Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago: Top things to do

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There’s more to Thanksgiving weekend than eating turkey. Besides a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, there are tons of things to do in Chicago during the holiday weekend. It’s the perfect time to start some holiday shopping, take a spin on a ice skating rink, catch a mesmerizing lights display, see a live show, and more.

Here are some of the top things to do during Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago

Enjoy a Thanksgiving feast

Travelle; photo by Huge Galdones

Start the weekend off strong with an unforgettable Thanksgiving meal. Whether you’re looking for a traditional Thanksgiving feast or something unique, Chicago restaurants have you covered. Check out our list of Thanksgiving dinners for dine-in and carry-out. You’ll find fine-dining spots, neighborhood favorites, international restaurants, and more

See the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Turkey balloon float in front of Macy's at the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade

Don’t miss the return of the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. The family-friendly spectacle takes over Chicago’s iconic State Street in the Loop from 8 – 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. Watch the colorful procession, including more than 100 floats and live performances, make its way north on State from Ida B. Well Drive to Randolph Street.

Shop local for the holidays

Foursided; photo by Adam Alexander Photography

Planning on starting your holiday shopping? Black Shop Friday is a great way to discover local Black-owned businesses all around Chicago on the busiest shopping day of the year. Check out their guide with more than 700 boutiques, book stores, art galleries, salons, restaurants, and more.

Next, celebrate Small Business Saturday with our guide to the best Chicago neighborhoods for boutique shopping. And hear the stories behind some of the city’s most beloved local restaurants, shops, and more with our Only in Chicago spotlights.

Enjoy a weekend away

Ice Skating in Millennium Park
Ice Skating in Millennium Park

Turn your Thanksgiving holiday into a memorable Chicago getaway. A hotel stay is the perfect way to make the most of your long weekend. Plus, you’ll get to experience the start of the holiday season in Chicago, from scenic ice skating to spectacular holiday events.

Check out these special offers from Chicago hotels to find great deals, packages, and more. And find Chicago hotels serving Thanksgiving dinner for an all-in-one holiday experience.

More things to do during Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago


Nov 19 – Jan 2

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

ZooLights Chicago’s favorite holiday tradition is back and better than ever in 2021 with our new Pepper Family Wildlife Center at the heart of the…

Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden

Nov 12 – Jan 2


The popular holiday event is back, with a new path and exciting new delights! We’ve got inventive new installations and all your favorites too. Hum…

North Suburbs

Event details

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

Nov 19 – Mar 6

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park returns for its 20th anniversary season, open daily from November 19 through March 6 (weather…

Illumination: Tree Lights

Nov 20 – Jan 2

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

The ninth annual Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns as a walking experience. Explore 50 acres of the Arboretum’s majestic trees during this one-of-a-kind spectacle of color,…


Nov 19 – Dec 24

Christkindlmarket Chicago

The smell of roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, bratwurst and hot spiced wine, the sound of festive music, and the glimmer of sparkling Christmas ornaments, all…

Light Up the Lake

Nov 26 – Jan 2

Light Up the Lake

Brighten the winter season with Chicagoland’s biggest indoor, temperature-controlled light garden, featuring large-scale light-sculpture displays with more than 600,000 lights; Alpine ice rink with free…

A Christmas Carol

Nov 20 – Dec 31

A Christmas Carol

Experience the heartwarming story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s discovery of kindness, compassion and redemption—a must-see Chicago holiday tradition now in its fifth decade at Goodman Theatre,…

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