Combine holiday events with shopping in Chicago

Take advantage of holiday events… think two-for-one opportunities.

Museums, botanic gardens and zoos are all putting on spectacular exhibits, shows and special events. Instead of trying to fit in events and shopping this time of year go for the show or exhibit, then browse the connecting shop for holiday gifts.

See Fantasea at the Shedd Aquarium as a holiday event and a chance to find a different kind of gift this year

See Fantasea at the Shedd Aquarium as a holiday event and a chance to find a different kind of gift this year

Several places in and around Chicago have special events with good gift shops. Here are just a few:

Downtown

Go to the Shedd Aquarium to see dolphins, whales and a sea lion show off in Fantasea.  During the holidays, the show includes a visit from Santa and Frosty. A ticket to Fantasea in the Shedd’s Oceanarium also allows access to most of the Shedd’s exhibits.

Stop across from the Oceanarium entrance at a gift shop that has everything from stuffed animals and jewelry to books and artistic table items.

The Shedd Aquarium,  is on the Museum Campus at 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, 312-939-2438

In the western suburbs

Head over to the Brookfield Zoo most Saturdays and every Sunday in December for Holiday Magic. When daylight fades, Brookfield becomes alive with 120 animated light displays and about a million twinkling lights.

Holiday Magic runs Dec. 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 26-31 and Jan. 1. Zoo gift shops have one-of-a-kind ornaments and jewelry. They feature carved and stuffed animals, books and apparel.

Brookfield Zoo is on First Avenue between Ogden Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield, IL 60304, 708-688-8000.

Follow miniature trains around Chicago landmarks at Wonderland Express in the Chicago Botanic Garden

Follow miniature trains around Chicago landmarks at Wonderland Express in the Chicago Botanic Garden

North of Chicago

Get a ticket online or at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Information Center for Wonderland Express. Outside, walkways glisten with 750,000 lights. Inside the Education Center, trains toot past Chicago area landmarks and poinsettias  take over the greenhouses.

To best see the lights, plan to arrive around 4 p.m. Do the Wonderland Express and then walk around outside before heading back to the Information Center to browse the gift shop.

Even if the person receiving a gift from there is not a gardener, a counter has tempting jewelry and shelves are lined with items for the home.

Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL  60022, 847-835-5440.

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