In the age of the interwebs, heading to the mall for holiday gifts might sound like a giant, unnecessary pain. I’d be inclined to agree, except there is something magical and fun about the hustle and bustle of like-minded folk hopping from store to store, bags in hand, crossing names off their list. And if I can un-Scrooge myself for a few hours of holiday cheer, trust me, anyone can.
I did just that this weekend at Northbrook Court, home of everything from Forever 21 to Tiffany & Co. An efficient place to shop, to be sure, but on this particular voyage, it wasn’t a retailer that stole my heart—it was three super-fun diversions that kept my 7-year-old son entertained and whine-free. Hark!
Located on the second floor of the AMC court (right above the children’s play area), this museum-quality exhibit transports visitors to the Jurassic age. Animatronic Protoceratops, Chasmosaurs, Apatosaurus and more are seriously lifelike—so much so that a certain young person accompanying me had to warm up to Mr. T-Rex. Little archaeologists can dig for “fossils,” climb on Triceratops for a ride and learn more about the prehistoric life from fact-packed plaques. Admission is $6 per person. Ends Dec. 31.
Children’s play area
Sooooo, this might be my favorite Northbrook Court attraction because A) it’s free, B) it’s right next to Starbucks, and C) it requires very little effort on the part of the mall-weary parent. Housed beneath an expansive skylight, this giant treehouse lets kids 8 and younger climb, crawl, slide and explore—there’s even a telescope for celestial discovery. My favorite part, though, is the seasonally changing decor. Whoever’s in charge does a really great job creating an inspiring place for kids to be kids.
Northbrook Court is located at 2171 Northbrook Ct. in Northbrook.