Ahoy there, mateys! This weekend you can plunge right into the fun at the Chicago Children’s Museum’s new hands-on exhibit, Boats. And there are plenty of other family happenings that will have you hooked. Kick off outdoor festival season at Kids’ Day at Mayfest, see wild butterflies at a U-Pick in Homer Glen, go train-crazy in Homewood and more. Yay, spring!


Navy Pier

“Boats” Exhibit at Chicago Children’s Museum
Climb aboard lifelike boats of all kinds and don your captain’s garb — it’s time for a little seafaring on Lake Michigan. Fill a bucket with fake night crawlers at the Bait & Tackle Shop then grab a fishing pole at the Dock. See how many faux fish you catch. Then head off to Ride-the-Wave Word Play, an afternoon event that blends story time and songs. Thru Nov. 1. $14/adults & kids; $13/seniors; CCM Members & children 1 & under free. All ages. Event details.


Kids Day at Mayfest
This fest officially kicks out summer outdoor festival season (yippee!). On a special day for littles, there are fun lessons about health, safety and wellness via arts & crafts, Kids Zumba and Kiddie Boot Camp. Have them taste test various healthy foods, and be sure to grab a balloon and raffle prizes. Sat., noon-10 p.m. at Ashland & Barry avenues. $10/person. All ages. Event details.

Lincoln Park

Chicago Humanities Festival’s “Stages, Sights & Sounds”
The 16th annual international performance festival for young audiences has 40 awesome programs. See productions from two international theater companies and a local favorite: The Secret Life of Suitcases by Ailie Cohen Puppet Maker (Scotland), Ondin by L’Illusion, Théâtre de marionettes (Canada), and The American Revolution by Chicago’s Theater Unspeakable. Thru May 20 at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater. $7/child; $14/adult. Ages 6 & up. Event details.

Rogers Park

May Fair Festival
A maypole dance is just the start of it at this street fair and block party. Activities include face painting, tie-dying, crafts, food, music, drama & singing performances, storytelling, dancing, games, live entertainment, flower crowns, cake walk and more May-tastic fun. Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Chicago Waldorf School. Free. All ages. Event details.

Gold Coast

“Wonderland, Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure”
Chicago Children’s Theatre’s latest is a rip-roaring rhythmic journey. Young Alice goes on a search for her musical voice and faces challenges and fears along the way. In learning to believe in the impossible, Alice learns to believe in herself. The story is brought to life by a cast of actors/musicians who create an eclectic rock soundtrack ranging from classic rock to punk to ska to Bollywood. Thru May 24 at Ruth Page Center for the Arts. $28/child; $38/adult. Ages 6 & up. Event details.


Family-Friendly Chicago Symphony Orchestra “Tchaikovsky Triumphs” Performance
Let the music move your kiddos! Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, had a gift — the ability to infuse music with powerful emotions. It lives on today in his work for famous ballets as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Spend the afternoon exploring his life and works with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor/narrator Rei Hotoda. Sun., 1:30 & 3:15 p.m. at Neuqua Valley High School. Tickets start at $15. Ages 6-14. Event details.

Homer Glen

Butterfly Festival at Garden Patch Farms
Marvel at nature’s most amazing creatures, and see them in all their glory as they are released at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. You can also paint your own butterfly canvas, jump around in a bounce house, get your face painted, ride the hayrack (weather permitting), feed the chickens and more. Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Pick at Garden Patch Farms. Free. All ages. Event details.


Malott Japanese Garden Children’s Festival
Learn more about the Japanese culture through traditional folk tales and sounds of the koto harp and shkuhachi flute. Design your own origami samurai helmet or kimono-clad paper doll. Make a miniature carp kite, and observe a tea ceremony. Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Chicago Botanic Garden. Free. All ages. Event details.


Homewood Rail Fest
All aboard! Check out a wide assortment of train collectibles and model train displays. Decode Hobo symbols and visit the Kid’s Zone for train-themed story time. Watch the train traffic and hear conductors maneuver trains on one of the eight tracks servicing Amtrak, Metra and freight trains. Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Homewood Auditorium. Free. All ages. Event details.


Pixies, Fairies & Pirates on the Farm
This is a trio you won’t forget: Meet Tinkerbell, Captain Hook and Jake the Pirate. Climb aboard the Neverland Voyage for a trip back to the enchanted wonderland. Grab a cup of sweet fairy morsels to feed the pixie goats. Test your flying skills on the jumping pillows. Play in Fort Cottonwood’s pirate ship and enchanted castle. Sat., 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm. $19.95/child (lunch included); adults & kids under 2 free (lunch not included). All ages. Event details.

Long Grove

Long Grove Chocolate Festival
The annual three-day fest is here with chocolate as far as the eye can see. Chocolate-covered strawberries. Chocolate-frosted donuts. Hot chocolate. Fudge. You name it. There is also face painting, balloon artists, art activities and live music performances. Fri. & Sat., noon-10 p.m.; Sun., noon-7 p.m. in the historic downtown. $5/person; children 12 & under free. All ages. Event details.

What does this fresh May weekend have in store for you? Tell us in the Comments!

— Kelly Aiglon & Marian Mangoubi

photo: Chicago Children’s Museum’s Boats