Start the day’s activities with a trip to Macy’s flagship store (111 N. State; 312/781-1000) on State Street. The eye-catching animated window displays have been a tradition here for 44 years and are a destination in and of themselves for many visitors. On display through January 8, 2012, this year’s widows showcases the story behind “The Wish Factory.” Another centerpiece of Macy’s holiday celebration, The Great Tree rises 45–feet into the rarified air of the world-famous Walnut Room—and is decorated with over 2,000 themed ornaments and 15,000 dazzling LED lights.
That iconic, El-encircled downtown hub otherwise known as “the Loop” provides a classic holiday experience unlike any other.
Should the queue at the Walnut Room prove too intimidating, however, there are a number of other nostalgic holiday dining options nearby. For authentic German favorites – not to mention a chance to find the pickle ornament in the Christmas tree (go ahead, ask them) – head over to the venerable Berghoff Restaurant(17 W. Adams; 312/427-3170). Find traditional German dishes and Dortmunder-style beer that made the restaurant famous alongside new contemporary sensations.
A more recent holiday tradition for many Loop visitors has been a trip downtown to see a show in the Downtown Theater District. Among the popular choices, especially at this time of year, are two genuine Chicago holiday landmarks –A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre (312/443-3800) and the Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Auditorium Theatre (800/982-2787). Those who prefer a new holiday offering will want to check out Donny and Marie belting out your favorite holiday hits in Christmas in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre (800/775-2000) or follow Ralphie Parker as he makes his journey through the holiday season in search of the gift of his dreams, a Red Ryder BB Gun, in A Christmas Story, The Musical!at The Chicago Theatre (800/745-3000).
Before or after the show, many theatergoers will likely set out in search of a unique gift or a delicious snack at one of the city’s younger holiday traditions like the 16-year-old Christkindlmarket (50 W. Washington; 312/494-2175). This open-air German-style market features over 50 food and craft vendors selling everything from bratwurst to blown-glass ornaments, and provides the perfect setting for Chicago’s magnificent holiday tree at Daley Plaza. Beneath that tree, a line of anxious children is a sure sign you’ve come upon one of the city’s most beloved holiday staples – Santa’s House (312/744-3315).
Last but not least, Chicago Loop Alliance’s 3rd Annual Winter WonderLoop series, which takes place through year’s end, invites Chicagoans and visitors alike to enjoy more than 100 holiday events, traditional festivities, and special discounts at participating stores, restaurants, hotels and cultural institutions. Visit WinterWonderLoop.com for daily specials and holiday offers!