Spring break is just around the corner. Are you ready? We are lucky that Chicagoland has so much to offer for all budgets and you can actually have an awesome spring break for $20 or less with these ideas for the entire family. (Psst! Many of these ideas are FREE!)
1. Have a blast at Maggie Daley Park.
2. Head to a museum.
It’s rare to see many museum free days during Spring Break season, but there are museums that offer weekly free days for Illinois residents. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is free on Thursdays and the Museum of Contemporary Art is free on Tuesdays.
3. See your furry friends.
Love animals? Lincoln Park Zoo is always free and a great place to hang out with animals. Check the schedule for fun programs. In the suburbs, head to Phillips Park Zoo, a small zoo in Aurora (free), or Cosley Zoo in Wheaton ($7/adult; kids under 17 free).
4. Have your kids eat free.
Who says you can’t enjoy a meal on the budget? Read our guide on where your Chicago kids can eat free for every day of the week.
5. Become one with nature.
Chicagoland has plenty of nature centers for you to explore along with trails to hike. The best part? Most of the nature centers are free! Here are a few nature centers to visit.
6. See a million dollars.
Take a free tour at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago where you’ll have a chance to see it in person.
7. Hang out at the library.
If you’re stuck with some rainy days, there’s no better way to spend time indoors than at the library. Collect a few books to bring home. Plus, your local library might offer more than you think.
8. Tumble and jump around at a gymnastics open gym.
Many open gyms are less expensive than their regular hours during these times. It’s a great way to try out the facility, then maybe sign the kids up down the line.
9. Visit a toy store.
Looking for a fun way to explore new neighborhoods? Your local toy stores are a great place to start! And if the kids are behaving, they’ll love if you treated them with a small toy.
10. Stop by this free indoor playground.
Free playspaces at the mall are great for a rainy day. Northbrook Court recently opened Northbrook Play (designed by the Chicago Children’s Museum), blending learning and playing in one colorful space.
11. Smell some flowers.
See what flowers are blooming at Chicago Botanic Garden. Admission is free, but parking is $25. Head to your local library to grab a Museum Adventure Pass to score 50 percent off parking. Lincoln Park Conservatory and Garfield Park Conservatory are also great options.
12. Explore the Pedway.
Perfect for a weekday, see the downtown pedestrian walkway system come to life as workers travel around from building to building. Your kids will get a kick out of discovering the underground including restaurants, shops and even a basement-level swimming pool (part of L.A. Fitness).
13. Take a tour.
Feel like these tourists with these free tour options from Chicago Walking Tours. Plus, your family can learn something new about Chicago’s history!
14. Attend a story time.
If your kiddos love books, they won’t mind hitting up some story times during Spring Break. And there are so many in Chicagoland! Here are some free story times around the Chicago area.
15. Get wild at Wildlife Discovery Center.
This hidden gem in Lake Forest showcases reptiles and amphibians, and even a bobcat.
16. See some cool murals.
Grab your phone and take some photos of your cuties in front of these awesome outdoor murals all over the city.
17. Catch a movie.
On Tuesdays at Marcus Theaters, tickets are $5—even for newly released movies. And get this, members get free popcorn! AMC Theatre also offers $5 per ticket on Tuesdays for members. Not a member at either? No worries, it’s free to sign up.
18. Play late at the Chicago Children’s Museum.
From 4-8 p.m. on Thursdays, the Chicago Children’s Museum offers $14.95 for up to 4 people. While you there, head outside at Polk Bros Park to check out Loop, a new interactive art installation where kids can activate an illuminated musical machine.
19. Climb tank cars at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.
Kids will love the opportunity to climb the tanks, while parents snap pics. Look through the First Division Museum which underwent a museum redesign last year. No trip to Cantigny is complete without taking a stroll through the gardens or walking the trail. ($5/car)
20. Walk along the Lakefront Trail.
If your family is lucky enough to enjoy a nice spring day, hit the Lakefront Trail to see the great attractions offered along the trail such as the Jackson Bark, Lincoln Park Zoo and more.
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