BEST Things to Do in Chicago in November 2024 (From a Local!)

Are you searching for what to do in Chicago this November? Here are the best things to do in Chicago in November 2024 (from a local).

November is a great month to visit Chicago. Even though the weather is getting colder, it is still comfortable enough to enjoy spending time outdoors. Depending on the year, you might still see some fall foliage in the beginning of the month. Mid-November brings the start of festive Christmas and holiday activities and events which are in full swing by Thanksgiving at the end of the month.

For out of town visitors, please note that the weather in Chicago in November is very unpredictable and temperatures can vary greatly. Be prepared for fall or winter temperatures (sometimes all in one day!) as well as rain and possibly snow. Make sure to pack layers, a travel umbrella and check the weather right before your visit to know what to expect.

I suggest bookmarking this blog post as I will be updating it regularly with new events and activities.

Things to Do in Chicago in November 2024

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. I may make a small commission if you make a booking using my links at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Take an Architecture River Cruise

Taking an architecture river cruise is a must when visiting Chicago and a great outdoor activity on a warmer November day. While you can go on an architecture cruise most of the year (except when the water is frozen in the winter), they tend to be less crowded in the fall.

Look for Street Art

Moose Bubblegum Bubble by Jacob Watts one of the most famous street art murals in Chicago

November is a great month to walk around Chicago looking for street art while also enjoying fall colors or holiday lights and more moderate temperatures.

One of the most well known Chicago murals is “Moose Bubblegum Bubble” by Jacob Watts which located at 33 E. Congress (South Wall). This famous mural is part of the Wabash Arts Corridor and is walking distance to Millennium Park, The Art Institute of Chicago and other tourist attractions.

Another famous mural is the Greetings From Chicago Mural at 2226 N Milwaukee Ave. You can see this mural and other street art on this street art tour.

Enjoy the Views from 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck

360 CHICAGO, the observatory on the 94th floor of the former John Hancock Building, has one of the best views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. Early to mid-November is one of the best times to visit as you can see panoramic views of fall colors from above. Click here to buy a skip the line ticket.

Where: 875 North Michigan Avenue, 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611

Tip:  If you are visiting a few museums and indoor attractions, consider purchasing a Chicago CityPASS or Go Chicago Card to save money on entrance fees.

Watch Digital Art at Art on the Mart

Art on the Mart

Art on theMART is the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, projecting contemporary artwork across the 2.5-acre river-façade of theMART.

Where: The Merchandise Mart, 222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL 60654. Spectators can watch the show from the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Franklin Street.

When: 30-minute program of projections are shown nightly.

Cost: Free.

Have Fun at Navy Pier

Navy Pier is a must do if you are visiting Chicago with toddlers or kids. A ride on the large Ferris wheel offers paranoramic skyline views of Chicago and is another great way to see the fall colors from above early in the month. (Click here to purchase a fast pass ticket and skip the long line).

Other fun attractions at Navy Pier include rides and games, restaurants, shops and the Chicago Children’s Museum.

Enjoy the End of Fall Colors

There are many places in and near Chicago to admire the beautiful autumn leaves. The peak time for the best fall foliage in Chicago is usually mid to late October but you can usually still see some fall colors in the first half of November.

You can see fall colors at some of Chicago’s most popular attractions including Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”) in Millennium Park, the Chicago Riverwalk and Lincoln Park.

If you are willing to leave the city, you can find even more spectacular fall foliage in the suburbs. One of the best spots for fall colors in the suburbs is Morton Arboretum (in Lisle about 26 miles west of downtown) which is home to more than 4,000 different types of trees among 1,700 acres. They publish a weekly fall color report every Friday on their website.

If you missed fall foliage in the Chicago area, head south. There will likely still be fall colors in other places of the Midwest early November making it a great time for a weekend getaway from Chicago. (This weekly fall color report keeps track of fall foliage times across Illinois and this fall foliage map by weather.com shows the progress of fall foliage in all of the United States.)

Admire Famous Works at The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States and is frequently found on lists of the top museums in the world. (Click here to buy a skip the line ticket if you want to avoid long lines).

When: Thursday 11am–8pm; Friday to Monday from 11am– 5pm. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Where: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

Cost:  Price varies; members and children under 14 are always free.

READ: Best Indoor Things to Do in Chicago on a Cold or Rainy Day for more indoor Chicago attractions.

Go Outdoor Ice Skating

ice skating at Maggie Daley Park in Chicago one of the best things to do in November
Outdoor ice skating rinks in the Chicago area open around mid-November. One of the best and picture perfect spots to go ice skating downtown is the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink right in front of the Bean.

Another great spot is the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park which has a path twice the length of a lap around a traditional skating rink.

Take a Holiday Tour

If you are in Chicago during mid to late November and your time is short, there are a few tours that focus on Chicago’s holiday attractions:

Festive Food & Walking Tour
Seasonal Stroll Walking Tour of Holiday Attractions

Visit an Authentic German-Style Christmas Market

christmas things to do in chicago

Christkindlmarket is an authentic German-style outdoor market. Visitors can shop for Christmas ornaments and products from around the world and try various German food and drinks such as roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, bratwurst, and hot spiced wine. You can purchase a limited edition souvenir mug to remember your trip.

The market is in two locations in the city of Chicago: in front of Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago and Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville.

Where: 50 W Washington Street and 3635 N Clark St

When: Opens Friday before Thanksgiving.

Cost: Admission is FREE.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ at Lincoln Park Zoo is a cheerful, family-friendly holiday event in the heart of the city. Zoolights features hundreds of luminous LED displays and seasonal experiences, all under the glow of millions of lights.
Where: Lincoln Park Zoo, 2400 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL

When: Opens Friday before Thankgiving.

See the City of Chicago Christmas Tree

Seeing the City of Chicago Christmas Tree is one of best things to do Chicago in November

See Chicago’s “official” Christmas tree at Millennium Park. The best time to see it is in the evening when it is lit up.

Where: Millennium Park, near the intersection of Michigan Ave. and Washington St.

When: The lighting ceremony takes place the Friday before Thanksgiving.

Cost:  Free.

Go Holiday Shopping (or Window Shopping)

Chicago is a great city for shopping with every type of store you can imagine. Many shopping centers and departments stores put up holiday decorations and attractions around early November. If you want to see holiday decorations before the holiday crowds, I recommend doing your holiday shopping (or browsing) in early to mid-November.

Make sure not to miss Macy’s (formerly Marshall Fields) – the building is a National Historic Landmark and it is known for its holiday window displays.

The major shopping areas in downtown Chicago include State Street (where you can find Macy’s, Target and many smaller stores) and The Magnificent Mile (where you can find shopping centers, luxury designers and labels, several departments stores and popular brands).

If you are looking for unique and/or handmade items, check out these markets for your holiday shopping: Renegade Craft Fair (November 9-10, 2024), Randolph Street Holiday Market (November 16-17, 2024), Chicago Artisan Market (Fulton Market) (November 17, 2024) and Chicago Artisan Market (Ravenswood) (November 30, 2024).

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light


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The Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at the Museum of Science and Industry annual celebration began in 1942 and features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 40 trees and displays which represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe.

Where: Museum of Science and Industry at 5700 S Lake Shore Drive.

When: Usually opens mid-November.

Cost: Included in regular museum admission. Here is a link to the official website for more information.

Walk the Illuminated Light Trail at Lightscape

Sparkling tunnel of light at Lightscape Chicago Botanic Garden

Lightscape is an after-dark, illuminated trail with thousands of twinkling lights at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Ok so this is technically not in Chicago but it is in the suburbs only a 30 minute drive from downtown. Book early to guarantee your preferred dates. Tickets usually go on sale in October and sell out quickly!

Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022 (24 miles north of downtown Chicago)

When: Opens mid-November.

Cost: See https://www.chicagobotanic.org/lightscape for prices and to purchase tickets.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum is a one-of-a-kind, interactive spectacle of color, light, and sound that has been delighting audiences since 2013. Be surrounded by color as you walk a one-mile paved path amid interactive lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter.

Where: Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL 60532 (28 miles west of downtown Chicago)

When: Opens mid-November.

Cost: See their website for more information and to purchase tickets in advance.

READ: Best Places to See Christmas & Holiday Lights In the Chicago Area for more places to see holiday lights in and around Chicago.

Chicago November Events

In addition to the activities mentioned above, other November events include: Hot Chocolate Run (November 3, 2024), Andersonville Viking Pub Crawl (November 17, 2024), City of Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony (November 22, 2024), Magnificent Mile Lights Festival (November 23, 2024) and Chicago Thanksgiving Parade (November 28, 2024).

As you can see there are many fun things to do in Chicago this November.

Planning a trip to Chicago? Check out my Chicago guides and itineraries:



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