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New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

There’s no place like home for the holidays

The ultimate guide to the cheeriest winter break on the North Shore
Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe. The show runs from Nov. 10, 2023 to Jan. 7, 2024.

Editor’s Note: The Shine Light Show, originally included in this article, is no longer running. That section has been deleted. 

Winter break is officially right around the corner, which means the long-awaited arrival of peppermint hot chocolate, cozy blankets, and Mariah Carey. For those not spending the holidays on a beach in Florida, here’s a list of the absolute best activities close to home to get you into the holiday spirit. 

Dazzling Displays

Light shows are easily one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. The festive music and innovative lights are practically the definition of jolly, and the North Shore has a wide variety of shows to choose from.

Lightscape at the Botanic Gardens in Glencoe runs through Jan. 7. Tickets cost $30 per person for members and $34 for non-members. This walkthrough show combines nature and lights to put on a spectacular and captivating show. The gardens are absolutely stunning, and the lights are professionally done, creating a bright winter wonderland.

The Willow Hill Lights, a drive-thru show in Northbrook, runs through Jan. 6. Tickets are $40 per car, and the show is the perfect opportunity to stay warm in your vehicle while watching the creative lights. This drive-thru is perfect for any group of friends looking to pass the time and listen to holiday music on the radio.

Festive Feasting

Food is arguably one of the best things about the holiday season. The smell of peppermint and cinnamon in every store hits you in the face as you step inside. Chocolate, sugar cookies, and hot chocolate mix fill pantries, the unusually large pile of sweets gradually growing bigger and bigger as the holidays rapidly approach.

Jojo’s Shake Bar, with locations on River North and Michigan Avenue, is definitely one of the best spots to visit over the holidays. I look forward to going every year and sitting inside the festive tent while looking at the extensive menu of sweets. Specializing in milkshakes, this shake bar offers a variety of ice cream flavors, topped with whipped cream, sprinkles, cookies, cake pops, marshmallows, chocolate covered pretzels, and more. The menu is delicious, with a wide variety of food to choose from, ranging from crisp, fresh salads, to warm, rich burgers. Apart from the amazing food, this dessert wonderland is decorated spectacularly for the holiday season, including a giant tent structure strung with lights and full of festive decorations, perfect for cute photos with your friends.

Pit and Tap, nice and close in Wilmette, goes all out for the holiday season. Their Deck the Halls season comes to an end on Jan. 9, so you won’t want to miss out! Completely strung with lights and surrounded by nutcrackers, this little restaurant is full of the most jolly spirit. The restaurant features barbecue food, including pork belly, brisket, pulled pork, and chicken, with, of course, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, fries, cornbread, and more. This Christmas wonderland is an absolute must visit over the break; there’s nothing truly quite like it.

Igloo dining, a COVID-era addition to the food industry, has been a huge success and a continuing winter tradition for many restaurants. “Igloos,” which are clear, personal tents, sit outside, equipped with heaters and holiday decor. Going out to eat in igloos is one of my newest, favorite holiday experiences that I look forward to every year. Igloos are available at many restaurants around the North Shore, including 501 Local in Winnetka and Guildhall in Glencoe. In downtown Chicago, you can find many rooftop lounges and smaller restaurants with innovative seating as well. Hopefully this new igloo tradition will be a permanent one. 

Radiant Rinks

Ice skating is not only a fun winter activity, but it will keep you active and moving over the break. I love skating to holiday music with my friends and, of course, getting a hot chocolate afterwards to warm myself up. There are a variety of places to skate locally and downtown that are a fit for all levels of skaters.

The Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon is an outdoor rink located in Millenium Park in downtown Chicago. The skating is usually free; however, it differs depending on the day and whether or not you rent skates, with admission prices ranging from $0-$22. The ribbon is an iconic Chicago spot to visit and a great way to spend a winter day, open until March 10. The ribbon wraps in a winding pattern, creating a fun and enjoyable experience for skaters of all backgrounds. The rink is located near many restaurants, also making it a convenient place to listen to festive music and skate with friends before getting a bite to eat.

The Winnetka Ice Area is open yearlong and offers open skates to the public. The rink is indoors, making it perfect for a rainy or freezing day. Skating costs $7.50 for those over the age of 18, and $6.50 for anyone 17 and younger, with the option of skate rentals. Equipped with full bleachers, this area has plenty of room to sit if you aren’t in the mood to be out on the ice. The Winnetka Ice Arena is a great local option for those looking to stay close to home.

Watts Ice Rink in Glencoe is another great local outdoor rink. Skating costs $12 for public admission, and skate rentals are offered for $5. The rink offers hockey during open skates, set up on a smaller rink where kids of all levels and ages can organize games and play together. There is an indoor area to lace your skates, so no need to worry about freezing on a cold bench outside! The rink closes Feb. 25 this year, so don’t miss out.

Winter break is only a number of days away, so start planning! I know I’m looking forward to heading downtown, skating, driving around with my friends, and getting all of my holiday shopping done. The North Shore has so many fun, festive activities to offer, and  I can’t wait to dive in. It’s time to pull out those fuzzy blankets and start binging Hallmark movies. It’s officially the best time of the year!

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Comments (1)

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  • K

    Dec 14, 2023 at 10:18 am

    Don’t forget the Christkindlemart in Daley Plaza or at Wrigley Field!