Celebrating the Holidays Around Optima Communities

Both Chicago and Scottsdale provide endless opportunities for entertainment throughout the year, but the holiday season is when both transform into a wonderland of their own. From the traditional Christkindlmarket in Chicago to ZooLights in Scottsdale, here are a few of the many activities you can find in Chicago and Scottsdale this season: 


Chicago’s Christkindlemarket is a tradition beloved by locals and tourists alike. The festival takes inspiration from one of the first outdoor exchanges of its kind from 16th century Nuremberg, Germany, which shares its namesake. Both the Daley Plaza location downtown and the Gallagher Way location in Wrigleyville offer an abundance of holiday spirit, jovial music, festive activities, eccentric shops and traditional cuisines. 

Just a short walk for Optima Lakeview residents, Gallagher Way’s festivities expand beyond the beloved Christkindlemarket. This year’s expanded attractions include a variety of winter-themed rides and games, a tubing ice slide and the Gallagher Ice Rink, all found within the iconic Wrigley Field. 

For Optima Signature residents and others who find themselves downtown, the festivities continue. The Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon and the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink are must-stops for anyone looking for breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline. And while you’re there, make sure to visit the 55-foot Chicago Christmas Tree and Magnificent Mile Lights lining Michigan Avenue. 

Phoenix Zoo ZooLights


While Scottsdale might not get the same brisk air and snowfall Chicago does in the winter, the city still embraces the season with a variety of festive events and experiences. One of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions is the Phoenix Zoo’s ZooLights. The immersive experience surrounds visitors with millions of vibrant lights, including a new 50-foot LED tree. 

Found only two miles North of Optima Kierland Apartments, Christmas at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is another must-stop for anyone looking to escape to a winter wonderland. The holiday highlights include a 6,000-square-foot ice skating rink, sledding, train rides, S’mores Land and an Elf Academy. 

The holiday months don’t last long. So before time runs out, take advantage of all the enchanting seasonal opportunities found throughout Chicago and Scottsdale!

Winter Activities in Chicago

Although winter routinely draws the wrath of Chicagoans and visitors alike, it also brings an abundance of joy and entertainment for all. Chicago residents, especially those at Optima Signature, are particularly fortunate, with convenient access to some of the city’s most sought-after activities and venues. Here are just a few of the many ways you can experience the best of winter in the city. 

Daytime Agenda

There is no better way to start your morning than with an invigorating walk along the lakefront, where Chicago’s crisp air will stir your senses. You’ll be dazzled by the views of a snowy Chicago skyline that showcases many of the city’s architectural achievements — including John Hancock Center, St. Regis Chicago, the Mies van der Rohe buildings at 860–880 N Lakeshore Drive and more. And the spectacular sight of towering ice chunks piling up along the Lake Michigan shoreline is not to be missed.

We recommend your morning route takes you to Millennium Park. This iconic Chicago park lights up with vibrant colors and sounds during the winter months. Don’t miss out on winter musts like taking a snowy selfie at The Bean, or popping into the Art Institute to view one of the many blockbuster exhibitions on view.

The festive drinks at JoJo’s Shake Bar
The festive drinks at JoJo’s Shake Bar

If you’re searching for a unique ice skating experience this year, make your way to the famous Peninsula Hotel, which is only a few blocks north of Optima Signature. Explore the hotel’s exceptional sky rink for the special experience of skating in the clouds of downtown Chicago, surrounded by the city’s skyscrapers and inspiring views. The one-of-a-kind experience is a kid-friendly activity too. If you bring your child, the proceeds for admission ($20 for adults and $10 for children) are donated to two Chicago children’s charities: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Hephzibah Children’s Association.

Once you’re ready for a warm-up, head a few blocks North and indulge in a Biggie Shake or a gourmet Hot Chocolate from JoJo’s Shake Bar. You can’t go wrong with any of their famous, over-the-top specialty drinks that are essential to experiencing the best of Chicago’s winter season. 

Trees are illuminated with vibrant colors at The Lincoln Park ZooLights experience
Trees are illuminated with vibrant colors at The Lincoln Park ZooLights experience

Evening Agenda

The fun doesn’t end once the sun goes down! There are countless evening winter activities throughout the city that you can’t miss this year. 

Of course, we can’t go without mentioning the legendary Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. Brighten up your night by strolling through the hundreds of holiday light displays. This year, the exhibition introduces new features, including an alluring Enchanted Forest experience and an 18-foot Christmas tree! The beloved holiday tradition runs until the beginning of January and costs $5 for admission, excluding Mondays and Tuesdays, which are free for visitors.

The Nutcracker at the Joffrey Ballet, Photo courtesy of Cheryl Mann
The Nutcracker at the Joffrey Ballet, Photo courtesy of Cheryl Mann

Finally, cap your night by seeing a production of The Nutcracker at the Joffrey Ballet. This is a Chicago must, as it celebrates the culture and history of the city. During the performance you’ll be transported into another world, serenaded by the orchestra’s performance of Tchaikovsky and wowed by the dancers’ performances. Tickets can be found on their website and the production runs from December 4–26, 2021. 

Chicago’s winter can feel long, so while you can, fill your days and nights with enthralling seasonal activities to brighten your spirit. We promise you’ll feel the magic.

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