Monday, December 5, 2016

Here's My Christmas Choice...Chicago!

Anyone who knows me, knows I love Christmas.  It's my favorite time of the year.  I even spent 15 years working at Walmart, and my spirits were never dampened.  If that won't do it, nothing will.  I try and take time out during my extensively busy holiday season schedule to talk about at least one spot that is great to spend holiday time in.  I am partial to New York, but I always talk about that city during the holidays.  I wanted to take some time and talk about one of my favorite places to visit during the holidays besides that.  I looked at several spots that I have found entertaining over the years.  I have included information on a lot of those as well for you.  I've enjoyed Reykjavik, Charlotte, most of New England, Moscow, Zurich, Vienna, Prague, Paris and such.  They are great.  However, Chicago holds a special place in my heart.

I grew up a couple of hours away from Chicago in northern Indiana.  In my family, the big thing to do during any season was to go to the city, and the city of choice was Chicago.  We went there to do all kinds of things.  It was the New York City of my childhood.  We always made a trip during Christmas time.  We would go to the park and see the animals, go to the museums and see the exhibits, go to the parks and see the lights.  We always did something special for the holidays in Chicago.  No matter what we did, we always made time to go and look at the windows.  For anyone who's ever done it, you know what I mean.  It's called Macy's now.  When I was a kid it was Marshall Fields.  The best part about this venue is that while the corporation has changed, the windows are still spectacular.  It's a tradition for a lot of families to go and check out the windows on State Street.  Many of us have done it for several generations.  So, while I enjoy the great activities and sights in Chicago at the holidays; this one holds the most special place in my heart.

That being said, over the decades that I lived in Indiana, I saw a lot of great things in Chicago at Christmas.  Lincoln Park Zoo and Brookfield Zoo both have programs and light displays for the holidays.  Zoos are great.  They are great no matter what time of year you go.  Just dress warm and get hot chocolate along the way.  One thing that the good folks of Chicago will tell you is that the cold is just something you deal with.

Also, The Science and Industry Museum is not only one of the best museums in the world, but a great place to see the trees from around the world.  If you've ever wondered how different cultures decorate for the holidays, this is your spot.  It's festive and bright and artistic and warm if you need that.

Outdoor activities are abundant in Chicago during the holidays.  There's more than one ice skating rink around and they are all decorated for the holidays.  There's a winter wonderland for the kids down at Navy Pier as well.   There are drive through light displays in several of the city parks for those of you who need a little heat to go with your outdoor activities.

There's nothing better than a Christmas Market during the holidays.  Down at Daley Plaza, Chicago puts on the Kindlmarkt.  This is a great market with lots of stalls for all of your holiday shopping.  I don't know about anyone else, but I go to these markets just for the ambience.  They are old world style, festive, and full of hot chocolate and other cold weather beverages.  It's the place to go that just makes you think of the old song "Silver Bells."

Now, true to form, Chicago has some unique findings and the Christmas train is one of them.  Only in Chicago, folks.  Only in Chicago.

Another thing that we did plenty of when I was a kid was seeing shows.  Chicago puts on great versions of the Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, and many others.  Chicago is known as an art town.  If you don't want to see something traditional, you can also go on a tour that takes you by that house that they used in the "Home Alone" movie.  Other long standing Chicago traditions are Second City and the entire system of blues clubs.

Chicago is cold.  That's a fact.  But the good people of Chicago know how to go out in the cold and have a great time for Christmas.  The atmosphere is something that you don't get in a lot of cities during the holidays.  The people are warmer at this time of year.  Maybe it's to balance out the cold.  All I know is that I looked at a list of the best places to spend time at Christmas and Chicago kept popping up.  It was making me reminisce about all the Christmases that I spent in Chicago.  It was good times, and I think that everyone should go someplace special around Christmas.  I think that this year, I'm recommending Chicago.  Enjoy!!

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