April’s showering of sunshine is paving the way for fun to blossom in May! We’ve gotten a taste of the warmth and we’re raring to go. Read on for our Editor’s picks for guaranteed perma-smiles  — from edible piñatas at the zoo to an explosive kick-off to summer at Navy Pier. Grab your shades and get out there!

photo: Navy Pier

(1) Last Chance! 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 the littles 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: Thru May 14;
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) Cinco de Mayo Piñata Party
If you think tearing into a piñata is fun, wait until you see a tiger do it. Lincoln Park Zoo invites you to make an edible piñata for your favorite zoo animal and then watch them tear it up.

When: May 6 & 7
Hours: 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Where: Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park
Cost: $5 per person ($4 for members); $18 Family Pack admits 4-6 people ($15 for members); free for ages 3 & under
Online: lpzoo.org


(3) Juicebox Presents: Future Hits
The City of Chicago welcomes the Future Hits as part of their Juicebox series, which provides engaging music in a kid-friendly setting geared toward the stroller set.

When: May 5 & May 6
Hours: 11 a.m.
Where: Fri, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Loop
Sat., Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Garfield Park
Cost: Free
Online: cityofchicago.org

(4) Kidical Mass Bike Ride – Super Hero Spin
Join Kidical Mass for a slow, easy-going, fun, group ride focused on kids and families that will tour the Roscoe Village neighborhood. Wear your cape for the Super Hero Spin! You’ll ride around the neighborhood looking for people to save (or wave to).

When: May 7
Hours: 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Where: Audubon Elementary School, 3500 N. Hoyne, Roscoe Village
Cost: Free
Online: chicagokidicalmass.org

(5) Watson Adventures’ Wizard School Scavenger Hunt for Potter Fans
Follow in the footsteps of young wizards in search of art that echoes characters, places and enchanted objects in the famed Harry Potter books and movies. Be prepared to track down flying owls, Hagrid-like giants and dragons that seem straight out of the Triwizard Tournament.

When: May 14
Hours: 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
Where: Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Grant Park
Cost: $15.00-$26.50 (includes museum admission for ages 18+)
Online: watsonadventures.com

(6) Animal Day for Families
Take your kids to an organic farm for a day of hands-on experiences with the animals. You’ll milk the goats and gather eggs from the chickens, see how you can produce soil from kitchen scraps with worm boxes and make goat’s milk ice cream to enjoy under the tree.

When: May 20
Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where:  Angelic Organics Learning Center, 1547 Rockton Rd., Caledonia
Cost: $20
Online: estore.learngrowconnect.org

(7) That’s Weird Grandma: I Still Know What You Did Last Spring
Barrel of Monkey’s is proud to present, That’s Weird, Grandma: I Still Know What You Did Last Spring, a weekly dose of theater by children. And, a great excuse to get out of the house and enjoy the outside world again after a long Chicago winter.

When: Thru May 22
Hours: Mondays, 8 p.m.
Where: Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland Ave., Andersonville
Cost: $12/adults; $6/ages 11 & under
Online: barrelofmonkeys.org

(8) Cinderella: The Remix
Cinderella, an amazing DJ, is stuck in her stepmother’s basement and forced to give up her beats to her stepbrother, Chocolate Ice. When the famous J Prince announces auditions for his Hip-Hop Hollywood “Jam,” Cinderella goes in disguise trying to score the biggest gig in the land. Join in for an urban twist on the classic Cinderella fairy tale.

When: Thru May 27
Hours: Tues., Thurs. & Fri., 10 am..; Sat. & Sun., 2 p.m.
Where: Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo Dr
Cost: $10
Online: theatre.depaul.edu

(9) Civil War Days at Naper Settlement
Naper Settlement is transformed into a Civil War encampment where visitors can meet famous figures of the past and experience firsthand a turbulent time period in our nation’s history. Hundreds of reenactors participate, culminating in staging a battle complete with raging cannons and marching infantry. This family-friendly event features food, fun, music, and shopping on “Sutler’s Row” for traditional Civil War-era reproduction products.

When: May 20 & 21
Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; battle at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville
Cost: Day of Event: $15/adult, $10/ages 4-12; Advance Tickets: $13/adult, $8/ages 4-12; free for ages 4 & under
Online: napersettlement.org

(10) Kick-Off to Navy Pier’s Summer Fireworks
You know it’s officially warm-weather season in Chicago when you see the bright lights of Navy Pier’s Fireworks. Keep the kids up a tad later on Wednesdays and Saturdays this summer to experience the fireworks display synchronized to music at Navy Pier.

When: May 27 & 31
Hours: Wed., 9:30 p.m.; Sat., 10:15 p.m.
Where: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Streeterville
Cost: Free
Online: navypier.com/fireworks

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

—Maria Chambers