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 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?!