As magical as it seems during the holidays in Chicago, the weather always tests my strength when I go back for a winter visit. However, we were determined to do at least one festive thing while I was in town, and we tried our best to enjoy the lights, but wow it was brutally cold and everything is outside! The tour itself is closing after this year, but basically it drove to two places where you walked around yourself for free, the Christkindlmarket in Wrigleyville and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Paying for the trolley ticket was basically paying to avoid parking and for having someone else drive, but with taxis and Uber I would recommend going from one place to the next at your own pace.
I went to the annual Christkindlmarket for the first time a few years ago, but I went to the one in the heart of downtown Chicago that was absolutely packed and a little underwhelming. Little did I know, that there is also a location in Wrigleyville that has ice skating, a little more festive decorations, and bars surrounding it that truly go all out with decorations. I guess I did at least learn something new on this tour, as you get to hang out over at Wrigley Field, and even shop in the Cubs gift shop if you need any good presents for baseball fans.
Our second stop was at the Lincoln Park Zoo. They have truly the best lights to see in Chicago (for free!) but we basically ran in and out of the gift shop for a few minutes at a time because it was so dang cold. On a little bit of a warmer night, these lights would be worth seeing.
Since this particular tour meets right outside the Hancock building, a pre-tour drink at the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor was a must. All in all, make these three stops yourself in one night, and recreate your own trolley holiday lights tour.