Things to Do in Chicago Thanksgiving Weekend


Hello TechGuide Visitors!

Welcome to our guide on the best things to do in Chicago during Thanksgiving weekend. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this vibrant city has a lot to offer during this festive season. From dazzling lights to delicious food, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. In this article, we’ll explore the top attractions, events, and activities that will make your Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago truly memorable. So, let’s dive in and discover all the exciting things awaiting you!


๐Ÿ™๏ธ Magnificent Mile Lights Festival ๐ŸŒŸ

Kickstart your Thanksgiving weekend by witnessing the iconic Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. This dazzling event features a grand parade, spectacular fireworks, and the illumination of the Magnificent Mile shopping district. The entire area shimmers with millions of lights, creating a magical ambiance that will fill your heart with joy.

๐ŸŽ„ Christkindlmarket ๐ŸŽ

Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit at the renowned Christkindlmarket. Inspired by the traditional German Christmas markets, this enchanting market offers a variety of unique gifts, crafts, and mouthwatering delights. Enjoy sipping warm glรผhwein while exploring the festive stalls and soaking in the cheerful atmosphere.

๐Ÿฐ Lincoln Park ZooLights ๐ŸฆŒ

Experience a winter wonderland at the Lincoln Park ZooLights. This annual event transforms the zoo into a mesmerizing display of colorful lights, dazzling decorations, and joyful holiday music. Take a stroll through the illuminated pathways, enjoy live ice carving demonstrations, and witness the enchanting light shows.

โ›ธ๏ธ Ice Skating at Millennium Park ๐ŸŒŒ

Lace up your skates and glide across the picturesque ice rink at Millennium Park. Surrounded by the glittering Chicago skyline, this iconic skating experience will leave you with unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned skater, the rink welcomes all skill levels, making it an ideal activity for family and friends.

๐Ÿ›๏ธ Visit the Art Institute of Chicago ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ

Take some time to appreciate the rich art and cultural heritage of Chicago at the renowned Art Institute. Explore its vast collection of artworks from around the world, including masterpieces by famous artists. Indulge in the beauty of Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” or marvel at Grant Wood’s iconic “American Gothic,” alongside countless other breathtaking pieces.

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๐ŸŒŠ Explore Navy Pier ๐ŸŽก

Head to Navy Pier, Chicago’s beloved waterfront destination, for an array of exciting activities. Enjoy a ride on the giant Ferris wheel, take a leisurely stroll along the pier, and indulge in delicious treats from the various food vendors. You can also catch a captivating show at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater or embark on a scenic boat tour to admire the city’s skyline from the water.

๐ŸŽญ Catch a Broadway Show ๐ŸŽฌ

Experience the magic of live theater by catching a Broadway show in Chicago’s famous theater district. From musicals to plays, there’s always a captivating performance to enthral audiences. Witness the breathtaking choreography, powerful vocals, and incredible storytelling that make Broadway productions an unforgettable experience.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths of Chicago Thanksgiving Weekend

1. Vibrant Festive Atmosphere: Chicago comes alive during Thanksgiving weekend, with a festive ambiance that spreads joy and cheer throughout the city.

2. Diverse Range of Activities: Whether you’re interested in holiday markets, cultural events, or outdoor adventures, Chicago offers something for everyone.

3. Delicious Dining Options: Indulge in a feast of delicious dishes at the city’s numerous restaurants, many of which offer special Thanksgiving menus.

4. Spectacular Lights and Decorations: From the Magnificent Mile to the Lincoln Park Zoo, the city’s illuminated displays create a magical atmosphere.

5. Family-Friendly Entertainment: With ice skating, parades, and interactive exhibits, Chicago provides ample opportunities for families to create lasting memories.

6. Rich Cultural Experiences: Visit renowned museums, explore art galleries, and attend live performances to immerse yourself in Chicago’s thriving cultural scene.

7. Stunning Views: Marvel at the city’s breathtaking skyline and lakefront views, which provide the perfect backdrop for memorable moments.

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Weaknesses of Chicago Thanksgiving Weekend

1. Cold Weather: Chicago can experience chilly temperatures during Thanksgiving weekend. Dressing warmly and layering up is essential for outdoor activities.

2. Crowded Attractions: Popular attractions may draw large crowds, which could lead to longer wait times and reduced personal space.

3. Higher Accommodation Prices: Due to increased demand during the holiday season, hotel prices in Chicago may be higher than usual.

4. Limited Parking: Finding parking in downtown Chicago can be challenging, especially during special events and peak times.

5. Potential Travel Delays: Inclement weather conditions can occasionally impact travel plans, so it’s important to stay informed and prepared.

6. Shorter Daylight Hours: Daylight hours are shorter during winter, affecting the time available for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

7. COVID-19 Considerations: Be aware of any current travel restrictions or safety guidelines implemented by the city and attractions due to the ongoing pandemic.

Table: Things to Do in Chicago Thanksgiving Weekend

Activity Description Location Opening Hours Contact
Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade, fireworks, and illumination event Magnificent Mile Varies
Christkindlmarket German-inspired holiday market Daley Plaza Varies
Lincoln Park ZooLights Light displays and festive activities Lincoln Park Zoo Evenings
Ice Skating at Millennium Park Outdoor ice skating rink Millennium Park Varies
Visit the Art Institute of Chicago Art museum with world-renowned collection 111 S Michigan Ave Varies
Explore Navy Pier Waterfront amusement and entertainment venue Navy Pier Varies
Catch a Broadway Show Live theater performances Theater District Varies

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: What are the temperatures like in Chicago during Thanksgiving weekend?

A1: Chicago can be quite cold during this time, with temperatures ranging from 20ยฐF to 40ยฐF (-6ยฐC to 4ยฐC).

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Q2: Are there any special Thanksgiving dining options in Chicago?

A2: Yes, many restaurants in Chicago offer special Thanksgiving menus, featuring traditional dishes with a unique twist.

Q3: Are the Chicago attractions open on Thanksgiving Day?

A3: Some attractions may have limited hours or be closed on Thanksgiving Day. It’s best to check their websites or contact them directly for specific information.

Q4: Can I book tickets in advance for Broadway shows?

A4: Yes, it’s recommended to book tickets in advance for Broadway shows in Chicago, as they can sell out quickly during the holiday season.

Q5: Is parking available at Navy Pier?

A5: Yes, Navy Pier has parking facilities, but availability may be limited. It’s advisable to consider public transportation or ride-sharing options, especially during peak times.

Q6: Are there any family-friendly activities specifically for kids?

A6: Absolutely! Chicago offers numerous family-friendly activities, such as ice skating, the Lincoln Park ZooLights, and interactive exhibits at the museums.

Q7: Can I visit the Art Institute of Chicago without prior reservation?

A7: While reservations are not required, they are recommended during peak times to ensure a smoother entry process.


Now that you’ve discovered the many exciting things to do in Chicago during Thanksgiving weekend, it’s time to plan your visit and create unforgettable memories. From festive events to cultural experiences, the city offers a diverse range of activities that cater to all interests and ages. Embrace the holiday spirit, indulge in delicious food, and immerse yourself in Chicago’s vibrant atmosphere. Whether you’re with family or exploring solo, Chicago will undoubtedly provide a delightful Thanksgiving getaway. So pack your bags, prepare for an incredible adventure, and make this Thanksgiving weekend one to remember!

We hope you found this guide helpful. Wishing you a fantastic time in Chicago!