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How to use transit to celebrate the holidays in the Chicago region

November 30, 2022

Santa Fist Bumps Fan

Whether you’re looking to shop at holiday markets, attend festive performances, or take in all the sights the region has to offer, riding transit is the best way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Take a look at some holiday attractions and how to get there on the CTA, Metra, and Pace.

CTA Holiday Train and Bus

The CTA Holiday Train and Holiday Bus are both fantastic and joyous ways the CTA gives back to Chicago communities and shows appreciation for its riders. Visit the CTA’s train tracker to find out when and where you might be able to catch a glimpse of Santa as the train rolls by. Visit the bus tracker to see which routes will be visited by “Ralphie the Reindeer.”

When: Holiday Train runs now through December 20. Holiday Bus runs now through December 23.

Where: Find locations on the CTA’s Holiday Train and Bus schedule.

Learn more.

Metra Holiday Train

For the first time, enjoy a ride with Santa and Mrs. Claus as they make their way to the North Pole Winter Wonderland at Millennium Station. Tickets for this experience on the Metra Electric Line are already sold out, but train enthusiasts can still enjoy a decked-out Millennium Station with holiday music, face painting, and other fun activities. Kids can even visit Santa himself.

When: December 3, 10, and 17

Where: Metra Electric Line and Millennium Station

How to get there:

  • Metra Electric or South Shore Line
  • CTA Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, or Purple Line trains (Washington/Wabash stop), then walk 3 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • CTA Red Line train (Lake stop), then walk 3 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • CTA Blue Line train (Washington stop), then walk 3 minutes (0.2 miles).

Learn more.

Holiday Markets

Christkindlmarket

This holiday season, visit the German Christmas market, Christkindlmarket. Admission to this one-of-a-kind holiday experience is free. Stop by and enjoy freshly made snacks and delicious beverages while you browse the artisan booths for the perfect holiday gift. Visit one or all three of the markets in the Chicagoland area.

Aurora

When: Now through December 24. Thursdays 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Where: River Edge Park, 360 N Broadway, Aurora, IL 60505

How to get there:

  • Metra BNSF Line (Aurora station), then walk 4 minutes (0.2 miles).Pace Bus Route #524 or #530 (Aurora Transportation Center stop), then walk 3 minutes (0.2 miles).

Chicago

When: Now through December 24 |Sundays-Thursdays 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m.-9p.m.

Where: Daley Plaza, 50 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

How to get there:

  • CTA Red Line (Lake stop), then walk for 3 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • CTA Blue Line (Washington stop), then walk for 1 minute.
  • CTA Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, or Purple Lines (Clark/Lake stop), then walk for 5 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • Metra UP-N, UP-NW, and UP-W lines (Ogilvie Transportation Center), then transfer to CTA Bus Routes #20, #56, #J14, #60, #124, or #157, or walk for 13 minutes (0.6 miles).
  • Metra MD-N, NCS, HC, BNSF, SWS, and MD-W lines (Union Station), then transfer to CTA Bus Route #60 or #157 (Washington & Clark/Dearborn stop) and walk for 3 minutes (0.1 miles).
  • Metra Rock Island Line (LaSalle Street Station), then transfer to CTA Blue Line or CTA Bus Routes #22, #24, #36, or #62, or walk for 17 minutes (0.8 miles).
  • Metra Electric or South Shore Line (Millennium Station), then walk 6 minutes (0.3 miles).

Wrigleyville

When: Now through December 31 | Mondays-Thursdays 3-9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Where: Gallagher Way, 3635 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613

How to get there:

  • CTA Red Line (Addison stop), then walk for 4 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • CTA Brown or Purple Lines (Belmont stop), then transfer to CTA Red Line or walk for 14 minutes (0.7 miles).
  • CTA Bus Route #22 or #152 (Clark & Addison stop), then walk for 2 minutes.

Learn more.

Kris Kringle Market in Palos Heights

If you’re near Palos Heights, head to the Municipal Lot on 12217 S Harlem and visit the Kris Kringle Market. With 75 vendors and a food court, you’ll enjoy tasty treats while holiday shopping. You can also enjoy a visit with Santa!

When: December 2 from 5 -9 p.m. and December 3 from 12 7 p.m.

Where: Municipal Lot, 12217 S Harlem Avenue, Palos Heights, IL 60463

How to get there:

  • CTA Orange Line (Midway stop), then walk for 2 minutes to transfer to Pace Bus Route #386 (Harlem Ave & 122nd St stop), then walk for 1 minute.
  • Metra Rock Island Line (Tinley Park station), then walk for 2 minutes to transfer to Pace Bus Route #386 (Harlem Ave & 122nd St stop), then walk for 1 minute.

Learn more.

Holiday Happenings in Tinley Park

Enjoy this three-day holiday event, starting with a tree lighting on December 2, followed by a visit from Santa on December 3, and ending with the Parade of Lights on December 4. During this fun-filled weekend, be sure to browse the holiday market under a heated tent.

When: December 2 from 6-9 p.m. and December 3 and 4 from 12-5 p.m.

Where: Zabrocki Plaza, 17375 S Oak Park Ave, Tinley Park, IL

How to get there:

  • Metra Rock Island Line (Tinley Park station), then walk for 1 minute.
  • Pace Bus Route #386 (Oak Park Ave & 173rd Pl/North St stop), then walk for 1 minute.

Learn more.

20th Annual Winter Art & Craft Expo at Evanston Art Center

Featuring over 140 artisans, the Annual Winter Art & Craft Expo displays handmade pieces in various mediums. Browse through jewelry, ceramics, paintings, and more handcrafted art for the perfect holiday gift.

When: Now through December 20. Mondays-Fridays 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Where: 1717 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201

How to get there:

  • Metra UP-N Line (Central St station), then walk for 2 minutes.
  • CTA Purple Line (Central stop), then walk for 11 minutes (0.6 miles).
  • Pace Bus Route #201 (Central Street & Eastwood stop), then walk 1 minute.

Learn more.

Events

‘Christmas Around the World’ at The Museum of Science and Industry

Join the Museum of Science and Industry for the 80th Annual display of Christmas Around the World. The exhibit features more than 50 trees decorated to represent various countries and cultures and is a beautiful one-of-a-kind experience. This holiday exhibit is included in Museum entry.

When: Now through January 8 from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Where: 5700 S DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637

How to get there:

  • CTA Bus Route #6 (S Hyde Park & 55th Street stop), then walk for 5 minutes (0.3 miles).
  • CTA Green Line (Garfield stop), then walk for 2 minutes to transfer to CTA Bus Route #55 (S Hyde Park & 55th Street stop), then walk for 5 minutes (0.3 miles).
  • Metra Electric Line (55th-56th-57th St station), then walk for 8 minutes (0.4 miles).

Learn more.

Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden

Within the beautiful landscape of the Chicago Botanic Garden, you will find a bright and colorful display of lights all throughout. It’s a breathtaking way to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. Admission to the Garden is $32 for adults and $16 for children and you must select the arrival time before adding the ticket to the cart.

When: Now through January 8 from 4:30-11 p.m.

Where: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022

How to get there:

  • Metra UP-N (Braeside station), then walk for 14 minutes (0.7 miles).
  • CTA Red Line (Howard stop), then walk for 3 minutes to transfer to Pace Bus Route #213 (Lake-Cook Rd & Turnbull Woods Ct stop), then walk for 1 minute.
  • Pace Bus Route #213 (Lake-Cook Rd & Turnbull Woods Ct stop), then walk for 1 minute.

Learn more.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

Stop by Lincoln Park Zoo and wander through their incredible light festival. It’s a holiday happening the whole family can enjoy. Visit their website for tickets which are available for $5 per person.

When: Now through January 1 from 4:30-10 p.m.

Where: 2400 N Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

How to get there:

  • CTA Bus Route #151 and #156 (Stockton and Webster stop).
  • CTA Bus Route #22 and #36 (Clark and Webster stop) and walk for 4 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • CTA Bus Route #73 (Armitage and Clark stop) and walk for 4 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • CTA Red, Brown, or Purple Line (Fullerton stop), transfer to CTA Bus Route #37 (Lincoln & Armitage/Sedgwick stop) and walk for 7 minutes (0.4 miles).
  • Metra UP-N or UP-NW (Clybourn stop), transfer to CTA Bus Route #73 (Armitage and Clark stop) and walk for 4 minutes (0.2 miles).

Learn more.

Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier

Visit Navy Pier this holiday season and enjoy interactive light displays, an ice-skating rink, and a walk through the Winter Wonderfest Forest. Families can also enjoy a visit with Santa. You can purchase your tickets from Navy Pier’s website $27 for adults and $17 for children.

When: Now through January 7 from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Where: 600 E Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

How to get there:

  • CTA Bus Route #29, #65, #66, or #124 (Navy Pier Terminal), then walk for 7 minutes.
  • Metra trains into Union/Ogilvie Stations and Millennium Station, then transfer to CTA Bus Route #124 (Navy Pier Terminal).
  • Metra trains into LaSalle Street Station and Millennium Station, then transfer to CTA Bus Route #29 (Navy Pier Terminal).

Learn more.

Chanukah Menorah Hunt

Join the City of Naperville in a hunt to find Menorahs hidden in Downtown Naperville businesses. The city invites children of all ages to participate and offers a map that you can download or print.

When: Now through December 27

Where: Downtown Naperville, IL

How to get there:

  • Metra BNSF (Naperville station), then walk for 10 minutes (0.5 miles).

Learn more.

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo

Visit Brookfield Zoo and marvel at the display of lights throughout the zoo. This light festival is fun for the whole family. Advanced registration is required for those who choose to enter from the south gate. Tickets for the event are priced at $25 for adults and $18 for children and can be purchase on the zoo’s website.

When: December 1-4, 7-11, 14-18, 26-31 from 3-9 p.m.

Where: 8400 W 31st St., Brookfield, IL 60513

How to get there:

  • Metra BNSF (Hollywood/Zoo stop) and walk for 10 minutes (0.5 miles).
  • Pace Bus Route #331 (31st/Golf View/Brookfield Zoo stop).

Learn more.

Jammie Christmas at Bridgeview Park District

Visit the Bridgeview Park District and watch a holiday movie with warm food and a snowball party. Come dressed in your best holiday pajamas and don’t forget a pillow and blanket! Register online or in person; admission is $12 per person.

When: December 4 starting at 4 p.m.

Where: 8100 S Beloit Ave, Bridgeview, IL 60455

How to get there:

  • CTA Orange Line (Midway stop), then walk for 2 minutes to transfer to Pace Bus Route #379 (79th St & Oketo Ave. stop), then walk about 9 minutes (0.4 miles).

Learn more.

Dreidels and Donuts

Enjoy this family fun event with holiday themed crafts and delicious jelly filled donuts. Admission to this event is $19 per person and you can register on the park district website.

When: December 12 from 4-4:45 p.m.

Where: West Ridge Center, 636 Ridge Road, Highland Park, IL 60035

How to get there:

  • CTA Purple (South Blvd stop), then walk for 1 minute to transfer to Pace Bus Route #213 (Lake Cook Rd & South Blvd stop), then walk for 19 minutes (1.0 miles).
  • Metra UP-N Line (Highland Park station), then transfer to Pace Bus Route #471 (Old Deerfield Rd & Richfield Ave stop), then walk for 17 minutes (0.9 miles).

Learn more.

Performing Arts

Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Goodman Theatre

Visit Goodman Theatre for their annual showing of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Watch as the actors and crew bring a holiday classic to life. It is the wonderful experience for families to enjoy this year and for years to come.

When: Now through December 31

Where: 170 N Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60601

How to get there:

  • CTA Red Line (Lake stop), then walk for 1 minute.
  • CTA Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, or Purple Line (State/Lake stop), then walk for 1 minute.
  • CTA Bus Route #22 (Dearborn & Randolph stop), then walk for 1 minute.
  • Metra trains into Union/Ogilvie Stations and Millennium Station, then transfer to CTA Bus Routes #60 or #157 (Washington & Clark/Dearborn stop), then walk for 4 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • Metra trains into LaSalle Street Station, then transfer to the CTA Blue Line (Washington stop), then walk for 2 minutes.
  • Metra trains into Millennium Station, then walk for 6 minutes (0.3 miles).

Learn more.

Joffrey Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ at Lyric Opera House

Witness the Joffrey Ballet perform The Nutcracker at the Lyric Opera House—a timeless performance that has become a beloved holiday tradition to watch. Showtimes and ticket prices vary.

When: December 3-27

Where: 20 North Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606

How to get there:

  • CTA Brown, Orange, Pink, or Purple Lines (Washington/Wells station), then walk 4 minutes (0.2 miles).
  • CTA Red Line (Lake station), then walk for 14 minutes (0.6 miles).
  • CTA Blue Line (Washington station), then walk for 10 minutes (0.4 miles).
  • Metra trains into Union/Ogilvie Stations, then walk for 5 minutes (0.3 miles).
  • Metra trains into Millennium or LaSalle Street Stations, then walk for 16 minutes (0.7 miles).

Learn more.

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Tagged in: How to use transit | CTA | Metra | Pace | RTA | holidays

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