Chicago may see its fair share of bitterly cold weather and experience what seems like endless snowfalls during its long winters. However, that doesn’t stop our midwestern city’s residents and tourists from making the rounds to local festivities to celebrate the seasonal spirit, nearby shops while on the hunt for unique gifts, or hidden gem restaurants serving tantalizing food and spirits in a cozy environment.
Whether you live here locally or are preparing to travel to the Chicago area over the next few weeks this holiday season, here are some new recommendations for places to grab a nice meal, shop, or take in the sights and sounds. Read on for a carefully curated list of experiences you will surely want to give a try this season.
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Unique Chicago Shops Where You Can Find Gifts for Everyone on Your List
Finding the right gift for that special person in your life can be challenging, especially when it seems everywhere you look has the same items. The retailers below are different in this respect. We selected them because their product selection is a bit different from all the rest. You’re sure to find the right gift at one of these following retailers, even if the intended recipient seems to have “everything.”
Kido: If you’re looking for a gift for a child, whether it’s a newborn up to early elementary age, you can find it at the local artist-founded, award-winning kids’ products retailer Kido. They sell a wide range of vibrantly colored clothing and accessory pieces, inclusive children’s books, and sustainable toys sure to make that special child in your life be best dressed, empower them, or keep them entertained for hours on end.
One Strange Bird: If you like a shop that sells a little bit of something for everyone but that’s not the same old, same old that every other retailer sells, then One Strange Bird is your place. Their impressive product line includes pregnancy and kids’ items, home goods (including kitchen wares and candles), jewelry, books, games, health and beauty aids, socks, teas, Christmas ornaments, engagement and wedding items, and Chicago and vintage-inspired pieces. They even offer workshops where you can make your own gift to present to someone special this holiday season.
Komoda: In your quest for that perfect, unique gift for someone special in your life, handmade is often best. Whether you’re looking for jewelry, self-care items, including soaps, perfumes, or colognes, scented incense or candles, puzzles, paper gifts, wallets, or something else, there’s no shortage of items to select from among the extensive and varied product line at Komoda.
The Beer Temple: Whether you’re looking for an adult beverage such as beer, cider, wine, hard cider or kombucha, or a non-alcoholic option for home consumption or as a host’s gift, there are a wide variety of options to choose from at The Beer Temple. This local Chicago shop also offers classes and events centering around beverage culture.
Cowboys and Astronauts: Finding the right gift for that special man in your life can be challenging, but Cowboys and Astronauts has a wide selection of products sure to please, including self-care items, apparel, accessories, housewares, and games and gadgets, all with an outdoorsy, masculine feel.
The Spice House: If there’s one thing that can make or break a meal, it’s how it’s seasoned. As you know, spices aren’t created the same, though. Fortunately, The Spice House has a wide variety of spices and blends, including carefully curated gift sets, sure to help you create a culinary masterpiece. Plus, their website is full of recipes for integrating spices in a new way.
Una Mae’s: Whether you’re looking for gifts for a man or woman, including apparel, accessories like watches or wallets, or maybe some home goods or self-care items, there’s a little bit of everything that Una Mae’s offers to appeal to varied tastes.
While some people are into receiving gifts, others appreciate experiences. Below, we’ll highlight various events happening around Chicago that may make for a memorable holiday season.
Events To Get in the Festive Spirit in Chicago
One of the best parts of the holiday season is the sights and sounds that come with it. While there are plenty of places to take in holiday lights, such as our local zoos, or the Christmas spirit, such as at Christkindlmarket (the German-style open-air market), the following events may be some you haven’t yet heard of but can also evoke that warm, fuzzy feeling you associate with this time of the year:
Candlelight Concerts: There’s nothing like candlelight set to a dark backdrop on a chilly, wintry evening to warm spirits; however, add into the mix live music capturing the best holiday tunes, and you have the makings of a joyous and memorable evening you and your loved ones are sure to cherish for a lifetime. These holiday-themed pop-up style events will be happening from Dec. 16 onward throughout Chicago. Take in Christmas faves like “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night,” Latin Christmas classics by Jose Feliciano and Luis Miguel, some holiday jazz, or even a live ballet performance of the Nutcracker. Candlelight Concerts pricing is $32 on up.
Skating Ribbon: Take a self-propelled trip along the icy path that winds through the sights and sounds of Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park. You can rent ice skates or bring your own. This unique ice skating opportunity allows for both children and kids at heart. It runs from Nov. 18 through Mar. 5. While walkups are allowed, the park strongly encourages visitors to purchase tickets or rent equipment in advance.
8 Crazy Nights: Taking place on a weatherproof patio at Wrigleyville’s The Graystone Tavern, the Hannukah-themed festival, 8 Crazy Nights, runs Nov. 25 through Jan. 9 and features an impressive 14,000 white and blue light display, lighted menorah, collection of Hanukkah sweaters and dreidel ornaments, and traditional Jewish foods like matzo ball soup and latkes and some comforting libations like a Mensch Mule and sweet treats like jelly-filled doughnuts.
Sparkle Lights Festival: This inaugural event, which will be happening at the Chicago Dog’s home, Rosemont Impact Field, runs Nov. 23 through Jan. 1 and features tons of holiday-themed activities for all ages. Some standout activities include themed mazes, train rides through its five villages, and tubing down the Alpine Slide. Additionally, a $70 River Stadium Club ticket gives attendees unlimited ride opportunities, access to drinks and a buffet, and more at the Sparkle Lights Festival!
103.5 KISS FM Jingle Ball: If you love today’s greatest hits, then you won’t want to miss this year’s 103.5 KISS FM Jingle Ball, happening Dec. 5 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL starting at 7 p.m. Slated to perform there are artists Pitbull, Macklemore, Khalid, Jack Harlow, and more. Tickets start at $35 and are available now.
Hershel & The Hanukkah Goblins Live Show: Happening each weekend from Dec. 11 through 31 at The Edge Off Broadway is an adaptation of the classic children’s book by author Eric Kimmel, “Hershel & The Hanukkah Goblins.” The story tells of local townspeople who band together to save Hanukkah after goblins inhabit the town and threaten to do away with this lively Jewish celebration for good. Tickets are free.
Kicks & Confetti Ball: Grab your friends and head on over to Time Out Market in Fulton Market in Chicago to ring in the New Year on Dec. 31, starting at 8 p.m. The Kicks & Confetti Ball will have three floors of live music, over 15 on-site restaurants offering delicious eats, and are offering an all-inclusive drink package for those looking to live it up. Also, right before the clock strikes midnight, everyone in attendance will receive a glass of champagne to welcome in 2023. Tickets are on sale now.
While you’re out and about shopping for gifts or attending the events described above, it’s only natural that you may start to feel hungry. Below, we’ll highlight some places where you can grab a bite or drink while out on the town in Chicago.
Places To Dine in Chicago This Holiday Season
Chicago is one of those cities where you can find a little bit of everything to eat. The list below spans a wide variety of food options, from traditional to experimental and down-home to fine dining. The options we’ve included below represent many different cultural traditions that make Chicago special.
The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant: Located in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, this multi-story fine dining restaurant and upscale bar serves up steakhouse fare and craft cocktails, all with a contemporary and seasonal twist in a beautifully re-envisioned former operational firehouse. The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant features multiple dining rooms, an open-air patio, a full-service bar, and private party rooms throughout, all pointed in the right direction to catch some of our city’s best views. It also has special menus for happy hour, game day, and holidays.
Duck Duck Goat: Located in the West Loop Area of Chicago, Duck Duck Goat showcases a wide variety of Chinese-American cuisine. Its house-made dumplings, hand-pulled noodles, char sui buns, and other delectable dishes always impress. This restaurant’s elegant yet modern decor, coupled with its semi-private and private seating options, make this the ideal establishment to enjoy “Dim Sum Saturday” or to step in and pick up its much sought-after Peking duck family dinners.
Willow Room: Located in the historic Lincoln Park neighborhood, Willow Room is a restaurant and tavern that serves up a mixture of classic bistro dishes and drinks and other more innovative dishes meant to whet your appetite with something new and different that you’re sure to want more of. Enjoy dining within this restaurant and tavern’s warm and inviting dining room, outdoors in one of its climate-controlled pods, at the bar, or in one of its many private party rooms. They serve up lunch, dinner, and brunch, and even have a 3-course dinner special on Mondays!
Ristorante Quartino Pizzeria & Wine Bar: Nothing is more effective at bringing loved ones together than pizza and wine, and that’s what this downtown Chicago upscale pizzeria does best. It serves up small Italian plates plus made-to-order Neapolitan thin-crust pizza, all intended for sharing. Plus, Ristorante Quartino has an extensive wine menu that is sure to impress. Its vintage decor and attentive staff create a warm and welcoming environment that will make this pizza experience a repeatable one.
The Frontier Chicago: Recently recognized as “Best Restaurant for Group Dining” by Eater, The Frontier Chicago is the spot for good eats and drinks served up in a warm, rustic, and welcoming dining room or belly up to the bar. This fine dining establishment’s menu was carefully developed by Chopped Champion Chef Jup (Brian Jupiter) and serves as a re-envisioned representation of what settlers on the edge of civilization might have once consumed. The menu features a variety of culinary options, including a whole animal experience, aimed at getting customers to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new. This West Town restaurant features semi-private and private party rooms that can accommodate up to 400, an outdoor fire pit where you can enjoy smores, and a lively schedule of events.
La Celia Latin Kitchen: This Latin fusion restaurant located in the Avondale area of Chicago showcases the best Latin American and Caribbean flavors all on one menu. La Celia Latin Kitchen offers tamales, empanadas, picadillo and plantains, chimichurri steak, and craft cocktails in a vibrantly hued, bright setting sure to put a smile on your face.
Smoke Daddy: Nothing says “gathering” more than barbecue (BBQ) does. Smoke Daddy, as the name suggests, serves up delicious smoked BBQ masterpieces from its Wicker Park and Wrigleyville locations, including St. Louis-style spare ribs, wood-roasted rotisserie chicken, and brisket. There’s also a house-made veggie burger on the menu. Then, Smoke Daddy has sides like cornbread, mac-n-cheese, collard greens, smoked pit beans, and good ole’ desserts, like banana pudding, to complete your culinary experience. And if brunch fare is more your thing, they have that as well as an extensive craft cocktail menu.
These eateries are all much sought-after, so it’s in your best interest to go online or call ahead and make a reservation to ensure your culinary plans go off without a hitch this busy holiday season.
Thomas Law Offices Wishes You a Delightful Holiday Season
The list above is only a small sample of the many unique shops, restaurants and bars, and events you may want to check out this holiday season here in Chicago.
Our Thomas Law Offices family wishes you and your loved ones the best as you gather together to celebrate new and old traditions. Season’s Greetings!