Your Essential Guide to the Holidays in Chicago

A Christmas tree display in Chicago, IL.

The holidays are upon us, and there’s no place to spend time with family and friends like Chicago, IL. From amazing shopping experiences to jaw-dropping lights displays, you can always find something festive to do in the Windy City. Whether you've celebrated in Chicago before or you're new in town, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating your Chicago Christmas itinerary.

Finding festive things to do around Chicago can make the holiday season feel hectic, but there’s no need to fret—we’ve rounded up a selection of fun ideas to keep you and your loved ones busy until the new year!

Holiday Lights in Chicago


Beautiful lights displays are quintessential to Chicago’s holiday season. In fact, Chicago residents take so much pride in their lighting skills that local news channel ABC7 hosts the Great Chicago Light Fight. Homeowners throughout Chicagoland submit their takes on twinkling holiday lights each year in hopes of winning the competition. In addition to cruising around Skokie, Jefferson Park, and other Chicago neighborhoods to enjoy homemade light shows, you can find several public displays across the city.

City of Chicago Christmas Tree


What better way to celebrate Christmas than viewing a 51-foot Christmas tree decked in lights? Chicago’s official tree can be spotted in Millennium Park during the holiday season into early January. In addition to getting you in the holiday spirit, the tree display is a great photo opportunity for you and your loved ones.

Lincoln Park Zoo


Hosted at Lincoln Park Zoo, ZooLights offers an entire experience with great food, drinks, and lights. Until January 2, 2022, you can discover the magic of the lights throughout the zoo and additional events held during December. Lincoln Park Zoo also offers free admission on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Chicago Botanic Garden


Lights are fun to look at, but they are even better in an immersive environment. Lightscape transforms the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden into a bright wonderland. Once the sun sets, take a relaxing walk with your loved ones down this remarkable light path you will never forget. This event lasts until January 2, 2022, so grab your tickets soon.

Ice Skating in Chicago


Are you truly in the holiday spirit if you don't take a spin around an ice skating rink? Whether you are a pro or need to stay close to the wall, ice skating is a great way to have fun during the holidays. Experience the best rinks in the country, conveniently located in well-known Millennium Park. 

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink


Through March, you can show off your ice skating skills at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. First opened in 2001, the rink is nestled next to The Bean, and features free admission. Don’t have your own ice skates? Rentals cost $13 - $15. 

Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon


Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon allows you to glide through an immersive Van Gogh light experience. On the ice, you can appreciate the beauty of Van Gogh inspired designs on a rink that loops through the park.

Chicago Holiday Events


Aside from extraordinary lights and amazing ice skating opportunities, you can still find even more events around the city to make yourself feel jolly. Delicious foods, tours, and shopping experiences await if you know where to look for them! Bundle up and discover other holiday activities that Chicago has to offer.



Chicago residents and visitors alike love visiting the German Christmas Market, Christkindlmarket. Explore German-inspired food, drinks, gifts, and activities at this free event’s two convenient locations: Wrigleyville and Downtown Chicago. 

Holiday Tours


A holiday tour gives you the chance to bundle a variety of Chicago sights and experiences. Whether you prefer a flight of brownie or beer samples or a dazzling holiday light tour, you have countless options available.

Shopping in Chicago


Make shopping an event for yourself or with others by going to the Magnificent Mile (also known as N. Michigan Avenue). Perfect for window shopping or last minute gifts, the area also features the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.

Indoor Activities You’ll Love in Chicago


Ready to escape the cold? Take advantage of the varying indoor activities offered around the city. Indoor events are perfect for spending time with family and friends for the holidays without cold, runny noses, bulky winter coats, and braving the snow and wind. Learn more about fun indoor activities in Chicago below!

Purchase Tickets to the Theater


There is no better way to cozy up than attending an impressive theater performance. Catch a production of The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, and other holiday shows in Chicagoland!


Museum of Science and Industry


Learn about holiday traditions from around the world at The Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light event. You can even grab a photo with Santa!


Swing by Winter Wonderfest on Navy Pier


Located on Navy Pier, Winter Wonderfest for all the best indoor attractions. This family-friendly event will be sure to keep you entertained with an indoor ice skating rink and the famous Centennial Wheel.

Create Room for the Holidays with Safeguard Self Storage


As you make a list of all the things you plan to do this holiday season (and check it twice), allow Safeguard Self Storage to take a load off your holiday schedule. If you need a place to store gifts, ice skates, or other festive belongings to keep your Chicago home uncluttered, visit our brand-new Edison Park self storage facility.

We offer a variety of unit sizes and features to help you create space during and after the holiday season. Explore our available units and rent or reserve your Chicago self storage unit today!

4 Reasons You Should Start Shopping for the Holidays Now

A woman holding gifts while holiday shopping.

The holidays will not sneak up on you this year like they have in years past. Being prepared makes the entire season so much more enjoyable. But how soon is too soon to start your holiday shopping? This year, we’re challenging you to ignore the calendar and take advantage of the benefits of starting the holiday season early.


Find out why shopping for holiday gifts sooner will support your budget and your plans of where to buy the gifts. We’ll help you discover how to save your sanity by shopping early and why it’s crucial to have plenty of space to wrap your gifts.


1. Budgets and Early Holiday Shopping Go Hand in Hand


The start of the holiday season used to kick off with Black Friday. Today, retailers online and in stores are offering price rollbacks earlier than ever. It's a budget-friendly trend that stretches your family’s hard-earned dollars.


By starting your holiday shopping now, you’ll probably find a little cushion in your gift budget. A few dollars saved here and there quickly adds up to extras in Christmas stockings or the ability to spoil one of your family members or friends.


Taking advantage of pre-holiday sales also heads off last-minute shopping snafus. Price hikes, long lines, and overnight sell-outs won’t ruin your best-laid gift-giving plans. Your wallet will love the savings, and you’ll have the satisfaction of checking things off that gift list.


2. Finding and Shipping Holiday Presents is Easier


The perfect gift might be out there, but a lot of retailers and shoppers this year will experience shipping and availability delays due to supply chain issues. Avoid the disappointment of being unable to deliver the gift your niece or nephew have been talking about for months by choosing to shop sooner. You’ll have plenty of time to have the gift shipped to you or decide on an alternative, and you don't have to wear out the sidewalks or your keyboard looking.


Early shopping online offers the luxury of generous shipping availability and delivery dates, too. The days of tracking your FedEx or UPS shipment on Christmas Eve will be no more. Not happy with that perfect gift? You'll still have time to arrange an exchange or refund. Pre-holiday purchases streamline the present-buying process better than Santa's elves.


3. Early Christmas Shopping Saves Your Sanity


Early holiday shopping liberates you from the traditional mad December dash. Before you sprint through a shopping mall, imagine relaxing the last few weeks before Christmas and saving your sanity with these cheerful ideas:


  • Spend more time with your family on Black Friday instead of fighting for deals and steals.
  • Hang holly, stuff stockings, and decorate the tree at your own pace.
  • Fine-tune holiday party plans for friends and family.
  • Binge-watch all your favorite Christmas shows and movies.
  • Turn some of that pre-holiday spare time into volunteer work with a favorite charity.
  • Bake some festive treats and pass them out to your neighbors.
  • Perfect your gift-wrapping skills.


4. You Have Space to Set Up Your Own Santa’s Workshop


Buying presents before the holidays lets you set up a very secret Santa workshop. We recommend utilizing a storage unit during this time of year to help keep gifts secret and to give you plenty of room to wrap those gifts. 


To get started, move a small table and chair into your self storage unit. Folding tables and chairs are inexpensive options that can fit easily into most cars for easy transportation. When you move your table and chair, don’t forget to bring a stash of tape, ribbon, wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, name tags, and more. Now that you have plenty of space, you can wrap up the holidays at your leisure.


Utilizing secure self storage also keeps the Christmas gift stash out of sight. This means your home closets will remain uncluttered and ready for holiday guests. Plus, your curious kids will never be able to take an early peek at their gifts if you keep them stored in a storage unit.


If you don't already have a storage unit, it's a wise strategy for getting organized now and staying that way into the New Year. Plus, after the holidays, you’ll already have space rented to pack all your festive decor. 


Let Safeguard Help with the Extras


Save your sanity, your budget, and your gift-giving plans this season and start to shop for the holidays now! And when you need that additional space for storing gifts or decor, Safeguard has multiple locations just around the corner. We always have room for all the extras that come with celebrating the holidays. Find a storage unit near you in three easy steps and rent your unit today!

Snowbirding This Winter? Here Are the Best Places for Your Winter Weather Getaway

When freezing temperatures fire up snowbirding daydreams in East Rockaway, NY, it's time to plan a winter getaway. Chilly residents across the country are raiding their storage units and putting together their best travel gear. They're on their way to these six amazing holiday retreats stretching from the West Coast to the Gulf of Mexico.

Six Snowbird Destinations

1. Sunny Palm Springs, California

Snowbirds love Palm Springs during the winter because its desert heat gives way to balmy temperatures. Don't leave your hiking gear behind in self storage when you vacation in this sunny spot. You'll want to explore the natural beauty of nearby Andreas Canyon.

2. Scenic Sedona, Arizona

Follow the snowbirding trail over to Arizona and enjoy some of the state's most affordable scenery. If you're on a budget, Sedona offers a wealth of inexpensive outdoor activities. The breathtaking landscape is all yours with more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails.

3. Beautiful Alamogordo, New Mexico

Veer just a little off the beaten snowbird path to the home of the world's largest pistachio nut. Immerse yourself in endless orchards of premier pistachio trees. Linger at Alamogordo's first-class vineyards and wineries. Treat yourself to a round of golf with the majestic Sacramento Mountains as your backdrop.

4. Peaceful Padre Island, Texas

When was the last time you spent Christmas on the beach? This time of year, Padre Island quietly serves as a peaceful holiday retreat away from the usual crowds. Stroll the beaches, stuff your stocking with sea shells, and watch glorious sunsets over Laguna Madre.

5. Gorgeous Gulf Shores, Alabama

Does the snowbird in your soul love to fish? Set that angler free on this island's 2,400-foot Gulf State Pier. Cast your luck off the decks of a saltwater charter. Enjoy gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico as you grill up the freshest catch of the day in the middle of winter.

6. Lively New Smyrna, Florida

Snowbirds celebrate New Smyrna for its small-town charm and vibrant arts scene. Spend a relaxing day drifting between galleries, boutiques, and unique cafes. Lounge on the beach and soak up that famous Florida sun. If you change your mind about excitement, Orlando is just an hour away.

Staging Winter Getaways

Turn your holiday vacation into a snowbirding adventure. When you're ready to head out, let Safeguard Self Storage help you stage a winter getaway with the best storage units in East Rockaway, NY. Have a great trip and stay safe on the road. Your belongings will be in good hands.