Things slow down a bit this week in Chicago—but you can still head out on Thanksgiving morning and run a 5K as a kind of guilt-ameliorating amuse bouche that sets up the main event (turkey and all the trappings). Also this week, you have the chance to sip craft beers among the lights at Lincoln Park Zoo. Two very different but equally enchanting exhibtions kick off, too: of model trains and Surrealism. Don't worry, though, they run through to next year, allowing you plenty of time to sleep off your holiday indulgence. Happy Thanksgiving!
November 26 | Fun run
Turkey Day Run
Eliminate the overeating guilt before you take even one bite of mashed potatoes by running this festive 5K or 8K along the lakefront and through Lincoln Park on Thanksgiving morning. For 38 years this race has been attracting serious runners (it’s microchipped) and knuckleheads (wearing full-on turkey costumes) alike, all looking to burn a few calories before the big feast. Stick around for the post-race tailgating, which includes a costume contest, cornhole games, “turkey bowling,” and more.
9 a.m. | Lincoln Park, Cannon Dr. at Fullerton Ave., Chicago | $45 | website
November 27–January 3 | Miniature wonderland
Model railroad trains whiz past 80 miniature Chicago landmarks, through forests of live dwarf conifers, over candied bridges, and past vibrant poinsettias in this elaborate annual indoor exhibit that’s continually dusted with real snow. Yes, kids’ minds will explode with joy when they see Thomas the Train race by, but adults will marvel too at the intricate detail and hard work that goes into creating these scenes. Special events include caroling (Nov 27–29, Dec 5), ice sculpting (Dec 19, 26), and a holiday market (Dec 6).
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL | (847) 835-5440 | From $10 (plus $20 parking) | website
December 2 | Beer and Christmas lights
ZooLights is the holiday tradition of covering nearly every inch of the Lincoln Park Zoo with 2 million Christmas lights. The only thing that could make it even better is taking in the spectacular light show with a beer in your hand. ZooLights runs November 27–January 3, but on December 2, adults can stay extra warm by partaking of craft beer offered at stations throughout the zoo. Local and international brews will be on offer, including beers from Begyle, Temperance, and Stiegl. Your ticket includes free rides on the zoo’s beautiful carousel, which, after a few Anchor Christmas Ales, could seem like an exhilarating thrill ride. Hold on tight!
5:30–10 p.m. | Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago | (312) 742-2000 | From $50 | website
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Through June 5 | Art
Surrealism: The Conjured Life
These days, people use the word "surreal" to describe everything from a rainbow to a Taylor Swift concert. But when talking about art, "Surrealism" has a very specific meaning: It’s the result of dreams and reality coming together to challenge the mind with works that are non sequitur, illogical, or contradictory. In its new exhibit, the Museum of Contemporary Art examines the earliest stages of the Surrealist movement in the 1920s and ‘30s (think Magritte’s painting of a pipe above the words “Cesi n’est pa une pipe.”), with works donated from some of the museums’ founders, who were avid Surrealist collectors. The exhibit also displays works by artists from the 1950s to the present who were influenced by Surrealism, including Cindy Sherman and Jeff Koons, as well as Chicago artists influenced by the movement.
10 a.m.–5 p.m. (till 8 p.m. Tue) | The Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago | (312) 280-2660 | $12, Tuesdays free | website
The American Club
When holiday stress gets you down, there’s only one thing to do: Hole up for the weekend at a five-star resort in Wisconsin. The American Club, set in the small village of Kohler, one of the country’s first planned communities and the brainchild of the faucet magnate, is home to nine restaurants and one of the best spas in the world. You could spend your days walking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing the 30 miles of trails in the wildlife preserve near the resort, or stay on the resort grounds and try your hand at the bocce-like Bavarian curling. Three American Club restaurants are offering Thanksgiving feasts on November 26.
419 Highland Dr., Kohler, WI | From $195 per night | website
Laura Baginski is a Chicago-based writer and editor who specializes in travel and parenting. Because of the latter, the former doesn't happen as much as she'd like.