With fall quarter coming to a close, Northwestern students can make the most of their last days here and head down to the city, which is a mere 30-minute drive or hour-long L ride away. Chicago has a host of fun winter activities for students to enjoy, from shopping and ice skating to eating delicious holiday treats. With this in mind, my friends and I took a trip downtown this past weekend to have the ultimate Chicago adventure, and safe to say, we were not disappointed.

Holiday Shopping at Water Tower Place

Start your day off with some holiday shopping on Chicago’s infamous Magnificent Mile. Located at 835 N Michigan Ave, Water Tower Place boasts impressive seven levels full of holiday decor, with a variety of stores for all interests, so everyone is sure to find something for their loved ones. On the seventh floor is the most exciting scene of all: Santa and his sleigh. While you may not want to join the rush of children eager to sit on Santa’s lap, it’s certainly still a joy to be surrounded by the excitement and cheer of the holiday spirit at Water Tower Place!

Ashley Xu, McCormick first year, and Mackenzie Matheson, Medill first year, enjoy some holiday shopping. Photo by Rebecca Aizin // North by Northwestern

Visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery

The world’s largest Starbucks opened on Nov. 15 at 646 Michigan Ave., bringing a wave of tourists and Chicago citizens alike to its doors. The Reserve Roastery has its own exclusive menu, featuring drinks like Mulled Spiced Coffee, a concoction of chai spices with a citrus kick. Due to its recent opening, the Reserve Roastery has a multiple-hour long wait to enter. We decided to admire it from afar this journey, but in the near future it is sure to be a staple visit for Northwestern students. For those committed enough to wait in line, check out this article on this new enormous Starbucks store.

Xu, Matheson and Sophia Hansen, Bienen first year, look at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery from afar. Photo by Rebecca Aizin // North by Northwestern

Get a Holiday Donut at Stan’s Donuts & Coffee

No trip is complete without a proper snack stop. We decided to make a pit stop at Stan’s, Chicago’s famous donut shop. It’s currently featuring various holiday-themed donuts, including the Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned, a fall favorite. Pair the donut with one of Starbucks’ signature holiday drinks and you have the perfect holiday snack.

Hansen and Matheson indulge in a holiday specialty donut form Stan’s. Photo by Rebecca Aizin // North by Northwestern

Go Ice Skating at the Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon

The ultimate winter holiday activity: ice skating with friends! While Chicago offers a multitude of rinks, including the Millenium Park Ice Rink right below the Bean, the Maggie Daley Park rink is unique. It strays from the typical oval-shaped rink by allowing skaters to skate in a ribbon shape, with a rock climbing wall in the center. The rink is long, so skaters have a lot of space to move around and not get bored from the repetitive loop of a typical rink. Ice skating may sound daunting to inexperienced Northwesterners, but fear not; there are plenty of beginners of all ages. Whether you are clutching onto the railing for dear life or landing triple axels, ice skating in Chicago is a fun holiday experience.

Nicholas Martinez, School of Communication first year; Xu, Matheson, me and Hansen go skating at the Ribbon. Photo by Rebecca Aizin // North by Northwestern

Visit the Christkindlmarket

Although our venture into the city did not bring us to Chicago’s annual Christmas market in Daley Plaza, it is certainly a popular holiday activity. Inspired by the German Christmas market, the shopping experience is sure to bring visitors a grand dose of holiday spirit. The market features over 50 vendors selling a variety of goods from ornaments to jewelry. Christkindlmarket is an assortment of smells and sights, and with the sweet aroma of roasted nuts and strudel filling the air, it’s a true holiday dream.

Get a warm holiday dinner at a cozy restaurant

No trip is complete without a satisfying, delicious meal with your friends. Escape the cold with a warm meal at any restaurant along Michigan Ave., conveniently located close to all the other attractions on this list. If you want your eating to be a whole experience in of itself, then discover the delights of Eataly, an Italian hub complete with markets, cafes and an assortment of restaurants. We chose to go to Coco Pazzo Cafe, an Italian restaurant only one block off Michigan Ave., at 212 E Ohio St.

Photo by Rebecca Aizin // North by Northwestern. Photo by Rebecca Aizin // North by Northwestern
Martinez and Matheson have a delicious dinner. Photo by Rebecca Aizin // North by Northwestern

All of these holiday affairs will keep you occupied for a full day in Chicago. However, the most important thing is to do it all with friends, because then nothing can ever be boring! Who else would you jump in the middle of a holiday-lighted Michigan Avenue with?

Xu and Matheson jump for joy in the middle of Michigan Ave. Photo by Rebecca Aizin // North by Northwestern

Thumbnail courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.