We've rounded up loads of fun things to do if you and the kids will be spending it in Chicago. So break out those UNICEF Kid Power Bands and head on out to any or all of these fun and cultural family attractions happening in town this weekend!
Cross Country Skiing: When four inches or more of snow have accumulated on the Morton Arboretum grounds, head to the Visitor Center to rent a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis, and set off on a scenic adventure through the snow-capped trees dotting the 3.5 miles of cross-country ski trails. This trail loops from the Conifer Collection — a spot particularly good for kids and families — to Parking Lot 8 and back to the Elm Family Collection. Before or after, head over to the Children's Garden, where every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., winter activities are set up — everything from painting snow to fort-building. Make sure those UNICEF Kid Power Bands are charged up!
Hit the Parks: It may be winter but there's still recreation aplenty in Chicago's parks! On Friday, from 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, a Glow Dodgeball game is on for teens at Taylor-Lauridsen Playground Park and for younger kids, snow-trekking is planned for Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Northerly Island. Weather permitting, the sledding is always fine on Cricket Hill at Montrose Harbor, a 360-degree hill with virtually no wait times. Over at Montgomery Park, the sledding hill has a gentle grade ideal for younger kids, while more daring tobagganers will enjoy the terrain at the Rotary Hill's Riverwalk Sled Hill, which is open until 9pm Sundays - Thursdays, and 10pm on Fridays and Saturday. For directions and more info, check the Chicago Park District website.
Get Crafty: Looking for an easy, drop-in craft activity that's free? Every Sunday, Cat and Mouse Games hosts family art projects for kids ages 3-8 and their parents. Check C&M's Facebook page for details about each week's activity.
Flight of the Butterflies: If you and the kids are looking to get out of the Chicago cold and while away some time in “the warmest place in the city,” check out the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, where Saturday at 2:00 PM, newly emerged butterflies are released into the Haven to take their first flight. Also free with admission this Saturday is your kids' chance to get hands-on with a large collection of reptiles and amphibians during an immersive experience provided by the Chicago Herpetological Society, box turtle feedings, and a storytelling. For more info on the many exciting family friendly activities planned for this weekend, check out the calendar here.
Winterfest: Now in its 17th year, Chicago’s indoor winter playground, Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest, is wrapping up its final weekend, so if you haven't made it there yet or want to go one more time this is your last chance!. Bring the family to enjoy the 170,000 square feet of rides, giant slides and the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Skating Rink. Open Saturday from 11 AM–9 PM adn Sunday 9 AM–4 PM.
Lincoln Park Zoo: How many zoo’s in America are free? Not many. Well, Lincoln Park Zoo is one but that’s hardly the only thing that makes it great. If you go around the holidays, you can catch a great light show and the utterly WOW views of the city on a clear day, especially when the weather is warm, are fab! Bonus: the kids have so much space to run around—and pet just about any of their favorite animals—that they’ll have no trouble racking up UNICEF Kid Power points!
Chicago Botanic Garden: Not every botanic garden is that exciting for kids. Sure, it can be fun to sniff a flower, appreciate a beautiful color or something that looks a lot healthier than what they usually see at the local bodega. But, that’s a big maybe. The big exception: Chicago’s Botanic Garden, which features something called the Wonderland Express. It’s a train. It’s free (like the Garden). And it’s amazing fun.
Pump It Up: The name says it all! If there’s one place in Chicago to wear your UNICEF Kid Power Band it’s here! There are different fun areas for everyone, for every age group. Standouts: the 20-foot climbing wall and bouncy, inflatable indoor playgrounds. Both are as fun as they sound. Just don’t forget to bring an extra pair of socks!
Legoland: Legoland says kids ages 3-12 will have an absolute blast here. Well, we know a few adults who would love this place, too! There are villages to explore that are made of Duplo and the factory tour is so much more fun than perhaps your average factory tour… But two things blew us away: 1) the 4D cinema and 2) the technicycle ride.
Chicago Water Tower: This is a twofer! Visit the Magnificent Mile in Chicago and while you’re on it head to Chicago’s most easily recognized landmark, the Chicago Water Tower. The architecture is truly awesome-inspiring to all ages and the exhibits equally captivating.
Photo by Pawel Loj, from Flickr.