Macy's Believe Launch - Chicago

Children visit Santa in Santa's Village during Macy's Believe Launch, on Saturday, November 2, 2013, in Chicago. (Jose More / AP Images for Macy's / March 30, 2008)


Breakfast with Tomten

Eat pancakes with Tomten (Swedish for Santa) at this popular annual event. Don’t forget a camera to snap a pic of your kids with the man of the hour. Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St. (773-728-8111, 9 a.m. on Dec. 14, 15. $17. Reservations required.

Spirit of Chicago lunch cruise

Santa sails the high seas, er, Lake Michigan on a Spirit of Chicago yacht that includes a lunch buffet. A DJ will also be on board during the two-hour cruise. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave. (866-273-2469, Boarding 12:30 p.m., cruise 1:15 p.m. on Dec. 15. Adults $50, kids ages 12 and under free, limit one child per paying adult. Reservations required.

UL Santa House

Old St. Nick is taking requests and posing for free photos at the Santa House. The workshop shares Daley Plaza with Christkindlmarket, the annual German-American holiday market. 50 W. Washington St. (312-744-6630, Fri–Sun. 11 a.m–8 p.m. through Dec. 24, Mon. Dec. 23; special hours on Christmas Eve, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Free.


Santa makes his annual visit to the Lincoln Park Zoo to visit with families. Check out trees adorned with fetsive lights, free holiday crafts, live ice carvings every evening, a new ice rink ($5 to skate, rental skates available for $5), holiday train rides ($2.50 per ride) and a musical light show. 2001 N. Clark St. (312-742-2000, Photos with Santa from 5–9 p.m. on ZooLights evenings through Dec. 23. ZooLights Fri.-Sun. through Dec. 8, daily from Dec. 13–23, Dec. 26–Jan. 5. Free.

Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier

Have Junior bring his wish list to Mr. and Mrs. Claus at Winter WonderFest. Take your own photos or choose a package from a professional photographer. Purchase an activity wristband ($16–$20) to enjoy some of the fest’s other features, including the Candy Cane Lighthouse, a dual-lane inflatable slide and an indoor ice skating rink. 600 E. Grand Ave. (312-595-7437, Mon.–Thu. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Fri., Sat. 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. –8 p.m. from Dec. 6–15; Sun.–Thu. 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Fri., Sat. 10 a.m.–10 p.m. from Dec. 16–23; Christmas Eve 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed Christmas Day. Free.

Macy’s on State Street

Head to the fifth floor where you can take your own photos or have a professional snap a shot of your tot on Santa’s lap. 111 N. State St. (312-781-1000, Daily during store hours through Dec. 24. Free.

Have dinner with Santa at 6 p.m. on Dec. 5th and 20th in the Walnut Room, beside the store’s 45-foot Christmas tee. (Adults $30, children under 10 $18.) Call 1-877-556-2297 for reservations.

900 North Michigan Shops

Visitors can check out the decorated 40-foot tree, sit on Santa’s lap and leave the mall with a gift from his handy helpers. A photographer will offer different photo packages available for purchase, or you can bring your own camera. 900 N. Michigan Ave., 3rd floor (312-915-3916, Mon.–Fri. noon–6 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sun. noon–5 p.m. through Dec. 24. Free.

Pajama Party at Water Tower Place

Bring your pj-clad little ones to this evening event, where they can pose for pics with Santa. Sign up for a personalized email from the big guy on Christmas Eve with a $3 donation to Toys for Tots. No personal cameras allowed. 835 N. Michigan Ave., fifth floor (312-440-3166, 6 p.m. on Tuesdays through Dec. 17. Free; suggested donation of a new, unwrapped gift to Toys for Tots.

Shedd Aquarium Holiday Breakfast