The first day of Spring – what more do you need to love the month of March? Read on to hear about a museum overnight, maple tapping and shows that’ll make March a month worthy of the memory books. Get out there to share giggles with the kiddos!

Spend the Night Counting Stars at Adler Planetarium

photo: Adler Planetarium Astro-Overnight

(1) JUST OPENED! Once Upon a Castle
Join in Chicago Children’s Museum’s excitement as they introduce their latest temporary exhibit, Once Upon a Castle. This original exhibit invites young dreamers to create their own kingdom in a one-of-a-kind castle themed play space. Watch on as they explore a castle complete with secret tunnels, a rope bridge, tower, dungeon, throne room, wizard’s room, kitchen, feasting table, market and more. Don’t miss this fantastical experience where the only limit is one’s imagination.

When: All month long
Hours: Mon.-Wed., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Chicago Children’s Museum, 700 E. Grand Ave., Navy Pier
Cost: $14
Online: chicagochildrensmuseum.org

(2) Last Chance . . . To Hunt for Gnomes and Build Them Sweet Homes
Gnomes are invading Morton Arboretum for a game of hide-and-seek in the Children’s Garden. Can you find them all? Search for them throughout the week and then come back on the weekend to continue the hunt and create a keepsake, light-up gnome home of your own.

When: Thru March 31
Hours: Daily, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Gnome home building, Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Morton Arboretum, 4100 IL Rte. 53, Lisle
Cost: Hunt is free with general admission; gnome home building, $7/members, $10/non-members
Online: mortonarb.org

(3) The Year I Didn’t Go To School: A Handmade Circus
Let your imaginations soar as 7-year-old Giselle and her sister Chloe travel through Italy by truck performing in their parent’s puppet theater company, The Mystic Paper Beasts. The Year I Didn’t Go To School: A Homemade Circus is sure to be a thrilling theatrical experience, combining circus elements and a unique story.

When: Thru March 26
Hours: Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.; Sat. & Sun., 10:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.; Mar. 11 & 18, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Ruth Page Center for the Arts , 1016 N. Dearborn St., Near North Side
Cost: $39/adult; $28/kids
Online: chicagochildrenstheatre.org

(4) The Actors Gymnasium Presents Quest
Quest is an original circus-theater production loosely based on Leo Tolstoy’s short story The Three Questions. The protagonist asks three simple (but huge) questions, setting in motion a whirlwind journey to find the answers. Our hero and her sidekicks venture through obstacles, misinformation, slapstick fun, unexpected detours, music and songs, near crises, and amazing feats of partnership in seek of answers. Fun, funny, surprising, action-packed, deeply moving, profoundly existential – something for everyone!

When: Thru March 19
Hours: Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 4:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; Sun. 3 p.m.
Where: The Actors Gymnasium at The Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston
Cost: $20
Online: actorsgymnasium.org

(5) Spend the Night Counting Stars at Astro-Overnights
Do you want to go on an out-of-this world adventure, spend the night at the museum and help solve an alien mystery? Now’s your chance! Explore the planetarium and use your science sleuthing skills to learn more about these enigmatic extraterrestrials at Astro-Overnight: Expedition E.T.! Overnighters will try to solve a unique space mystery through a variety of programs, sky shows, and much more.

When: March 3 & March 10
Hours: 5 p.m.-8 a.m. (next morning)
Where: Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus
Cost: $60/non-members; $55/members (overnight); $30/non-members; $27.50/members (evening events only)
Online: adlerplanetarium.org

(6) Kick it Old School at Cascade Drive-In
Blow your kids’ minds. Park the car, sit in front of one of the nation’s largest outdoor movie screens and offer them a dose of yesteryear. One by one, drive-in theaters have disappeared in favor of their theater-style competitors. Cascade is still around, offering blockbuster double features under the stars. Bring your own food and charcoal to cook on one of the grills in the picnic area.

When: Opening for the season in March, check their website for showtimes
Hours: 7 p.m. showtime
Where: Cascade Drive-In, 1100 E. North Ave., West Chicago
Cost: $10/adults, $5/ages 5-11; free for ages 4 & under (and pets!)
Online: cascadedrivein.com

(7) That’s Weird Grandma: Rise of the Rock Spectacular
Barrel of Monkeys is proud to present, That’s Weird, Grandma: Rise of the Rock Spectacular! Imagine an incredible rock concert, completely penned by young authors and composed by Chicago actors and musicians! This music-infused revue will feature rocking guitar solos, plenty of jokes and a new opening band each week!

When: March 5-27
Hours: Sun., 2 p.m.; Mon., 8 p.m.
Where: Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Andersonville
Cost: $12/adults; $6/ages 11 & under
Online: barrelofmonkeys.org

(8) Reel Science at Adler: Contact
Have you ever wondered what warp drive might be like? Or why spacecraft in movies are always right-side up? The REEL Science Film Series combines cinematic favorites with science conversations about the film—providing a unique opportunity to discuss the facts vs. the creative liberties taken in Hollywood. On the screen this month: Contact.

When: March 9
Hours: 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Where: Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus
Cost: $22/adults; $10/ages 11 & under
Online: adlerplanetarium.org

(9) Maple Fest
Watch a tree tapping demonstration and learn all about the process of making syrup at the Red Oak Nature Center. Programs begin every hour, on the hour. Purchase a maple snack and enjoy it while taking in beautiful views of the Fox River.

When: March 19
Hours: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Red Oak Nature Center, 2343 S. River St., Batavia
Cost: Free
Online: foxvalleyparkdistrict.org

(10) The Boogers Perform at Wonder Works
See The Boogers at Wonder Works Lights! Camera! Action! stage. The full band will be there, including Crusty, Greenie and Sticky on drums. The Boogers will be performing original and classic children’s music in their now famous rock ‘n’ roll style.

When: March 19
Hours: 4 p.m.
Where: Wonder Works, 6445 W. North Ave., Oak Park
Cost: $11/non-members; $8/members
Online: wonder-works.org

Big plans for March? Shout about it in the Comments below!

—Maria Chambers