Whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, you can visit Santa Claus when he makes appearances throughout the Chicago area this holiday season. While you could visit St. Nick in a shopping mall — again — consider doing something a bit different this year and pay a visit in a museum or even in a zoo in the Chicago area. Take a look at this list of some of the best places to visit Santa in Chicago and the suburbs during the 2015 holiday season, listed in chronological order.
BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Celebrate the start of the holiday season in style with the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, held November 21 on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. You can see Santa and Mickey Mouse, as well as performances by Michelle Branche, Lazaro Arbos, Charles Perry and more. If it’s possible, take public transportation to this event.
Visit with Santa while shopping for a new TV or refrigerator when you shop at electronics retailer Abt (1200 N. Milwaukee Ave., Glenview) on Black Friday. Families can take pictures with Santa from noon to 4 p.m. on November 27 and have a snack of chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa.
The famed ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 N. Clark St., Chicago) will return again this holiday season. Held on select dates November 27 through January 3, the free holiday tradition includes plenty of lights, arts, crafts and a chance to visit the animals. Santa will be at the zoo through December 23.
Make a few crafts, play a game or two and enjoy the time of the holidays when you take part in Country Christmas and Dessert with Santa at The Grove (1421 Milwaukee Ave., Glenview). The event runs on select dates November 29 through December 3, and you’ll need to register in advance. Admission is $10.50 for residents and $13.15 for nonresidents.
Chicago Park District
Start the holiday season by celebrating in your neighborhood park. Chicago Park District will host a number of activities and festivals in parks throughout the city, and will have plenty of opportunities for families to meet Santa. Upcoming events include Skate with Santa at Maggie Daley Park on December 5, and Dinner with Santa at Sauganash Park on December 11.
The Field Museum
When you think of Santa, you probably also think of his reindeer. But at The Field Museum (1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago), you can visit Santa along with SUE, the T. rex skeleton. Breakfast with Santa and SUE will be held at the museum December 5, 12 and 19, and tickets should be purchased in advance.
Have a special visit with Santa when you take part in the Holiday Breakfast at the Shedd Aquarium (1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago) on December 12, 19 and 22. The event also includes activities in the aquarium’s Polar Play Zone and a showing of the film “The Polar Express 4-D Experience.” Tickets should be purchased in advance.
Marion Street Market
Have some fun visiting with Santa and support a charity when you visit Marion Street Market (100 S. Marion St., Oak Park) on December 15 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. The event includes stories, treats and a visit with the man himself, and is free with the donation of a canned food item. For additional details, check out the website of MJPR Chicago.
If you and your family plan to visit Santa this holiday season, then consider arriving early to your destination.