The Ultimate Guide to Chicago in November : 11 Things to Do in Chicago

November is the most festive time to be in Chicago. The Christmas season’s spirit is hovering over the city, and with Halloween just over, people are lively, and the atmosphere is bustling. Chicago is beautiful to see in the snow as the city is lit up with Christmas lights and the Thanksgiving spirit is in the air.

Here is our guide to the city of Chicago in November.

Is it a Good time to Visit Chicago in November?

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Chicago has been nicknamed the Windy City, and it lives up to its name with its cold winters. The weather is windy and cool, and the second half of November is comparatively colder than early November. The average length of a day is almost 9.8 hours. November is one of the cloudiest months in Chicago. It might snow for 1.8 days. As November is an off-peak season hence hotel and flight prices are lower, especially during early November. November is perfect for sightseeing and visiting tourist attractions as it is less crowded. 

Weather In Chicago in November

The average temperature in Chicago in November is between 5 degrees C and 8.9 degrees C. There are about 4 hours of sunshine. It rains for 11.2 days with an average precipitation of 86.9 mm. Nights are freezing, with temperatures dropping down to 0 degrees C. The average high temperature in Chicago in November is 9.2 degrees C, and the average low-temperature 1.4 degrees C.

What to Carry to Chicago in November?

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You are advised to wear layers as the temperatures are low and it is windy. If you plan to visit Chicago in November, you must pack sweaters, coats, medium-weight jackets, and pullovers. For lowers, jeans, pants, and thick sweatpants would suffice. Pack comfortable, warm shoes and socks as you would need them to walk on the cold, muddy ground. You are also advised to carry gloves, beanies, winter hats, and scarves. You can also bring an umbrella to be prepared in case of rain.

Things to Do and Events in Chicago during November 

There are many activities to enjoy in Chicago in November. From Ice Skating to food tours, the list is endless.

1.   Pier Pumpkin Lights

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The Navy Pier is a 3,300 foot-long pier on the Lake Michigan shoreline located on the Grand Avenue in Chicago. Every November, the pier is lined up with nearly 1000 glowing pumpkins, making a breathtaking sight. Restaurants like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and the Snow Dragon Shavery offer Halloween exceptional food and drinks. Many children also go trick-or-treating here.
Timings: October 1- November 2-3
Entry fee:  free 

2.   Ice- Skating

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Ice-skating is one of the most fun things that winter brings along with itself. Chicago offers many ice-skating rinks that you can hit to enjoy skiing. Millennium Park, located in downtown Chicago, opens up its ice-skating rink, McCormick Tribune, in November. McCormick Tribune rink is situated on Michigan Avenue.

Maggie Daley Park also hosts ice-skating at the Skating Ribbon. Skating Ribbon is huge, and it is lined with snow-covered pine trees, making your skiing even more enjoyable.   
Timings:  McCormick Tribune- Mon to Thu 12:00-8:00 pm, Fri 12:00- 10:00 pm, Sat to Sun 10 am – 10 pm            
Skating Ribbon- Mon to Thu 12:30- 2:00 pm, 2:45- 4:15 pm, 5- 6:30 pm, 7:15- 8:45 pm ,Fri  to Sun  11 am – 12:30 pm,                                                                    1:15 – 2:45 pm, 3:30 – 5 pm, 5:45- 7:15 pm, 8- 9:30 pm 
Entry fee:  Admission with skates-  USD 5             
                        Admission with skate rentals-  USD 16      
                        Locker rentals- USD 5- 8

3. Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design fair or SOFA

SOFA, also known as Intersect Chicago, is an annual gathering of sculptors, ceramicists, painters, modern art, and glass workers. There are collections of works by famous artists such as Anthony James and Nancy Callan. The Chicago branch of the fair is the oldest and largest of all three of SOFA’s fairs. It tries to “encourage discussions that promote social awareness and foster positive change.”
Timings: November 6-12
Address: Festival Hall, Navy Pier, Chicago
Entry fee: Single-day tickets- USD 25, Three-day pass- USD 35   

4. Watch a play at Steppenwolf Theatre

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Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago is an iconic theatre that showcases ground-breaking plays performed and written by phenomenal actors and artists. Their plays are described as “ thrilling, courageous and provocative” as they navigate our society’s complexities. They are a not-for-profit organization and have over 16 plays and 700 performances. The most famous November plays at Steppenwolf is James Ijames’s What is Left, Burns, and Isaac Gomes’s Wally World. They also have a bar.
Address: 1650 N Halsted Street, Chicago
Entry fee: USD 75 

5. Visit Chinatown

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Chinatown in Chicago is an ethnic neighborhood primarily inhabited by Chinese immigrants. The neighborhood is designed like a Chinese Imperial Court and features many meaningful statues. It has restaurants that serve authentic Chinese delicacies. The streets are lined with vendors and stores selling Chinese cultural items such as jewelry, accessories, clothing,  herbs, and spices. China Town also has a two-storeyed mall that you can explore.

One can visit Chinatown in the November cold to enjoy piping hot soups and dishes. One can also shop for souvenirs here. It is a great place for sightseeing as well.
Address: 2133 S China Pl, Chicago
Entry fee: free 

6. Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo

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The Lincoln Park Zoo is a sight to behold in November as it is entirely lit up with lights. There are hundreds of luminous displays that make the atmosphere festive and majestic. To keep the Christmas spirit up, you can get a picture with Santa Claus and enjoy holiday special drinks and snacks. There is a light maze, an enchanted forest, and much more that you can see. Adults can sip on spiced wines and frosty beers, while children can enjoy specially crafted holiday special cookies and candies. There is also a Gift Shop at Lincoln Park Zoo where you can go souvenir shopping for Christmas goodies.

If you are visiting Chicago in November, you must see the lit-up Lincoln Park Zoo as it is a one of a kind experience.
Timings: Nov 21- Jan 3, 4- 10 pm
Address: 2001 N Clark Street, Chicago
Entry fee: USD 5
Accessibility: Fully accessible

7. Drive-in Movie and Beer at Rock Island Public House

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Rock Island Public House is a craft beer bar that showcases free movies at its drive-in theatre every Friday and weekend. You can buy drinks and snacks from the bar to enjoy while watching the movie. Their specialty is their craft beer, which is highly recommended. They showcase Hollywood classics at their drive-in theatres such as True Romance, Groundhog Day, and Chopping Mall. You can check the movie schedule f=at their website rockislandpublichouse.com.
Timings: Mon-Fri and Sun: 3:00 pm- 11:00 pm, Sat: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Address: 13328 Olde Western Avenue, Blue Island, Chicago
Entry fee: free

8.   Christmas Tree Lighting at Millenium Park

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Every year during November, a Christmas tree donated by a resident is lit up in Millenium Park. The people of Chicago come together to witness this iconic event. A giant evergreen Christmas tree is decorated and adorned with lights in the park, and a ceremony is arranged for the lighting up of the tree. During the Christmas season, the Millenium Park tree is the main attraction in all of Chicago. There is no better way to welcome Christmas rather than to witness an entire city come together in a brilliant show of lights.

Many choirs and locals perform at the ceremony too. Street vendors gather around the park and sell items like hot cocoa and bagels.
Address: 201 E Randolph St, Millenium Park, Chicago
Entry fee: free

 9.   Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

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Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is an annual Christmas festival held in Chicago every November. Michigan Avenue, also known as the Magnificent Mile, is adorned with over 200 trees that are lit up. The festival showcases many performances and parades that will leave the atmosphere with infectious energy. The Tree Lighting Parade starts from Oak Street and proceeds on to Wacker Drive.  The parades feature more than 40 floats and characters such as Rudolph the Reindeer, Santa Claus, Snowman, etc.

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival also has a fireworks display. You can go shopping on Michigan Avenue, which offers heavy discounts on premium products during the holiday season. This fest is perfect for sightseeing and exploring the Chicago nightlife.
Timings: Nov 22-23, 11 am - 4 pm, parade- 5:30 -7 pm
Address: 401 N., Lights Festival Lane, Pioneer Court, Michigan Avenue
Entry fee: free 

10.   Wine Stroll at Lincoln Square

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Wine Stroll is a biannual wine festival organized in Lincoln Square every fall and spring. If you visit Chicago during November, you can catch the Fall Wine Stroll at Lincoln Square. The Wine Stroll offers you many various sorts of wines from all over the globe. From the finest classics to new quirky wines, Wine Stroll has it all. They offer exotic cheeses that you can pair with your wines. Apart from the cheeses, many local restaurants also serve hors d’oeuvres to enjoy with your drink. There are 5 routes in the Wine Stroll that you can explore.
Timings: Nov 17-22, 6:30 pm- 9:30 pm
Address: Lincoln Park
Entry fee: USD 45

11. Christkindlmarket

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Christkindlmarket is a Christmas market based around German and European traditions. Every year in November and the Christmas season, the Daley Plaza is transformed into a festive outdoor market known for its high quality and unusual gifts and foods. Local vendors offer German specialties such as mulled wine called Gluhwein.  You can shop for Christmas-themed apparel, mugs, jewelry, crafts, trees, and decorations. There are many unique snacks at Christkindlmarket that you can try.

The market is decked with fairy lights and Christmas decorations, and it is beautiful in the Chicago winter.
Timings: Every November Saturday 4- 4:01 am
Entry fee: USD 9 for adults, USD 5 for ages 12 and below

Tips for Travelling to Chicago in November

  • Due to the weather’s unpredictability in November in Chicago, be sure to reach the airport early in case of flight delays or postponement.
  • Try to use public transport instead of personal cars or cabs. Due to snow, private vehicles might have to be stuck in traffic and experience delays.
  • Always carry a medium-weight jacket, scarves, gloves, or caps with you.
  • Always pack an extra pair of shoes or boots.
  • Choosing the right kind of hotel is important so that the trip fits in your budget and preference. Chicago is a major metropolitan city in the United States; hence, you have various accommodation options to choose from. It would help if you chose a hotel taking into account your budget and touring preferences.
  • You can avail of great discounts in November as it is not peak tourist season. Book your room beforehand, preferably a few months before, as you can get a relatively lower price if you book in advance. Call your hotel and see if they can offer you a discount, buffets, tour packages, cabs, etc.
  • You can also look into hostels and Airbnbs as they have rooms at a steal. The Magnificent Mile and the Loop are prime tourist hotspots, and hotels tend to be more expensive in these areas.
  • The trick to finding a hotel room to save you money and fit your budget is to browse on booking websites and be on the lookout for special deals. It is also advisable to browse hotels and even flights on incognito mode so that the website doesn’t raise the prices. 
Chicago is gorgeous in November. The entire city is lit up and decorated. The atmosphere has festive, lively energy to it. Your trip to Chicago will be magical and unforgettable.

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