Winter break: It's every parent's best friend and worst enemy. Sure, those first few days are fun, wrapped as they are in holiday cheer, but they quickly transform into long hours spent eagerly anticipating the return to school.
If you're looking to escape your house for some seasonal fun, here are three exhibits that are high on the holiday spirit and low on complaints of "I'm bored." Plus, each museum is packed with other exhibits that are full of family fun-year-round.
For many people, it just wouldn't be the holiday season without at least one showing of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (and yes, the Muppets version counts). This year, Lake County Discovery Museum is celebrating Dickens' 200th birthday, and it is adding a special holiday expansion that includes a re-creation of an 1800s street that shows how Dickens influenced the look and feel of the holiday season. Kids will enjoy a carriage ride and a peek at Dickens' personal Facebook page. Think he's friends with Tiny Tim?
The last couple of winters in Chicago have been light on flakes, so head to Adler for a taste of life in a world of snow. The Grainger Sky Theater morphs into the "World's Largest Snow Globe," with flakes falling and scenes of places far and near. The best part? No need to bundle up to enjoy the snowy beauty. While you're there, check out the "Season of Wonder" show, an exploration of the winter night sky that includes the winter solstice and Aurora borealis.
Before you take down your own tree and leave it by the curb, be sure to see how they decorate around the world. More than 50 trees decorated by members of Chicago's many ethnic communities show off the unique aspects of each culture, while the Grand Tree pulls out all the stops with 30,000 lights and 1,000 ornaments. From Armenia to Wales, it's a global celebration you'll return to again and again. Vesele Vianoce, Maligayang Pasko and Vyaselykh Kalyad indeed!
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.