table to open. It’s worth it to eat near their gorgeous Christmas tree. It’s something of a tradition for many local Chicagoans and suburbanites. Nothing says Christmas like the Marshall Fields on State Street. From the window decorations to the elegant decor of the Walnut Room, it gets even the worst of the Scrooges in the Christmas spirit!
4 - Walk through the Hilton Chicago and take a picture at their grand Christmas tree. Each year in the beginning of December, we have one of our largest events at the Hilton Chicago. It’s extravagant and sophisticated and everything you could imagine in between. My favorite part is being in the hotel with all their decorations on display. The grand entrance to the ballrooms is filled with garland and wreaths and most important, their grand Christmas tree. It always solidifies for me that Christmas is coming. As someone who starts thinking about Christmas in August or September, it’s constantly on the brain. Something about these magnificent decorations really drives home the fact that the season is here. I get chills thinking about it! So step into the Hilton Chicago, grab a bite to eat if you’re hungry, and take a photo of one of the most amazing trees in the city.
5 - Shop small at one of the many local businesses in any of Chicago’s neighborhoods. It’s the season of giving so while you’re shopping for those presents, make sure to support small businesses as well. There are an infinite number in Chicago from clothing boutiques to food artisans and specialty cratsmanship. A few of my favorite places to shop are along Wells Street in Old Town, down Broadway in East Lakeview, Clark Street in Andersonville, and the general Wicker Park, Bucktown, and West Town areas. Lincoln Square has a cute town square for shopping with a cozy bookshop, Ravenswood has stores right off of the brown line, and Armitage in Lincoln Park is packed with shops. You can find a gift for everyone on your list with the small businesses in Chicago. And they might even be unique!