CHICAGO - The holidays mean that many Stateline Area residents can expect family visits. If your clan is anything like mine, that means you want to get out of the house and do something different.
Sometimes it seems like we have "done it all" locally, so it's great to get out of the Stateline Area and explore some new areas every once in awhile Maybe Chicago is the perfect place to start a new tradition?
Here's a glance at what to expect in the Windy City through the New Year. Some events are even free.
• Zoo Lights: The Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., is transformed into a winter wonderland with two million glowing lights. The free holiday event includes animal and seasonal displays, holiday crafts, activities, tasty food and visits with Santa. Zoo Lights runs from 4:30-9 p.m. until Jan. 6, 2019. See www.lpzoo.org for more.
• Christmas Around the World: The Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, is the perfect place to take a family during the holidays. The museum has a 45-foot Grand Tree with more than 30,000 lights. Surrounding the centerpiece tree are 50 smaller trees representing different cultures. Admission to the museum is $21.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids. The trees are on display until Jan. 6, 2019. See www.msichicago.org for more.
• Christkindlmarket: Daley Plaza becomes a miniature Christmas village at 50 W. Washington St. Inspired by the Christmas Market in Nuremberg, Germany, visitors can shop for unique holiday gifts and enjoy all kinds of food and drinks through Dec. 24. Admission is free. See www.christkindlmarket.com/Chicago for more.
• Macy's windows: A little Christmas wonder and nostalgia greet visitors at Macy's on State Street. The windows have been professionally decorated by visual artists, costume makers and more. The displays are up until Jan. 5, 2019.
• WonderFest: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., has many fun family activities happening during WonderFest, running through Jan. 6, 2019. The 170,000-square-foot indoor facility has carnival rides, holiday activities, an ice skating rink and much more. General admission starts at $20. See www.navypier.org/winter-wonderfest.
• Carriage rides: Antique horse-drawn carriages offer rides near Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Ave.
• Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo: More than one million lights are spread throughout the 216 acre zoo at 8400 W. 31st St., on Dec. 15-16, 22-23 and 26-31. Some animal exhibits will remain open during the evening and there will be live entertainment options including watching ice-carving demonstrations and meeting with Santa Claus. There also is a model train display and ice skating rink. Holiday Magic runs through Dec. 31. General admission is $21.95 for adults and $15.95 for kids. See www.czs.org for more.
• Polar Express: Passengers will depart Union Station, 225 S. Canal St., and go for an hour-long ride along the Chicago River. Santa and his helpers will be on board. Ticket prices vary and sell out quickly. The train will be operating through Jan. 1, 2019. See www.chicagothepolarexpressride.com for more.
• Ice skating: Families can show off their skills at several ice skating rinks in Chicago. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink is in Millennium Park. Skate rental is $13 Monday through Thursday and $15 Friday through Sunday and on holidays. There are themed nights including: Christmas Classics (Dec. 20); Homecoming house music (Dec. 27); Bling in the New Year 90s Hip Hop (Jan. 3); Totally Tubular 80s pop (Jan. 17); Soul Train 70s funk (Jan. 31); Purple Passion music of Prince (Feb. 7); Mambo Mania Latin music (Feb. 21) and It's a Wrap-sody music of Queen (March 7).
The Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon curves its way through Maggie Daley Park. Skate rental is $12 on weekdays and $14 on weekends and holidays. Zamboni resurfacing (which takes around an hour) occurs at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Fridays. Resurfacing is at noon, 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and noon, 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sundays. Visitors should plan around these times.
Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier has an indoor Chicago Blackhawks Ice Skating Rink.
Ice skating is available in the Farm-in-the-Zoo area at Lincoln Park Zoo until Feb. 26, 2019.
The Peninsula Sky Rink is located above Michigan Avenue at The Peninsula hotel, 108 E. Superior Street. Admission to the rink is $20 for adults and $10 for children. All proceeds go to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and the Hephzibah Children's Association. The Sky Rink is open through March 2019.
• Holiday performances: Taking place at the Broadway Playhouse at Watertower Place ("T'was the Night Before Christmas); The Joffrey Ballet ("The Nutcracker"); The Goodman Theatre ("A Christmas Carol").
Visit www.choosechicago.com to plan your getaway.