November is a remarkable month in Chicago. You still have some of the changing leaves of Fall, but the excitement of the holiday season begins. The Windy City is truly magical this time of year, and we’ve rounded up some fun upcoming events and the best things to do with your whole family this November!
1. Run a Race (or Cheer People On)
There are a couple of great kid-friendly options to get some exercise in November, and even if you don’t enjoy running or walking, there are other ways to have some family fun. Races often need volunteers, and getting the family together to volunteer their time for the community can be a great bonding activity. It’s also surprisingly fun to watch races and cheer people on. The energy and the support can be inspiring. Here are a few races happening in the Chicago area in November:
November 5, 2022
Hot chocolate is just about the only thing that will motivate me to run, and this is actually the only 5K I’ve ever done. This iconic race takes place in Grant Park and supports St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Upon finishing, you are rewarded with hot chocolate, fondue, and other delicious treats. Runners must be at least 8 years old, but younger kids are welcome to cheer!
November 19, 2022
The Reindeer Run inside the Brookfield Zoo is a great way to kick off the holiday season. Bring some glow sticks and run under the Christmas lights with your whole family. Strollers are allowed, and only those using their feet need to register. Unlike many races, this run starts at 7:00 pm, so it’s great if you don’t enjoy waking up early!
November 24, 2022 (Some of the suburban races are on different days. Click the links below for more information)
There are many “Turkey Trots’ happening on and around Thanksgiving, and participating could become one of your favorite family holiday traditions! The Turkey Trot in Chicago benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository and takes place in Lincoln Park. Kids as young as 2 can participate in the “Plymouth Rock Ramble” which starts at 11:00 am. Each registered kid will receive a t-shirt and a medal. Everyone can attend the Turkey Trot Tailgate after the race for games, food, and activities. Other Turkey Trots to check out are Shaumburg, North Shore, Lincolnwood, Elmhurst, and Naperville.
2. Watch a Parade
Parades are some of the best free events to do with kids. You get to enjoy live music, some dance performances, and in late November, you may catch a glimpse of Santa Claus! This year, the tree lighting parade and the Thanksgiving parade are less than a week apart, so downtown Chicago has some great options if you’d like to take the family to a parade.
November 19, 2022
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is one of the best holiday parades in the country. There will be free fun, including photos with Santa, festive booths, and family activities all day. The excitement culminates with a parade where the Grand Marshals, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, light over one million Christmas lights on the stretch of Michigan Avenue between Oak Street and Wacker Drive. If you want even more Christmas cheer, you can check out the gorgeous Christmas Tree in Millennium Park that will be lit on November 18th.
November 24, 2022
Don’t miss one of the biggest Thanksgiving Parades in the United States! The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade stretches down State Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Randolph. There will be festive floats, marching bands, and staged performances that the kids will love!
3. Do Some Holiday Shopping
It’s time to do some holiday shopping, and it’s way more fun if you make it an event instead of just ordering online. It also can be fun to involve your kids in buying gifts for others and allowing them to discover the joy of putting a lot of thought into a gift. Below are some unique and interesting places to do some holiday shopping this season!
November 18-December 31, 2022
In my opinion, the best way to get in the holiday spirit in the great city of Chicago is to visit the Christkindlemarket (the Christmas market). One of the most charming European traditions has become one of Chicago’s most treasured holiday events, and now there are three locations. This year, your kids can sip hot chocolate in a souvenir boot in Daley Plaza, Aurora, or Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville. If you have small kids, I highly recommend checking out the Gallagher Way location. They essentially turn Wrigley Field into a winter carnival complete with Santa’s Workshop, an ice skating rink, a carousel, rides, and games! Hopefully, the added locations will mean you don’t have to wait in a long line for your gluhwein!
November 12-13, 2022
If you’re interested in a smaller European-style market, head to the French Market hosted by the Lycee Francais de Chicago. This bustling market will have local and French artisans selling jewelry, apparel, home decor, and more. It’s a great place to find some unique holiday gifts while benefiting a local school. Don’t miss the authentic French bistro, and enjoy a variety of entertaining activities for all ages!
North Michigan Avenue
Sure, Michigan Avenue is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Chicago, but it’s also super fun around the holidays. The hustle and bustle of the shops and restaurants can really put you in the holiday spirit. The American Girl doll store has lots of holiday events, and the Lego store is nearby too!
4. Go Ice Skating
I have mixed feelings about ice skating. It sounds great. But my ankles always end up sore, I fall and hurt my butt, and I get cold. Many people enjoy it though, and it’s undoubtedly a good family activity. Whatever your thoughts, Chicago definitely has some cool ice skating options to check out.
November 18-March 5, 2023 The McCormick Tribune ice skating rink is located in Millennium Park, so it’s a great place to go ice skating after some holiday shopping or checking out the Christkindlemarket in Daley Plaza. It is FREE to ice skate, but advance registration is required. More details will be announced in the coming weeks, but they even have some free skating lessons! Ice skate rental is $10 a pair or you can bring your own skates.
November 18-January 8, 2023 This year, you can have the opportunity to go ice skating in Wrigley Field! Starting November 18, Wrigley will turn into “Winterland” and feature an ice skating rink and rides!
November 18-March 5, 2023
Maggie Daley Park is a super unique ice skating rink in the shape of a ribbon for breast cancer awareness. It’s located in Maggie Daley Park, right next to Millennium Park. Reservations are not required but strongly recommended. Prices depend on the date and time and whether you need to rent skates.
November 25-January 7, 2023 Navy Pier is hosting their annual indoor light display that includes a whimsical ice skating rink, a birch tree maze, and visits from Santa. This is a great option if it’s too cold to skate outside!
5. See a Show
The theater can be such an exciting experience for kids, and there are lots of great kid-friendly plays and musicals showing in Chicago in November! Below is a list of some family-friendly plays and musicals, but be sure to check out the Events page for a full list.
Now-December 4, 2022
Run Time: 2 Hours 45 Minutes with an intermission
Recommended Ages: 8+
A different perspective of the Wizard of Oz that will make you laugh, cry, and think about everyone’s backstory.
November 17-January 24, 2023
Run Time: 2 1/2 Hours with an intermission
Recommended Ages: 6+
The Tony Award-winning musical returns to Chicago! See your favorite animals of the Serengeti in this breathtaking production.
November 19- December 31, 2022
Run Time: 2 Hours with 1 15-minute intermission
Recommended Ages: 6 +, Children under 5 are not permitted in the theater
The Charles Dickens’ classic runs every year at the Goodman Theater, each time with a different twist. It’s a great tradition for the whole family!
November 19-December 24, 2022
Run Time: 1 Hour
Recommended Ages: 2-6
Four Beatrix Potter favorites gather for a tea party in this puppet and trunk show.
November 13-January 8, 2023
Run Time: 1 Hour
Recommended Ages: 5+
This play is based on a Hans Christian Anderson story about a little tin soldier who never gives up.
6. Visit a Museum
When the weather gets colder, it’s an ideal time to check out some of Chicago’s world-class museums. There are several fun events and free days coming up in November!
Free Days: November 1-2, November 8-9
The Field Museum, Chicago’s popular natural history museum and home of Sue, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, will be FREE for Ilinois Residents on 4 different days in November.
There is also a super fun opportunity to sleep over in the Field Museum, so click the above link for details!
Free Days: November 1-2
I love the Museum of Science and Industry. There are so many cool exhibits, and every kid will be able to find something that interests them. You! The experience, the baby chicks, and the German U-Boat are just a few to check out. Good news, the MSI will be FREE for Illinois Residents on November 1st and 2nd.
The Shedd Aquarium is hosting a sleepover! Click the above link for details. Also, check out our top tips for visiting the Shedd Aquarium to maximize your visit.
This immersive experience is not technically a museum, but it’s a temporary exhibit you don’t want to miss! It’s a virtual reality holographic experience where you star as the main character in a three-act play. It’s recommended for ages 7 and up!
This Instagram-worthy museum debuted in Chicago this summer, and now that the weather has cooled, it will likely be a lot less crowded and just as delicious. Read our post on tips for visiting the Museum of Ice Cream.
The light shows at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Merchandise Mart, Morton Arboretum, and Chicago Botanic Garden are just scratching the surface of the cool light displays around Chicago. Click the link above for our complete guide on holiday decorations and light displays to check out in the Chicago area!