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The Lobby at the Peninsula
Hits the spot: The most beautiful place for afternoon tea.

We’ll pass on being shoved through revolving doors by people toting bulging American Girl shopping bags, or waiting 20 minutes for a peppermint latte at the Starbucks on Rush Street. 

The things we really enjoy are more about gorgeous decorations and old-fashioned moments of awe.

Here are a few of our favorite reasons to actually love the holidays in Chicago:

Tea Time Snag a window seat in The Lobby at the Peninsula and gaze out at skaters on the hotel terrace’s ice rink while you listen to carols sung by live musicians and sip hot tea near one of the city’s most stunning Christmas trees. We know. Afternoon tea served daily starting at 2:30 p.m.; caroling Thursdays through Saturdays; $50 a person; 108 E. Superior St.; 312-337-2888 or 

Wonder Land With their tiny staircases, sofas and chandeliers, the Thorne Miniature Rooms are the most charming exhibit at the Art Institute. See them decked out in holiday finery--and don’t miss the English Drawing Room, aka the one with the teeny Christmas tree. Gallery 11 at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-443-3600 or

Skate Park We always pick a balmy--well, 30 degrees plus--night to stroll through the Lincoln Park Zoo’s crazy/beautiful ZooLights display, and this year we’ll finish the night with a spin around the zoo’s new skating rink. Admission $5, skate rental $5; Stockton Dr. near Armitage Ave.; 312-742-2400 or

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