Tips for Visiting Chicago in December

Gold Coast during wintertime

You may have heard rumors of the Windy City’s unforgiving blasts of winter weather which keep many indoors, but don’t let that dissuade you from a wintertime trip. In fact, you’d be missing out on lots of special events that locals enjoy every December — not to mention a wonderland of snowy days and thousands of sparkling Christmas lights in every tree. Score a great deal on travel, pack a bag with proper winter gear, and make your plans for visiting Chicago in December! Read on for winter our event details and tips on winter layering:

Get The Local Experience

Keep in mind that not only will you run into far shorter lines for popular attractions if you visit in December, you’ll also spend more time in the company of Chicago locals, rather than crowds of fellow tourists.

Chicago is Lit for Christmas

If you’re visiting Chicago in December, you can find a wide range of special events that only happen this time of year. Chicago standbys like the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago Botanic Garden, the Morton Arboretum, and Navy Pier all turn into illuminated wonderlands for the holiday season!

Christmas lights on Michigan Avenue

Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Get a taste of old-fashioned Christmas tradition with events like the Christkindlmarket German Market, and Christmas Around the World at the Museum of Science and Industry. The City of Chicago Christmas Tree gets its lights on November 22, and you can stop by Millenium Park to see the 35-foot-tall spruce till January 6.

Outdoor Events on Ice

Make the most of a beautiful snowy day by with some athletic activities on ice. Chicago has more than one option for ice skating right in the heart of downtown, including McCormack Tribune Plaza and the Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon in Millennium Park, and Warren Ice Rink in West Ridge on the city’s north side.

Staying Warm During a Winter Visit to Chicago

Visiting Chicago in December also means you’ll need to prepare for the blustery winters that Chicago is famous for! Not to worry; all you need to do is layer like a Chicago native, and you’ll be strolling down Michigan Avenue on a 14-degree day like it’s nothing:

  • Base Layers: It’s hard to find a pair of pants warm enough to protect you from icy wind chill, so you’ll almost certainly need to invest in thermal undergarments. For your top half, we recommend thermal shirts of the sleeveless variety, because they provide core warmth without causing you to overheat if you’re doing a lot of walking (or ice skating).
  • Fleece Layer: A cozy fleece layer is perfect for wearing on top of your thermals and regular shirt. It helps trap warmth inside your coat, and is nice to have when you move indoors and take your coat off, but temps are still chilly.
  • Down Jacket / Puffer Coat: Even if you really don’t like the idea of a bulky coat, you shouldn’t skip out on this one. Wool coats aren’t sufficient for a Chicago winter, and you’ll absolutely need the heat-trapping properties of a down coat if you want to spend more than ten minutes outside. You can find ultra-light puffers that are crushable and easy to pack for travel, as well as affordable.
    • If you have a choice, go for a coat with a hood and a high down collar that zips up to your nose. Fur trim (whether real or faux) isn’t just for fashion — it actually helps to hold in warmer air around your face.
    • Look for a parka-length coat to make sure your skin won’t come into contact with cold air.

Plan Your Chicago Trip With Skydeck

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any more questions about visiting Chicago in December! For more information about Chicago, how to get to Skydeck from the Loop, or things to do in the local area, check out our handy information hub.