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5 budget-friendly ways to welcome spring

Spring is my favorite season because it represents hope, new beginnings and getting outdoors. Plus, ladies, we all have a reason to rock those shiny rain boots during the spring showers. Everybody wins. With spring just around the corner, plan ahead for some post-hibernation outings that will not bust the budget.

Zoom to the zoo

Brookfield Zoo is the perfect place to introduce your little explorer to the animal kingdom that bursts with life each spring. We had so much fun taking our son for a visit and seeing him light up with excitement at the lively horses. Regular admission for adults is about $20, so a family outing can get pricey. Chicagoans can use a Kids Museum Passport, available through the Chicago Public Library, to cover the cost of two adults and two kids. Be sure to look for the Amur leopard cub and baby orangutan this spring!

Get a dose of nature

Emily Oaks Nature Center is another family favorite. This 13-acre savannah in Skokie feels like a secret hideaway within the suburb. The grounds are mostly stroller-friendly, and we had plenty to point out to our son in his baby mobile. Turtles abound near the pond and the fresh spring air will be a treat for the whole family. You might even spot a chipmunk along the way! From Kayak Essentials to an Earth Day Celebration, Emily Oaks has several free spring events in the lineup.

Homerun for family fun

Baseball season means spring is in the air, so take advantage of Family Sundays to see the White Sox play. With upper level tickets as low as $5, introducing your future Little Leaguers to baseball does not have to break the bank. Your crew can enjoy kid-focused activities and if the weather cooperates, they could even run the bases after the game!

Mazed and confused

Morton Arboretum is an awe-inspiring place! With 1,700 acres and more than 222,000 plants, there is a ton for your family take in. The can’t-miss kids activity is the one-acre Maze Garden. My husband and I had a blast there with my niece and nephew when they were children. When we visit with our son, the toddler maze will be more his speed. As you plan your family calendar for spring, keep in mind that Arboretum offers discounted admission on Wednesdays.

Mama’s treat

This one is for tulip-loving mamas, like me, more than for the kiddos, but if mama is happy, everyone is happy, right? I used to work on Michigan Avenue and seeing all of the beautiful flowers, especially tulips, along the Mag Mile always brightened my commute. Why not pack that little one in a stroller and take a spin down Michigan Avenue with stops to marvel at the beautiful flower plantings along the way?

If you want to stick with the not breaking the budget thing, window shopping works well, but every hard-working parent deserves a treat, so cap off the stroll at Sprinkles Cupcakes Chicago, just off the Mag Mile. These cupcakes were a special occasion staple in my office, so I am proud to say that I have tried almost every flavor and never met one that I didn’t like. And if your walk happens to be on baby time, like way too early on a Sunday, and the store is closed, don’t worry, you can just get one from the cupcake ATM. Yes, I just said cupcake ATM.

There are endless possibilities in and around Chicago to wake up from winter hibernation and welcome the new season. Take some time to savor all that spring has to offer this year!

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