Winter events at convention centers? They’re so, so cool. Betcha never thought you’d make McCormick Place and Donald E. Stephens Convention Center your January hangouts. These two big shows will convince your kiddos there’s no better place to be. The action includes everything from old-fashioned bicycles to trout ponds. Read on for the scoop.

chicago-boat-show photo: Chicago Boat, RV & Strictly Sail Show

Chicago Boat, RV & Strictly Sail Show
Think lakeside beach-y fun has been on hold for the season? Think again. You might want to leave the flip flops at home, but transport yourself to sunny destinations as you roam the aisles of powerboats, sailboats, RVs, marine accessories and outdoor equipment — expert mariners are on-hand to teach the nautically-curious how to dock a boat and tie a sailing knot.

There is plenty of fun planned just for kids. Cast a line in the Huck Finn Trout Pond, where pros teach catch-and-release techniques with live trout. Your little guppy can also act like a spastic hamster in an inflatable wheel on water at Rockin’ Rollin’ Bubbles or participate in a simple machines scavenger hunt (visit the US Sailing booth for information). For real hands-on fun, head over to the PaddleFest Pool for stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking.

Held Jan. 11-15 (Wed., 2 p.m.-8 p.m.; Thurs. & Fri., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Tickets: Free for ages 15 & under; $14 for adults; $20 for a 2-day pass (online only)
McCormick Place, South Hall
2301 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Downtown
Online: chicagoboatshow.com

travel-showphoto: Travel & Adventure Show

Travel & Adventure Show 
Gather inspiration for your next family vacay at this annual show, which offers travel ideas for destinations near (Wisconsin) and far (Galapagos). Watch the world come alive, from Bollywood to Mexico, on the Global Beats Stage, where you’ll see cultural performances representing different destinations. Feeling like you want to join in? Jump on stage and learn how to become the travel rock star of your family. Eating more your thing? The Taste of Traveler Theater will host demonstrations that will connect you to various cultures via the foods they eat.

What’s in it for the kiddos? Lots! From rock walls and dive pools, to bubble rollers and Segway rides, the Travel & Adventure Shows have something for the whole family! For those into a fun, modern mode of transportation, there’s Trikkes and Segways. There’s even a test drive available for the animal lovers, on the back of a camel. Bring a swim suit, because show goers 10 and over can try scuba in a heated pool. You can even get a keepsake photo taken under water.

Capture the memory of the day by snapping a photo at the Arizona Photo Booth, where you’ll think you’re actually at the Grand Canyon State with the help of a green screen.

Held Jan. 21-22 (Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.)
Tickets: Free for ages 16 & under; tickets are available online for a discounted rate of $11 (single-day) and $18 (two-day) and are also available on-site for $15 (single-day) and $22 (two-day)
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center – Hall F
5555 N. River Rd.
Rosemont
Online: travelshows.com/chicago

What winter events are YOU looking forward to? Let us know in the Comments!

— Maria Chambers & Kelly Aiglon