Don’t let bitter Chicago temps keep you stuck at home! We set out to find some great destinations that will keep your family active—and help you escape any winter blues.
The City of Big Shoulders also is the city of big dreamers. And there’s nothing better to kickstart your littles’ imaginations than a fun sleepover under the stars. Adler Planetarium is THE place to start. This winter through summer, families with kids 6-12 get a magical, out-of-this-world experience at Astro-Overnights. It’s a night filled with fun hands-on activities, two sky shows and a continental breakfast come morning.
You can stay overnight, just for the evening, or for the ultimate VIP experience, sleep under the stars in the Grainger Sky Theater. Get your tickets soon because these will sell out quickly.
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
Your kiddos won’t miss the outdoors when they set foot in this suburban indoor playground. The facility is centered around interactive play ideal for kids 1-8. A life-size Lite Bright, expansive water play area and climbing wall are just a few of the attractions to keep little ones on their toes.
4701 Oakton St., Skokie
They can’t do this in California! At Rosemont’s Polar Peak Tubing Hill, take advantage of the snow drifts and get your thrills sliding down a steep, two-story hill. Kids 2-5 will enjoy the children’s hill while sitting on an adult’s lap, and older kids can sprint down the main slope. While you’re there, take a few spins around the free outdoor NHL-sized ice skating rink located next to Polar Peak.
5501 Park Place, Rosemont
We’ve found the North Shore’s best sledding hill! Bundle up in your layers for a day of winter fun at Lovelace Park, a long-time popular destination for sledding and skating. Bring your own tube or sled and make countless trips down the snow-laden hills.
2740 Gross Point Road, Evanston
The Kids’ Table
For the child who has an interest in cooking or the one who has yet to discover their way around a kitchen, a drop-in cooking class is a great way to expose your little one to new tastes and flavors. At each hands-on class, kids learn to connect with food by making delicious meals. Class themes change weekly based on the season. Choose from two Chicago locations.
2337 W. North Ave., Chicago
2864 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Legoland Discovery Center
Get your fill of Legos at this mini-amusement park. Leave yourself at least a few hours to experience rides, 4D cinema and countless Lego attractions. Although the space is ideal for ages 3-10, discounted Toddler Tuesdays feature exhibits just for littles. Buy tickets online ahead of time to avoid lengthy lines.
The Streets of Woodfield
601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg
Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop
Warm up with a decadent cup of hot cocoa, the perfect treat on a winter day. With five different types of hot chocolate offered, from a classic topped with whipped cream to a decadent sea salt caramel version, you can’t choose wrong.
830 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Take in Mother Nature as you cross-country ski or snowshoe among 4,000 different types of trees and shrubs. Yes, it’s a workout, but it makes for a fun family outing and the ideal place to try out these winter sports for the first time.
4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle
Escape a dreary day at this engaging indoor play space. Activities include a crooked house kids can run through, toddler jungle gym, loads of learning toys and a creative painting station. Adults can enjoy a latté from the coffee bar while children play in the imaginative and spotless surroundings. Check hours before going.
404 Linden Ave., Wilmette
Oak Brook Park District Family Aquatic Center
Who says you need to travel to a warm climate to spend a day at the pool? At this indoor water park, kids of all ages will have a blast splashing among the many water features, which include a water playground, water vortex, zero-depth splash area and 105-foot slide. Pack a lunch and take a rest at the large eating area that borders the pool. Your pass is good all day long, so even if you run home to take a nap, you can return in the afternoon for more water fun.
1450 Forest Gate Road, Oak Brook
Jenny Muslin is a freelance writer, wife and mom to an active 2-year-old.
See more of Jenny's stories here.
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