January is an interesting month to visit Chicago. In the beginning of the month many holiday activities and events are still taking place and they are less likely to be crowded after Christmas. As the month goes on, there are fewer things to do, but there are still plenty of things to do in Chicago in January. If you are willing to brave the cold and snow, January is still a good time to visit Chicago as attractions are less crowded and accommodation is more affordable.
Here are the best things to do in Chicago in January. Due to current events, some events that normally take place in January have been cancelled this year and many indoor attractions are temporarily closed. I suggest bookmarking this blog post as I plan to update it regularly with any new information or updates.
Things to Do in Chicago in January 2021
See the City of Chicago Christmas Tree
The City of Chicago Christmas tree will be Millennium Park in the first week of January. This year’s City of Chicago Christmas Tree is a 45-foot Blue Spruce. While you are there you can also see the Bean, which is one of the best instagram spots in Chicago.
When: The City of Chicago Christmas tree will be up until January 7, 2021. Millennium Park is open daily from 8am to 9pm.
Where: Millennium Park near the intersection of Michigan Avenue & Washington Street.
Drive Through the Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum is a tunnel of lights, an awe-inspiring magical woodland filled with dazzling color and starlike light, and a landscape filled with thousands of lights dancing to a musical soundtrack, that you can see from the warmth of your car. This year’s driving experience (30–40 minutes long) features an unparalleled spectacle of color, light, and music. You will see returning favorites reenvisioned, including Symphony Woods, Woodland Wonder, and Crystal Promenade, and five newly designed sights displayed along a two-mile road among the Arboretum’s trees. Tickets are time and date-specific and must be reserved in advance.
When: Due to popular demand, Illumination has been extended through Sunday, January 10, 2021.
Where: Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL 60532 (28 miles west of downtown Chicago)
Cost: $49 peak night, $39 standard night for non-members. See their website for more information and to purchase tickets in advance.
Drive Thru Holiday Light Show at Northbrook Court
Let It Shine is a new holiday drive thru light show at Northbrook Court. Guests are invited to stay in their cars and immerse themselves in a wonderland of light displays that are synchronized to holiday classics. Drive past dazzling archways, sparkling candy canes, glowing snowmen and more illuminated installations. In spirit of the holiday season, a portion of proceeds will benefit NorthShore’s Kellogg Cancer Center. Tickets are time and date-specific and must be reserved in advance.
When: 4:30 to 10:00 pm on weekdays and 4:30 to 11:00 pm on weeknights until January 9, 2021
Where: Northbrook Court, 1515 Lake Cook Road, Northbrook, IL 60062 (24 miles northwest of downtown Chicago)
Cost: Time slotted tickets range in price from $29.99 on weekdays to $39.99 on the weekends per car with an added “fast pass” option to bypass the line. See their website for more information and to purchase tickets in advance.
Outdoor Ice Skating
There are many outdoor ice skating rinks in Chicago open this January. One of the best and picture perfect spots to go ice skating in downtown Chicago is the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park which has a path twice the length of a lap around a traditional skating rink. Maggie Daley Park is next to Millennium Park, so you can also check out the large Christmas tree and the Bean before or after ice skating. (For other places to go ice skating in Chicago, here are all the outdoor ice rinks in the Chicago Park District.)
When: Hours vary. Reservations are required and can be made up to 2 weeks in advance. See the official website for hours and to make a reservation.
Where: 337 E Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601
Cost: Skating costs $5 if you bring your own skates. You can rent skates for $16-$20 depending on date.
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Curling is a winter sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice or a lane towards a target. The Gwen Hotel, a luxury hotel, has custom-designed, an iceless Curling Rink on its outdoor rooftop terrace.
When: See their website for hours and to make reservations.
Where: Upstairs at The Gwen, 521 North Rush Street, Chicago, IL, 60611
Cost: Admission is $30 per person (for a minimum of 2 people), which includes a choice of one cocktail and 45 minutes of curling play time.
Have Drinks in an Igloo
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Having dinner and drinks in an outdoor igloo has been trendy for a few years but there are more igloos in Chicago this year now that indoor dining is suspended. Here are some of the best outdoor igloos in Chicago open this winter (advance reservations are required).
As you can see there are still many things to do in Chicago this January.