An Old-Fashioned Chicago Christmas

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An Old-Fashioned Chicago Christmas

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Cloud Gate, or "The Bean." (Photo courtesy of Janoa Taylor.)

In a big city like Chicago, it can be tough to keep the holiday spirit alive with the hustle of the town, but what you may not know is that there are many old-fashioned events and activities to put you in the mood. Chicago is known for being a small town in a big shell, and that is true when it comes Christmas activities. Here in the city, you will find sledding, caroling, ice skating, and many other holiday traditions.

Here are Chicago's most loved old-timey holiday activities:


It seems nearly impossible to find a patch of grass in the middle of skyscrapers and condos, but in the midst of it all is a spacious park with a fantastic sledding hill. Warren Park is slightly farther north in the neighborhood of West Rogers Park, and it is fantastic for sledding. The hill is fairly steep and easily accessed by a staircase off to the side. If you have young children, you can opt for smaller hills in the park that typically don't have anyone sledding down. Warren Park is located at 6601 N. Western Ave. in Chicago.

There is also the sledding hill located southeast of Soldier Field that the Chicago Park District covers with fake snow when the weather is dry. Find the sledding hill at 425 E. McFetridge Drive, Chicago, but beware of the crowds.

Christmas Caroling

Besides joining a church crew, it's tough to find Christmas caroling these days. Sure, there's the occasional choir at the mall, but not the old-fashioned kind that sings door to door. Caroling at Cloud Gate (The Bean) may not be door to door, but it is an open invitation to all to sing carols with a different music group each weekend. The caroling takes place every Friday until December 21 at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park (Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe streets, Chicago). Caroling begins at 6 p.m. and lasts almost an hour.

Ice Skating

Old-fashioned ice skating doesn't involve indoor arenas. The true holiday ice skating is done outdoors. Most Chicagoans know about the overcrowded rinks like Wrigley Field and Millennium Park, but the real gems are the outside ice skating rinks at the Chicago Park District parks. They are a lot easier to navigate with your loved ones without bumping into everyone else who lives in Chicago. The rinks are also free, with reasonable rental prices for skates at $6. And if you find yourself sledding at Warren Park, you can walk a few feet and ice skate when you're done. Call the Park District at 312-742-PLAY for more information on the rinks.

Sleigh Rides

If you want to prove to your kids that Santa does ride in a sleigh, just take them to Forest View Farms in Tinley Park, Illinois. It you are looking for old-fashioned, a horse-drawn sleigh ride should suit you. You can even choose to be in the driver's seat with a crash course on sleigh driving. Rides start at $50 for two people, and group rates are available. Call 708-560-0306 for more information.

Janoa Taylor is a freelance writer with a background in business and finance. She offers a unique local perspective gained from years as a Chicago resident.

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