Spring break doesn’t always mean luxurious vacations in exotic locales. Sometimes it means finding your own fun on the still-frosty shores of Lake Michigan. Thankfully, some of our favorite nearby spots are up to the task of offering great activities for families, whatever your interests.
If you like dirt
Messy fun is the name of the game at Chicago Botanic Garden, where themes of the daily Spring Break Camp include Seeds (March 30), Signs of Spring (March 31), A Visit to the Woods (April 1), Greenhouses& Gardens (April 2) and Bugs& Bubbles (April 3). Sign up your kids in grades K-5 for one day or all of them and then send your mini-gardeners in clothes that can get dirty or wet. The camp costs $72 a day. chicagobotanic.org
If you like chores
Spring cleaning might not be considered fun at your own house, but there’s an added allure when those household tasks take place on a 19th-century farm. Head to Kline Creek Farm for the Spring Break Spruce Up, where kids can help clean animal pens, sweep the house and weed the kitchen garden—all for free. No promises that it will translate into a cleaner 21st-century house, though. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 30, April 2-3. dupageforest.com/klinecreekfarm
If you like explosions
Energetic kids will love the live science demos—chemical reactions, anyone?—at Discovery Center’s Spring Into Science days, while amateur astronomers can catch planetarium shows and take part in other starry fun. There’s also arts and crafts for the more reserved researchers among us. Drop-in activities are offered March 30-April 3 and are free with museum admission. discoverycentermuseum.org
If you like crafts
Cornhusk dolls, beaded keychains and paper moccasins are just some of the Native American artifacts kids can replicate at Mitchell Museum of the American Indian’s DIY Crafts event. Once they’ve used up that creativity, be sure to browse the museum’s galleries to see some real-life versions used by Native Americans over the centuries. Crafts are free with museum admission and offered during normal hours, April 3-5 and 7-10.
If you like intergalactic adventure
Spring break road trips can’t compare to a journey in outer space! Head to Adler Planetarium to see Destination Solar System, the latest live show, and follow it up with hands-on activities that touch on stomp and balloon rockets, pocket science, space news and quick-hit experiments that take only five minutes. Special spring break activities are free with general admission, and all shows are included in the All Access Pass. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. March 21-April 12. adlerplanetarium.org