Sometimes the best vacations are those where you don’t have to pack anything or purchase tickets and make travel plans. If you’re choosing to relax at home in Chicago this holiday season, here are a few fun things you can check out in your very own city. You may not have had time to do them otherwise!
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
The Lincoln Park Zoo is free to visit and is always open, even on holidays. Be sure to take a look through the well-maintained garden areas as well as visit the various animals housed in the zoo. Take a look at the events calendar and see if there is a fun event happening at the zoo during your visit. Zoo Lights is always fun during the holidays and there are a variety of events going on year round, including interactive animal feedings and creative crafts for kids. The zoo is a perfect visit for a family, a date or even just a couple of friends.
Architecture Boat Tour
Chicago’s First Lady
112 E. Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
The Architecture Tour is put on by Cruise Chicago and the Chicago Architecture Foundation so its authenticity and the informative knowledge of its guides is unquestioned. If you’re a longtime Chicagoan looking to view your city in a new way, this is the tour for you. Learn about the buildings that always surround you while you coast along the river. The tours last about 90 minutes and boats provide visitors with both open-air and indoor seating (seating is first come, first served) and a full bar is available for complete vacation relaxation. If you’re looking to save on the tour, check out the discounted tours offered on the website on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Believe it or not, venturing downtown is actually quite fun when you’re not heading down there just to work. A Chicago staycation is the perfect time to take advantage of the beautiful Millennium Park. Picnics are allowed at the Pavilion and performances are always free. If there is no performance going on, just pack a lunch and enjoy the grounds. Or have a lunch at the Park Grill during your explorations of the nature walk paths. The paths are beautifully maintained with seasonal flora which is well documented for those curious about what they’re enjoying. Be sure to take your obligatory picture in the Bean (Cloud Gate) scupture to post on Facebook.
Related: Guide To A Long Weekend In Chicago
Museum of Science and Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637
How often have you passed by one of Chicago’s amazing museums and thought to yourself that one day you would make time to check it out. Especially if the weather ends up being a little chilly or rainy during your staycation, it is the perfect time to take advantage of one of the city’s most fascinating museums, the Museum of Science and Industry. The history of the museum itself is interesting enough, but with three floors full of both new exhibits and old favorites that have been with the museum for years, you could literally spend hours exploring. The coal mine exhibit, for instance, has been with the museum for decades and there is an actual submarine that you can take a walk through.
McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Depending on when your staycation falls, one of the most fun and festive holiday experiences can be ice skating beneath the stunning view of the Chicago skyline in Millennium Park. Once the cold weather hits, the rink itself is free and open to the public. It’s only $10 to rent skates if you don’t have your own and although free shoe cubbies are a given if you rent skates, the rink provides locker rental if you need to store items. Get the full experience and enjoy some hot chocolate at the cafe while you break to watch other skaters or just stop for a second to take in the view.
Meredith Lyons is an actor, competitive fighter and fitness instructor in Chicago who also owns an amazing cat named Jake. Meredith has been writing on Examiner as the Chicago Martial Arts Examiner since 2008. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.