13 Thrilling Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Chicago

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Looking for thrilling ways to celebrate Thanksgiving in Chicago? You’re in luck because Thanksgiving season is a great time to visit Chicago.

There are many thrilling things to do in Chicago during this season. Here are the best things to do in Chicago for Thanksgiving including holiday events and activities and more!

Thanksgiving in Chicago

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

Why sit around the TV when you can be where the action is? Buy tickets in advance to enjoy the lights, camera, and action on State Street (between Ida B. Wells Drive to Randolph) at the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade.

You’ll need to arrive as early as 7:00 AM to get your seats. In the VIP section, you get nice bleacher seats to view the performances. Bring a blanket to sit on & a blanket to cover yourself with for chilly temperatures!

Chicago Architecture Cruise

Take a boat ride on the Chicago River and admire the city’s famous architecture. You’ll see an impressive flat skyline including more than 40 landmarks like the Wrigley Buildings Seaport and the John Hancock Building with audio commentary. The tour covers three branches of the Chicago River.

Navy Pier Centennial Wheel


Navy Pier is one of the most visited places in the world and it’s a unique way to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago. You’ll have amazing views from the Ferris wheel and it’s a must-do in the area! Located on the marina it offers stunning views of the city skyline and waterfront.

Willis Tower Skydeck

Here are some of the most spectacular views of Lake Michigan. Located along the Great Lakes Chicago is home to beautiful parks and cultural attractions such as the Adler Planetarium in Millennium and the Shade Aquarium in Grant Park.

Look north to see Chicago’s famous skyscrapers and landmarks from Lincoln Park to the world-famous Wrigley Field.

Helicopter Tour of Chicago

This is the only tour company near downtown Chicago with a giant jet engine. If you’re visiting Chicago or looking for something unique to do with family, this tour will give you a unique perspective on the city and make life-long memories!

5k Turkey Trot

This is a great 5k (3.1 miles) Chicago Turkey Trot that is held on the lakefront trail. Gather your flock and dress up to join the tradition of a morning run on Thanksgiving Day. There is also an 8K course (4.9 miles).

The event supports the Greater Chicago Food Pantry, and you can join other runners by running and walking so that faithful Chicagoans don’t go hungry this holiday season. The course is flat and scenic. It’s a fun way to get a little exercise in before your turkey dinner.

Big Bus Panoramic Night Tour

If you are visiting the city for the first time this is a great way to see Chicago Illinois and how it shines at night. Chicago architecture is interesting because there’s a lot to see on both sides of the bus.

Discover the magnificent skyscrapers of the Windy City lit up at night. Take a scenic evening stroll down the Magnificent Mile up Michigan Avenue past the Chicago Theater and Buckingham Fountain.

Chicago Christkindlmarket

At the Christkindlmarket, you can visit German food booths, peruse ornaments, and purchase gifts, while being in the heart of downtown. 

On warmer days, the market can be very crowded, but there are several Christkindlmarket locations. However, it’s a nice event to get outdoors and celebrate the season of Thanksgiving in Chicago.

Shopping on State Street is just two blocks to the East. And if you prefer a sit-down meal, there are restaurants at the Chicago Riverwalk nearby. They are both nice areas to take a stroll in the downtown area.

Chicago Holiday Lights Tour

Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere of the Windy City and easily explore local attractions on this Chicago segway tour or walking tour. Hop on your segway and ride through Chicago’s Millennium Park to the Loop.

With your guide, you’ll watch skaters swing on the ice rink look down Michigan Avenue and enjoy the department store’s festive displays.

Check out the German Christmas Market stalls in Daley Plaza where locals sip cider and hot chocolate and enjoy the atmosphere under the Chicago Christmas tree.

The Magnificent Mile holiday lights tour will put you in a festive mood. Start your holiday trip in Chicago near Millennium Park while walking north to experience Chicago’s Mag Mile. Finish the tour with delicious hot chocolate and a group of new friends!

Macy’s Holiday Windows

The holiday is often accompanied by an appreciation of love and expressions of charity. One of the best examples of these expressions is Macy’s annual holiday display at its downtown Chicago store.

Festive Food Walking Tour

There is nothing more magical than downtown Chicago during the holiday season.

You’ll have fun with your guide while taking a 2-hour holiday hike through Millennium Park and the Magnificent Mile.

You’ll also see the best holiday decorations in Chicago!

Final Thoughts on Thanksgiving in Chicago

There are a lot of ways to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago with family and friends. I especially enjoying booking a stay in one of the Magnificent Mile hotels for a family staycation.

If you are wondering what it is like to celebrate Thanksgiving in Chicago, it is a umique blend of traditional holiday spirit mixed with urban energy.

The city’s renowned Thanksgiving Day Parade, featuring elaborate floats, marching bands, and larger-than-life balloons, draws crowds of locals and tourists alike, creating a lively atmosphere along the parade route.

Additionally, the diverse culinary scene caters to Thanksgiving cravings with an abundance of restaurants serving delicious turkey dinners with all the trimmings.

Have questions about an upcoming stay? We invite you to ask through our contact page!


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