Thanksgiving this year, you’re in Chicago and want to find things to do other than eating turkey? You’re in luck because there’s so much to do in Chicago in November. It’s the perfect time to hit the events, check out a new museum exhibit, start the shopping season, do nighttime activities, enjoy the holiday spirit, and more.
Here are some of the top things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving. Plus, check out our guide to Thanksgiving gift ideas to make the holiday even more fun!
TOP 9 Events And Things To Do In Chicago On Thanksgiving
November is a great time of year to visit Windy City – Chicago! Check out top things to do in Chicago on thanksgiving below for a variety of activities, including exploring the outdoors, family entertainment, music, sports, and of course, holiday activities!
Attend the Thanksgiving Day Parade
One of the best things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving is join the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade with the Chicagoans on November 25 at 8 a.m. State Street from Congress to Randolph! This has been a Chicago Tradition since 1934!
Featuring creative giant floats, decorated horses, balloons, and marching bands on State Street, the Thanksgiving Parade has drawn more than 400,000 street spectators in recent years. Make sure to arrive early to get a good spot or watch the broadcast on WGN 9.
That’s right, Thanksgiving is about giving and sharing. So why don’t you join a volunteer activity on this day? Chicago offers a lot of opportunities for you to do this.
The Church of Saint Ignatius in Rogers Park opens the Ignatian Services Food Pantry for Thanksgiving lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and also hosts a concert. You can sign up as a kitchen volunteer or music performer.
You can also volunteer at the Salvation Army Midwest Corps Community Center. They also required servers and greeters to attend to more than 300 guests during their meals from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the East Garfield Park Salvation Army Center.
See the ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
Thanksgiving season is a great time to take the kids to the zoo. Head to Lincoln Park Zoo for stunning light shows and outdoor animal exhibits. To avoid waiting, buy tickets online in advance.
Plus, at Lincoln Park, the whole family can take part in Turkey Day 5K, a race in which runners must wear holiday-themed costumes, such as giant turkeys. Activities also include the Plymouth Rock Ramble, a shorter race for kids ages 2 to 12.
If you love art and furniture, you can’t miss SOFA – one of the oldest art fairs in Chicago.
SOFA focuses on an impressive variety of three-dimensional art offered by more than 80 international dealers and galleries. With a long tradition dating back to 1994, this fair is renowned for its presentation and one-of-a-kind masterpieces.
Most are available for purchase, so if you want to buy decorations for your home, this is a great stop!
Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
One of the other fun things to do over Thanksgiving weekend is to head to a Christmas tree farm in the Chicago area to pick and cut your own Christmas tree. If you don’t want to cut the tree yourself, you can simply enjoy the surroundings, take a souvenir photo and buy a new pre-cut tree. Most Christmas tree farms open seasonally on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but some will open on Thanksgiving Day. So, be sure to check the farm’s opening schedule before you go!
Go ice skating at the Skating Ribbon
Ice skating is also an interesting addition to the list of things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving. Before dinner, bring your family and friends to ice skating, an extremely fun game on Thanksgiving.
There are several places to go ice skating in Chicago during the holiday season. One of the most perfect and beautiful places to go ice skating at Maggie Daley Park. It is known for its unique Ice Skating Ribbon, which curves and swerves through the quaint park.
Watch Digital Art at Art on the Mart
See Nutcracker, Monet’s Water Lily come to life like never before at Art on theMART. The world’s largest digital art display is launching an amazing show you shouldn’t miss. The program in collaboration with The Joffrey Ballet, Art Institute of Chicago, and Art of Life certainly won’t let you down.
The anticipated 30-minute show will be shown nightly at 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. You can watch it for free from the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Franklin Street and Wells Street.
Visit the City of Chicago’s Christmas Tree
If you’re in Chicago, you should visit the City of Chicago’s Christmas Tree. It is considered one of the city’s biggest and brightest holiday traditions. This huge and beautiful tree will light up the center of the iconic Millennium Park, decorated with twinkling lights and making a wonderful backdrop for the city. This is one of the best things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving you can’t miss!
Drive through Illumination: Tree Lights
The popular event Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum has been loved by many and chosen as a place to visit during Thanksgiving. The road, now twice as long, is decorated with colorful lights and musical performances where visitors can enjoy safety and relaxation in their own cars. Illumination is open from Thanksgiving to Sunday.
As you can see, there are a lot of fun things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving and you’re sure to have a memorable stay in the city. If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving in Chicago this year, check out our suggestions above. May you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving!