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Match Your Mood
Mind Altering
Family Friendly
Pet Friendly
Match Your Mood
Mind Altering
Family Friendly
Pet Friendly

Get Your Holiday Game On

Let your mood be your guide to five festive experiences.

Christkindlmarket at Gallagher Way
Christkindlmarket at Gallagher Way Photograph: Donte Tatum Photography

Slice Some Ice Schedule a skating sesh on the ice ribbon followed by cocoa at Maggie Daley Park for a rush of love for all things winter (it is only December).     

Polar-Plunge for a Good Cause The original form of cryotherapy meets with a feel-good moment on January 29, when you can throw yourself into frigid Lake Michigan for the Chicago Polar Bear Club’s plunge to raise money for area families.    

Impulse-Buy Hot Glühwein and Christmas trees at Wrigley Field’s doorstep? You’ll find it at the Christkindlmarket at Gallagher Way — just look for the candy-striped wood huts surrounding the ice rink. November 19-December 31.   

Start a New Tradition You’d be hard pressed to celebrate the season more opulently than with tea at the Peninsula Chicago. Traditional English finger sandwiches, Devonshire cream, pastries, and Champagne are on deck, as are visits from Mrs. Claus, roving carolers, and a 20-foot Christmas tree. Through January 6.  

Lose Your Sh*t When the season gets too stressful, head to the two-level Kanya Lounge, where you can let loose in the rage room, crushing computer monitors and plates with a bat, then dabble in axe throwing before getting drinks at the bar. Yep, it’s as crazy as it sounds.   


Act Like a Culture Vulture

In a city rife with culture, sometimes the only way to avoid the stress of the season is to immerse yourself in art.

Candlelight: Classical music concert at Stan Mansion
Candlelight: Classical music concert at Stan Mansion Photograph: Jansen Bridge/Feverup

For Spontaneous Romantics
Log on to Fever events to see what music is being featured as part of its Candlelight series — from Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s holiday jazz classics to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Every live concert pops up at unexpected venues, such as the Stan Mansion, Salvage One, or Artifact Events, and always adheres to the latest COVID-19 restrictions. From $55.  

For Dance Enthusiasts
Sure, do Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagined Nutcracker around Christmas, but save the date for the Joffrey Ballet’s rendition of Yuri Possokhov’s gorgeously choreographed classic Don Quixote. It’s lighthearted enough for even the little ones (and the ballet resistant). February 16–27. Lyric Opera House. From $35.  

For Theatergoers
Let it go and head to the Cadillac Palace for Disney’s Frozen. Part of the Broadway in Chicago series, the musical is based on the beloved animated films. In addition to the original earworms, er, favorites, the show features new music by the movies’ Oscar-winning songwriters. November 19–January 22. Cadillac Palace Theatre. From $29.50.   

For Architecture Lovers
Head to Wrightwood 659, a 1920s red-brick building in Lincoln Park that houses an exhibition space designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Marvel at the play of space and light, then turn your attention to Shahidul Alam: We Shall Defy, featuring three decades of work by the Bangladeshi photojournalist who documents human rights abuses in his home country. $15.


Take Your Dog Walk to the Next Level


• Start with a shopping bender for your pup at Tails in the City (1 E. Delaware Pl.), a high-end dog boutique in the Gold Coast that promises “nothing you need, only things you want” — things like six-ply cashmere sweaters, flashy mirrored parkas and snowsuits, and designer carriers.

• Let Fifi strut her stuff and send a few pee-mails at nearby Washington Square Park ( 901 N. Clark St.) before it’s your turn to shop for nearly matching apparel at Hermès (25 E. Oak St.), Rag & Bone (25 E. Delaware Pl.), and Ralph Lauren (750 N. Michigan Ave.), all pet friendly.

• Make a reservation for a fancy steak dinner at Maple & Ash (8 W. Maple St.), where a dog-friendly, covered patio awaits.


• Head west to Downers Grove for a proper getup and fuel up at Happy Dog Barkery (5118 Main St.), where the popular housemade stews and liver cakes are a great way to coax Fido into a primo four-legged jacket with a built-in harness by Ruffwear.

• Walk in the woods at nearby forest preserves. Hidden Lake has two lakes and two-plus miles of trails. Or opt for a longer trek at the 2,500-acre Waterfall Glen; the preserve’s nearly 11-mile loop takes you by rolling hills and the Rocky Glen waterfall, all more peaceful in winter.


If Furballs Are Your Fancy

Illustration by Kate Pullen

Want to snuggle a cuddly kitten for a good cause? Make a reservation at Catcade, an arcade-themed cat café with adoptable cats roaming free in search of love and possibly new parents. $15 per person.



Sol Café
Sol Café Photograph: Mars Terrazas

Working from home doesn’t have to mean working at home. Get off your sofa and try:

• A pop-up Alvantor bubble tent or a more permanent Hypedome Mini, a geodesic dome that anchors onto your roof. Bubble tent: From $350. Dome: $3,197.  

• A fab hotel room up to 75 percent off nightly rates. usually offers the Virgin ($109), Park Hyatt ($160), and Sophy ($199), all of which include access to the hotels’ indulgent amenities.

• Two coffee shops that double as plant sanctuaries: Rogers Park’s Sol Café (1615 W. Howard St., 773-961-8289, and North Center’s Botanical Café (3740 N. Lincoln Ave., 312-815-7515,  


Alleviate the Guilt

Need to buy some time? Invest in a handful of services that’ll get festive chores done in a snap.

A wrapped gift
Photograph: Brittney Lockhart

Email a photo of your house to the folks at Light Up Your Holidays and experts will work out a design that’ll have the neighbors taking selfies in front of your tastefully illuminated home. From $2,500.

City Tree Delivery will deliver a trimmed tree direct to you; if you want, they can also set it up ($19.95) and recycle it (from $25) after New Year’s Day. From $95.

Give paper artist Brittney Lockhart 48 hours and she’ll turn a boring box into something that will look gorgeous under any tree. She’s wrapped for Hugo Boss, Macy’s, and more.


Transport Your Mind

Winter doldrums setting in? From suspended yoga to cannabis lounges, we’ve got your fix.

Illustration by Kate Pullen

Suspend Yourself Those teal silk ribbons you’ve seen through the windows of Air on Clybourn? They’re called hammocks, and they allow you to really lean into yoga poses while taking the pressure off achy joints and spines. A typical class includes some upside-down moves, which lower your heart rate, flush that gunk out of your lymphatic system, and help you see the world, quite literally, from a different perspective. Work your way up to the more advanced classes and you’ll feel like an extra
in Cirque du Soleil. $30.   

Soothe With Nature The Japanese ritual of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” was developed in the 1980s, and everyone can benefit from walking among the trees in silence. At the Chicago Botanic Garden, certified forest therapy guide Sally Peterson offers “invitations” to take a moment to notice motion around you and tune your attention to senses beyond vision, which encourages you to be present and can reduce stress hormones. (You can also do this on your own, natch.) Also at the garden, Jay Taylor strokes Tibetan singing bowls during sound meditations that will slip you into deep relaxation.    

Luxuriate in a Top-Shelf Spa Make friends with a member and get a Sunday guest pass to Biân, Chicago’s first wellness-focused private club. Eliminate nasty toxins in the infrared sauna, reboot your cells with a jolt of vitamin infusions delivered via IV, then slip into club-provided pajamas for a nap in a $16,000 Hästens bed. $3,600 for annual membership.  

Indulge in a Nice, Long Toke By year’s end, the Rise location in Mundelein will begin operating Chicagoland’s first cannabis lounge. You can consume what you buy onsite, but since it’s about an hour northwest of the Loop, so you’ll want a designated driver.


Loath to Leave the Comfort of Home?

Let some James Beard Award–winning mixologists deliver destination-themed booze kits to you. The Violet Hour’s There & Back Again subscription box takes you on a monthly spin through the apéritifs of, say, Paris in the roaring 1920s. They’re not just cocktails, they’re experiences — complete with videos and history lessons courtesy of head bartender Abe Vucekovich. Cheers! $100 for four cocktails.  

Order up a massage therapist through the wellness app Soothe and — voila! — within two hours, a muscle-calming genie will appear at your front door. $128 for 60 minutes.


Take a Flight

Skydeck Chicago
Skydeck Chicago Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

There’s nothing better than exhilarating heights to change your perspective. Try floating through the air in a beginner-friendly class at Trapeze School New York Chicago ( Or check out the newly transformed Skydeck Chicago ( on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, now with a museum and interactive L train experience. Another option is a high-ropes climb and zipline tour at the 300-acre Forge: Lemont Quarries (, one of the largest aerial adventure parks in the country.   


Act Like a Kid With Your Kids

Illustration by Kate Pullen

Go on a Museum Scavenger Hunt Gather your brood for a splurge-worthy escapade from Watson Adventures. Head to the lakefront for the Navy Pier Pressure Scavenger Hunt, or time-travel at the Field on the Museum of Natural Hysteria one. From $550 per group (ages 7 and up).  

Fly Down a Legit Snow Tubing Hill Follow a snowstorm to area hills for easy tubing with magic carpet ski lifts to the top. Five gentle courses are best at Bartlett’s Villa Olivia (from $22; For a Vail Resorts experience, head over the Wisconsin border to Wilmot Mountain (from $27; for 22 tubing lanes, equipped with new snow guns and a warming hut. Pro tip: Book tickets in advance, and target evenings for faster snow.  

See a Magic Show Mopey tweens and teens? They won’t be at the Magic Parlour with Dennis Watkins, a third-generation magician who delivers a mind-blowing mix of sleights of hand and mentalism. The intimate 90-minute show for ages 12 and up takes place in a private ballroom at the Palmer House. From $79.