The Young and the Restless: Tips and Activities for Tykes, Tweens and Teens

Home for spring break? For Mommy, the Cruise Director, there’s plenty to do–from jaunts close to home to day-long adventures, we’ll keep you busy for the week ahead:


Bright Lights, Big City

Museum of Science and Industry’s newest exhibit, “Science Storms”: Don’t bother brushing the kids’ hair, or yours for that matter. Step into a wind tube in which you experience 80 mile-per-hour winds, and it’s a bad hair day that never felt so good. Tornadoes, lightning, fire, tsunamis and rainbows will make the kids go “Wow!”

Make a day of it: Is anyone addicted to Blue Balliet’s “Chasing Vermeer” series? Then Powell’s Bookstore is a must-see. Don’t forget to grab a bite at Medici on 57th, one of President Obama’s favorite haunts.

Adler Planetarium’s new “Planet Explorers” exhibit: Three reasons to go: It’s on the lake, so you can pretend you’re vacationing seaside. Little kids will be entertained for hours with little effort on your part. And there’s a “your weight on the moon” scale that’s sure to make you feel…awesome.

Make a day of it: Take the kids into town for breakfast– the Metra/Union Pacific will land you at the feet of the French Market, and Lou Mitchell’s is just a few blocks away from Union Station and the Metra/Milwaukee District Line.

Get Outdoors

Wagner Farm (Glenview): Living in suburbia has its risks–such as a kid that grows up without seeing a cow up close and personal. Save them. Save yourself! Get to the last operating farm in Cook County, just minutes away from any North Shore address.

Be sure to look for: Cows in the milking parlor, kittens in the barn, and the tree swing perfect for those posed “candids” moms love so much.

Fort Sheridan (Highwood): So it’s not quite beach weather–don’t let that dissuade you from an afternoon outdoors. Fort Sheridan’s nature trails include lots of military history, and a life-sized hawk’s nest!

On the way home, stop at: Try Bent Fork Bakery for a cookie or a cupcake!

Garfield Park Conservatory (Chicago): While not technically outdoors, these greenhouses are one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets. Better still? They’re free! Indoor displays include the Fern House, Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden, Palm House and Show House, where the Spring show is in full swing.

Don’t miss: Wild Wednesdays (last Wednesday of the month), where kids can get up close and personal with interesting animals; and Discovery Dig Wednesdays (every week), where kids can really get down and dirty.

Get Goofy

Roller skating at Orbit Skate Center (Palatine): Do you really want your kids to grow up without experiencing at least one Ladies’ Choice? They’ve got the disco ball and the DJ spinning the vinyl…er….CDs. With Spring Break and Family Skate specials, you’re certain to find a time that fits your schedule.

Glow-in-the-dark mini golf at Putting Edge (Lincolnshire): For, you know….that one day that’s rainy and cold. It’s not like that ever happens during Spring Break in Chicago. Putting Edge is reasonably priced, and if you’re comfortable sending your kids out on the course alone, it gives you an hour or so to shop City Park at Lincolnshire. They putt, you get a pedicure.

Grab a bite: Cubby Bear North is across the street, and a kid favorite. Large booths with individual TV screens will keep the kids happy.

Errand Day

Can you blame the kids for being a little cranky? Cheer them up with a treat from a local hot dog joint, such as Michael’s Red Hots (Highland Park), Chuck Wagon (Wilmette), Wiener and Still Champion (Evanston) or fRedhots and Fries (Glenview).

If you really want to knock their socks off, cap lunch off with that first ice cream of the season, such as a trip to Homer’s in Wilmette, or your favorite soft-serve joint as they start to re-open this week (Dairy Bar in Glenview, I’m looking at you!)

Beat Street (Winnetka) and Dave’s Down To Earth Rock Shop (Evanston) are great places to let the kids explore for that “I’m so glad you let Mommy go to the dry cleaners, grocery store, PetSmart and the orthodontist without complaining!” treat.

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