Staying in Chicago for spring break? Good plan! Make the most of it by signing the kids up for a Spring Break Camp or really digging into what the city has to offer together as a family. Discover new play spaces, go for hikes, explore the latest museum exhibits, see a show. . . the list goes on. Here are ideas for being a tourist in your own city and filling the days in amazing ways.

Get Lost in a Mirror Maze

No need to leave the learning behind when it can be as fun as the Museum of Science and Industry's exhibit, Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze. Kick off the experience with a film that shows how fractals, spirals and “golden ratio” are woven into our lives. Then take a dizzying trip through a mirrored maze and race to find a secret room with even more math-tacular secrets.

photo: Peggy Notebaert

Stare into the Eyes of a Dragon

Don't be afraid, but dragons await you at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The new Dragons Alive exhibit features 10 species of reptiles from around the world. You'll stare into the deep eyes of the bearded dragon, measure yourself against the mighty black-throated monitor, and wonder at the beauty of the colorful jeweled lacerta. 

Race Slot Cars

Resurrect 1960s thrills at an old-school wonderland, Dads Slot Cars in Des Plaines. Armed with hand controls (and a rush of high-speed adrenaline) you power miniature cars on a slotted track. Once you’re done owning the track, top off the afternoon with a cone from the onsite ice cream parlor.

photo: Great Wolf Lodge

Pretend it's Summer at an Indoor Waterpark

Lazy rivers. Wave pools. Slides that go so fast you’ll forget to breathe. No matter your water park speed, or the age of your kids, you’ll find an indoor water park near you that will make you forget you're still in Chicago's chill. 

photo: Bubbles Academy

Go Bananas at a Play Space

They're a great Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. . .  you get the idea. Indoor play spaces and playgrounds are a fab idea anytime, and with plenty of play areas in Chicago and the suburbs, you'll find one for any type of tot.

photo: Morton Arboretum via Maria Chambers

Take a Hike

Spring is fantastic. . . but add fresh air, unforgettable blooming scenery and a chance to spy on animals in their natural habitat and you're guaranteed a memorable family day. Lace up your hiking boots, strap an infant to your back and hit one of Chicago's many low-key hiking trails

photo: LEGOLAND Discovery

See the New Trolls World Tour Movie

Join in on a celebration of the new Trolls World Tour movie! Whether you’re a pop diva or a rock god, prepare to get Trolls World Tour ready, with an all-access pass to LEGOLAND® Discovery Center’s, Troll-tastic Adventure. You're invited to perfect your air guitar skills, dance like it's your birthday or get Troll-ified with brightly coloured hair.

Tour a Gummi Factory

It's a quick and worthwhile trip to Merrillville, Indiana, to tour of Albanese Confectionery, the only gummi factory in the U.S. that offers a peek inside. Along with making colorful, chewy treats, they have a floor-to-ceiling chocolate fountain. Insider tip: Put a stash of gummies in the freezer and try them frozen, you'll never eat them any other way again.

Be Old-School Cool and Go Roller Skating

Get your glide on at select retro-fun spots that have stood the test of time. From the slick MLK Skating and Bowling Center on the South Side to the playful Aurora Skate Rink in Aurora, you won't have to drive too far. Impress everyone with your 8-wheeled dance moves at old-school skating rinks in Chicago.

photo: Maria Chambers

Visit Chicago History Museum's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Exhibit

Chicago History Museum's temporoary exhibit celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Remembering Dr. King, is a collection of 25 photographs depicting key moments in Dr. King's work during the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit places a special emphasis on his time in Chicago shedding light on the existence of discrimination and segregation. the abysmal state of housing and the realities of poverty in the north.

photo: Maria Chambers

Go Medieval on Spring Break

Watch on as 6 knights battle it out fast and furious on real horses and enjoy a utensil-free feast at Medieval Times. Before the show, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about Medieval torture devices in the Museum of Torture, which features reproductions of torture instruments used during the Middle Ages.

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo

Choo-choo Your Way around the Lincoln Park Zoo

No matter the time of year, a visit to the always-free-admission Lincoln Park Zoo is a no-brainer. For $3/person, the track-less Lionel Train Adventure chugs around a scenic loop, giving excited tykes a break from the monkeys, lions and bears.

photo: Hotel Monaco

Glamp at Hotel Monaco

Make the most of a Chicago spring break staycation with an indoor camping experience at Hotel Monaco Chicago. This special package, available for booking Mar. 1-Apr. 15, features a sleeping bag, flashlight, books and a star machine at check-in. City adventuring is made easy in the comfort of a River View One-Bedroom Suite with gorgeous views of the Chicago River, a queen-sized sleeper sofa for extra space and tickets to 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck on the 94th Floor of the former John Hancock Center.

photo: Chicago Children's Museum

Be Treated Like Royalty at Chicago Children's Museum

In Chicago Children's Museum's temporary exhibit, Castleyoung imaginations are invited to play in a castle with secret tunnels, a rope bridge, tower, dungeon, throne room, wizard's room, kitchen, feasting table, market and more. Among other activities, kids can dress up like royalty, guard a secret dungeon, prepare a mighty feast, sell goods in the market and search for a mystery dragon. Their own imagination is their only limitation to a fantastical adventure. 

photo: Da Ping Luo

Experience Nick Cave's The Let Go

The Let Go by global and iconic Chicago-based artist Nick Cave will be making its Chicago debut at Navy Pier, Apr. 3-12. 

Free to the public, this dance-based town hall — part art installation, part music venue, and part dance— is an engaging opportunity for the community to come together and “let go” through dance and movement. From families and art lovers to adults and children of all ages, all Chicagoans and visiting guests are invited to immerse themselves in The Let Go.

photo: Maria Chambers

Enjoy a Troll Hunt at Morton Arboretum

Something special has emerged from the woods, meadows and vast open spaces at The Morton Arboretum’s grounds. . . unusual creatures, each made of reclaimed wood and measuring 15- to 20-feet-tall. Danish artist Thomas Dambo and crews of woodworkers and volunteers constructed the mammoth mythical creatures of Troll Hunt, an exhibition on display through June 2020. Enjoy these guardians of the forest, who are trying to make sense of the human world and make us think about our impacts on the planet.

photo: Skydeck Chicago

Be a Tourist at Skydeck Chicago

If you’re brave enough, walk 4.3 feet into a glass box, 1,353 feet in the air at Skydeck Chicago's The Ledge, Sears Tower’s (or Willis Tower’s) heart-pumping attraction. Don’t forget to open your eyes!

photo: iFly

Make Your Kid's Dream of Flying a Reality

If your kid has a need for speed, take them indoor skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel at iFLY. You’ll love the insta-worthy photos of your kids making super silly faces in wind suits and helmets and it’s an adventure that’s thrilling for the whole family.

photo: S. Massey

Practice Your Swing at Topgolf

Sun, rain, snow . . . whatever the weather brings you can still practice your swing at Topgolf, a perfect intro to the game of golf for kids that are newbies to the sport.

photo: Blue Man Group

See an Iconic Chicago Show: Blue Man Group

Listen to music and laugh during the silences at a Blue Man Group show, hosted at Briar Street Theatre. 

photo: 360 Chicago

Tilt Over the City for an Unforgettable View

Cruise 94-floors high in the building formally known as John Hancock and lean (squeal and maybe cry a little) 30-degrees over the city with 360 CHICAGO and TILT.

photo: Chicago Botanic Garden

Walk in Beauty at Chicago Botanic Garden

Smell flowers, walk the greenhouses, breathe fresh air, and run around outside at the Chicago Botanic Garden. They even offer a Spring Break Camp, Mar. 23-27.

photo: Brooklyn Boulders

Climb the Walls at Brooklyn Boulders

Practice your bouldering and climbing skills at Brooklyn Boulders. Your kids will feel so proud of themselves when they master climbing techniques and make it to the top of a pitch.

photo: Maggie Daley Park

Visit a Park with Lake and City Views

Maggie Daley Park is arguably the best park in downtown Chicago. Kids can climb, swing and crawl on a massive playground, with panoramic views of the city in the background.

Good luck planning your Chicago Spring Break! If you’re looking to book a hotel, we have some ideas for you in our story Staycation Spotlight: Chicago Hotels with Amazing Kid Amenities.

— Maria Chambers & Wendy Altschuler

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