Merrymakers visiting Chicago will find more rotund bearded men than they can shake a peppermint stick at during the holiday season. In fact, you can hardly take a break between checking out the holiday windows, shopping for gifts, and grabbing a steaming mug of hot chocolate in this town without finding yourself sitting upon an inviting red velvet lap. Everywhere you turn, it seems, a flying sleigh has deposited its portly pilot onto an elaborate throne, ready to hear Christmas wishes and dole out the cheer.
On the Magnificent Mile, children of all ages will find the big guy perched high above the city streets at the John Hancock Observatory (875 N. Michigan; 888/875-VIEW), and welcoming shoppers at the 900 North Michigan Shops (900 N. Michigan; 312/915-3916) and The Shops at North Bridge (520 N. Michigan; 312/327-2300). Meanwhile, the jolly old elf also covers the downtown “Loop” shopping corridor and Theater District with a post at the Macy’s Santaland (111 N. State; 312/781-1000), along with a prime spot under the city’s official Christmas tree Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington; 312/744-3315). You’ll also find old Kris Kringle greeting the kids outside of Winter Wonderfest on Navy Pier (600 E. Grand; 312/595-PIER) and bringing some joy to the animals during the ZooLights Festival at Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 N. Clark; 312/742- 2000).