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Junior Naturalists

Lake View Nature Center | Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

Explore nature, practice survival skills and participate in behind the scenes animal care. Participants will learn simple data collection and mathematical analysis methods and work with equipment used by real scientists to study plants and animals. Dress for the weather and wear clothes that can get dirty. Nov. 18, Dec. 9, Jan. 20.

When: 4-5:30 p.m.
Cost: $16, $11 resident

TILT the Season

360 CHICAGO | Chicago, Ill.

Enjoy sky-high views of the city lights and frosty lakefront from the 360 CHICAGO floor. Then, say hello to Santa, who will help spread holiday cheer every weekend and Christmas Eve (10 a.m.-2 p.m.). Photos with Santa will be complimentary for 360 CHICAGO guests. Other special gifts will include a complimentary one-day Child pass to the Shedd Aquarium and kids will TILT for free every Wednesday.

When: 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
Cost: Free with 360 CHICAGO admission

Family Night Out: Sleigh Rides & Cookie Decorating

Cantigny Park | Wheaton, Ill.


An evening of festive fun, indoors and out.

When: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free, $2 parking

Charles Dickens Brunch

Drake Bros. | Chicago, Ill.

Visit The Drake to see carolers and whisper holiday wishes into Santa's ear at The Charles Dickens Brunch. Menu includes soup, salad and appetizer, a carving station and desserts. Kids enjoy a la carte selections such as grilled cheese, beef sliders and cheese pizza.

When: Noon-4 p.m. Dec. 13-14 and 20-23
Cost: $89, $44 kids

A Christmas Carol

Mudlark Theater Company | Evanston, Ill.

We all know the story. Of Ebenezer Scrooge and that fateful Christmas Eve when the Ghosts of Christmas came to change the heart of the infamous old miser. Featuring an extraordinary cast of both adult and youth performers, Mudlark Theater is thrilled to present our brand new adaptation of this beloved holiday story.

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20; 2 p.m. Dec. 14 and 21
Cost: $12, $10 kids

Grandparent/Grandchild Bingo & Pizza

Naperville Park District | Naperville, Ill.

Event includes 12 games of Bingo, a snack, pizza and a drink, and prizes for everyone. July 18, Dec. 29.

When: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Cost: $22, $15 resident

Holiday Tours

Evanston History Center | Evanston, Ill.

Experience the timeless beauty of the National Historic Landmark Charles Gates Dawes House in the evening, decorated for the holidays and enhanced with live piano music. See the glow of Tiffany lamps and the sparkle of holiday lights and decorations in the evening. Hear stories of Evanston Christmases past to the live accompaniment of songs of the season played on the 1893 Steinway piano in the Dawes House library.

When: 5-7 p.m.
Cost: $20, $10 members, $5 kids 6 and under

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Chicago, Ill.

This Chicago tradition began in 1942. The museum's 45-foot Grand Tree takes center stage in the Rotunda, surrounded by more than 50 smaller trees decorated by volunteers from Chicago's ethnic communities to represent their various cultures and holiday traditions. Stroll through the trees, enjoy falling "snow" and savor  performances on the stage. School choral groups perform during the week, and ethnic song and dance performances take place on the weekends. In 2014, the theme highlights temporary exhibit Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives. Explore new artifacts and experiences in this exhibit, including a section on the making of animated film Frozen and costumes from films such as The Santa Clause and Maleficent.

Cost: Free with admission

Plant Hunters

Morton Arboretum | Lisle, Ill.

The new library exhibit highlights the crucial research that takes place at The Morton Arboretum and brings awareness to the work of other notable plant researchers throughout history. Artifacts rare photographs of turn-of-the-century China taken by renowned plant collector, Ernest Henry Wilson. Visitors can explore modern plant hunting by getting a close look at instruments used in the field and during scientific study. The exhibit also features interactive elements, challenging visitors to identify various plant species while they learn about the state of threatened trees and plants as well as the conservation efforts of scientists at The Morton Arboretum.

Cost: Free with admission

Holiday Flower Show

Wilder Park Conservatory | Elmhurst, Ill.


Come and view the Holiday Flower Show in the newly restored conservatory.

When: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Free

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