School is out for the summer! Time to start making plans to fill the eighty or so days until that school bell rings again. Wondering where to start? In this Mama's opinion, Millennium Park is the city's number one summer destination for families. And other than the parking (take the train people, take the train), nearly everything is free. This space is enormous and the offerings are varied so you can come back again and again for a totally new experience. And its all free. Gratis. Won't cost you a dime.
If you aren't taking advantage of this urban treasure, here are three suggested itineraries to get you started.
The Millennium Park Family Fun Festival. If you have a child between the ages of 1 and 5, this event needs to be on your summer must-do list. Starting June 10, the Family Fun Festival takes place every day from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. Daily events include story time, sing-a-longs and dance performances. Other highlights include SHELabration: A Tribute to Shel Silverstein (July 13) and Burnham Week: Building in the City (June 22-28). Most weeks offer activities around a specific theme (i.e. Health and Safety Week or Rock 'n' Roll week). Check out the Millennium Park website for a full list of events and activities.
Dinner and a Show. The Pritzker Pavillion is an awesome place to hear music. Pick a performance, pack a picnic and make a family outing of it. Although there are certainly some great children's music offerings throughout the summer, consider this a great opportunity to introduce your kids to another genre like jazz. You could even catch an opera. This is something that all members of the family will love.
The Crown Fountain. Kids can throw on a bathing suit and cool off in one of the city's most popular pieces of public art (just be careful because this surface can get slippery). My kids delight in the changing faces on the two giant screens and wait eagerly for the images to spit water out on their heads every few minutes (I know it sounds weird, but it is cool).
This is just the beginning really. You could take part in a workshop about bees the Lurie Garden, play Frisbee or even lay in the grass together and talk. Just make sure you plan to make a visit and get your share of the Chicago summer magic.