You may look ahead at summer break with a mix of joy and fear (yay for together time! but … how to spend it?). We’re here to help. Start filling your calendar with fun family events. This week that includes fireworks at Navy Pier, a sleepover under the stars, a Cavalcade of Planes and more! See? Nothing to be scared of.

Morton Arboretum Ribbitphoto: Morton Arboretum’s Ribbit! The Exhibit


Summer Kick-Off Celebration
Bensenville Park District is showcasing all their wonderful summer programs and you’re invited to partake in the fun! Join in on music, games (work those hips in a hoola hoop contest) and prizes! End the night by watching Finding Nemo at dusk in the Water Park. Fri., 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Bensenville Water Park & Splash Pad. Free. All ages. Event details.

Gold Coast

Bringing New LYFE to the Gold Coast
Good news! LYFE Kitchen is adding their 5th location to the Chicago market! Check out their newest location on the ground level of Loyola University in the Gold Coast neighborhood. Be sure to bring the kids because they stellar options that will appease even your pickiest of eaters. Fri., 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 8 a.m.-9 p.m. LYFE Kitchen Gold Coast. All ages. Event details.

Hyde Park

Discover Math in Nature with a Mirror Maze
Discover how naturally fun math can be in a maze filled with mirrors that help kiddos unlock the beautiful symmetry of the natural world. Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze kicks things off with a film that presents how fractals, spirals and “golden ratio” are woven into our lives. Fri.-Sun., 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Museum of Science and Industry. $18/adults; $11/children 3-11. All ages. Event details.


Storytown Improv
From superheroes to undersea adventures, princesses to dinosaurs, Storytown takes you on an interactive, fully improvised adventure. The actors use audience suggestions and ideas to create a different story every week. Sat., 10:30 a.m. Stage 773. $10. Ages 3-10. Event details.

Kids Classic Cooking Series: Pasta Palooza
Kids love noodles and The Kids’ Table is giving them what they want – in all different shapes and sizes! Check the website for the weekly menu of yummy! Sat., 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. The Kids’ Table Lakeview. $22.50/members, $25/non-members. Ages 4-10. Event details.

Kids Nite Out: Dinner & a Show
Everyone deserves a fun night out every once in a while – even the kiddos! Drop the kids off for dinner and a movie at The Kids’ Table. Kids get to make their own dinner of Scrambled Eggs, Strawberry Rhubarb French Toast and Oatmeal Shakes and watch Hotel Transylvania 2. Sat., 6 p.m.-9 p.m. The Kids’ Table. Members: $36/child; Non-members: $40/child. Ages 4-10. Event details.

A Detective Game with Cat-titude
This interactive spy story provides the purrr-fect opportunity to show your little ones the mystery and excitement of live theatre. With the promise of pie and the smell of a rat close by, gather clues to help Three Little Kittens find their missing mittens. Fri., 10 a.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. & 10:30 a.m., noon; Sun., 10 a.m. Emerald City’s Little Theatre. $15; $8/children 1 & under. Ages 0-5. Event details.

Try the New Kids Menu at Blackwood BBQ
A staple for fast-casual barbecue and smoked meats, Blackwood BBQ just became a easy choice for hungry families on the go with the introduction of their new kids menu. Hit up this Lakeview favorite and you’ll find Mac n’ Cheese, Hot Diggity Dogs, ‘Cuetie Sliders and BeansNFrank. Fri. & Sat., 10:30 a.m.-midnight; Sun. & Mon., 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Blackwood BBQ. All ages. Event details.

Engage in Improvised Fun at ComedySportz
This hilarious 90-minute improv show has two competing teams creating comedy scenes, songs and games right on the spot based on audience suggestions. The audience chooses the winner and the show never repeats. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 6 p.m. & 8 p.m. ComedySportz – CSz Theater. $23-$25. All ages. Event details.

Lincoln Park

Release the Butterflies!
Who doesn’t love butterflies? Experience their beauty as new butterflies are released daily at the Peggy Notebaert Museum’s Butterfly Haven exhibit. Daily, 2 p.m. Peggy Notebaert Museum. $9/adults; $6/ages 3-12; free for ages 2 & under. All ages. Event details.

Milk a Cow at Lincoln Park Zoo
Visit Farm-in-the-Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo to see how a typical family farm combines rural life with modern technology to milk its Holstein dairy cows. Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m. & 3 p.m. Farm-in-the-Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo. Free. All ages. Event details.

United Run for the Zoo
Help keep Lincoln Park Zoo free and open to the public 365 days a year by participating in their 38th annual United Run for the Zoo. Choose from a 10K run, 5K run and 5K fun walk. If your sidekick doesn’t want to go the distance, she might be swayed to try the new obstacle course challenge for those ages 8 and younger. Sun., 8 a.m. Lincoln Park Zoo. Fees vary, check website for details. All ages. Event details.

Museum Campus

Spend the Night Counting Stars
Look to the sky and be mesmerized by the stars during Adler’s Astro-Overnight. Kiddos can explore hands-on activities, like a space-themed scavenger hunt, or do damage control on a planet covered in slime. There is also telescope observing and two sky shows to watch during the evening. Small snacks and a continental breakfast in the morning will be available to hungry star-gazers. Fri., 5:30 p.m.- Sat., 8 a.m. Adler Planetarium. $60/non-members; $55/members. Ages 6-12. Event details

Navy Pier

Race Cars in the Zoom Room
It’s a race to the finish at Zoom Room, Chicago Children’s Museum’s newest exhibit. Check out the twisting racecourse that fills an entire room with hundreds of toy cars that race on crazy tracks. Fri.-Mon., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Chicago Children’s Museum. Included in general museum admission of $14/person. All ages. Event details.

Summer Fireworks at Navy Pier
Keep the kids up a tad later to experience the fireworks display synchronized to music at Navy Pier. Sat., 10:15 p.m. Navy Pier. Free. All ages. Event details.

North Center

Hogwash: An Improvised Tall Tale
Fitting of its name, which means “nonsense”, the lack of structure of this improvised show makes it an absolute riot. Kids assist with costume selection and choose a location for the fully improvised story. Sat., 10:30 a.m.-noon. Bug House Theatre. $10/kids; free for adults. Ages 3-12. Event details.

Various Locations

Foodie Adventure Series: Green City Market Chefs
Join The Kids’ Table for a scrumptious sampling of local and seasonal dishes featured in The Green City Market Cookbook, a collection of recipes gathered from their community of Chicago chefs, farmers, volunteers & customers. Sat., various times. The Kids’ Table Lakeview and Lincoln Park. $22.50/members, $25/non-members. Ages 4-10. Event details.

Wicker Park

123 Andres & Little Miss Ann at Chop Shop
123 Andres joins Chicago favorite Little Miss Ann for a bilingual sing-along, featuring songs from Andres’ new album Arriba Abajo. Check out 123 Andres in action here. Sat., 4 p.m. Chop Shop. $8. All ages. Event details.


Feed Your Need for Speed at Cavalcade of Planes
Throw on your old-timey aviator gear and hit up Clow International Airport’s Cavalcade of Planes. New planes, vintage planes, military vehicles, drone demos, helicopters, refueling simulator — it’s no wonder this event attracts more than 10,000 visitors every year! Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Clow International Airport. $3/adults; $1/ages 5-11; free for ages 4 & under. All ages. Event details.


Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America
Experience the delightful sights and sounds of miniature trains traversing high and low tunnels, across bridges and around buildings at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Model Railroad Garden. The exhibit features 18 garden-scale trains on 1,600 feet of track with vignettes of tiny people and animals that give it a storybook feel. Fri.-Mon., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Chicago Botanic Garden. $6/adults; $4/ages 3-12; free for 2 & under. All ages. Event details.

Play with Butterflies at Chicago Botanic Garden
Come play with hundreds of colorful butterflies at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Butterflies & Blooms. Enter the serene tropical habitat made up of beautiful flowers and hundreds of butterflies fluttering about. Sit still and they may just land on you. Fri.-Mon., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Chicago Botanic Garden. $6/adults; $4/children 3 – 12; Children 2 & under free. All ages. Event details.


Toys: The Inside Story at Kohl Children’s Museum
Learn what makes toys tick at Kohl Children’s Museum’s newest exhibit, Toys: The Inside Story. This temporary exhibit lets visitors take a peek inside some of the most recognizable toys to examine the linkages, pulleys, cams and circuits that make them irresistibly fun. Fri. & Sat., 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m. Kohl Children’s Museum. $12; free for ages 11 months & under. All ages. Event details.


Moo! A Festival for All Things Milk
There is nothing like a nice cold glass of milk and for the truly milk obsessed there is Harvard Milk Days. This festival has everything from demos on cattle care, feeding and milking, and even a milk drinking contest. You’ll also find an antique tractor display, classic car show, a parade on Saturday, magic shows, musical entertainment, fireworks display to cap off each night and so much more! Fri.-Sun., various times. Milky Way Park & the streets of Harvard. Free; some activities require a small fee. All ages. Event details.


Redhead Days Chicago Affiliate
Here’s your chance to attend the first US affiliate of Redheads Days in Breda, Holland. This outdoor festival features a carrot cake contest, aerial photo of redhead attendees, kids activities, food & beverage and lots of vendors selling “ginger-phernalia” and ”red-centric” specials thoughout Highwood all weekend. Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Everts Park. Free. All ages. Event details.


Ribbit! The Exhibit Hops into Morton Arboretum
This spring and summer, hop over to The Morton Arboretum for Ribbit! The Exhibit, a whimsical collection of larger-than-life copper frog sculptures. The exhibit features 19 displays of five- to seven-foot-tall frogs taking part in a variety of activities. Daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Morton Arboretum. $14/adults; $9/ages 2-17. All ages. Event details.

GlowJump at Pump It Up
The only thing better than jumping at Pump it Up is glowing at Pump It Up. Kids will have the time of their lives playing in the massive inflatables with special FX lighting that makes white clothing glow in the dark. Fri., 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Pump It Up. $8/child (includes either a glow necklace or bracelet). Event details.

Tell us how you plan to spend your weekend in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers