State Street – Chicago’s “great” street – is the place to be during the holidays. When I was a little girl, Christmas wasn’t complete without a visit “downtown” to see State Street dressed up in its holiday best. I remember perching on my father’s shoulders to catch the window displays at Macy’s and eating chicken pot pie at the Walnut Room with my cousins. Now you’ll find me bundled up with my own little family of four, hitting the State Street shops and restaurants that make Christmas in Chicago so memorable.
Here are some must sees and dos on State Street during the holiday season
1. Macy’s on State Street holiday window displays Since the 1870’s, Marshall Field’s – now Macy’s on State Street – has been wowing visitors young and old with its magical, animated holiday window displays. Dress warmly and bring hot cocoa to keep your hands toasty as you watch a story unfold, window by window.
2. The Great Tree and the Walnut Room, Macy’s State Street – The dark wood-paneled Walnut Room is a Chicago institution: since 1907, it’s been catering to hungry shoppers. My Grandma used to go on dates here with my Grandpa back in the day! It still is the best place to decompress after a day of shopping, and during the holidays it takes on a particularly festive tone. At its center stands the 45 foot Christmas tree in all its holiday glory, decorated with over 1,000 ornaments. It’s such a holiday institution that there tends to be a healthy wait for lunch here – but I promise, it’s worth it. So consider making it a brunch or late lunch date. Bring coloring books and crayons for the kids to keep them occupied while you wait.
3. Christkindlmarket Chicago Every holiday season, from November 14 to Christmas Eve, Daley Plaza (a block east of State St. on Washington) is transformed into the Christkindlmarket Chicago, a charming German village complete with timber shops and cottages, Christmas trees, and a vibrant open-air market offering everything from cuckoo-clocks to traditional wooden ornaments and toys. Enjoy a selection of German treats – bratwurst, schnitzel, strudel, potato pancakes and more – and sip hot apple cider as you shop, visit with Santa, and listen to carolers. Don’t forget to check out the centerpiece of the action: the 90 ft. tall Daley Plaza Christmas tree.
4. State Street Shopping While Macy’s anchors State Street, there are lots of other kid friendly shops, too. Check out the colorful range of shoes at the Crocs shop, the wide selection of duds for the entire family at Old Navy’s Chicago flagship, and the cute baby and kids clothes at the Children’s Place Chicago flagship. Block 37, a newer mall at 108 North State, features fun shops for all ages, including the European import Zara and Beard Papa – a cream puff eatery!
Looking to stay near the State Street action? Check out the JW Marriott Chicago. With its recent $400 million restoration complete, this landmark hotel will celebrate its first holiday season with elaborate decorations in the original Daniel Burnham-designed Continental & Commercial National Bank building. With the JW Marriott Chicago Holiday Shopping package, you’ll receive a 10% saving and a $100 Macy’s gift card to be used for shopping or lunch at the Walnut Room. For more information on the JW Marriott Chicago, call 312 660 8200 or visit www.jwmarriottchicago.com.