shrunken brunchThe weather outside might be frightful, but inside The Peninsula Chicago it’s simply delightful. Attention shoppers—planning a perfect holiday shopping weekend? Or maybe a family festive getaway to see the bright lights, big city? If Chicago’s on your wish list, holidays at the Peninsula Chicago are beautiful.

Located along Chicago’s shopping meca, Michigan Avenue, also known as the Magnificent Mile, this luxury hotel makes every guest feel like a million bucks.

peninsula cookiesThis bustling hotel is right in the middle of the action, but still knows how to make kids smile. Tell the front desk you’re coming with children and they’ll be sure there’s something special in the room to greet them. My 2 sons, 11 and 13, and daughter, 3, were greeted with the kiddy cocktail of their dreams, a martini glass filled with gummy bears!

The sweet treats didn’t end there… an imaginative cookie display and Peninsula bears were also waiting for us.



gingerbread treatBountiful Holiday
Brunch in the lobby of the Peninsula is breathtaking. Dazzling decorations accompanied by the biggest shrimp in the ocean, a carving station that had my teenage son drooling and a sweets table with creative concoctions that delighted the eyes and the stomach. It was truly an embarrassment of riches. Were we worthy of this bounty? Thankfully, yes. Again, the Peninsula caters to kids by setting up a children’s station with finger foods that they can see and reach all on their own. (brunch is $75/adult, $32 for children under 12)

saso _brunch

water tower

A Room with A View
Our suite overlooked the legendary Water Tower Place and the John Hancock Building. Our whole family was ooohing and ahhhing over this spectacular view of Michigan Avenue.

The view from the fitness center on the 20th floor was equally as impressive— just the incentive I needed to want to run on the treadmill!


american girl

All Dolled Up

Just over a block from The Peninsula Chicago is the stuff of a little girl’s dreams. Yes, if you, like me, enjoy being a girl, you’ll love the American Girl Store, with its whimsical windows all dolled up for the holidays.



All Aboard!
Directly across the street from the American Girl store is a model train display sure to keep the holiday excitement on track for young and old alike. In the basement of the John Hancock building is where you’ll find the Hancock Holiday Mountain Railroad. This massive and elaborate train set is free to the public and runs from 9am through 11pm daily (

Joffrey Ballet Nutcracker’s Sweet
Let me get straight to the pointe… I’m nuts about the Nutcracker. Luckily, Chicago has one of the best productions in the country. Spectacular scenery, beautiful costumes and world-class ballet, accompanied by an orchestra playing beloved classical music in one of the most beautiful venues in the city— no, in the country. As you wait for the curtain to rise, you’ll be entranced by the architecture inside the Auditorium Theatre, built by the legendary architectural team of Adler and Sullivan. (tickets range from $15- $130, It’s a scenic 1.5 mile walk straight down Michigan Ave. to the Auditorium Theatre— doable on most days, but you may want a cab if it’s too cold.

It’s a Small World
On your walk to the Auditorium Theatre, you’ll pass right by another holiday highlight that’s not to be missed. The Art Institute of Chicago has a big present for visitors, inside some tiny rooms in the basement. What’s the big idea? Well, step inside the dark gallery that holds the Thorne Miniature Rooms, and it will all come to light. These rooms are the dollhouses of your dreams. They’re delightful any time of year, but right now they’re decked out for the holidays. (admission for adults is $18, $12 for children, students & seniors, children under 14 are free; check the website for free days,

peninsula poolSoak up the Fun
Back at the hotel, a great way to heat up after a long day sightseeing is by stepping inside the glass enclosed pool area, open until 10pm. Chase away the chill by soaking in the hot tub or enjoy a swim in the lap pool while bathing in the beautiful views of downtown Chicago.

The Second City is second to none when it comes to celebrating the holidays, and the Peninsula Chicago is a great home base for discovering this windy winter wonderland!

If You Go:
Rates at The Peninsula Chicago for the Midwestern Winter Retreat package start at $360/ night.

Andrea Guthmann is a freelance journalist. She spent many years as a writer and producer for WTTW-TV, the PBS station in Chicago. Her travel stories have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent, Make It Better and on-line travel sites.

A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. After giving birth to 2 beautiful children she’s had the joy of becoming a mom again through adoption. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations and is working hard to raise 3 happy campers!

Disclosure: The Peninsula Chicago hosted our family’s visit, but the opinions here are all my own.