TOP FIVE: Fun things to do over Winter Break

The Grand Tree at the Museum of Science and Industry

Chris Olszewski, Staff Reporter

It’s winter break! Time to either test your mettle against the freezing Chicago cold and have some fun around town or stay inside with a cup of whatever beverage you prefer and binge watch on Netflix. For those of you in the former group, here are five fun things to do in the Chicago area over winter break.

Museum of Science and Industry

Over at the Museum of Science and Industry, the annual Christmas tradition of the “Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light” Christmas tree display continues until January 5, 2014, with over 50 trees decorated by Chicago’s ethnic communities. This year’s theme is based on the current temporary exhibit, Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives, which runs until May 4, 2014 and features over 300 artifacts from the Walt Disney archives ranging from Walt’s pre-Mickey drawings to the present day. Also at the museum, there is a temporary exhibit open until February 2, 2014 celebrating the Museum’s 80th anniversary, which features 80 rarely displayed artifacts, including an early GPS.

Brookfield Zoo

At the Brookfield Zoo, the Holiday Lights runs until December 31. This year, the festival has over 1,000,000 lights, and features a 38-foot talking tree. On December 31, the zoo will hold it’s Zoo Year’s Eve celebration with an early 8:00 P.M. countdown to 2014. There has also been a string of births at the Brookfield Zoo, including Everest, a snow leopard, the first born at the zoo since 1992 according to the Chicago Zoological Society, who was born on June 16. Other births include a currently off-exhibit male dolphin calf born on October 16, and a female western lowland gorilla born on November 4.

Lincoln Park Zoo

ZooLights continues until January 5 at the Lincoln Park Zoo. This year, the activities during ZooLights include live nightly ice carving, a musical light show, and 3D displays. In addition, this year the Lincoln Park Zoo has put in an ice rink at the Farm in the Zoo. The ice rink will be open until March 2, 2014, and will cost you $5 for admission and an extra $5 to rent skates, although you can bring your own.

Navy Pier

Winter Wonderfest will be at Navy Pier again this year, running until January 12, 2014. This year, attractions include a 28-foot tall zip line, a 50-foot indoor Ferris Wheel (in addition to the 150-foot outdoor wheel), and a climbing wall. Navy Pier will also be ringing in 2014 with a lakefront fireworks show when the clock strikes midnight on December 31.

Morton Arboretum

If you’ve ever wanted to see what happens when you hug a Christmas tree…or sing to one…well, here’s your chance. At Illumination, Morton Arboretum’s holiday lights show, you can do just that, with some, rather interesting results. Along the one-mile, winding path, you can interact with trees to see how they react to voices, gestures, and faces.