Spend a week in Chicagoland with kids

by on July 5, 2012

in Chicago

This guest post is from Sarah Parisi from Toddling Around Chicagoland, who has put together 7 days worth of activities for families living or visiting the Chicagoland area.

Museum Monday – Visit the Museum of Science and Industry to explore a real plane, train, and submarine. Learn about the science of storms, examine the giant miniature fairy castle, and learn all about YOU! in an exhibit that explores the connection between the mind, the body, and the spirit. The little ones will love the Idea Factory, an activity area for children up to age 10. Plan to spend the day at the museum because there is plenty to explore.

Lego Tuesday – If you have a Lego-lover in the family (and who doesn’t?) you have to visit Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg, just 40 minutes from downtown Chicago. At Legoland Discovery Center you can see all the local Chicago landmarks in Miniland, take a walk through a Lego jungle, ride a dragon through a castle, ride on a Technocycle, see 4D Lego movies, and lots more! There’s a cafe inside and plenty of restaurants within walking distance. Purchase tickets online to save money.


While you’re in the area, stop by FireZone, an interactive environment with real fire engines and equipment staffed by real firefighters, or go shopping at Ikea for furniture, home accessories, and toys.

Arbor Wednesday – Take a little road trip to Lisle, 25 minutes from Chicago, to the Morton Arboretum. There are 1,700 acres of trees and gardens to enjoy and you can hike, bike, or get lost in the maze garden. The Children’s Garden has a secret stream, playground, treehouses, and plenty more!

Wednesdays are discounted admission days – only $8 for adults and $6 for children.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream Thursday – Head down south on Western Avenue for some ice cream at the Original Rainbow Cone. It’s hard to miss the historic pink building that’s been serving rainbow cones for more than 80 years. The rainbow cone is made up of five scoops of ice cream – chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (New York Vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio, and orange sherbet. For the little ones, ask for a baby cone. It’s not on the menu, but it’s perfect for smaller appetites and it’s under $1.50.

Wild Friday – Check out the lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) at the Brookfield Zoo. You can walk through the desert, the rainforest, tropic world, the living coast, and the brand new Great Bear Wilderness all in one day. Be sure to save some time at the Hamill Family Play Zoo and the Children’s Zoo, and to go for a spin on the carousel. There are lots of options for food in the zoo (including buffalo burgers!), or you can bring your own picnic lunch.

Science SaturdayKids Science Labs offers fun, hands-on science classes for kids ages 2-12. Kids get to experiment and problem-solve in the messiest ways possible – spilling water and soaking it up with a sponge to learn about absorption, throwing fruit against the wall to learn about gravity and impact, exploding pop bottles to learn about gas and pressure – and you don’t have to clean up any of it! Classes for toddlers are parent participation classes, while older kids (3 and up) attend alone.

Parents can stay and take advantage of free Wi-Fi, or leave and run errands in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Single classes are $30 for toddlers or $37 for older children, or you can purchase a gift package of 2 classes for only $60. I guarantee you, the kids will LOVE it!

Ready, Set, Grow! Sunday – There’s no better way to relax after a busy week than a visit to the Garfield Park Conservatory. Take a walk through the tropics, the desert, and an indoor lagoon inside. Be sure to dress in layers for the temperature changes! The Conservatory is free to the public every day and they have a beautiful children’s garden with a twirling slide. The weekend family fun program with lots of activities and make & take projects. Bring your own lunch to eat by the fountain in the Horticulture Hall and be sure to check out the outdoor gardens if the weather is nice.

Thanks, Sarah, for being our guide to Chicagoland! Headed to Chicago for a vacation? Be sure to check out Sarah’s website ToddlingAroundChicagoLand.com. Got other plans? See our list of vacation and staycation guides full of places to go with babies and kids, all around the world.

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.

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