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12.11.2013

The Best Chicago (Winter) Attractions



eh, what does she know?  she doesn't go outside.  i know tuesday's post made chicago winter sound a little scary, but if you use my tips and decide to brave it, even just for a visit, you will not be disappointed!!  i actually truly love winter.  people are pretty disbelieving when i say this, but it's true.  i do love it as much in the suburbs or even when i was in iowa as i do in the city, but there's just something about a snowy winter in chicago that you just can't help but love.  it's so pretty.  everything is quieter, more peaceful and more sparkly.  and there is a lot to do, it's not as though the city shuts down for a little snow.  here's my top 5 winter-y chicago event to check out (and an insider tip for each!)


winter wonderfest at navy pier - oh yes, navy pier is open during the winter! (and that ferris wheel runs year round.)  winter wonderfest includes all the usual navy pier attractions, plus an indoor ice skating rink, santa claus, spinning cups, a huge tree, decorating gingerbread houses, zip lining, rock climbing, a bounce house shaped like a snowman (adults allowed, holla), and my personal favorite, snow sculptures.  and more!  most of these activities are included with your less than $20 wristband, though it's free to get in and just take photos or escort your kids.  insider tip - dude, it's $17 ($13 if you don't ice skate, or if you bring your own skates).  buy the wristband.  if you buy a family pack (which is 4 or more) you get free parking too.  buy your tickets online, it's $3 more to buy there.

ice skating at the bean - the rink in front of the bean is actually free to ice skate, did you know?  you just pay for skate rental.  if you have your own skates, you pay nothing!  insider tip - if you're actually wanting to ice skate, try half a block east straight down from the bean.  there's another rink!  you're still in millenium park but not under the bean.  therefore, there's no line.  and speaking of no line, try heading there first to rent your skates.  then carry your skates up to the bean (if you're dead set on the bean location) because waiting for skates in your size is one of the longest wait periods at the bean.

zoo lights - it's free first of all, and it's christmas lights and music set up all throughout the lincoln park zoo (which is open all year long) and the winter loving animals are actually outside playing.  it's a lot of fun.  insider tip - bundle up and brave it on colder nights.  there's way less people around, so you have time to get better photos of everything.  if you have the right layers, you won't be too cold.  and the indoor exhibits are open, so you can duck inside to warm up.  and bringing your own beverages is allowed, so fill your thermos with something warm and full of baileys!



holiday tea at the drake.  this place is so classy and it's really iconic chicago.  it's a beautiful hotel located on michigan avenue, and while they have high tea year round, christmas is the time you want to go.  they have huge decorated trees, mini villages and trains, nutcrackers around every corner.  you choose from a list of teas and they come with mini sandwiches and adorable desserts.  and they have entertainment, everything from carolers to a harp player.  and it's held in the palm court which is just stunning.  insider tip - this is popular, if you can only make it on the weekend, book early!  otherwise, a week day is your best bet.  and you can't go wrong with the chocolate mint tea.



tbox.  i'll just let this photo of ryan's step-dad speak for itself.



tbox is the highlight of my year, and i'm not the least bit ashamed to say so.  tbox stands for the twelve bars of xmas (it's grown way beyond 12 now) and it's a yearly christmas themed bar crawl in wrigleyville that's been happening since 1996 and is organized by my fabulous pal chris festa of festa parties.  this year, 53 bars are participating and thousands and thousands of people come to bar crawl for 19 hours.  yes, 19 hours - it starts at 8 am.  i haven't missed a box since i turned 21, and i hopefully never will.  i can't even explain all the in and outs, like the cereal shot above, but if you love the idea then read all about it on festa's website.  tbox is happening this saturday and i will be there with bells on!  well, i'll be there with blue penguin footie pajamas on. 


insider tip - don't bring a jacket, don't bring valuables, you will lose them.  eat.  wear comfy shoes.  read all the info online.  pace yourself.  bring cereal to make instant friends.  dress in costume, whether the theme of the year or just christmas themed.  skip the bars with giant lines, because wtf who has time for that?  there's 50 other bars you can choose from and they all have the same drink specials.  the smaller bars, especially the ones not centered on clark street, actually are the least crowded and the most fun.  tip your bartenders.  be nice, santa's watching.


so.... come visit me this winter!  it's not so bad, right?!

30 comments:

  1. Winter in Chicago sounds awesome! I especially want to go to holiday tea at the Drake!

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  2. Why didnt I know about that bar crawl in advance? I demand to know about the next one. I've always wanted to visit Chicago!

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  3. I'm looking at the TBox website and I don't get it. It''s just a bar crawl? What's with the cereal? This is overwhelming.

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  4. wait what?!?! GLUTEN FREE FRUITY PEBBLES?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I NEED TO GET THEM!

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  5. I've gone skating in front of the bean. It was a really neat experience. That was about all I got to do while I was there, so this list is definitely making me want to come back to the city.

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  6. I would love to go to Chicago this time of year... I've actually NEVER been before... and I live in MI! Pathetic, right?

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  7. I'm so glad you are finding joy in all of it! I know the weather can be exhausting there this time of year! I'd love to spend Christmas there again though! I've missed the cold so much these last five years! ;-) Love the dog....adorable photo!

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  8. if winter weren't so dang cold, i would go outside more. i don't mind the snow too much but can't take the cold temperatures. i do have to admit, a blanket of snow when christmas lights are on is pretty. and that TBox bar crawl does sound like a lot of fun! i used to do pub crawls in college and never made it to the end #lame

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  9. I am fascinated by the 19 hour crawl! I went to Chicago in January and everyone discouraged me from going to Navy Pier. I wish I had known there was so much to do. It would have been way better than the Museum of Science and Industry...

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  10. I wish I could move there (or any city for that matter) I love chicago! winter doesnt suck too much ass if you find fun things to do, especially if they involve a little booze

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  11. I love the bar crawl! And I would totally love to do tea at the Drake.

    Best picture of Princess H ever.

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  12. Haha I have done all of these and loved them! T-Box is where I finally realized I do not know how to pace myself during bar crawls! I am always completely trashed by noon!

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  13. I think I'd like to just watch tbox, it sounds like a funky parade or something.

    I also wouldn't mind tea at The Drake, I've never been to a fancy tea party.

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  14. I don't like the cold but all d this stuff sounds fabulous! Someday I will make it to see you. As we will go to tbox. And it will be great!

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  15. I'm going to come to Chicago so we can do ALL OF THESE THINGS together. :)

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  16. The bar crawl sounds like so much fun!!!! So does everything else, of course!!

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  17. ahh so many great tips! you want me to go to Chicago RIGHT NOW.
    -- jackie @ jade and oak

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  18. Tbox is the best! Your posts make me so sad that I live so far from the city now =( I can't wait to see your tbox pictures though! Pretty much everyone I know is going.

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  19. This makes me want to head back to the Midwest this winter. I hope you'll be posting pictures from the 12 bars of Christmas. I'm a tad bit obsessed with events where everyone is decked out in holiday gear. I want to do one of those Santa runs really bad.

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  20. Winter Wonderfest sounds awesome! I totally was to do Tbar now. Sounds like there is a lot of fun to be had. Princess looks too cute!!

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  21. Visiting Chicago is on my bucket list so hoping to make it there soon but I'd prob still prefer to come during the summer to experience everything outdoors & not be cold although the tbox sounds damn fun!

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  22. I should come tbox with you next you. You might have to carry me though...

    ps - THAT PICTURE. Oh Hawks. Such a doll.

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  23. Michigan Avenue sounds great. I so wish to get to Chicago some day. And love the pooch pix.

    Allie of ALLIE NYC
    allienyc.com

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    1. You would LOVE shopping, even just window shopping, on Michigan ave. They have everything, it's so pretty. And Hawkeye says thank you :)

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  24. This all sounds amazing! I think I would love Christmas in Chicago! The bar crawl sounds like so much fun too! There's one every year in NY called Santacon, where everyone dresses like Santas. Imagine thousands of drunk ass Santas running around NYC. I am STILL kicking myself for not having gone in the 3 years I was there!

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  25. All of these sound SO fun! These are things that I love to do at Christmas time...ice skating, looking at lights. It makes me happy :-)

    -AJ
    FitTravelerAJ.com

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  26. I have always wanted to go to Chicago. I will go one day soon and use this list!

    Erika
    www.gogogirlfit.com

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    1. You will love it! It's a very fun city, any time of year!

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