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Christmas in Chicago!

Chicago Christmas Tree Daley Plaza

This year for the holidays, I decided to drive into Chicago to visit family. Chicago is a great city to be in around the holidays. There are always plenty of events going on in what is one of the best downtown areas in the country. Surprisingly, the weather was incredibly mild for this time of the year. We did not get any snow our entire trip! Below I have listed some highlights of the trip!

Brookfield Zoo: Zoo Lights: Zoo Lights annual event held in December. For this “Holiday Magic” event, the zoo is decorated with a million multi colored lights. There is also a laser show, carolers, ice carving demonstrations, and more. The nice thing about this event is that you can still go into the indoor animal exhibits. We saw the dolphin show, which was done holiday style to the background of Christmas music. You can warm up by going into the many indoor exhibits. Tropic World, a primate exhibit and one of the largest indoor exhibits in the country is one not to be missed.  Another great new attraction is the Great Bear Wilderness, which includes a fantastic underwater polar bear viewing area. There is a nice tram ride that takes you around the zoo. During Zoo Lights, the tram was a nice way to cover the entire zoo. For more information on Brookfield Zoo and Holiday Magic visit their web site.

brown bear in underwater viewing area at Brookfield Zoo

 

Hollywood Blvd: A unique dinner and movie theater concept located in the Chicago suburbs of Woodridge and Naperville.  The theater is stylish and features décor and artifacts from all different films. The creative menu features entrees and appetizers with movie themed names. Surprisingly, the food is really good – much, much better than typical movie theater selections. The waiters are very fast and efficient taking your order right before the movie starts and usually getting it out before the movie starts or shortly after. The seats are very comfortable. The theater is clean. They also frequently have celebrity events. We went to see “We Bought a Zoo.” Last year, we went to a holiday screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life” hosted by Karolyn Grimes who plays ZuZu in the film. We also got autographs. This is a great annual event that is well attended. Check the website for upcoming celebrity events and make sure to get advance tickets as they get very crowded.

Hollywood Palms - Naperville, IL

Chicago Downtown: We had to walk around downtown at least one day during our trip! We conveniently took “The L” train into the downtown area.F irst, we walked around Millennium Park. There is some neat architecture here including Cloud Gate, which is a reflective sculpture which allows you to see your own reflection and that of the city behind you. There is also a very busy ice rink. I have skated here before, but did not go this year. It is a nice atmosphere with the city in the background, but also very crowded. We were there an hour before it opened and there was already a huge line of people waiting. Next, we walked “The Magnificent Mile” I enjoy walking this shopping district located on Michigan Avenue during the holidays. Every tree is lighted and the stores are decorated for Christmas. I also like to walk a few blocks over to State Street to see the Macy’s Christmas themed windows. From the windows, you can walk over and see the Downtown Christmas Tree and visit Christkindlmarket, which features German vendors. Visit this website for more information on this annual event.

Cloud Gate at Milennium Park - Chicago, IL

Dave and Buster’s: A full service restaurant, bar, and arcade located in Addison, Illinois.  The arcade requires you to purchase a “Power Card” for a few dollars and load it up for however much you want to play with. The arcade is very large, featuring both old school and newer high tech games.  We went on a Wednesday, which is half priced game night. We played for a long time off of only $20! The only drawback was the long, long lines.  The restaurant food is nothing special and a bit overpriced but it is convenient to eat then go right to the arcade. You can also order drinks and walk around the arcade with them, which is fun. Most locations have certain hours where it is 21 and older only.  Check the website for happy hour specials and other promotions.  Also sign up for their email club to receive coupons on a regular basis. I recently got a coupon for $10 free when you spend $10. Unfortunately, you are not able to use this on half priced games Wednesday.

Orland Square: A great mall located in Orland Park, a nice southwest suburb of Chicago. This has always been my favorite mall in Illinois. A very large mall which includes 2 floors featuring both upscale and casual stores. There is always a lot of security around and it is always up kept and clean. My only problem with this mall is that the food court is horrible. However, there are dozens of restaurants and other shopping centers located nearby. In addition, a new Dave and Buster’s entertainment center is opening next year. Visit the mall website for hours and additional information.

We also visited several restaurants on our trip. Check out my reviews of the following restaurants in the Chicago and surrounding suburbs:

Fox’s

I love Fox’s – it is one of my favorite restaurants on the South side of Chicago. We have been ordering take out pizza from them for years. This was my first time dining inside the Orland Park location, and I have to say I was pleased! Great entertainment (live music and dancing), great food, and a lively unique atmosphere made for a really fun weekend family dinner!

Fox's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Fox's Restaurant & Pub on Foodio54

Hard Rock Café Chicago

Inisde Hard Rock Cafe - Chicago

The Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago is definitely not one of the best. I have been to locations with better service and a more lively atmosphere. This one is a bit of a dud compared to others, plus it is located kind of off to a corner which is a bit strange. Still, the food was good as always (love the twisted mac and cheese) and it was decorated nicely for the holidays.

Hard Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon

Hollywood Palms Cinema and Eatery

Hollywood Palms - Naperville, IL

Hollywood Palms Cinema and Eatery is a unique movie and dinner theater in the Chicago suburb, Naperville. I have never seen anything like it! Definitely a cool experience. I was surprised how good the waiters were at getting your food out before the start of the movie or shortly after the start, especially with walking around in the dark. My Roger Rabbit vegetable wrap was pretty good – love all the unique movie themed entrees and appetizers on the menu. Lots of promotions and special discount nights; check the website for details.

Oak Lawn Family Restaurant

Inside Oak Lawn Family Resturant - IL

Oak Lawn Family Restaurant is a local favorite. I like it because it is always consistent – every-time I come back I always receive great service, great food, and a comfortable atmosphere. It never changes! We had so much food leftover the next day – the portions are huge so bring your appetite! Lots of options on the menu including all day breakfast. One of the best family restaurants around!

Oak Lawn Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Boston’s Restaurant

Inside Bostons - Tinley Park

This Boston’s is not as good as the one I tried in Long Beach – maybe that has something to do with Long Beach’s spectacular location on the waterfront! However, our waitress provided quick service because we were in a hurry so that was a plus. The food was great (we came for lunch – they about 10 different specials). I highly recommend the nachos as an appetizer – you won’t regret it!

Boston's The Gourmet Pizza on Urbanspoon

Bostons The Gourmet Pizza on Foodio54

 



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