The holiday season is a wonderful time to gather with family and loved ones to reflect on everything the year brought. But if you’re hosting, you know there can be a lot to prepare. Whether you could use at least one meal cooked by someone else or are looking for just a little more room for your many visitors, there are many local businesses ready to help you entertain. Here are a few fun things to do with your guests (that will also help you show off Chicago’s North Shore).
Take It Outside There are certain activities that make the holiday season the special time that it is, and one of those is ice skating outside under the stars (or at the very least under the glow of twinkle lights). Take a break from your holiday shopping with Happy Hour Ice Skating at Westfield Old Orchard (Skokie Blvd. and Old Orchard Rd., Skokie). Every Monday and Tuesday from 3-9 p.m. through Dec. 24, stop by the shopping center's All Season Ice Rink for $10 skating. When you’re done, warm up with dinner at Nando's PERi-PERi Chicken, also located at Westfield Old Orchard. Another option for a day on the ice is Watts Ice Center (999 Green Bay Road, Glencoe). These two outdoor, refrigerated rinks are open through March 1, 2019 (weather permitting) for classes and clinics, as well as Open Skate. The center also features a mini pro shop, concession stand, recreation room, and program room. Learn more about hours, fees, rentals, and special events here.
Watts Ice Center, Glencoe
Dinner With a Side of Laughs If you haven't been to Good to Go Jamaican Cuisine(711 Howard St., Evanston) yet, Dec. 15 is the perfect night to go. For dinner, start with Jerk Rib Tips, Jerk Chicken Nachos, or Coconut Shrimp before ordering Curry Chicken, Oxtail, Grilled Salmon, or Jerk Tilapia, served with rice and peas or white rice, plantains, and steamed cabbage. Then, stick around for the This Is For Youcomedy show with Eli Hamilton, Em Brown, Cleatis Allen, and Dave Helem.
Good to Go Jamaican Cuisine, Evanston
Fun and Games Funtopia(2050 Tower Drive, Glenview) is an indoor adventure park at The Glen Town Center that features fun walls, a rope course, the Ultra Realistic Caving System, a giant slide, and a 20-foot free fall. Perfect for kids and kids at heart, you won't want to miss Family Fun Fridays, which include 1 hour of climbing walls and unlimited soft play (children 8 and younger), pizza, and soda. Find details about reservations here. Make a day of it by visiting Kohl Children's Museum(2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview) before your Funtopia adventure. Your kiddos will love exploring permanent exhibits like City on the Move, Ravinia Festival Music Makers, Water Works, and Whole Foods Market. And don't forget about the shopping! With stores selling everything from clothing and jewelry to sporting goods and health items, there's plenty to explore at The Glen Town Center.
Kohl Children's Museum, Glenview
Say Cheers! For a grown ups-only outing, tour one of Evanston’s breweries or distilleries. Temperance Beer Co. (2000 W. Dempster St., Evanston) is the city's first and oldest brewery. Spend some time at the tap room to taste their award-winning seasonal and year-round beers (feel free to bring your own food) or take a tour Saturdays at 3 p.m. Your $10 ticket will get you behind the scenes of the brewery, beer samples, a souvenir pint glass, and 20 percent off on merchandise that day. Tours are first come, first served. You can also tour FEW Spirits (918 Chicago Ave., Evanston), the first distillery in Evanston. Tours are offered Wednesdays through Sundays for $10 and include a tasting. Or, visit the Tasting Room Wednesdays through Fridays to try spirits like Single Malt Whisky, Breakfast Gin, Bourbon Whiskey, and Rye Whiskey.