A heaping bowl of steaming hot chili? Get in my belly. The ultimate winter comfort food takes the spotlight at Skokie’s Winter Chilly Fest, a celebration of everything that is winter in Chicagoland (except your desire to hibernate). The weekend includes ice skating, hayrides and roasted marshmallows, not to mention lots of snowy surprises. And once your fingers are just about ready to succumb to frostbite, you can head inside for a chili dinner served beside a roaring fire.
$6; dinner $11, $8 kids under 10 (by Feb. 10), $13, $10 kids. 4-8 p.m. Feb. 11-12. Emily Oaks Nature Center, 4650 Brummel St., Skokie. (847) 677-7001.
Setting preschoolers loose in an art museum might not sound like the smartest idea, but that’s exactly what Artful Play: Art with a Beat aims to do. Kids 3-5 (with an adult, #sorrynotsorry) explore the famed galleries of the Art Institute while also making connections between art and its jazzier sister, music. And mini-Monets won’t soon forget their first glimpse of those water lilies, even if they’re still a few years away from re-creating them.
$8, $5 member. 11 a.m.-noon and 2-3 p.m. Feb. 4. Art Institute of Chicago, 159 E. Monroe, Chicago. (312) 443-3600.
Black History Month is a great time to learn about one of the unique aspects of the African-American experience: the Underground Railroad. The interactive Underground Railroad Hike invites visitors to take a guided walk on a route that escaped slaves used in Illinois in the mid-1800s. The 45-minute hikes focus on the dangers for passengers on the railroad, as well as the skills, like navigating by the stars, that they had to use in order to reach freedom.
Free. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 26. Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 Paxton Ave., South Holland. (708) 868-0606.