This post covers the best things to do in Chicago this November.
We include free, family-friendly as well as nighttime activities, all updated for 2023.
As local Chicago tour guides, we compiled this list based on our own experiences, but also by answering your questions.
We lead thousands of people each month through the streets of Chicago, and on every tour, you ask us about things to do in the city.
We also grabbed ideas from the roughly 20k members of our popular Chicago Travel Tips Facebook group.
The group consists of locals, like our tour guides, expats, veteran travelers, as well as newbies to the Big Apple.
You don't need to join in order to search for and read the posts, comments, and recommendations.
Check out the group once you are finished reading this post. A link can be found at the end of this post.
For ideas for any time of the year, be sure to read our master post on things to do in Chicago.
November is a wonderful time of year to be in the Windy City!
Check out the suggestions below for a variety of activities, including sports, theatre, music, and of course, holiday activities!
For some of the more popular things to do in Chicago, read the following posts:
- Take a Bus Tour
- Save Money with a Discount Pass
- Enjoy an Architecture River Cruise
- Which Chicago Observatory is the Best?
- Visit the Navy Pier
1. Go to a Sporting Event
While November can be chilly, cheering on your teams will keep you and your friends and family warm.
A number of teams will have home games this month.
- WWE Smackdown | November 24th
Click here to see more sports events taking place in Chicago in November.
You can find more kid-friendly activities in the section below.
2. Go on a Sightseeing Tour
The best way to learn about a new city is on a sightseeing tour!
Join our history-loving Chicago-adoring tour guides on foot.
We offer pay-what-you-like walking tours every day of the week in the Windy City.
If you’d prefer to enjoy a bus tour, we have a great comparison of Chicago’s best. From hop-on-hop-off buses to dedicated tours, you’ll find one to suit you here.
Another great option if you’d like to enjoy a ride is to take a river cruise.
3. Go to a Concert
If you are a music lover or a fan, be sure to check out a concert while in Chicago.
There are many venues in the Chicago area from giant spaces to intimate bars.
- Enrique Iglesias/Pitbull/Ricky Martin | November 1st, 2nd
- Grand Funk Railroad | November 2nd
- Dwight Yoakum | November 4th
- The Hives | November 5th
- Kesha | November 9th
- Ludacris | November 10th
- Depeche Mode | November 13th
- Shakey Graves | November 17th
- Faith Evans | November 24th
- Polish Highlander Festival | November 18th | Copernicus Center | feat: polish food and music
- Heavy Chicago | October 28th-November 5th | Avondale Music Hall | feat: Acid King, Corrosion of Conformity, DRE, and more
Click here to see more Chicago area concerts happening in November.
4. Go to the Theater
Chicago is home to many regional theatres, small black box spaces, and Broadway Tour houses. There is something for everyone!
- Company The Musical | November 1st-12th
- Hamilton | November 1st-29th
- Young Frankenstein | November 1st-29th
- Beetlejuice | November 7th-19th
- BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical | November 19th-29th
- Blue Man Group | November 2nd-26th
To see a full calendar of all shows or to buy tickets for shows, click here.
Pro-tip: Check out our self-guided theatre tour to admire the exterior of some of the oldest movie palaces in the downtown Loop.
5. Shop the Lycée French Market
For the 19th year, the Lycée Français de Chicago’s school campus takes a weekend to transform into a French Market, with local and French artisans selling art, jewelry, home goods, food, and so much more!
Last year they introduced a new outdoor section with food trucks and vendors.
Events take place November 11th and 12th at 1929 West Wilson Ave.
Visit the Lycée French Market website for more information.
In the past, there has been a suggested donation of $5. For more budget-conscious activities, check out our free things to do section below.
6. Enjoy Of the Earth
As leaves turn, and the smell of fall returns, you might like to take a stroll through The Morton Arboretum.
An installation of five large-scale sculptures by amazing Polish American artist Olga Ziemska sits in the Arboretum's 1,700 acres.
Ziemska created the exhibit with the thought that "everything in life is derived from the same basic elements that form everything in nature, including ourselves.
There is no separation."
For more information, visit the website.
7. See Live Stand-Up Comedy
If you're in need of a good laugh, some of the most famous comedians in the world will be performing stand-up in the Chicago area this November.
Each of these performances is scheduled to take place either in Chicago or within around 30 minutes of the downtown area.
- Nate Bargatze | November 3rd, 4th, 5th
- Jerry Seinfeld/Jim Gaffigan | November 9th, 10th
- Trevor Noah | November 13th-16th
- Nimesh Patel | November 17th
Check here for a full list of comedy shows taking place in Chicago in November.
8. Attend the Thanksgiving Day Parade
Join the Chicagoans on State Street on November 23rd for the annual Thanksgiving Day parade.
The parade has been a Chicago Tradition since 1934!
Creative floats, marching bands, and balloons parade up State Street to make one of the best holiday parades in the country.
Be sure to show up early for a good spot, or catch the broadcast of it on CW26.
9. Attend The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival & Tree Lighting
Kick off the holiday festivities at The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival parade takes place on November 18th, 2023.
It's been taking place for more than 30 years and many families have made attending part of their holiday traditions.
This holiday parade includes marching bands and festive floats that march down Michigan Avenue as the street lights up towards the famous Chicago Christmas Tree.
The Christmas tree is carefully selected out of the many submissions by local residents, before being decorated in an estimated one million lights.
There will be music and a visit from Santa Claus. Test out your balance before the ceremony on the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink.
Don’t forget to check out our Magnificent Mile Tour!
10. Save Money with a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass
While you do pay for a tourist discount pass upfront, it can give you a bulk discount or free admission to some interesting tours and museums.
Discounts can save you up to 55% on retail prices.
Each Chicago discount pass includes a variety of fun family-friendly activities and attractions. You can find the following attractions on various passes:
- Shedd Aquarium
- Skydeck Chicago
- Adler Planetarium
- Art Institute of Chicago
- The Field Museum
- Museum of Science and Industry
- 360 Chicago Observation Deck
For more details, make sure to read our full post covering Chicago tourist passes.
Chicago offers many free activities to enjoy including some we have mentioned above like the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, the Tree Lighting, or the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Check out our post about the Top Free Things to Do in Chicago.
Based off of the Christmas Market in Nuremberg, Germany, The Christkindlmarket has grown to be the largest Christmas market in the United States and brings in over a million guests from all across the country.
This beloved Chicago tradition is free to explore while stopping by to peruse the traditional German and European ornaments, crafts, food, and drinks.
The dates of the market are November 24th - December 24th, on Fridays and Saturdays.
For more information, visit the Christkindlmarket website.
Stop in at the Chicago Cultural Center
Tour this stunning building, known for its Tiffany stained glass dome, or attend one of the many free events taking place weekly.
There are often concerts, dance performances, film screenings, and more.
Visit The Watertower Museum
Enter the bottom of the Watertower for a small but mighty free art museum!
If you are joining us on our Pay-What-You-Like Magnificent Mile walking tour - you will enter this museum with your tour guide.
See Art on the Mart
Head to the Riverwalk at sunset to see an amazing art projection on the Merchandise Mart Building (a building so large, it has its own zip code!)
The projections go up around 7:30 & 8:30 each night from September 14 to December 30th.
For a list of locations, check the Art on the Mart page.
Many of our top ten activities are perfect for the evening hours, such as seeing a sporting event, going to the theater of attending a concert.
Below are some more ideas. Be sure to read our post about the top things to do in Chicago at night for even more suggestions.
Spend a Night Out In The Parks
Wherever you might be in the city, you are not far from a local park that is hosting a neighborhood event.
Chicago holds over 2,000 unique events at 77 different neighborhood parks throughout the year, and many are free.
You may find a movie showing, a community bonfire, a seasonally-themed party for the whole family, and even a service project.
Info: For the schedule of events, go to Night out in the Parks.
Go Ice Skating
From mid-November to mid-March, whenever the weather permits, Millennium Park hosts the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, free and open to the public.
If you bring your own skates, you won’t have to spend a dime to skate outdoors, well into the night in the beautiful downtown under the lights.
See the Zoolights
The Lincoln Park Zoo lights up at night with millions of holiday lights!
Beyond elaborate light displays, you will discover live ice carving, festive music, train rides, food, and even Santa Claus himself, until his return to the North Pole on December 20th.
This annual event takes place daily beginning in late November and ending in early January.
Take a Night Tour
Looking to see a different side of Chicago? Take a walk with some spooky history on our evening Ghost Tour.
If you are more interested in learning about the fun holiday traditions in Chicago, check out our seasonal Holiday Tour that begins in late November.
Also, several bus tours operate night versions of their day tours.
Be sure to read our post about the top things to do in Chicago at night for even more suggestions.
Attend a Beer Festival
For 20 years the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers has drawn 100 brewers to its festival
FOBAB takes place at Credit Union 1 Arena and involves tasting sessions of barrel-aged beers, meads, cider, and more.
Events run in either the afternoon or evening and take place on November 3rd and 4th.
Visit the FOBAB website for more information.
Throughout this post, we have listed several activities that are great options for the whole family like watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade or going to a play.
Below you will find several great options to keep your children entertained this month, including parks, museums, and theater!
Be sure to check out our post about family-friendly activities in Chicago for a more complete guide.
Attend Chicago Children’s Film Festival
The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival is the largest film festival for kids and showcases the best in culturally diverse, non-violent, value-affirming new cinema for children and offers interactive workshops.
Now in its 40th year, you can attend the festival November 3rd-19th, 2023.
Walk, Run, or Watch a Race!
The Hot Chocolate Run (America’s Sweetest Race) happens on November 5th.
The whole family can run through downtown Chicago and admire the buildings!
The charity connected to this year's run is St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
See a Light Show in the Garden
Head a stretch north to the Chicago Botanic Garden to see “the night comes alive with color, imagination, and sound, from a playful choir of singing trees to a spectacular waterfall of light”.
This is Lightscape, which includes a Winter Cathedral and a fire garden.
You walk on a one-mile path that includes “an avenue of luminous linden trees”.
This event runs from November 10th, 2023 - January 7th, 2024.
Take Part in the Thanksgiving Trot/Kids Race
Run off that turkey and the rest of your Thanksgiving Dinner with these two race options.
On Thanksgiving Day itself, the Turkey Trot tradition continues for the 45th year.
Choose from the 5K, 8K, or kid’s ramble along with a festive tailgate. Proceeds benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
If you miss this race or just want extra exercise you can participate in the Grant Park Turkey Trot 5K or kid’s dash on the November 23rd, 2023.