When the weather grows cold in Chicago, people flock downtown to see the lights, skate at Millenium park, and visit the Magnificent Mile to do some holiday shopping. One of the most popular holiday activities, however, is visiting Christkindlmarket. This German Christmas market transports visitors to the streets of Germany as they sip mulled wine and sample endless amounts of chocolate.

While you can’t make a wrong choice at this market, here are some of the must-sees and must-eats for this Christmas season at Christkindlmarket.

#SpoonTip: Bring cash, as most stalls are cash only and the ATM often doesn't work. 

Sweet Castle 

chocolate, candy, sweet, coffee, nut, milk, macadamia nut
Alex Schwartz

The Sweet Castle is a maze full of thousands of chocolates that you can't find in America, combined with the aroma of roasted nuts in the background. They sell all the candies from the iconic German chocolate brand "Kinder," plus a bunch of European cookie/cracker brands that I had never heard of.

Even better, they have everything gingerbread, from heart-shaped gingerbread cookie cakes to chocolate covered gingerbread cookies. They strategically placed these unique truffles at the checkout area, and the champagne truffles in particular were calling my name.

German Grill Company

When you visit the market, this stand is absolutely mandatory. It has all the quintessential German savory specialties such as potato pancakes, schnitzel, sausage and more. We ordered hot apple cider, hot chocolate, and most importantly potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce. Eating the warm potato pancakes on a cold night in the windy city satisfied all of my cold weather feels. 

Stuffed Gourmet Pretzels 

Alex Schwartz

You can't say you're eating German food without eating a soft pretzel the size of your face. This stand took it up a notch by stuffing their warm pretzels with different fillings. Not much else to say here except that the warmed, cinnamon sugar coated, cheesecake-filled pretzel I had kind of changed my life. 

Helmut's Original Austrian Strudel

cake, sweet, bread, chocolate, pastry, butter
Alex Schwartz

We decided to take a risk so instead of getting the classic Apple Strudel, we opted for the almond apricot strudel and it payed off. The flaky crust, powdered sugar, and fresh fruit filling fulfilled everything one could want in strudel. As someone who seldom indulges in strudel, this was a unique but delicious experience. 

Baked Cheese Haus

Baked cheese. As in pieces of high quality cheese being baked on a grill right in front of your eyes, with garlic or bacon seasonings. Since we had already spent all our money on other delicacies, we did not buy anything; however, we were lucky enough to sample this baked cheese.

Just having a morsel was enough for me to put it on this list. They also sell prepackaged cheese that you can bake at home, for all of you lucky students with a kitchen. This stand is located all the way on the side of the market, so you'll have to search for it - but I promise, it's worth it. Even just for the free sample.

So, if you're looking for a way to get off campus, to see something in Chicago that's not the Bean, or to get in the Christmas spirit without finals dragging you down, check out Christkindlmarket. This place is an awesome spot to buy unique gifts for family members, friends, or even your favorite Spoon writer (wink wink). Extra points if you sneak into the hot mulled wine section!