*we received complimentary admission to the events at Oakbrook Center, however, all opinions are our own.
This past Saturday we packed up the kids and headed out to Oakbrook Center for a day of Christmas magic, and we were not disappointed! If you’ve ever been to Oakbrook Center, you already know that it’s an amazing outdoor mall with a great selection of shopping. Located conveniently off of I-88, it’s an easy drive from the city or the suburbs! I have so many fond memories of doing Christmas shopping as an outing with my aunts when I was younger. They would take all of us girl cousins out shopping for the day and I remember feeling like such a grown up shopping at all the department stores. If you’re looking for a new tradition to start, this would be a great one, it’s definitely one I’ll never forget and hope to continue someday!
Santa is located right off the Village Green, across from the Starbucks.
It’s a definite Winter Wonderland in there! It’s decorated beautifully, with twinkling lights, Santa’s sleigh, snow, and a beautiful winter forest. Right inside the door you can check out “The Naughty and Nice List”. Even though Gracie didn’t completely understand this concept, she definitely recognized her name, and enjoyed seeing the smiley face pop-up for the nice list!
Pre-register and simply enter your codes and watch the magic on the screen! Your kids get to see whether they made the naughty or nice list this year, and be reassured that Santa knows what they want and some of their favorite things. This is a sweet and interactive addition to the usual Santa photo op.
Once inside, your family has the option to meet and talk to Santa, or meet and also take photos. Santa of course looks as jolly and wonderful as ever, and he’s got his book handy so that he can keep track of all the good girls and boys on his list! The photo packages are really reasonable, and you can see and purchase additional photos online afterwards. You can also reserve a time in advance here if you don’t have unlimited time to wait. Click here to reserve a time, they book up fast! You can save $5 on photos if you book Monday-Wednesday through Dec. 9th.
Gracie was yelling “Santa” all morning, so we thought this would be a breeze. She was like Will Ferrell at the top of her tiny lungs at home, in the car, and even when she spotted him. Once we got up there, however, she froze.
Our first photos were less than stellar, but the group there was so amazing they let us come through a second time to try again *note: if they’re super busy this may not be possible, but it was so wonderful that they tried to accommodate us. Santa was very understanding of her “Terrible Two-ness” and we took a few more pictures, which were a little bit better, thanks to their amazing staff cheering Gracie on, and Santa being very kind and patient. Claire, of course, was happy as a clam the whole time. Santa said she could just stay and hang out with him!
We were so excited to try this out, especially with Gracie’s recent obsession with Frozen. However, the weather was so uncooperative (rain to snow to rain to bleh) that they were closed for the day. We’re hoping to get back soon to try it out!
Here’s the information on dates and prices from the Oakbrook Center event page:
Ice Skating Dates
Opens November 10th – February 28, 2018 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday ONLY until Thanksgiving)
Mondays – Saturdays: 10am – 9pm
Sundays: 11am – 6pm
Children 12 and under: $7
Skate Rental: $5
Presented by Samsung.
We are totally heading back for the Holiday Market, which opens on Friday, November 24th. Featuring handcrafted items from local artists, this would be a great place to go on Shop Small Saturday! They were almost all set up, and it looks adorable. You can find tons of unique gifts for everyone on your list, from homemade pet treats for your fur babies, to ornaments, jewelry, and art. The Holiday Market is also near the Village Green, surrounding the Ice Skating Rink and across from Santa! Dates and times for this event can be found here.
You’ll also find a Wine Tent, and yummy treats like crepes (my personal fave), spiced nuts, hot chocolate, and more!
Lights and Decorations
I think it’s pretty universal that kids LOVE lights and decorations, and Gracie yelling “Sven!” and running towards the lights was pretty adorable and fun to watch. It’s so great experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a child. They appreciate all of it, and then we get to also!
If you haven’t been to Oakbrook Center in awhile, there is one thing that has definitely changed for the better, the quick dining food selection! While we love dining at Maggiano’s, Wildfire, and while on date night, these aren’t always the best choices for a quick bite to eat with the kids. The District, located upstairs, near California Pizza Kitchen and Nordstrom, has a wonderful selection of food, and a wide variety of choices sure to please everyone in your group! Unlike your typical mall food court, you won’t find generic restaurants and a stark eating area. Instead, you’ll find a great variety of niche restaurants and comfortable seating, including tables, counters, and booths. Tables in the corner accommodate large families, and keep them contained where you can watch them, take a break from shopping, and get a chance to eat yourself.
We sampled DMK Burger Bar, Freshii, Cilantro, and Stan’s Donuts (We’re still full today by the way). We really wanted to also try out Greek Kitchen, but we were just too full. It looked and smelled delicious as we walked by!
DMK Burger Bar
My husband LOVED this burger! He got the #1 with Aged Cheddar, Smoked Bacon, Charred Balsamic Red Onion, and Rufus Teague’s BBQ Sauce. I sampled some of the chocolate shake (delicious!), and Gracie loved the tater tots. I’d say that’s a win all around!
We ordered a tropical smoothie. It was ok, not my favorite, only because the coconut wasn’t blended into it, so it was a little grainy. I was expecting more of a coconut flavor as opposed to actual bits of coconut. Not bad, but we’ll probably stick to Jamba Juice in the future!
I was a little nervous to try this, only because I’m one of those weird people who can’t stand the taste of cilantro, so a restaurant named after it leaves me a little nervous. I ordered the plain quesadilla in hopes Gracie would eat it, and the chips and salsa. She didn’t get to eat it though, because it was so good I scarfed it down before she could even try it. The chips and salsa were also excellent! At this point we were definitely full!
There was a line for Stan’s Donuts the entire time we were there, it’s super popular! We purchased three donuts, a vanilla glazed, a powdered cake, and a Nutella banana donut. We took them to go and enjoyed them when we got home and the next morning. They were really good, but SUPER DENSE! Very sugary, but really good.
We did a little shopping as well! Gracie preferred Build a Bear and we didn’t think we’d make it out of The Land of Nod without a piano, a care bear, and a new pillow, but somehow we distracted her and made it to the car before she noticed. Our personal favorites and must visits at Oakbrook are West Elm and Crate and Barrel!
We had an absolutely amazing time, and this will definitely become a family tradition for years to come. Not only was the Village Green transformed into a Winter Wonderland, but the shop selection, new food court, ample parking, and ambience of Oakbrook Center makes it feel like a complete getaway for an afternoon! Plan your visit today!
Some Additional Upcoming Events at Oakbrook Center:
December 1st: Ugly Sweater Night with Santa
December 7th: Crazy Good: Champagne and Shoes at Neiman Marcus
December 8th: Holiday PJ Night
December 11th: Pet Photos with Santa at Glass Pavilion