27 Fun Things to Do With Kids This Weekend in Chicago and the Suburbs

Escaping the house — even as far as the backyard or a neighborhood walk — is essential this weekend as we celebrate Earth Day. Even if your family can’t attend an event, start the spring cleaning and encourage your kids to donate their unused toys and clothes. As always, if you’re leaving the house, be sure to wear a face covering and heed social distancing requirements.

Note: We’re updating our website as quickly as we can, but changes may occur due to COVID-19. Please double check before heading out for the most updated information on safety precautions and any last-minute cancellations. Stay safe!

In-Person Events

Morton Arboretum, photo provided by Morton Arboretum

Woodland Family Hike

During the Trees in Bloom Woodland Family Hikes, get inspired by the beauty of some of the earliest bloomers in the Arboretum’s collections, and learn how to plant and care for a tree sapling that you take home with you.

Earth Day (South Holland)

Celebrate Earth Day with a self-guided litter cleanup along the Burnham Greenway, take home a craft project, enjoy nature play and Earth Day-themed games. All participants are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing.

Earth Day Celebration with the BackYard Nature Center

Celebrate Earth Day with a morning of service, learning and exploration. Activities include nature play, fishing clinic, guided hike, litter cleanup, monitoring and stewardship exhibits, and a demonstration of how to repurpose buckthorn.

Party for the Planet

Families that have been storing items in basements and garages waiting for the perfect time and most Earth-friendly way to dispose of them, they can be recycled at Brookfield Zoo. The zoo will be collecting electronics, textiles and used books. Find a list of acceptable and unacceptable items on the zoo’s website.

Earth Day (Olympia Fields)

Celebrate Earth Day at Irons Oaks for fun and interactive nature and environmental activities, naturalist-led hikes and opportunities to give back. Bring a picnic and make a day of it.

Richardson Tulip Festival

  • When: Begins Saturday
  • Where: Richardson Adventure Farm, 909 English Prairie Road, Spring Grove
  • Cost: $12 Mondays-Fridays, $15 Saturdays-Sundays, Free 3 and under; each purchased ticket allows for one free tulip, $1 additional tulips

Enjoy five acres with more than 300,000 bulbs of tulips. For families looking for the perfect picture, there are 230,000 in colorful blocks with a central design, then 70,000 mixed colors in a pick-your-own area. Each ticket purchased will go home with a free tulip. Masks are required indoors — the gift shop is open for treats and indoor restrooms — and outdoors when social distancing can’t be maintained. The fields will remain open as long as the tulips are in bloom.

Earth Day Expo + Island Princess Meet n’ Greet

Start with a meet-and-greet with everyone’s favorite Polynesian island princess. Then children will receive an earth-friendly jute tote bag, a healthy GoGo squeeZ snack, and a take-home ocean-themed craft (while supplies last).

Celebrating Earth Day (Barrington Hills)

Create a cute native animal out of recycled materials, learn how to go greener in cleaning, pick up supplies to clean-up a preserve or neighborhood park and/or start a native plant to take home for the family garden. All participants are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing.

ChiTown Movies Presents: Drive-In Theatre

Watch classic and cult movies from the comfort of your car. Moviegoers will have the option to have popcorn, tacos, wings and more delivered right to the car. Health and safety also remain a priority. Cars are situated in the lot at a safe distance from one another, with one car for every two spots. This weekend’s schedule: Thursday – Jurassic Park, 8 p.m.; Sunday – Shrek, 8 p.m.

Virtual Events

Photo courtesy of College of DuPage


  • When: Friday-Sunday
  • Cost: Free, registration required for some events

The 2021 STEMCON features demonstrations, “Do It Yourself” STEM activities, workshops and virtual tours designed to inform, entertain and spark interest in a variety of STEM topics. Demonstrations include Bokashi composting, the College’s honeybee hives, mimicry in nature, the Bed of Nails physics demo and a sumo-bot battle hosted by the COD Engineering and Technology Club. The event also will include speakers discussing the physics of flight, predicting tornadoes, stick bomb kinetics and a demonstration by Fermilab’s Mr. Freeze, as well as virtual tours of on-campus spaces including the College’s gaming lab and prairie restoration areas, and off-campus locations including the Nicor Technical Training Center.

Virtual: Rock & Mineral Identification

  • When: Saturday
  • Cost: $15 kit, reservations required

Geologist Sara Kurth presents an introduction to rocks and minerals for rock fans ages 8 to adult. Learn how to make a basic mineral test kit. Hands on identification procedures include observation skills and hardness tests. Purchase your kit online or in the Museum Shop and join from home to learn about rocks.

Virtual ComedySportz

  • When: Saturday
  • Cost: Free

ComedySportz is an approved-for-all-ages improv competition. They make up the story up with suggestions from you as two teams battle each other for your love and points. The Ref presides over the whole thing and by the end of the night, one thing will have won: comedy.

Virtual Shark Feeding Tour

  • When: Saturday-Sunday
  • Cost: $49.95, $44.95 members

Join the ocean’s most dynamic and misunderstood predators — sharks — and other marine predators for brunch on this virtual feeding tour. Start with a close-up view of Shedd’s Wild Reef exhibit, which brings you to a Philippine coral reef. Then venture behind the scenes to the animal care area to witness mealtime. Learn how Shedd’s aquarists prepare meals of restaurant-quality seafood. Discover how each shark and ray species in Wild Reef has been trained to respond to an aquarist’s signal for mealtime. During this 40-minute virtual tour, get up close with sharks and observe a feeding session with Shedd’s animal care team. Shedd Aquarium experts will take visitors into the waters of the Wild Reef habitat. Discover what it takes to feed and care for these animals and how that work supports these species in the wild.

Virtual Sea Otter Encounter

  • When: Saturday-Sunday
  • Cost: $49.95, $44.95 members

Come face-to-face with the playful, adorable sea otters that call Shedd home. This experience is all about getting up close. Join Shedd experts behind the scenes (virtually) for a sea otter play session, watch them dive, socialize, vocalize and groom and find out how their sustainable, restaurant-quality food prep happens. Will you play with pups Cooper and Watson? Watch Yaku’s pocket in action? Visit Luna while she snacks on sea urchins? Dive in and explore the world of sea otters firsthand.

Virtual Sea Lion Encounter

  • When: Saturday-Sunday
  • Cost: $49.95, $44.95 members.

Experience a live virtual visit with the sea lions that call Shedd home from wherever you are in the world. You may know California sea lions best for their loud vocalizations, and their ability to traverse both land and water. During this encounter you will meet one of the four rescued sea lions at Shedd — Biff, Cruz, Laguna, or Tanner — and learn how their rescue and rehabilitation gave them a second chance at life. This 30-minute Virtual Sea Lion Encounter will take place on Zoom so you can enjoy the experience from your own home.

Leslie Goddard Presents: Eleanor Roosevelt

  • When: Through May 2
  • Cost: Free, registration required for program link

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was our country’s longest serving First Lady and beloved by many of her generation. Utilizing Eleanor Roosevelt’s autobiography, diaries and letters, award-winning actress and historian Leslie Goddard will portray this iconic stateswoman in a special first-person performance.

New Philharmonic: Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos

  • When: Through June 15
  • Cost: $40

This downloadable concert features Rachmaninoff’s Concerto 1 in F-sharp minor, Concerto 2 in C minor and Concerto 3 in D-minor. Featured pianist Dr. Wael Farouk has performed on five continents in such venues as the White Hall in St. Petersburg, Schumann’s house in Leipzig and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, where his solo debut performance in 2013 was described as “absolutely masterful.” He was last seen at the MAC in 2018.

Imagine U Storytime

  • When: Sunday
  • Cost: Free

Northwestern University School of Communication Theatre Department storytellers will read and perform books for kids weekly on the Wirtz Center Facebook Page and the Wirtz Center Youtube Channel. Sunday’s story: “The Berenstain Bears and the Tooth Fairy”

Around Town

Photo Credit: Cheryl Eugenio

Learn about your own neighborhood or explore a new one (maintaining social distancing, of course) with Walkie Talkies, a new program from Chicago Children’s Theatre. Different local theater artists walk you – podcast style – through their favorite neighborhoods.

  • If you’re already shopping this weekend anyway, Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont is giving away animal-shaped planters with seeds to enjoy watching grow all spring. Also, adults can bring five cardboard boxes to exchange for a $10 gift card to a select store.
  • Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day, a national promotion across all 50 states to remember to shop local and independent stores. There are 32 stores in and around Chicagoland with special IBD exclusives or that are hosting virtual events with authors. (Check out each store’s website for COVID-19 protocol.)
  • With beautiful weather coming, escape to find one of the coolest playgrounds in Chicagoland. Our list includes spots with a challenge course, trains and some of the longest slides your eyes will see.
  • Earth Day is Thursday, but there’s lots to do all week long and into the weekend. Check out our guide, which includes at-home and in-person events.
  • Take a visit this weekend to Chinatown, using our handy family-friendly guide. While you’re there, be sure to give the kids a few minutes (they’ll want an hour) inside the Aji Ichiban candy store.

At-Home Fun

Photo courtesy of Amazon

While you and your family remain at home, you can try out a new kids’ show or virtually visit your favorite Chicagoland locations!

  • Finding Nemo is a Pixar hit perfect for Earth Day to remind us all to keep our oceans clean. After you’ve seen the movie – for the first time or the 300th time – try these screen-free activities or find other movies in our Watch This, Do That series.
  • If cleaning out your kids’ closets is part of your Spring Cleaning or Earth Day activities, Carter’s (the children’s clothing company) is happy to take anything your littles have outgrown. Through Carter’s partnership with Terracycle, the company will pay for your shipping – and take clothing from any company – while you earn points to upsize your kids’ wardrobes.
  • No one wants to think of schoolwork on the weekend, but if your kids struggle with math, preorder one of these books that will make math fun!
  • From grilled cheese to cookies, these fun recipes that you can cook up in your air fryer will wow your family, and the kids will love to join in!

Parents Only

Andersonville In Bloom, photo courtesy of Gethsemane

Partners who are so over all this family time and looking for alone time, we feel you. Whether it’s starting a fabulous puzzle or cooking a new dish together, here are a few of our favorite ideas for this weekend. (If you want more – or just like to plan ahead – check out this list of at-home date night ideas.)

  • Grab your partner to explore Andersonville for this weekend’s Andersonville in Bloom celebration to honor Earth Day. In addition to scoring a complimentary glass of rose at Uvae Kitchen & Wine Bar with any food purchase, you can also bring home something for the kids as Defloured is offering up flower sugar cookies (gluten free, of course).
  • Is dinner outside on your spring date bucket list? Beginning Friday (National Picnic Day), Avli restaurants in Chicago and Winnetka will begin taking orders for Picnic Baskets To-Go on Friday for pickup all weekend. If this weekend is already busy for you, the baskets will be available through Labor Day.
  • If you’re still stuck indoors – babysitter problems, are we right?! – order a copy of the Adventure Challenge: Couples Edition. Each date night you’ll scratch off your next challenge, but you’ll get some details first (cost, location, time required). You never know what your next adventure will be.

This post is updated regularly. 


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