Chicago

Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Hamilton, Earth Day, Kids' Obstacle Course

The weekend after Earth Day coincides with Arbor Day this year, meaning there are kid-friendly festivals in honor of nature to attend all over Chicagoland. The Morton Arboretum hosts a weekend-long Arbor Day fest, the Chicago Botanic Garden lights up with cherry blossoms and other spring blooms, and kids can learn how to protect our planet at Earth Day celebrations at the Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, as well as fests in Naperville, Oak Park, Glen Ellyn, Skokie, and Schaumburg, among others. Plus, the whole family can get involved with cleaning up our environmental act at an annual parks department cleanup event, or learn about how ancient civilizations recycled their trash at Ancient Earth Day

Ninja warriors-in-training won't want to miss the kid-friendly challenges at the Addison Youth Obstacle Course Race this Saturday, and bookworms will love digging into the Independent Bookstore Day celebration in Glen Ellyn. The whole family can get their Mother's Day and Father's Day shopping done at the Spring One of a Kind Show at the Mart.

Oh, and there's a bit of a thing opening this weekend about this super-obscure little musical—you probably wouldn't heard of it, it's about the American Revolution, but with rap? Just a little bitty show called Hamilton: The Exhibition. No big whoop. (Wink, nudge.)

For even more spring fun, see our roundup of spring fairs and festivals, plus our Chicago playground hall of fame, and our ever-expanding calendar.

Best Playgrounds in Chicago: Destination Play Zones Worth the Trip

Chicago families are lucky to have a world-class parks system with hundreds of great playgrounds. Thanks to a city initiative, over 300 playgrounds in Chicago have been refurbished or newly built since 2013, with the goal of ensuring that every Chicago kid has a place to play within a ten-minute walk of home.

But even in a city packed with great parks, some Chicago playgrounds are a cut above the rest. The spots on our best-of list have plenty of space to climb, slide, swing, and play, while also offering something special or unique that makes them worth the trip. Check out our Chicago playground hall of fame, and get out to play at a new-to-you park this weekend.

Orlando with Teens: Top 15 Things to Do at the Theme Parks and Beyond

I used to think of Orlando as a destination for little kids, but I discovered Orlando is even better with teens. Amusement parks are so much more fun when you can go on all the rides and don’t have to worry about the dreaded “theme park meltdowns.” My big kids were also able to pack in lots of other adventures and hipster shopping areas as we explored all the fun there is in Orlando beyond the theme parks.

We spent our recent spring break in Orlando with two teens and had a blast.

Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Easter, Earth Day, Passover

Happy Easter! Whether you choose to celebrate by sailing on an Easter cruise, running a family 5K, tucking into a fancy Easter brunch (or better still, donuts), gliding at an Easter skate, overlooking the skyline, bunny hopping at a bounce house, decorating Easter cookies, or hunting for treats at one of 50+ (and counting!) Easter egg hunts in Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs, we at Mommy Poppins wish you a joyful holiday. Consult our event calendar or our neighborhood-by-neighborhood egg hunt roundup to find the egg hunt and Easter festival happening nearest you.  

This weekend also brings Earth Day celebrations to Wonder Works in Oak Park and Jesse White Park in Cabrini Green, and families can enjoy a special Passover celebration at Booth One with a traditional Seder menu (is this the year your kid will be brave enough to try gefilte fish? Only one way to find out...). On Saturday, introduce kids to the beauty of Indian classical dance with performances at the DuPage Children's Museum.

It's the final weekend to catch two shows based on beloved children's books: Corduroy at the Athenaeum Theatre, and The Time Warp Trio at the Lifeline Theater. For even more shows, exhibits, events, festivals, and family fun, our event calendar is at the ready.

See National Parks for Free in 2019 on These Free Entrance Days

A trip to one of our nation's incredible national parks may already be on your family travel to-do list for 2019. Whether it is or not, you may want to check out the FREE admission days at some of the country's largest parks. Courtesy of the National Park Service, there are five FREE days in 2019, which all take place on easy-for-planning weekends or holiday Mondays, at national parks that typically charge an admission fee.

While many parks have free admission every day of the year, more than 100 of them, including some of the most popular destinations, charge $15 per person or more. Those waiving admission for these holidays include some of those iconic, bucket list spots like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Acadia, Zion, Shenandoah, Joshua Tree, Glacier National Park, Death Valley, and the Cape Cod Seashore. The freebies also extend to a few historical sites under the National Park Service's purview, like the New York home of celebrated American president Franklin D. Roosevelt and national historic parks like Morristown National Historic Park, the scene of an American Revolutionary War battle.

Why Legoland Is My Favorite SoCal Theme Park

Southern California is blessed with some of the world's most famous theme parks; families travel from all over to experience Disneyland and the original Universal Studios Hollywood (including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter)—but just 90 miles to the south, in the San Diego suburb of Carlsbad, is a park that has at least as much to offer as the mouse and the wizard. There is a whole lot more to Legoland California than bricks, and truth be told I prefer a day there to any other major theme park.

Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Star Wars, Egg Hunts, Earthfest, Robots

So. Many. Egg. Hunts. The weekend before Easter, there's hardly an open field, a public park, or a patch of grass in all of Chicagoland that isn't hiding eggs and treats for kids to find. See our roundup of egg hunts in Chicago neighborhoods and out in the suburbs for the full list—two of our top picks are a leisurely, FREE egg hunt at Cantigny Park, and a "vertical" climbing egg hunt for all ages at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago. If you're not into the thrill of the hunt, there are other Easter events to enjoy, from brunches and lunches to Easter bonnet decorating and cookie making, and of course photo ops with the Easter bunny.

While we're waiting for the bunny's arrival, some visitors from a galaxy far, far away are in town: Star Wars Celebration at McCormick Place has lots to see and do for aspiring Jedis and Resistance fighters. For even an more hands-on droid experience, visit the Robot Block Party at the Museum of Science and Industry. The annual Earthfest at the Adler Planetarium is a chance to celebrate our beautiful home planet and learn about ways to protect it, no lasers or X-wings required.

For dancers and music lovers, there are special kid-friendly performances this weekend by the American Ballet Theater and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, plus a family dance party featuring the music of Prince. And for even more April fun, see our list of spring carnivals and events for families, or our ever-expanding event calendar.

Easter Egg Hunts in Chicago and the Suburbs

Celebrate Easter with kids at one of Chicago’s fun, treat-filled egg hunts. Most are outdoors at neighborhood parks and offer additional spring fun, including crafts, music, and photo ops with the Easter Bunny.

Easter egg hunts tend to be fast-paced and crowded, so arrive early and expect competition for those eggs. If you or your little one are crowd-averse, consider one of the hunts that costs a small fee, since they usually limit the number of participants and tend to be a bit less crowded than the free egg hunts.

While Easter Sunday is April 21 this year, most of the Easter egg hunts in Chicago are scheduled for the weekend before Easter. Our list is organized into hunts alphabetically by 'hood, with hunts in downtown Chicago neighborhoods as well as Easter egg hunts in the Chicago suburbs.

Be sure to click through to our listings for all the info, including prices, addresses, and times. Sign up for our FREE newsletters to get posts like this delivered to your inbox.

These STEM Summer Camps Are Creating a Generation of Inventors

Curiosity, critical thinking, and a collaborative attitude might be three attributes all parents aspire to see in their children. These are also traits fostered at STEM summer camps where the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and math are turned into hands-on group and individual projects. Whether your teen is itching to found the next hot tech startup or she’s just into robots or maybe biology, summer camp offers kids a great place to explore these subjects in-depth, away from the pressures of the classroom.

We’ve put together a list of some of the top science and tech camps that offer sessions in multiple cities and states across the country. Some offer programs for kids as young as 6; some are more focused on coding and computer science, while others include “STEAM” programming with design, music, writing, and other creative pursuits on the roster. All emphasize hands-on collaboration aimed at creating the next generation of engineers and inventors. In many camps, kids will also gain presentation skills, leadership traits, and most likely, the confidence to stick with these sometimes difficult subjects and tasks...even when they fail. 

100 Things to Do in New England with Kids Before They Grow Up

No matter where you live, exploring New England with kids ought to be on your short list of family vacation goals. Steeped in history and natural beauty, the Northeast offers families a chance to learn about the earliest Americans, frolic on snow or sand, and enjoy all sorts of old-fashioned fun, from farm-fresh ice cream to vintage carousels.

Drawing from our carefully curated lists of the best things to do with children in Boston and Connecticut as well as the inside scoop from parents in Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, we've come up with 100 things to see, do, and eat with kids in New England. It includes our favorite beaches, children's museums and amusement parks, charming New England towns with kid-friendly activities, ski and holiday trips, and top seasonal events and carnivals. One thing is for certain: You'll be wicked glad you visited Yankeeland.

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