Top 10 Things to Do in Chicago Over Thanksgiving

If you are in Chicago over Thanksgiving and looking for things to do in Chicago over Thanksgiving, then we have some ideas for you!  Here is our Top 10 list of things to do over Thanksgiving in ChicagoCLICK HERE to learn which museums are open and free this Thanksgiving week….
chicago thanksgiving day parade
1. Free 2012 Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago on Nov 22
If you are in Chicago and looking for things to do over Thanksgiving, make sure to start a great tradition by enjoying the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,which takes place from 8-11am on November 22, 2011. The parade route is on State St from Randolph to Congress, Chicago. More than 400,000 visitors are expected to line the route for this annual televised event, which features marching bands, equestrian units, floats, performance groups, celebrities and everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving parade staple, enormous helium balloons.

The Christkindlmarket is a free German market place located in Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago. Christkindlmarket attracts more than half a million visitors each year. Vendors sell authentic German food and creations and the event has several activities for children. The market usually opens on Thanksgiving Day right after the parade ends.    Christkindlmarket is located in Daley Plaza — 50 W. Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60602.

Learn more at their website…


3. Chicago’s Field Museum is Open on Thanksgiving
The Field Museum is open 364 days a year (Closed on Christmas). See how we put science into action in Abbott Hall of Conservation Restoring Earth, journey through 4 billion years of life on earth in Evolving Planet, fall in love with ants in The Romance of Ants, see SUE the T. rex, climb down an ancient egyptian tomb in Inside Ancient Egypt, and so much more. The facility displays exhibits related to history, archaeology and science. The Field Museum houses permanent exhibits on bird habitats, African mammals, plants of the world, ancient Egypt and Tibet.  The Field Museum is located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, 312-922-9410.

Check out their website HERE


4. Ice Skating in Millennium Park

Check out the free ice skating in Millennium Park in Chicago this holiday season. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Chicago , now in its 10th season, draws over 100,000 skaters annually.  Kicking off Chicago’s winter season, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park will open on Friday, November 16, 2012 and will remain open through mid-March 2013, weather permitting. This rink is free and open to the public. The rink, located on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets, will still offer skate rental for only $10.

5. Volunteer

One of the most rewarding things to do on Thanksgiving Day is to volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. There’s no better time than Thanksgiving to teach our kids about thankfulness and get them involved in giving back. There are plenty of ways to help our Chicagoland community, from soup kitchens and canned food drives to pet and pajama donations.   Chicago Cares is one organization that recruits volunteers and matches them up with appropriate activities. Interested parties just have to complete the online orientation and can spend their Thanksgiving Day helping the less fortunate. Chicago Cares is headquartered at 300 W. Adams Street, Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60606 – 312-780-0800
CLICK HERE to learn more at



6. Carolling at Cloudgate aka The Bean

Mark your calendars! Come out and enjoy an annual Chicago holiday tradition in 2012 in Millennium Park.  Celebrate the holidays in Millennium Park, when Caroling at Cloud Gate returns on Friday evenings from November 23 through December 21, 2012 at 6 PM during the holiday season. This free program, presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, in partnership with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, showcases Chicago choral groups and invites visitors to participate in a holiday sing-along.

Now in its seventh season, Caroling at Cloud Gate has become a cherished tradition in Chicago, with hundreds of singers gathering each week in the Park. Complimentary warm beverages will be provided by Caribou Coffee. Following the 50-minute caroling session, everyone is encouraged to skate at Millennium Park’s McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, one of the most popular winter destinations in the city.  6pm on Friday Nov 23, Millennium Park, Chase Promenade


7. Kick Back and Watch a Thanksgiving Day NFL Football Game
NFL games are as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. This year’s Thanksgiving Day features a heaping helping of intriguing matchups, starting with the Texans in Detroit, followed by the Redskins in Dallas and concluding with the Patriots at the Jets.



8. Join the Runners at the ChicagoTurkey Trot 5K
Like most cities, Chicago hosts “turkey trot” races and fun runs on Thanksgiving morning.  The Chicago Turkey Trot, now called the 2012 Life Time Turkey Day 5K celebrates its 35th year in 2012 with an 5krace in Lincoln Park on Thanksgiving morning.   Warm up your Thanksgiving appetite with the 2012 Life Time Turkey Day 5K! The Chicago TD5K brings family and friends together to start the day in a healthy way. Come dressed the part, and join runners, joggers and walkers for some lighthearted run. We can’t anticipate the weather, but we can guarantee fun.Organizers ask participants to bring non-perishable food for donations around the Chicago area. The 2011 race included more than 5,000 participants and collected more than 10,000 pounds of food, according to the race website.    The Chicago Turkey Day 5K will take place in beautiful Lincoln Park along the shores of Lake Michigan. The start and finish line will remain on Cannon Drive, north of Fullerton.    Participants will head south towards Fullerton Ave, turning east towards Lake Shore Dr. At Fullerton and Lake Shore, runners will turn left onto the north bound entrance ramp onto Lake Shore Drive.  Runners will continue along the curb traffic lane of Lake Shore Dr. for about 1.5 miles from Fullerton to Recreation Dr.      After exiting Lake Shore Dr. at Recreation Dr. runners will  immediately turn south along the Lake Front Path.  The course continues through Lincoln Park along the Lake Front Path passing beautiful Belmont Harbor and continuing south to a point north of Diversey where runners will enter Inner Lake Shore and continue south to the finish line. Organizers hold the race regardless of weather conditions in the Windy City.   Cost is $30 or $40 race day ($20 if you are a Life Time member) and $12 for the Plymouth Rock Ramble (lids 2-12). Proceeds go to Greater Chicago Food Depository. Participants can also bring canned goods to the race to donate.


9. Morton Arboretum is Free on Thanksgiving
After that big Thanksgiving Day meal, why not check out the Morton Arboreteum for a nice walk…The Morton Arboretum is giving free admission on Thanksgiving for everyone, so take a hike and burn off some calories! Admission is normally $10 for seniors; $11 for adults; and $8 for children 2-17. The arboretum has 16 miles of trails and nine miles of paved roads. On-site nature gems include Meadow Lake, evergreens, the Schulenburg Prairie and more. Hours on Thanksgiving, which is November 22, 2012, are 7 a.m. to sunset. The Morton Arboretum is located at 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, Illinois.
10. All-Star Thanksgiving Class at William-Sonoma
With Thanksgiving around the corner, get cooking tips and favorite Thanksgiving recipes during William-Sonoma’s All-Star Thanksgving class on Sunday, November 18, from 2 to 6 p.m. Class is free but reservations are required. Call 312-587-808 to reserve a spot. William-Sonoma in Chicago is located at 900 N. Michigan Avenue.

11.  ZooLights Spectacular at Lincoln Park Zoo Starting Nov 23

The day after Thanksgiving, Lincoln Park Zoo kicks off their annual, free ZOOLIGHTS holiday celebration, featuring luminous displays and holiday-season activities throughout the zoo grounds.  They will flip the on switch for free holiday fun on November 23.     This amazing free light show at Chicago’s free Lincoln Park Zoo is a holiday favorite in Chicago and part of many family traditions.

Celebrate the holiday with the Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2391 N. Stockton Drive, at the Winter Flower and Train Show starting Saturday, November 26 and running through Sunday, January 8, 2012. Admission is free and the conservatory is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Come out to the Lincoln Park Conservatory on Saturday, Nov 26 and enjoy a day filled with model trains, including an awesome village with replicas of real classic trains—including a trolley, steam engine, and freight train—that chug around rows of poinsettias and through a scaled-down Chicago cityscape, complete with a miniature Water Tower, a Chicago Theatre and Chicago-style bungalows.     This year, the Show House is the perfect backdrop for family holiday photos where model trains wind their way through a miniature village set among a colorful pallet of Poinsettias. An old-fashioned steam engine and freight trains traverse through a floral displayarranged in artistic splashes of color. Visitors escaping the cold can enjoy an eye catching Poinsettia display, with some varieties that are named after world famous artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Di Vinci. The village, comprised entirely of natural materials including willow, spruce and birch woods, features a variety of Chicago-style homes and famous buildings such as the neighborhood bungalow, Chicago Theatre and Chicago Water Tower Place.

About Lincoln Park Conservatory
The Lincoln Park Conservatory, owned and operated by the Chicago Park District, was designed by nationally renowned architect of the Victorian era Joseph Lyman Silsbee in collaboration with architect M.E. Bell. The Conservatory was built in phases between 1890 and 1895, replacing a small greenhouse that dated from the 1870s and was designed both to showcase exotic plants and to grow the thousands of plants needed for use in the parks, which it still does today.



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