Chicago Trolley Holiday Lights Tour is a Lot of Fun

**** Recommended **** I have a checklist somewhere of things I’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to doing. Taking the Chicago Trolley Holiday Lights Tour turned out to be an easy and fun way to see the city lights during the holidays – and cross a couple of things off my list – Christkindlmarket and ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. The Tour might seem a tiny bit pricey (adults $29, children $25), but bypassing the lines at for ZooLights makes it well worth the money.
Board the holiday-decorated Chicago Trolley at Hancock Plaza (on the corner of Delaware and Michigan). The Tour’s first stop will be Sprinkles Cupcakes where everyone gets a complimentary handcrafted cupcake. As the Tour drives down the Magnificent Mile, everyone can admire the lights.
I’ve always wanted to visit Christkindlmarket, but I just couldn’t seem to find the time. The Trolley drops everyone off at Daley Plaza for a short stop at the German-inspired market. You probably won’t have enough time to shop, but there’s enough time for a snack.
All too soon, the Trolley is back. After we board, the Trolley goes north on State Street, moving slowly past Macy’s windows. Back on Michigan Avenue, the Trolley takes everyone past Chicago’s Christmas Tree and the ice rink in Millennium Park.
Along the way, our knowledgeable driver played holiday music, occasionally sharing anecdotes about the city’s holiday traditions. When his speaker system failed, he got everyone on the Trolley singing Christmas carols!
Back on Lake Shore Drive, the Trolley heads north to the LaSalle/North Avenue exit. Taking a quick right on Stockton, the Trolley bypasses most of the traffic. You’ll have about 30 minutes at ZooLights, which is just enough time to walk through the many displays and take lots of pictures.
Lincoln Park’s 23rd annual ZooLights is open through January 7th, running from 4:30 to 9:00 pm nightly (excluding Dec 24th & 25th). Admission is free most nights. Although parking is available, after observing the traffic lined up at the Fullerton Avenue exit on LSD, I’d recommend public transportation.
ZooLights Special events:
• BrewLights presented by Louis Glunz Beer, Inc., Dec 7th from 5:30-9:30 pm. Guests will forage for local craft, seasonal and import beers amidst ZooLights. Tickets start at $40; food is available for purchase.
• Chris White Trio Tribute to “Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas, Dec 10th from 6:30-8:00 pm. A soulful jazz tribute to the holiday classic at Café Brauer. Tickets start at $25.
• Free Family Nights, Dec 11, 18th & Jan 1st. Free rides on AT&T Endangered Species Carousel & Lionel Train Adventure; kids eat free at Park Place Café; members free parking.
Finally, we board the Trolley for the return trip, Lake Shore Drive to Michigan Avenue and back to the Hancock Plaza. My friend Helen and I had a wonderful time.
The Chicago Trolley Holiday Lights Tour departs at 5:30, 6:00 and 6:30 pm, December 8th through 23rd. Tickets are $29 for adults, $25 for children. A limited number of tickets are available for purchase at the Hancock ticket booth on the corner of Delaware and Michigan Ave., but advanced online purchase at www.chicagotrolley.com is recommended.

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