Activities / Events / Holidays

Free City Holiday Events for Your Kids

The holidays are a great time to have family date nights to see decorations, lights and more. Many cities have free events for people of all different cultures and faiths. We took a little tour around Chicago to find family date night events that were free. Here are some ideas for you to do in your city.

One of our favorite traditions in the Santa Express CTA. For the low price of a CTA fare (children ride free or reduced rate depending on age), you can hop aboard the Santa Express. Every car has an Elf who hands out candy canes, holiday music playing, holiday decorations and lights, special Santa seat coverings and Santa on his sleigh is hitched between cars. We Googled Santa trains and many cities have special Santa trains for families to ride.

Check your area for a fun ride on the Santa Train!

Department stores have great decorations for the holidays. Macy’s and other department stores decorate their windows with a theme especially for children. If you have a Macy’s in your city, be sure to stop and write a letter to Santa (we did!) and watch the believe-o-meter rise!

Macy's and other department stores have holiday windows that are free to look at!

Go for a family holiday scavenger hunt. Plan to go to a few department stores, the town square, etc. with a list of holiday themed items you need to find. You can just check them off the list or take a photo since you don’t want to take decorations from public places! The list of items to find can be: an elf, a snowman, Santa, a sparkly tree, a wooden soldier, etc. If your family is big enough you can divide into teams!

Holiday decorations lend themselves to a family scavenger hunt!

Google to see if different cultural centers or houses of worship will have special exhibits about their culture at holiday times. Learning how other people celebrate the holidays can help your children to appreciate other traditions as well as their own.

Menorah at City Plaza - great opportunity to learn about other holiday traditions

Pack some hot chocolate, pile into the car and put on some holiday music as you drive around the neighborhood and see the lights. If you Google “best places for lights in (insert name of your neighborhood)” you will find the hot spots for holiday lights in your neighborhood.  You local holiday music radio station site will also have a calendar of holiday happenings in your town.

    The options for a free family date night during the holidays are limitless. In the midst of all your holiday preparations, don’t forget to take the time to celebrate with family.

    What inexpensive family holiday date night tips do you have?

    Posted December 10, 2010

    by MichelleH

    6 Comments

    6 Responses

    1. deanna says:

      There is a shopping center where I live called the Riverwoods that has a whole north pole set up with santa, lights, cookies, and fun. FOR FREE
      xoxoxo

    2. MichelleH says:

      Deanna,
      That sounds WONDERFUL!
      Wish we could go. :)

    3. Melanie B says:

      I love these ideas. There’s a few things around my city that are free including a holiday boat parade. We pile in and line up along the water to see all the christmas lights on the boats

    4. MichelleH says:

      That sounds so fun Melanie!

    5. Pam says:

      These are good ideas! We like windowshopping and our city’s Festival of Trees parade, but my oldest’s favorite is just cruising around and looking at Christmas lights. Some of the old mansions along the bluffs of the Mississippi River are gorgeous at Christmas!

    6. MichelleH says:

      Oh Pam, we can only imagine how beautiful that is. Thanks for sharing your holiday family date night ideas!

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