Even though you just finished that trip to the pumpkin patch, it’s already time to start thinking about booking winter break camp. Whether your kiddo is an athlete, a thespian, a nature nut, a chef, or a little bit of all of the above, we have the lowdown on can’t-miss winter fun.

emerald-city-winter-campsphoto: Emerald City Theatre Company

Emerald City Theatre 

Emerald City Theatre’s camps are always a treat for budding thespians! Last year, they included Frozen, Winter Wonderland and Jingle Bell Rock themes. This year’s options will be online the first week of November, so check their website for details!

Athenaeum Theatre
2936 N. Southport Ave.

Little Theatre
2933 N. Southport Ave.

Menomonee Club
Drucker Center
1535 N. Dayton St.
Lincoln Park
Online: emeraldcitytheatre.com

Science Night Out: Glow-in-the-Dark Science

The Kids’ Table + The Laboratory
We’ve all heard that one of the best ways to raise healthy eaters is to have them help in the kitchen. At The Kids’ Table winter camps, kids prepare healthy fare with a twist.

This year, to add to the fun, they’ve partnered with The Laboratory for unique full-day Cooking + Science Camps. Kids spend half of their day cooking and the other half just a few doors down at The Laboratory doing hands-on STEAM projects. During week one’s Cartoon Fact or Fiction + Real Twist on Kid Classics sessions, kids explore whether the adrenaline-filled scenes depicted in cartoons could be real and they’ll transform kid classic go-tos into wholesome (and delicious) dishes. For week two’s Classic Movie Monsters + Comfort Food, campers use creativity, imagination and hands-on science to explore the secrets of Count Dracula, engineer their own Frankensteins, discover the chemistry of (friendly) ghosts and cook up favorite belly-warming and soul-soothing recipes.

Another option is the Cook & Play Camp, which is the perfect mix of cooking, eating and playing. Kids spend half the day in the kitchen and the rest of the day is full of food-themed crafts and games, nature walks, park play, movie time and more. Kids transform classic diner or fast food rub into healthy dishes in week one’s Get Real and week two’s Comfort Food Classics has the kids making homemade versions of favorite comfort foods.

Held Dec. 26-30 & Jan. 2-6; 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: $90/day
Ages: Cooking + Science Camp, ages 5-12; Cook & Play Camp, ages 4-10
Cooking + Science Camp: 2337 W. North Ave., Wicker Park
Cook & Play Camp: 2864 N. Lincoln Ave., Lakeview
Online: kids-table.com

lincoln-park-zoo-campphoto: Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo
With the opportunity to pick one day or every day, the Zoo’s camp has both variety and flexibility. This year’s camp offers kids the opportunity to jump into the dynamic world of animal movement. Each day offers a different theme, like Cool Climbers where campers discover how most primates are adapted for climbing or swinging through treetops or Beneath the Surface which explores how river otters splash and play and naked mole rats create entire colonies — all underwater. Each group will explore the zoo and participate in activities to discover animal diversity, environmental conservation and ways Lincoln Park Zoo cares for animals, both at the zoo and in the wild.

Held Jan. 2-5; full-day, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; half-day, 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Full-day: $68/day; Half-day: $34/day (after care also available from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. for $20/day)
Ages: Full-day, 1st-4th grade; half-day, PreK-K (must be at least 4 years old)
2001 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park
Online: lpzoo.org

The Little Gym
If they’re going to bounce off the walls this winter, they might as well do it at a safe, padded gym with instructors that teach valuable skills. It’s high-energy fun with gymnastics, games and crafts at the three-hour Winter Wonderland Camps. It’s easy to work around nap schedules with both morning and afternoon sessions being offered.


Held Dec. 26-30; 9 a.m.-noon or 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: Starting at $50 per day camp, (current membership required)
Ages: 3-8 (must be bathroom independent)
3216 N. Lincoln Ave., Lakeview
Online: thelittlegym.com/chicagoil

Windy City Fieldhouse
Sign up for one day or every day of this sports camp that even has free childcare between sessions. Active kiddos will tire themselves out with either a dedicated soccer skills camp or a multi-sport camp that includes practicing skills for football, baseball, kickball, hockey and basketball. Little ones (ages 3-5) are introduced to soccer, basketball, t-ball, football and kickball while also learning about good sportsmanship (and who couldn’t use that lesson?).

Held Dec. 18-22, Dec. 26-29, Jan. 2-5
Cost: $50/day
Ages: 3-13
2367 W. Logan Blvd., Lincoln Park
Online: windycityfieldhouse.com

actors-gym-campphoto: The Actors Gymnasium

The Actors Gymnasium 
Juggle, tumble and dance your way through winter break. Budding circus performers learn to walk the tight wire, fly on the trapeze, walk on stilts and more at this energy-boosting camp. As well as being physically fun and challenging, this camp is good for boosting courage and self-esteem.

Held Dec. 27-29 & Jan. 3-5
Cost: $80/day
Ages 9-14
927 Noyes St., Evanston
Online: actorsgymnasium.org

Kids STEM Studio
If you have a kid, we’re pretty sure Minecraft is a word in your daily vocab. Keep those brains moving this winter break by incorporating this kid favorite into a STEM-ulating camp. Campers learn the mechanics of conquering the survival world by crafting, farming, taming animals and basic redstone engineering, which includes working with the electricity substance of Minecraft. They’ll also dabble in hands-on engineering learning about buoyancy, building air and mechanical powered machines and developing electrical gadgets with simple circles. As a cool bonus, campers get to take home their creations.

Held Dec. 26-29
Cost: $75/day; $300/week, After care available for $10/day (4 p.m.-5:30 p.m.)
Grades K-6th
Kids STEM Studio
1319 S. State St., South Loop

Held Jan 2-5; 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $80/day; $320/week
Grades K-6th
Kids STEM Studio at Menomonee Club
1535 N Dayton St
Lincoln Park
Online: kidsstemstudio.com

Bulls/Sox Academy
Whether you have a baseball fanatic, basketball enthusiast or both, these three-day pro sports-affiliated camps get your little athlete ready for the season. Choose from baseball, basketball or a combination camp where coaches work with kids on fundamentals and fine tuning key skills.

Held Dec. 27-29; 9 a.m.-noon; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. for combo camp
Cost: $175/sport or $315/combo camp
Ages 5-15

6200 River Bend Dr.

800 St. Charles Rd.
Glen Ellyn

536 East Ave.
La Grange
Online: bullssoxacademy.com

dupage-winter-campphoto: DuPage Children’s Museum

DuPage Children’s Museum
With both art and science inspirations, the DuPage County Children’s Museum’s camp offers many choices to get hands and minds moving. In Construction Zone, kids use real tools, math and various mediums to explore building. Sign up for Cardboard Engineering and campers will work with paper, cardboard, foam and wood during their 2 days of focusing on engineering and building.

Held Dec. 27 & 28 (Construction Zone) & Jan. 3 & 4 (Cardboard Engineering)
Cost: $125
Ages: Grades K-5
301 N. Washington St., Naperville
Online: dupagechildrens.org

Second City
Have a budding comedian tickling your funny bone daily? Sign ‘em up for classes led by some of Chicago’s funniest folks. In the Improv & Clowning class, students learn to think on their feet, build self-confidence and creativity – and wear a clown nose sometimes. Improv & Stand Up helps students develop their jokes and delivery. The littles can even get in on the giggles with Mini Camp, which introduces them to the concepts of improv, storytelling, clowning and theater crafts.  Be prepared for a winter break full of laughs after this camp!

Held Dec. 26-29 & Jan. 2-5
Cost: $400/class
Ages: 6-18
Second City Training Center
1608 N. Wells, Old Town
Online: secondcity.com

Chicago Botanic Garden
This indoor/outdoor camp gives little botanists the chance to explore the garden in winter. Kids will investigate weather, explore seasonal adaptations of plants and animals and dabble in art. Plus, all campers enjoy a trip to the Botanic Garden’s holiday favorite, the Wonderland Express holiday train display.

Held Dec. 18-22 & Jan. 2-5
Cost: $79/day (discount for members)
Ages: Grades K-5
1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe
Online: chicagobotanic.org

How will your kiddos spend winter break? Let us know in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers