Christmas Things to do – Chicagoland 2018

We love Christmas-time for all the obvious reasons. We love decorating and celebrating as a family. Here is our list of things to do around Chicagoland and the western suburbs as a family for the holiday season.

Lisle Christmas Things To Do

Illumination at The Morton Arboretum – Starting around November 17th, the Arboretum lights up the one mile path with gorgeous lights. We always purchase the 5:30pm ticket time to accommodate toddlers bedtimes. This is something we enjoy doing as a family every holiday season. We purchased tickets the Friday after Thanksgiving this year to try to hedge our bets on the weather still being warmer than December.

The Morton Arboretum also has breakfast with Santa on a few dates. Since we have a wedding in December, my parents will take Olivia on December 1st at 9am. It’s a buffet and make sure to get a holiday dress or suit for your toddlers as everyone will have the chance to chat with Santa one on one for photos.

Mouseheart, Illinois

Mouseheart Holiday Lights – Starting November 24th this year, Mouseheart has a drive through free Christmas light display. The show is open from 5  p.m. until 9 p.m. each night. The cost of the show remains $10 per vehicle. Santa will be available at the Mooseheart Field House on Dec. 8-10 and Dec. 15-17. Santa will sit for free photos from 5:30 and the line will be shut at 8:30 p.m.. In addition to Santa Claus, the fieldhouse will also be a place where children can enjoy a bounce house, crafts, holiday music and even a Christmas cookie.

Wheaton, Illinois

Cosley Zoo – From November 23rd- December 30th Cosely Zoo in Wheaton has free holiday lights. Admission is free. The zoo is open 9am-9pm and the lights come on at 3pm.

Cosley Zoo | Wheaton, Illinois | Christmas Lights
Cosley Zoo | Wheaton, Illinois | Christmas Lights
Cosley Zoo | Wheaton, Illinois | Christmas Lights
Cosley Zoo | Wheaton, Illinois | Christmas Lights

Breakfast with the Grinch at Cantigny – This event sells out every year. It’s one date every December and this year it is Saturday December 8th. There are two seatings – 10am and 12:30pm. We went last year and it’s very cute.  Ages 11 and up: $38, Ages 4-10: $33 and Age 3 and under: $5.

Hinsdale, Illinois

Downtown Hinsdale Christmas Walk – Hinsdale has their annual Christmas Walk on Friday, 11/30/2018 this year. From 5-8pm there are Christmas lights, a cookie carousel and express train for the kids.

Geneva, Illinois

Christmas Walk Geneva, Illinois – Friday December 7th – Santa house, carriage rides.

See the Cheever House in Geneva, Illinois. This family decorates their house every year and raises toys for tots. I think they decided to retire their Christmas decorations this year unfortunately.

Lombard, Illinois

Lilac Park in Lombard has a free holiday lights display. Santa is there on certain nights and there are free train rides for the kids.

Aurora, Illinois

Aurora has free holiday lights display that starts on November 23rd. Presented in partnership between the Rotary Club of Aurora and the City of Aurora, this signature winter event is a drive through of more than one mile of spectacular lighted displays at Phillips Park, 1000 Ray Moses Drive, Aurora, IL 60505.

Long Grove, Illinois

Free Carriage rides in Long Grove, Illinois – Kick off November 23rd. The streets of downtown Long Grove come alive for the holidays beginning with horse-drawn carriages starting Friday, November 23rd from 12 pm to 5pm.  Thereafter, the 15-minute carriage rides will continue every Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm through December 22nd.   Kids will see Santa Claus walking through the village, and on occasion, they can also formally meet the Jolly Old Elf and have pictures taken at the Long Grove Visitor Center.  Also helping set the festive mood each weekend will be holiday carolers along with the popular Christmas Tree Parade that debuted last year.  Once again, 70-plus fresh pine trees are being distributed to local Long Grove businesses, who hand decorate them to the tune of their store’s distinctive theme for public display throughout the season.


Naperville Trolley Tours – Starting in December the Naperville Trolley offers families the ability to rent the entire trolley out for a holiday light tour or to schedule a public tour.

Christmas Lights Naperville
Christmas Lights Naperville
Christmas Lights Naperville

The annual Chriskindlmarket takes place in both Naperville and Chicago. Located at Naper Settlement in Naperville and Daley Plaza in Chicago, this German themed market is always a great time. This year we booked a heated tent in Chicago to take our parents and my in-laws with Olivia to enjoy shopping in the market and the yummy german food without the crowds.

Christkindl market Chicago
Christkindl market Chicago

Tuk Tuk Holiday Tours – We booked a tuk tuk for the 30 minute tour of the decorated houses of Naperville. For up to 6 people the tuk tuk is $50. Bring your own hot wine and hot cocoa.

Letters to Santa Mailbox – Naperville has a mailbox located at the corner Main Street and Van Buren where the children can mail Santa a letter and he will write back. No postage required or cost. Just remember to include your return address.  (See Santa in person too at the Santa House on the Riverwalk – schedule at

Christkindl market Chicago
Christkindl market Chicago

Holiday Parade of Lights – December 1st is the downtown Naperville Christmas Parade from 7pm-9:30pm. Santa’s house is open after the parade ends on the riverwalk.

Christmas Tree Experiences

Cut down your own Christmas tree – Oney’s Tree Farm, Richardson Adventure Farm, and Bens Tree Farm are our top runners this year to start this family tradition. I’m looking for an experiential event for our family where we take a sleigh ride to get to the trees and then can sip on hot chocolate and shop after finding our tree.

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