By now, most of us are officially over winter, but it’s safe to say there’s no one group more desperate for the weather to turn than parents of young kids. You’ve spent hours scouring Pinterest for homemade crafts and science experiments, baked the day away, and stepped on dozens of Legos. There’s only so much snow and cold a family can take, and after several months of being stuck indoors, you’re all certifiably stir crazy. Sound about right?
Have no fear: we are here to put some spring in your step. Push through the last few weeks of winter by hitting up these 15 awesome Chicago-area indoor activities, guaranteed to bring the family fun.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Escape the cold and enjoy the warm temps and beauty of the Garfield Park Conservatory. Kids can explore the jungle-like atmosphere, see the koi fish, skip past waterfalls, and wander through the desert room. Check out their Spring Flower Show: “Understory: Layers of Light” through May.
Current Family Programs:
Great Wolf Lodge
If your family really needs to thaw out, a weekend at the Great Wolf Lodge enjoying its 84-degree water park in Gurnee will do the trick. Great Wolf’s waterpark is expansive and features a wave pool, slides, and water fun for all ages. They also offer guests a wide variety of dry-land experiences such as yoga, bowling, PJ parties, mini golf, and character appearances. Dining options will please everyone and even include a Ben & Jerry’s.
Current Special Events:
- Spring-A-Palooza — Trade in your snowsuits for swimsuits and enjoy spring-inspired events such as bubble dance parties, crafts, and a spring-themed room. The resort will be blooming and it is the perfect spring break activity.
Follow our Instagram stories and Facebook page March 2-3 for an exclusive peek at Spring-A-Palooza and all Great Wolf has to offer!
Hofbräuhaus, in Rosemont’s entertainment district, is family-friendly and fun for everyone. With festive and interactive music, a great kid’s menu, and even a kid’s parade, it’s a wonderful way to pass a blustery afternoon.
- Pulaski Day — March 4: Kids eat free
- Kinderfest — April 14: Extra fun for the kids with a variety of free activities and $5 kids meals
Lillistreet Art Center
Lillistreet offers workshops and art classes for kids and the entire family, including clay, painting, bookmaking, and more. The art center conveniently hosts First Slice Café, so you can enjoy some hot chocolate, coffee, and pie after your class and feel good about helping give back to the community (First Slice serves more than 37,000 meals a year to Chicago’s hungry).
Spring classes start soon, but we recommend dropping into:
- A Hug in a Mug — Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Make mugs for cocoa, bowls for soup, and more objects perfect for a cozy afternoon with your family.
A spy-themed restaurant that needs a special password for entry? We are in! Safehouse Chicago delivers fun for the family from the second you find the secret entrance. Once you gain entry, kids can pretend to be special agents by exploring gadgets around the restaurant and dodging lasers on the way out.
Navy Pier is a great place to spend a day as it features the Chicago Children’s Museum, an indoor garden oasis, free public art, and amazing restaurants. You can also hop on the winter-friendly (and heated) Centennial Wheel for an amazing view of the city and Lake Michigan.
Monster Jam at Allstate Arena
From March 1-4, your family can spend a few hours amazed by the famous Monster Jam Triple Threat Series at Rosemont’s Allstate Arena. Kids will love the excitement and stunts with wild trucks, speedsters, and motorcycles. The death-defying tricks will keep parents entertained too.
Kohl Children’s Museum
Bring the whole family for a day at Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview. The museum boasts 17 permanent exhibits including a water room, giant train table, art adventures, and even a pretend Whole Foods Market. New to the museum is the “Build It!” interactive exhibit, running through June 30.
The museum offers daily programming for kids. View the calendar online.
Altitude Trampoline Park
After hibernating indoors for months, kids (and parents!) are desperate to get all that extra energy out. At Altitude Trampoline Park kids and adults will have fun bouncing around 33,000 square feet of indoor trampolines. Altitude also has a trapeze swing, interactive reaction wall, and trampoline basketball.
- Every Monday: Big City Readers Story Time
- Every Thursday: Buddha Belly Kids Yoga
Museum of Contemporary Art
Chicago is fortunate to have a world-class museum that showcases thought-provoking contemporary art. Even better — MCA hosts a variety of weekly classes for kids and teens. From special themed tours and workshops to art classes for the whole family, these popular events fill up fast. Admission is free every Tuesday for Illinois residents.
Upcoming Family Programs:
Chicago Magic Lounge
From the outside it looks like a laundromat, but this is the Chicago Magic Lounge’s first illusion. Once the real lounge is revealed, kids and adults will both be amazed by the professional magicians in a beautiful theater setting. Don’t miss a trip to the restroom (usually not a problem with kids) to see the mind-bending floor.
Catch the Family Show for kid-friendly magic and wonders (ages 5+).
Chicago, rejoice because the Wndr Museum is here to stay! What started as a temporary pop-up will now become a permanent attraction and we couldn’t be more excited. The Wndr Museum is an interactive experience for the whole family. You can touch, play, and immerse yourself in world-class art that is especially Instagram-worthy. A can’t miss: The Infinity Mirror Room by iconic Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
Make sure you buy your tickets well in advance online.
Legoland® Discovery Center
If all your kids want to do all day is play with Legos®, why not treat them to a surprise day at Legoland®? Besides hours of Lego® play, Legoland® has two rides, a cinema, a Lego® racers build and test area, and amazing Lego® creations including a mini model of Chicago.
Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark in Lake Geneva
If you are looking for a quick road trip, head up to Lake Geneva and stay at the Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark. Moose Mountain Falls has a lazy river, 35-foot-high slides, and plenty of fun for all ages. If you need a break from the pool, Lake Geneva has plenty of indoor activities to enjoy such as a bowling, a family magical mystery show, shopping, spas, and a wide variety of dining (we love Sprecher and Oakfire any time, or try the Spotted Cow Fish Fry at The Abbey on Fridays).
Upcoming Lake Geneva Events:
Medieval Times: Chicago Castle
Is your family up for dinner and a show? Medieval Times has it all. Dine with the Queen and enjoy medieval fare you eat with your hands, like baby dragon (don’t worry, it’s really just chicken) and roast potatoes, while cheering on your favorite knight in a thrilling tournament. With horses, sword fights, falcons, and jousting, it promises to be an unforgettable evening.
This is but a sampling of all of the incredible experiences, events, and museums Chicago has to offer. Check out our list of the 31 Best Things to Do in Chicago This March and our Ultimate Guide to Chicago Museums for more great ideas.
Macaire Douglas lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Share Our Spare, a local nonprofit that collects goods for children in need.