There are a lot of things to do in the Chicago area when the weather gets cold and the Christmas lights turn on. Almost everyone knows about the Magnificent Mile, the tree in Daley Plaza, the lights, shopping, etc. However, there is more to the Chicago area than downtown or the Mag Mile. Some of the biggest and best-known (at least to locals) holiday attractions are in Chicago’s western suburbs. Just a short ride away from downtown can lead to amazing holiday experiences without some of the inconveniences of trying to get downtown.
Of course, the best way to really take in all the western suburbs has to offer, it’s best to stay at a location right in the middle of it all. In fact, it would be almost impossible to see all five of these holiday attractions during just a day trip while visiting downtown Chicago.
Here are five amazing things you can do this holiday season in Chicago’s western suburbs:
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Holiday Exhibit – located at the Naper Settlement Outdoor Museum in the heart of one of the biggest and busiest suburbs, this is an historic look at the famous Christmas story about the night Santa came for a visit. Plus, visitors can see all of the other museum exhibits and attractions which show how life was lived in the area when it was first settled. This puts some historical context around a classic holiday tradition right in the middle of beautiful Naperville, which will be decked out in holiday lights.
- Where: 523 S. Webster St. Naperville, IL 60540
- When: Daily from November 7 – December 22
- Cost: Included with museum admission which is $12 for adults, $8 kids 4-12 and $10 for seniors
- Visit their website for more details.
Hometown Holiday Shopping Days – If you think downtown Chicago is the only place to shop this holiday season, you’re missing out on a lot. There are several large and beautiful malls out west and one suburb, Elmhurst, turns their downtown area into a holiday shopping destination par excellence. Enjoy the shopping, the lights and fine dining right in Elmhurst City Centre, which is in downtown Elmhurst, IL. Find that special gift for that special someone or just enjoy a day of window shopping.
- Where: 147 N. York, Elmhurst, IL 60126
- When: Thursdays December 5, 12 and 19.
- Cost: Free
- Visit the City Centre website for more details.
CP Rail Holiday Train – Trains and Christmas just seem to go together and when you combine trains, the holidays and doing a great thing for charity, this is a must-attend event. Located in Bensenville, IL, the CP train has visited the past couple of years to help raise money and acquire food donations for the Holiday Train program. There will be live entertainment not to mention the star attraction – the Canadian Pacific train that is nearly 1,000 feet long with 14 rail cars decorated with lights for the holidays.
- Where: The corner of S. York Road and Railroad Avenue
- When: December 2
- Cost: Free
- Details are available at Bensenville’s website.
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic – The Brookfield Zoo is one of the biggest attractions in the Chicago area year round and the holidays are no exception. In fact, the zoo really pulls out all the stops when it comes to lights and holiday activities starting November 30 and continuing through the end of December. This is the longest running holiday festival in all of Chicago and the biggest. See the one-million-plus twinkling LED lights or visit the 41-foot-tall talking tree. You can strap on the ice skates and do some skating or so much more. A day and night of family fun awaits!
- Where: 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL 60513
- When: Saturdays and Sundays, November 30-December 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, and Thursday-Tuesday, December 26-31
- Cost: Park admission
- Check out full details of all events on the Brookfield Zoo website.
Illumination: the Lights at Morton Arboretum – one of the most popular places to visit during the warm months, the Morton Arboretum becomes one of the busiest holiday attractions during the end of the year. Walk a one mile path where you immerse yourself in the trees at the arboretum, each of them decorated with dazzling lights while light displays all around light up the night with amazing color. Some of the light displays are even interactive. This year the display will feature a whole new light routine and combine the outdoor elements with the displays. This one is worth the trip.
- Where: 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, Lisle, IL 60532
- When: November 24, 2019 – January 5, 2020. 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM
- Cost: Admission to Morton Arboretum varies, check their website for details
- See more important details about Illumination at the Arboretum site.
There’s more to do in Chicago’s western suburbs this holiday season than you probably realized. A visit to this part of the Chicago metropolitan area is a treat for the entire family. If you are visiting your family, there are plenty of great hotels and Hilton properties at which to stay and you can visit the Discover DuPage website for even more events all holiday season long. For a unique and memorable holiday experience, be sure to visit Chicago’s suburban areas, too.
Header photo credit: DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau