Thanksgiving season is nearly here, and the November holiday is one of our favorites in Chicago! There are many ways to celebrate and give thanks, from watching the iconic parade, going ice skating, or devouring some fresh turkey. We’ve got you covered if you’re looking for something to do before or after your big meal.
Here are the best things to do on Thanksgiving in Chicago this year.
Macy’s Thanksgiving parade is all fine and good, but wouldn’t you rather spend time with your fellow Chicagoans this year? Nearly half a million people show up to watch the parade’s floats, equestrian riders, dancers, and balloons as they travel down State St. Take a vacation from the TV and head downtown for a magnificent celebration at the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade. Check out our guide to the parade here.
You don’t have to cook every single meal to make Thanksgiving special. Kick your feet up (not on the table, please), and let someone else cook this year. Many Chicago restaurants have special Thanksgiving pre-fixe menus to feed your whole family.
3. Munch on a piece of delicious pie
Baking can be fun, but it gets hectic fast when you’ve got 20+ people to feed. Give yourself a break this year by ordering an expertly-made pie instead of making one. We recommend Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, Hoosier Mama Pie Company, or First Slice Pie Cafe. (We won’t tell if you want to pass it off as your own.)
Maggie Daley Park’s quarter-mile skating ribbon is one of the City of Chicago’s most famous ice rinks, offering the chance to glide and glimmer a 40-foot climbing wall in the heart of Chicago. The rink curves up and down around pine trees, with the city’s stunning skyline providing a stunning backdrop.
Skates can be rented throughout the week, and the rink often announces free sessions, which usually take place on Mondays.
Drawing over one million visitors each year, our favorite holiday market in Chicago is Christkindlmarket. International and local vendors flock to help provide an authentic and atmospheric experience at the German-style outdoor market. For Thanksgiving this year, whether you’re a Chicagoan or visiting, enjoy mulled wine, holiday snacks, and festive music at three different locations this holiday season.
Warm up with a mulled wine or hot cider at a heated outdoor bar as winter continues to ramp up. With so many great ones in the Chicagoland area—indoor igloos, fire pit patios, and rooftop winter bars—you can take your pick.
7. Participate in a Turkey Trot
The tradition of running in a “turkey trot” on Thanksgiving morning spans far and wide, and there are plenty of races to sign up for! For example, Life Time is doing a Turkey Trot Chicago 5K & 8K in Lincoln Park and a Turkey Trot 5K & 10K in Grant Park, to name a few! It’s a great way to be active before stuffing your belly with deliciousness!
This living plant museum is a spectacular, vibrant sanctum outside Chicago—depending on your geographic interests, close your eyes, and it will feel like you’re there. The 385-acre enchanting garden sprawls over nine Cook County Forest Preserve islands. It’s one of only the gardens in Chicago that feature 27 display gardens in four natural habitats: Mcdonald Woods, Dixon Praire, Skokie River Corridor, and Lake and Shores.
Lincoln Park Zoo’s much-loved annual ZooLights event will be fully displayed on Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago. It will include many of its cherished holiday traditions, like hundreds of larger-than-life 3D LED displays covering Lincoln Park, while the usual delicious holiday snacks, including warm spiced wine, frosty beers, and festive specials, will be available throughout the event.
Celebrate Thanksgiving this year with a Hamilton Broadway show in Chicago! This epic saga follows the rise of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton as he fights for honor, love, and a legacy that would shape the course of a nation.
Disney enthusiasts can now rejoice as the highly anticipated exhibit has finally arrived in Chicago. It has taken over 20,000 square feet of space, showcasing original costumes, props, and mesmerizing visuals that even the most devoted Disney fans haven’t encountered while celebrating 100 years of The Walt Disney Company.