Holiday Activities In Chicago

It’s that time again! The holidays in Chicago are truly magical. There are so many things to do to celebrate the season and keep the spirit alive. Below is a list of all my favorite Chicago holiday activities you can do with friends or family over the next several weeks.

Head over to Gallagher Way. They just opened their Christkindl Market where you can shop unique gifts from all over the world and sip on some hot spiced wine. They also have Winterland which features ice skating every day of the week and you might even get a photo with Santa. There are some great restaurants nearby to grab a bite to eat too!

Next to Gallagher Way is Hotel Zachary. They host an upscale Breakfast with Santa every year that is what kid dreams are made of. The brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays beginning November 27 through December 19, from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. Adults for $50 per person and children 4 to 12 years are $20.

Need a little holiday magic? Book a ride on the Polar Express. We’ve been a few times and heading back this year and can’t wait. It truly is a magical experience.

If you want to explore Christmas and holiday traditions from all around the world, I highly recommend the Christmas Around The World and The Holidays of Light Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. This tradition started in 1942 and each year the exhibit gets even better. It’s a must-see of the season. The exhibit runs through January 6th.

Seeing The Joffrey Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker is also a favorite holiday tradition in my family. From their website: The Joffrey’s beloved version of The Nutcracker takes inspiration from Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, one of the city’s great historical attractions of the late 19th century. The performances start on December 4 and run through December 26th.

Need a fun activity for the whole family? Grab tickets for the Light Up The Lake experience at Navy Pier. This is a new event this year and I can’t wait to check it out. Years past we would go to the Winder Wonder Fest and loved it so I know this will be a great experience too. From Navy Pier’s website: The indoor, temperature-controlled experience features a sprawling light garden of large-scale sculptures comprising more than 600,000 twinkling lights; an Alpine ice rink; authentic holiday beer garden; kiddie train rides; Santa’s Merry Main Street and gift market; and other family-friendly and date-night activities.

Light Up the Lake runs from Nov. 26 through Jan. 2. Tickets start at just $15.00, including a ride on the iconic Centennial Wheel, offering inspiring views of the city all decked out for the holidays.

Amaze Light Festival in Rosemont just opened at Impact Field and features millions of twinkle lights for an immersive experience. You can visit seven different “worlds”, visit Santa’s workshop, take a ride on Thrill Hill, or loop around on the Arctic Train. We just went this weekend and it is a must-visit!

If you’re looking for an inexpensive activity? Grab some friends or the family and head to a Christmas-themed bar! I always say you haven’t lived until you’ve been to a Christmas bar! Santa Baby and Rudoph Bar are my favorites. They are family-friendly if you go before 9 pm and the kids will love it. If you want some holiday fun with a view, book an Igloo at London House Chicago.

Don’t worry, I have some free things to do too! You can head to the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo (Free Admission on Monday/Tuesday) or take a quick drive up to the North Shore to see the famous house in the holiday movie classic, Home Alone.

Lastly, I’m going to share some Santa sightings! If you want to get some pictures with the kiddos and Santa, here are some of our favorite locations.

900 North Shops Santa has now arrived at 900 North Michigan Avenue on Level 3 on Saturday, November 19 – Saturday, December 24.

Skydeck Chicago at (Sears!) Willis Tower is hosting Santa at Skydeck! This event is held in the lower-level museum portion of Skydeck Chicago in a full-scale ‘L’ train replica where Santa will be riding and be available for photos from December 18–24, from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Macy’s Santaland This is our favorite Santa. We’ve been going to Santaland since my kids were newborns. The whole experience is something we look forward to each year.

Museum Of Illusions now has Santa Sundays at the museum every Sunday morning between Thanksgiving and Christmas. From their website: It’s time to get silly with Santa! Santa will be strolling through the Museum of Illusions every Sunday morning between Thanksgiving and Christmas from 9am until 12pm. Now’s your chance to size up Santa in the Ames Room and get dizzy with him in the Vortex Tunnel. Children will be thrilled to share their Christmas wishes with the big guy and parents will get photo ops galore. All children attending Santa Sundays will receive a special holiday treat at the end of their visit. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance at

Happy Holidays, friends! Here’s to a fun season.

Best Pumpkin Patches – Chicago

The time has come! Fall is almost here and there’s no better place to be during fall than Chicago. Not only is the landscape breathtaking with all the different colored foliage but there are endless activities. One of our favorite family fall activities is visiting pumpkin patches in and around Chicago. Who doesn’t love all things pumpkin?

I put together a list of pumpkin patches we love and I know you’ll love them too. Pro tip: Plan ahead. Buy tickets online. Try to get there when they open so you don’t have long wait times to get in or for the attractions.

Jacks Pumpkin Pop Up This is a popular one if you live in the city. It’s great for families during the day but also fun for a girl’s night or date night. The patch has it all. They have fortune tellers, ax throwing, carnival games, food trucks, a bar, photo ops, a corn maze, and of course, a pumpkin patch.

Chicago Park District  Many parks around the city feature movies in the park, pumpkin patches, and more. Check the site to see if any activities are in parks near you.

Lincoln Park Zoo  LP Zoo has a great fall fest that is free! You do have to pay for tickets to the rides, but entry is free. They feature several bounce houses and slides along with a corn maze and corn pit.

Now for our favorite patches outside the city:

Goebberts Just a short drive from the city, Goebberts offers it all and is famous for their Fall Fest. The admission includes most of the rides and attractions which is great. Parking is also free. Attractions include: Animal Land, Pedal Karts, Tire Mountain, Corn Stalk Maze, Wagon Ride to the Field /Orchard, Haunted House, Munchkin Maze, Straw Bale Maze, Western Town, Pumpkin Eating Dinosaur, Goebbert’s Pumpkin Express Train Ride, Pumpkin Slide, Jumping Pillow, Chicken Show, Pig Races, and Corn Box. In October they also do magic shows! Plan on a full day here, you’ll need it!

Didier Farms Another short drive from the city, Didier is a great pumpkin farm for the whole family. It’s not as big as some of the other suburban patches but it’s perfect for young kids. They feature a petting zoo, kiddie rides, and a pumpkin playland.

Bengston’s Pumpkin Farm This is our number one choice and we go every year. This farm is great for small kids and school-aged kids. There are rides and attractions for all. They even have a mini roller coaster. There’s a haunted house, pig races, slides, hayrides, and more. They have great food and don’t forget to get those pumpkin donuts before you leave!

Sonny Acres Farm Another great one especially for small kids. They feature a petting zoo, pony rides, kiddie rides, and bounce houses.

Bear PAW Adventure Land  If you want to go a little further, Bear Paw Adventure Island is a must! We go here often for summer activities but they have a great Fall Fest complete with a drone light show, zombie laser tag, haunted hayride, apple cannons, a haunted maze, inflatables, and more. The Adventure Park is attached to a campground we visit often so if you want to make a weekend out of it pack the tent or rent a cabin and enjoy!

Chicago Fun Family Activities For Fall

I know we are all sad to see summer come to an end but Fall in Chicago is just as fun! There are so many things to do in and around Chicago that will keep your family busy. I’ve made a list below of our favorite indoor and outdoor activities for Fall. If your family adds any of these to their plans, drop me a note and let me know what you thought!

Let’s start with some indoor fun because we know the weather in Chicago can be very moody at times. Here are some must-dos:

Blue Man Group – They are back! Blue Man Group just resumed their performances at Briar Street Theatre and we were lucky enough to attend the re-opening and it gave us all the feels. This is the 3rd time we have seen the show and it never disappoints. My boys loved it and got really involved with the show, they even got a photo op with the Blue Men after. Your kids will remember this experience forever!

Museum of Science & Industry Marvel Exhibit – We checked out this exhibit this summer and it was another win by the Museum of Science and Industry. See the evolution of all the Marvel characters and the people who bring them to life through the exhibit. Watch your kid’s eyes light up when they are able to see their favorite superhero costume in real life.

Museum of Illusions – Another big win. Not everything is as it seems and you’ll be reminded of that as you walk through this space. Plan to spend 1-2 hours as many of the exhibits are interactive and question what you think is reality. You also have the opportunity to take some fun pictures with the family! Also, from 9/23 through 10/31 the museum will transform into a Halloween destination with the whole space getting a Halloween makeover.

Highly recommend for the whole family or a fun date night.

Wnder Museum – Another favorite of ours. Wnder Museum changes its exhibits over time, so even if you’ve been before you’ll get an entirely new experience the second time through. Wnder Museum is an immersion experience from artists, collectives, and studios locally and globally. Your family will love this experience.

HideSeek HideSeek is a new Chicago pop-up that is all about making you feel like a kid again. Wonder through fifteen rooms that are sure to bring back childhood nostalgia. Timewarp back to the 80s and 90s for some memories and smiles.

Van Gogh Chicago. This is a very unique experience. My husband and I went and we headed back with the kids at a later date because we loved it so much. It’s really like nothing you’ve ever experienced before and very relaxing. A must-see for sure. The experience is about an hour-long then you can head to their store to pick out your favorite Van Gogh pieces via little souvenirs.

Chicago Sports Museum. Another great spot, especially if your kiddos love sports and sports history. A hidden gem and one your family will love.

Winters can be very long in Chicago so we definitely take advantage of being outside any chance we can get before the cold comes. Here are some of my outdoor recs for family fun.

The Forge at Lemont.  The ultimate outdoor adventure park. Miles of hiking and biking trails, climbing structures, ziplining, kayaking, and more. If you want to make an evening out of it, check out their event schedule as they host small concerts. They also have a lovely restaurant along the lake with cocktails and firepits for the perfect night. Climbing structures and ziplining do have weight requirements so be sure to check the website for the rules.

Apple Hollar. Get into the fall vibes by heading up to Apple Hollar to pick apples, grab some fresh cider and homemade apple pies. Grab some ice cream and let the kids ride the ponies or play on the jump pad and peddle karts. Check their site for more info.

Enjoy these fall activities and I’ll be back soon with fun Halloween festivities to do with the family. I do love a good Pumpkin Patch!

Top Rooftops In Chicago – Let’s Go!

Okay, y’all – Let’s pop the bubs from the top! Rooftops are starting to open up and if you’re like me you’re going to hit up as many as you can this year. Last year we were robbed of summer due to the pandemic, so let’s make the most of it this summer! Who’s with me?

Here’s a list of just some of the many rooftops I plan to be sipping and snacking at this year.

Aba (302 N. Green St. 3rd floor) 

This Lettuce Entertain You’s West Loop Eatery has quickly become a go-to destination for al fresco dining and summertime vibes. The rooftop is decked with cozy couches, lush greenery, and even heated igloos during winter. The food is Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fare and to die for!

LondonHouse Chicago (85 E. Wacker) 

Chicago’s only tri-level rooftop extends from the 21st to 23rd floors above the London House hotel, located in a historic Beaux-Arts tower. It’s hard to find a better spot for mingling and the views – are spectacular!

Nobu Chicago (155 N Peoria St 11th Floor)

A can’t-miss open-air bar with stunning West Loop views. The newly opened Nobu Hotel Chicago has plenty to offer, ranging from light fare and a multitude of refreshing cocktails and wines. The menu here consists of small plates as well as the classic Nobu selection of the finest nigiri, sashimi, and maki. The beverage menu is extensive with must-have specialty cocktails.

The J. Parker (1816 N Clark St)

If you haven’t crossed the J. Parker off your Chicago bucket list, grab a glass of sparkling rosé and get to work. With its mesmerizing views of the city and Lincoln Park, this year-round rooftop bar is a must for entertaining out-of-towners. On particularly beautiful summer days, arrive early and be prepared to wait for a seat to open. It’s worth it, promise! 

Whiskey Business (1367 N Milwaukee Ave)

This Wicker Park rooftop offers a fun space tucked just above Milwaukee Avenue. Order from a menu of party-ready drinks, then lean back and watch the lights show, which is set to tunes from the ’80s and ’90s, with some top-40s hits sprinkled in. How fun is that?!

 I|O at the Godfrey Hotel (127 W Huron St) 

There’s not a bad seat in the house at this sprawling rooftop bar, which affords everyone a front-row seat to a postcard-worthy skyline view. I’ve spent many a nights here and even attended a derby party here! The food and cocktails will make you want to come back every week.

ROOF on theWit (201 N State St 27th Floor)

This rooftop lounge/cocktail bar is located right in the heart of the city with magical views of all the skyscrapers and the Chicago skyline. Open year-round thanks to an adjustable roof, the ROOF has a stylish chic terrace offering different settings depending on when you visit. Early night you can enjoy al fresco dining from a Mediterranean-influenced menu, along with crafted cocktails in a more relaxing lounge atmosphere. Later on the mood changes towards what the ROOF is mostly famous for, namely being one of Chicago’s top nightclubs. 

Apogee Lounge (2 W Erie St 26th floor) 

One of the highest rooftop bars throughout Chicago, located at the Eurostars Magnificent Mile, right in the heart of the city. A swanky and trendy cocktail bar/nightclub, with a stylish indoor lounge and a lovely terrace, offering sleek lounge sofas, a fire pit, and really cool views of the Chicago skyline.

Offshore (1000 E. Grand Ave) 

The world’s largest rooftop bar, Offshore in Chicago brings the best views and the best cocktails. Located at the iconic Navy Pier, Off Shore is perfect for views and for people watching.

Upstairs at the Gwen (521 N Rush St 5th Floor) 

Located in the heart of Chicago, just a block of the Magnificent Mile, Upstairs at the Gwen comes with both an indoor lounge and a stylish, open-air terrace. Luxurious and trendy in decoration, the rooftop bar offers a great selection of seasonal, inventive, and well-crafted cocktails, a fine selection of wines, beers on draft and a set of sharable small plates.

These are my top 10, however a few honorable mentions are Noyane, Raised Bar, and Cindy’s Rooftop.

Pro tip: Defintley make reservations as all these rooftops fill up fast and you could wait for hours to get in. Here’s to a fun summer!

2020 Holiday Gift Guide – Women’s Edition

I hope you enjoyed my Gift Guide – Kid’s Edition. Now, we are moving on to the ladies in our lives. Ladies, this is for you too in case you want to treat yo’ self! You deserve it! This guide features local spots, big box finds, virtual small businesses, and some incredible Etsy shops. Be sure to scroll all the way down.

I’m starting off with some local Chicago places that offer the best experiences. I don’t know about you, but nothing is better than a spa day or some pampering! Here are a few of my favorite places to check out.

Dvida Spa – Old Town Sign up for their email list to get all the latest specials on services. I love Dvida Spa because they use a combination of science, technology, and dedication to ensure the satisfaction of each client. Ask for Olga!

Fenner Plastic Surgery & Spa – Kenilworth Fenner combines pampering spa treatments with medical-grade skincare treatments that provide visible results. I recently had Emsculpt on my stomach area and am SO impressed with the results. Nikki, their esthetician, is offering 20% off treatments currently. If you’re looking for injectables, Shannon is your gal!

Flutter Lash Studio – Lincoln Park This was a recommendation from a friend. If your gal is into lash extensions, this place is the best lash studio! E-gift cards are available on their site. If you’re into natural lashes, I’m your girl for Lash Boost. I’m offering 30% off site-wide all Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend!

Mojo Spa – Wicker Park  One of my favorite mani and pedi places in the city. Get a mani while I sip champs? Yes, please! While the spa services are on hold for now, they will be back soon. In the meantime, stop in for their handmade and crafted beauty products ranging from balms to candles to serums! My favorite is the Zero F**ks balm. Put this on your wrists and back of your neck and feel calmer in seconds! Be sure to check out all their holiday deals too!

Chicago Cryospa – Lincoln Park Another fave of mine! I’ve had several treatments done here including a Cyro facial and a fascial message and they were heaven! From now until Friday they are offering a 3 pack of cryo t-shock from $500, which is over 50% off. It’s a fat freeze to tighten and tone those stubborn areas. Yes, please!

Okay, now let’s move on to a few of my fave virtual boutiques and small businesses (local and online) for some amazing gift ideas.

Fox Trot A local staple. They offer the best curated gift bundles in all budgets.

The Always Pan Legit, the best pan in my kitchen! I waited for months to purchase as I didn’t want to spend over $100 and now it’s $50 off! Use code: SUPERSALE at check out. They sell out fast, some colors are already on back order so I would order soon!

Kitsch I’ve been obsessed with this virtual store all of 2020! I have these, The Eco-friendly Hair Towel, The Microfiber Towel Scrunchie, and the Satin Pillow Case (a must to help prevent face wrinkles!) plus some other items and the quality is outstanding. Right now they have 30% off sitewide too!

Recycled Modern  A local urban vintage, upcycled & handcrafted furniture and home decor shop in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Check out their gift guide on their website.

The Chic Shirt Shop A fun chic streetwear/lounge wear shop! My fave is the hoodie that says “Girls just want to have funds” and the shirt that reads, “Fly Girl”.

TiffDailyBeat A wildly talented local make-up artist who has her own branded cosmetics! The lip gloss is clutch! Another favorite lip gloss is Lipsense brand as it’s long lasting and they have a wide variety of colors. If you’re interested, contact my girl Megan!

SNOB Wine Who doesn’t love wine!?

SmallFlower Apothecary Great gift selection all for under $25.

Origami Owl Jewelry. My girl Katie will take great care of you!

Now for some Etsy shops to support.

Sugar Stitches Quilt Co My friend Ledine makes the cutest hand quilted gifts & pillows. You have to check her shop out!

Posh Poeny Boutique Fun decor and trinkets.

Next up, some great finds from small vendors on Amazon!

Crate & Barrel always delivers, too.

Lastly, my Target finds.

Phew! What a selection! I hope this helps you find some special gifts for the ladies in your life. Ladies, feel free to pass this on to your spouses. If you have any more small businesses you’d like to add, be sure to leave them in the comment section for all to see.

Next post – gifts for all the special men in our lives.

Disclaimer – some links posted are commissionable.

Discovering Starved Rock –Illinois Travel

Thanks to Covid, I haven’t been on a plane in almost a year but, as always, there are silver linings. This year made our family look in our own backyard for fun places to visit and who knew there were so many! One of our now favorite places to visit is Starved Rock National Park.

Starved Rock is located on the south shore of the Illinois river just under two hours from Chicago. This 2600+acre National Park showcases dramatic sandstone caverns, lush forests, and twenty hiking trails ranging from beginner to experienced hikers. The views over the Illinos River alone make the park a must see. The park is best known for its fascinating rock formations, primarily St. Peter sandstone, laid down in a huge shallow inland sea more than 425 million years ago and later brought to the surface.

You can make a day trip out of your visit to Starved Rock or stay at one of the several campgrounds in the park. If you do want to camp be sure to check out my post on must-have camping gear. The park is busiest during Spring, Summer and early Fall. I recommend going in Fall because then you get the added bonus seeing all the lovely autumn leaves changing colors. The cooler temps are nice to have when hiking, too. It also wasn’t nearly as busy as summer days.

Some things you need to know before you go:

Basic Info: Admission is free and so is parking!

They start turning people away once the parking lots are full to help maintain safe social distancing guidelines.

There is one main parking lot and one overflow parking lot, both are pretty large.

The park is open at 6 am and closes at dusk. Hiking the trails at night is forbidden.

Get there early because it gets VERY busy, especially in summer.

Dogs are allowed, but must be on leashes at all times.

Masks are required when social distancing is not possible. Luckily it wasn’t too busy so we only wore our masks if we were in a crowded area and unable to distance ourselves.

Extra tips:

Wear hiking boots or some sort of shoes with grip. The sandstone in some areas is very worn and you can slip easily if you don’t have proper shoes.

Wear water proof shoes or shoes you don’t mind getting wet. If you want to see the waterfall in French Canyon, you have to walk through some wet areas to get there.

It’s best to go in Fall after some rain so the waterfall area is full of water.

Expect to spend several hours here if you want to take full advantage of the trails. If you don’t have a lot of time, I suggest walking the French Canyon, Eagle Cliff or Starved Rock trails for the best views.

Do NOT bring a stroller. You will not be able to use it on any of the trails. Wear your little one if you can in a wrap or a carrier.

There are A LOT of stairs on all of the trails. A LOT. Be prepared.

My 6-year-old made it almost seven miles of the trails, so it’s kid-friendly and doable for smaller kids. Toddlers might not make it far.

We brought some sandwiches and stopped along one of the trails to have a picnic and we loved it. I highly recommend bringing extra snacks and lots of water for the trails. There are no water fountains, etc. along the paths.

Check the website before you go as they close periodically for upkeep and/or for stay-at-home orders during Covid.

The last tip – take lots of pictures!

Starved Rock is definitely a place we will return and may even plan a camping weekend there. Walking through the trails is good for the soul. Fresh air and green space was just what we needed and I know you’ll love it too!

Vodka Cocktails You’re Sure To Love For Summer

We are approaching Summer and one of my favorite things to do in the summertime is to entertain friends. This summer will be even more meaningful after being in quarantine for months. I can see it now – barbeques, sun and signature cocktails!

Lucky for me, I recently came across Spirit Hub, (intended for a 21+ audience) an online craft spirits retailer that delivers straight to your door in Illinois! You read that right, high-quality craft spirits from independently-owned distilleries that you CAN’T find in stores delivered to your home! And that’s not all, you get FREE shipping when you enter the code: SHIPHOLLY at check out as I am a #spirithubaffiliate. You can thank me later.

Through Spirit Hub’s unique platform you can choose between a wide variety of craft spirits and get full access to the story behind every craft spirit distillery they’ve partnered with along with signature drink recipes, tasting notes and more.

The first up for me was Wheel House Sacramento Vodka, which is award-winning for its sweet and malty savory taste. I combined this with lemonade, lemon juice, and LaCroix Lime to switch up one of my favorite summertime vodka cocktails to showcase first.

Recipe: Summer Vodka Lemonade

  • 2 oz. Wheel House Sacramento Vodka
  • 1.5 oz. Lemonade
  • .5 oz. LaCroix Lime (or Key Lime)
  • Mix and serve over ice with a lemon slice – Cheers!

Next up, we have the very tasty Aperol Cosmo.

  • 2 oz. Wheel House Vodka
  • .5 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • Splash of soda (or Lime LaCroix)
  • Shake vigorously with ice then pour in a martini glass
  • A lime twist for garnish

Lastly, my new favorite: The Sparkling Mint

  • 1.5 ounces Wheel House Vodka
  • .75 ounces Triple Sec
  • .75 ounces lemon juice
  • 2 mint sprigs
  • Add vodka, triple sec, lemon juice and mint into a mixing glass and muddle. Shake over ice then strain in a champagne glass
  • Top off with Prosecco

Spirit Hub is hosting virtual Happy Hours every Tuesday and Thursday with different distiller partners via Zoom. You can find more information by following them on Instagram

Enjoy these fun cocktails and I’ll be back sharing more with my next delivery from Spirit Hub!

Holiday Fun In Chicago

Chicago is such a great city with endless things to do in every season. There are almost too many things to do so it makes it hard to choose! I put together a list of some of my faves and new events to make your season bright (and fun!)

First, we will start with family outings.

Santa outings are always a must in December and there are some great Santas out there.

Macy’s Santaland on State Street. Not only is Macy’s (Marshall Fields, I still call it!) gorgeous inside with holiday decor and adorned windows, but Santaland really feels like you’re walking through Santa’s Elves’ workshop as you wait in line for your picture with Santa. Santaland is free and picture packages start at $17.99. You can also make reservations to dine with Santa, there are several dates to choose from and ticket prices are $25 and under.

900 North Shops Hands down one of the most real looking Santas out there. He makes me believe! Open now through December 24th.

Santa Suite at Swissotel Chicago. According to their website: Opening Dec. 7th, the Presidential Suite is transformed into a stunningly whimsical display, only suitable for a visit from Mr. Claus. This over-the-top space is decorated in the spirit and magic of the season, complete with fifteen Christmas trees, a table set for Santa and his special guests along with snacks and giveaways to spread good cheer. Tickets for Santa Days went on sale on October 1st. For more information or to buy tickets, click here. We are headed there this weekend!

 Image provided by Glitter and Bubbles + Hallie Duesenberg

Zoo Lights Presented by ComEd at Lincoln Park Zoo. A yearly family tradition for us, the zoo lights feature 100s upon 100s of twinkling light displays and adventures for the kids. They host family nights on Monday, December 16, 23 and 30. Kids eat free at the Park Place Cafe and they have unlimited free rides on the Lionel Train and the carousel. Admission is always free.

Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier. This is another family favorite every year. I recommend getting there when they open as that is when lines are short and it’s way less crowded. Right around lunchtime through the evening it gets very busy. There are rides and bouncy houses for all ages. They also have an ice skating rink. The kids love it! You can usually find discounted tickets on Groupon, too.

A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre. I’ve seen this twice and it really is a great recreation of the timeless classic. With or without the kids, I highly recommend!

The Polar Express. Tickets are now on sale and they sell out fast! This will be our first year going, but I hear it is a blast. It’s a one-hour train ride of fun, snacks and hot chocolate on your way to meet Santa. Tickets run $48-$70 for adults and $38-$62 depending on peak times.

The Nutcracker. An all-time favorite of mine. I can no longer force my husband to go with me as he’s had enough, however, my oldest son is now interested in going. Yay! Running now through December 29th.

Hotel Zachary Breakfast with Santa. Guests can start a new holiday tradition with Breakfast with Santa at Hotel Zachary. On Saturdays and Sundays beginning November 30 through December 22, families are invited to enjoy a special holiday-inspired breakfast buffet featuring assorted pastries and bread, yogurt parfaits, scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, white chocolate peppermint pancakes, an omelet station and more, while Jolly Old Saint Nick relaxes near the fireplace, waiting to visit with good boys and girls, and listen to their holiday wishes. Reservations are recommended in advance and will be available beginning November 1, 2019.

photo credit: Chicago Parent

Gallagher Way Holiday Movies. Bundle up for movie nights in the park at Gallagher Way. Holiday movies show every Thursday night in December. If you want to head to the park another day you’ll be met with a Christkindl Market and ice skating rink.

Now for some adult-only fun.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you haven’t lived until you’ve been to a Christmas pop-up bar!

Frosty’s. A must-see for some holiday fun, a Santa spotting, and some delish holiday-themed cocktails. You have to have tickets and on weekends they usually sell out – so plan ahead!

Santa Baby. Another pop-up Christmas bar in Wrigley. Santa Baby is a multi-room, multi-level, over-the-top Christmas experience. I’ll be there just for the spiked hot chocolate! Who’s coming with me? I mean look at those photos from their website! You need to buy tickets for Santa Baby, which can be purchased through their website.

Happy Holidays, Chicago!

Feeling The Fall Vibes at Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up

I love Fall in Chicago. Aside from the weather, football, changing leaves and making soups every weekend, the family activities make fall one of the best seasons of the year. Chicago is a very kid-friendly city with so many options, it’s hard to keep up. This year we kicked off the season with a visit to Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-up.

I’ll start by saying this place is equally as fun for adults. It would be a great date/girls’ night, but we took our kids along this time.

Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up is a great Fall interactive pop-up experience. It spreads across two acres in Goose Island. Open for one month only, you definitely need to check out this larger than life, outdoor, multi-sensory adventure in the heart of Chicago. Jack’s has the city’s largest corn maze, four full-service bars (one that’s hidden inside the maze!), ax throwing, gypsy caravans, music, carnival games, arcade, food trucks, and fun Instagrammable moments the kids (and you!) will love. You can even pick out a pumpkin on your way out if you want to.

We took the kids around 11 am on Sunday and that seemed to be less busy, so we had plenty of time for photo ops, the large sensory toys and lost ourselves in the maze.

The oversized rocking chair, maze and carnival games were the favorites with my boys. My favorites, of course. were all the photo ops and making memories with my babies. Definitely worth it if you’re looking for a fun activity with the kids.

If you go before 6 pm, you get discounted ticket pricing. I recommend getting your tickets online before you go. There are several packages to choose from that include drinks, etc., but basic entry before 6 pm is $15 for adults, $12 for kids (4 and under are free!). You can get deals through Groupon too.

If you are looking for more pumpkin patches to visit – check out Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago Park District website for more in your area. We plan on going to a lot more so I’ll keep you informed.

What are your favorite fall activities in the city?

Here are some more pics from our day at Jack’s.

Finding The Magic At Bixbee

Chicago families rejoice! There’s a new pop-up in town and it’s totally worth the visit. Conveniently located in Lincoln Park right off North Avenue just east of Sheffield. The Bixbee Imagination Station offers about an hour of fun installations and interactive stations for kids. There are five rooms to roam through all with different themes.

You start out walking through the jungle to get to the jungle-themed room.

Then head into the unicorn room and experience the magic of light installations, hula hoops, a unicorn and a sensory wall you could spend an hour playing with by itself.

Next up is a secret garden filled with beautiful flowers and butterflies. It’s a mystical room that will make your little ones smile.

Next, you’ll travel into space to see cool orbit light features and cosmic food.

You’ll finish out under the sea and get lost in a giant octopus that takes up a fourth of the room. You can crawl into the mouth of a shark – YIKES – and even claim your spot as the king (or queen!) of the sea.

If you’re in the Chicago area, I highly recommend this fun exhibit – but hurry as it ends at the end of September. You buy your ticket in advance and choose a time slot. This is great because it keeps the rooms less busy for more fun. I took my 5-year-old and he loved it. I think any age will find it fun for the imagination, however, I think 10 and under will enjoy it most.

There’s street parking on several streets nearby and also a parking garage on Sheffield right after you cross North Ave.

Per the website:
Bixbee Imagination Station is an experiential pop-up bound only by the limits of your imagination.

Inspired by a child’s innate ability to transform their reality into a fantasy world powered by nothing more than their own creativity, Imagination Station is equal parts funtastical playground and imagination jump starter!

Come discover a world every kid (and kid-at-heart) wished truly existed. Enter an un-charted playground where you can ride with a polka-dotted elephant and spot cheeky, technicolor monkeys. Ignite a brilliant light show with just the beat of a drum. Ride a mythical unicorn blazing across a disco rainbow sky. See human connectivity come to life like an electric spirograph. Share secrets with your bestie via flower blossoms. Explore outer space with a surfing, taco loving dinosaur, and take a selfie inside a ferociously, friendly shark!

Bixbee Imagination Station is so much more than just a great photo op, or fantasy play date. It’s a safari into the imagination.

Bixbee Imagination Station: Come Curious – Leave Inspired

Imagination Station is in Chicago for a limited time only. Don’t miss out and reserve your tickets today!

Learn more about Imagination Station here. Use code: FACEBOOK30 as a discount code.

* Mon to Thur, Sat & Sun (10am – 5pm), Fri (10am – 7pm) 
* Tickets: Adult $23, Kid (3-11 years old) $15, Children 2 and under are FREE
* For groups of 11 or more, birthday parties, or special events, please email’

*Sensory-friendly experience offered on August 13th and September 10th from 10am-12pm – Enjoy the Imagination Station with lowered lighting, sounds, and effects