Whether you are coming to Chicago with the kids for spring break or you are already in town and trying to put together your staycation plans--there's lots to do. Here are ten ideas that, for the most part, won't break the bank and should be fun for a broad range of ages.
Check out the family-friendly art-making activities, self-guided tours, games and more at the Art Institute of Chicago. There's a variety of choices, depending upon the day you go, making it the perfect spot for all ages. Drop in at the Artist’s Studio in the Ryan Education Center on Saturdays or Sundays for free family activities and art projects that you can take home. Plus the AIC offers free admission for all kids under 14.
Kids and grown-ups can paint or create pottery at The Color Wheel Studio in suburban Arlington Heights--just a short drive or train ride from Chicago.
For $7, kids and $9, adults (plus price of the piece), visitors can choose from their collection of pre-fired (bisque) pottery and paint it in-store or at home.
OR make a clay piece from scratch using wet clay and a variety of hand-building techniques. The shop will then fire it for you and you can come back to glaze it at a later date. The cost is $25/day for adults, $20/day for kids under 16 (includes use of all studio materials and firings, up to 3 lbs. of clay). 260 N. Evergreen Ave., Arlington Heights.
If you are hearing the refrain, "everybody's going to Florida" perhaps you can placate the kids with an escape to the Rainforest Cafe. Upon arrival you'll be transported to a tropical jungle where you can bask in a magical rainforest. It's a kid-friendly jungle with a pretty decent menu. 605 N. Clark St.
Ed Debevic's has been serving up sass, no class, at their retro diner for over 30 years. A bit touristy, a bit hokey, but most kids love it. Plus if you go before the end of March you can try their $5 Green River float that honors Chicago's dyeing of the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day. 640 North Wells Street, 312 664 1707.
Rock & Roll McDonalds, Chicago's flagship Mickey D's, in the same 'hood as Rainforest and Debevic's, offers a budget friendly alternative plus a museum of pop culture on the second floor and a rock and roll exhibit in the adjacent building. Same menu as other McDonalds with slightly higher prices. 600 N Clark St. (between Ohio St. and Ontario St.)
Looking to go on a trip without the airfare? You can journey to the wildest places on the globe at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry's just opened exhibition, National Geographic Presents: Earth Explorers. The exhibit highlights the Earth’s spectacular eco-zones—polar regions, oceans, rain forests, mountains and caves, and savannas.
Kids can take part in a variety of hands-on experiences including: descending into deep-sea life inside a 3D submersible, soaring in a hot air balloon, or experiencing an Arctic cabin to test their ability to live in an ice-covered world (not required for those who already survived Chiberian winter) and much more. The exhibit runs through September 1, 2014.
Just in time for Easter, Kohl Children’s Museum, in suburban Glenview, will be showcasing some new chicks in their “Eggs to Chicks” exhibition that opened March 18 and continues through June 16. “Eggs to Chicks” lets kids experience the life cycles of rare Black Java and White Java chickens as they hatch and grow in a special child-height egg incubator.
The museum is hoping to have more than 150 eggs hatched at this year's exhibit. The delivery and incubation are timed to ensure that new chicks will be hatching weekly. 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview.
For girls of a certain age American Girl Place Chicago is a dream destination. The "experience," usually not an inexpensive one, can be something very special. Girls (and boys) can dine with their dolls, celebrate their birthdays, take the doll/dolls to the store's doll beauty shop and spend a small fortune shopping for matching girl-doll outfits and more DOLLS. Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Avenue.
The Lego Store , also in Water Tower Place, is the dream destination for Lego fans. The store offers kits, individual Lego's and impressive completed sets of giant figures and buildings including the Willis Tower. Highlights include "a massive Lego wall" plus a play area with a giant pile of Lego's where kids and kids-at-heart can build to their heart's content. 835 N. Michigan Avenue.
Come April, baseball fans and history buffs can get a behind the scenes tour of historic Wrigley Field. The tours are offered on most days when the team is not playing and run throughout the season. Clark and Addison.
Don't forget to capture your memories with a trip to Cloud Gate, aka,The Bean (or Beanie to his friends) in Millennium Park for a little fresh air and photo ops. Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Adams.
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