While you're holiday shopping in the Loop, don't be surprised if you come across one of the many Random Acts of Holidays taking place Saturdays in December. Chicago Loop Alliance's fourth annual Winter WonderLoop event offers pedestrians in downtown Chicago free, spontaneous, family-friendly experiences around the Loop including street performances from Goodman Theatre and Joffrey Ballet; giveaways of hot beverages, pastries and prizes from Corner Bakery; free pop-up photo booths, complete with props, from SmileBooth; strolling carolers and bands from local colleges and high schools; and Berghoff Restaurant mascot "Herman the German" giving away custom steins, ornaments and treats. Get your copy of CLA's "10 Wonders of the Loop" map that highlights 10 must-see holiday destinations and activities.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Saturday from Dec. 1-22. WinterWonderLoop.com.
Contact information ( * required )
Wee winter wonderland
Lincoln Park Conservatory will once again feature its Winter Flower and Train Show with model trains winding through a miniature village and colorful poinsettias. An old-fashioned steam engine and freight trains traverse through the festive floral displays with some varieties named to highlight the season. See if you can spot Eggnog, Sparkling Punch and Ice Punch, or Peppermint Twist and Ruby Frost varieties. The village features a variety of Chicago-style homes and famous buildings, such as the iconic bungalow, the Chicago Theatre and Water Tower Place.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Jan. 6 at 2391 N. Stockton Drive, Chicago. Free admission. (312) 742-7736.
One-of-a-kind artisan gifts
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Kimpton's Hotel Palomar Chicago features its next installment of "Sleeping With the Artist" rotating art exhibition with a special "Shopping With the Artist" retail event. See the works of three local artists who will take up residence in the hotel: Claudia Smalley, Thomas Tomek and Rene Romero Schuler. In addition, browse one-of-a-kind pieces in a collection of modern artisan jewelry by Chicago designer Julie Schwanbeck. There also will be complimentary beer, wine and hors d'oeuvres.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 505 N. State St., Chicago. Free and open to the public. RSVP to Sarah.Erker@hotelpalomar.com or call (312) 985-0736.
If you're looking for a nearby holiday getaway, Indiana's French Lick Springs Resort is a study in joyful decorations, family activities, festive music and opportunities to talk to Santa Claus. Feast your eyes on more than 30 Christmas trees, wreaths of all sizes, miles of garland, dozens of poinsettias and twinkling lights throughout the resort. Holiday activities include story time with Mrs. Claus, Dickens' carolers, pictures with Santa Claus, breakfast with Santa Claus, holiday choirs, an arts and crafts fair and a Winter Wonderland Family Fun Fest.
Runs through Dec. 23 at 8670 W. State Route 56, French Lick, Ind. (812) 936-9300 or frenchlick.com.
A town rich in history
A country Christmas is as close as Richmond when the northwest Illinois towns's annual Christmas of Yesteryear shows off its Victorian village. Santa arrives on Friday for the tree lighting in Stevens Park and stays to greet kids. On Saturday, enjoy wagon rides, carolers, refreshments, a cookie walk and a craft fair.
5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, in downtown Richmond. (815) 678-4040 or Richmond-IL.com.