Your Chicago May bucket list

In a not so distant past, April used to be my absolute favorite month of the year. However, due to Chicago’s identity crisis, confusing spring for fall and giving us everything from sunny to rainy to freezing in a single day, I have happily moved on to May.

I am truly hoping May is that synonym for lovely temperatures I’ve been anticipating. On the positive side, one can find peace in knowing that it has a colorful past filled with places in full bloom, festivals, exhibitions, family-friendly events and good old springtime fun.

These May events will satisfy everyone, from the artsy to the sporty!

Touch-a-truck at Ravinia Festival Grounds

May 1

418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park

This vehicle extravaganza, a fundraiser for Kohl Children’s Museum, features more than 30 fire trucks, tractors, dump trucks and other vehicles that children can climb and explore. You can also enjoy food, raffles, kiddie trains and DJ music.

Cost: $45 for a family pass of up to six people

Kidical Mass

Ride dates and locations vary. Find the closest ride to you here.

Join this national movement that encourages cycling amongst families. The 2-4 mile-long ride takes you through different neighborhoods in Chicago including stops for snacking, playing and socializing.

Cost: Free

Chicago Kids and Kites Festival

May 7

Near intersection of Lake Shore Drive and Montrose

This annual tradition returns to Cricket Hill at Montrose Harbor with all things kite-related. Children will receive kite kits to build, decorate and fly (while supplies last). There’s also the Big Kite Candy Drop with a piñata-like kite dropping sweets from the sky, professional demos on how to best fly kites, face painting, balloon twisting and kites for sale.

Cost: Free

Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire

May 7

Carl Schurz High School | 3601 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

Creativity and invention collide at this celebration of the Maker movement with projects by the students of the Peter Schoedel’s Schurz pre-engineering programs. Control robots in an underwater obstacle course, design a Rube Goldberg Machine, and build and destroy bridges!

Cost: Free, donations suggested

Ferris wheel at Navy Pier

Opening May 27

600 E. Grand Ave, Chicago

Chicago’s beloved iconic structure will be back on May 27, standing 196 ft. tall (49 ft. taller than the old one) and have 42 temperature-controlled gondolas, padded seats, TV screens and speakers that play interesting facts on each ride.

Cost: To be determined (most rides $4+)

Cinco de Mayo Animal Enrichment Program

May 7-8

2001 North Clark St.

Families are welcome to stop by and create edible piñatas, willow balls and other crafty items for animals across the zoo.

Cost: $18 for family pass of 4-6 people

Skokie Sculpture Park

All year

McCormick Boulevard

This is a great spot to have your first spring picnic and enjoy the rising temperature. Download your copy of the Sculpture on the Move Children and Family Guide and take a two-mile stroll to spot more than 60 works of art including people, horses and other figures. And there’s more than enough space for the little runners!

Cost: Free

Organic Plant sale at Kilbourn

May 14

3501 N. Kilbourn Ave. Chicago

Get the kiddos into their green thumb spirits and visit the Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse. Their annual plant sale will offer more than 150 varieties of organically-grown vegetable, herb and flower seedlings. Expect to find open-pollinated and heirloom tomatoes, peppers and an assortment of greens and onions.

Cost: Free. Plant prices between $2-5 (cash only)

For the Love of Stars at The 606

May 13

Exelon Observatory Mozart Park | 2036 N. Avers Ave.

If you have not visited Chicago’s tracks to trails project, now is the chance! Enjoy the city views, art sculptures and a celestial view from our cosmos at the Exelon Observatory (Ridgeway Ave. at the west end of trail) with resident astronomer, Joe Guzman. You will see First Quarter Moon and Jupiter in conjunction and a beautiful pair of stars Spica and Arcturus.

Cost: Free

Tea with the Turtles

May 21

2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago

Celebrate World Turtle Day by meeting the resident turtles and guest species at The Peggy Notebaert Museum. Admission includes a lunch. While you’re there you can also enjoy the butterfly haven and a stroll around the trail surrounding the museum.

Cost: $10-$25; free for kids under 2

Skokie Festival of Cultures

May 21-22, 2016

Oakton Park | 4701 Oakton St., Skokie

Participate in this two-day celebration of the melting pot of cultures with ethnic folk music and dance, arts and crafts, international children’s games, food, a beer tasting, a merchandise bazaar, cultural booths, a mini train ride around the park and the festival’s iconic flag display.

Cost: Free

Malott Japanese Garden Children’s Festival

May 21-22

1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

Learn about Japanese children’s celebrations at the Chicago Botanic Garden at this feast of sounds and tradition. Enjoy koto harp and shakuhachi flute music, folk tales and a traditional tea ceremony. Children can create kimono-clad paper dolls, miniature carp kites and origami samurai helmets.

Cost: Free

WEAR: A Babywearing Conference

May 27-29

Westin Michigan Avenue 909 N Michigan Ave, Chicago

WEAR is aimed at promoting accessible babywearing education and preserving indigenous practices, while showcasing the latest in babywearing fashion, design and innovation.

Cost: $40-$500

Don’t forget to check out the best places to see beautiful flowers around Chicagoland.

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