Chicago

Your Kid Can Play Halo IRL at This Interactive Xbox Experience

Whether or not your teen or tween is a video game geek, you've probably heard of Halo, the Xbox series from Microsoft that has dominated the gaming space since it was released in 2001. It has spawned a TV series, comic books, novels, and now a live tour.

The "Halo: Outpost Discovery" tour promises to bring the popular sci-fi game to life with a special fan experience "for the whole family" as it visits five major U.S. cities—Orlando, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, and Anaheim, California—this summer.

Presidents Day Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Lunar New Year, Legos, Free Museums

Chicago families have plenty of fun options for the long February weekend. Wrap up your Lunar New Year celebrations at a FREE Chinese New Year party at Navy Pier on Saturday with crafts and live performances. Or get your vroom on at the final weekend of the Chicago Auto Show, with special kid-friendly programs for Family Day on Monday.

With the release of the second LEGO movie this weekend comes a chance for little brick fans to show off their own master builder skills at the LEGO celebration at Water Tower Place, or try recreating real-world masterpieces of architecture at the Chicago Architecture Center's Family Build on Sunday.

The animated Disney classic Beauty and the Beast returns to the big screen for $5 matinees in cinemas around town this weekend. But for live-action princess treatment with your favorite kiddo, there's also the Princess Ball at the Skokie Exploritorium, the Winter Wonderland Ball in Elmhurst, and a Daddy Daughter Dance at Soul City.

School's out on Monday, but the city's great cultural institutions are opening their doors: the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Field Museum are all free (for Illinois residents) on Monday, and the Chicago History Museum is hosting a free, family-friendly President's Day Celebration with performances and real, live Lincolns (sorta).

For more winter fun ideas, check out our list of 50+ FREE Things to Do in Chicago This Winter, and our ultimate winter fun bucket list of 50 Things to Do Indoors With Chicago Kids. Our event calendar is fresh daily, too.

 

Cheap Spring Break Travel Ideas for Families on a Budget

Is there a way to travel for cheap with kids during spring break? The short answer is... yes!

While some might automatically head to Orlando or even the Caribbean for spring break, airfare for a family of four can quickly add up to waaaay over budget. Families-in-the-know deploy a few tricks to plan a fun spring break vacation for the kids without blowing their mortgage payment, from scoring a secret deal to compromising a bit on the location.

There are plenty of family-friendly cities and destinations that cost a bit less but don’t scrimp on the family attractions, including top museums, eateries, beaches, and even amusement parks.

Read on for some of our editors’ favorite hacks in planning a cheap spring break and where they like to vacation as a family!

18 Fun Baby and Me Classes in Chicago

For new parents in Chicago, getting out of the house with your little one is well worth packing a few snacks and wipes for. And when you're ready for an adventure beyond exploring a new playspace or hitting the local playground, there are dozens of baby and me classes you and your little one can try out together. Fortunately for toddlers and preschoolers (and their parents), there are plenty of parent-child classes for older kiddos too. Ready to explore yoga, nature, movement, dance, music, swimming, cooking—or even beatboxing? Read on for our list of fun "mom and me" classes to take with kids in Chicago. 

Here's the Chicago Public School Calendar for 2019-2020

The first day of school in Chicago for the 2019-2020 school year will be Tuesday, September 3, 2019. Chicago parents of children in public school live by the school calendar, and many local preschools follow the public school schedule, too. You'll want to bookmark the Chicago Public School Calendar for the 2019-2020 school year.

Keep this list handy as you start making next year's family vacation plans! With the exception of snow days, these are all of the dates you can count on your kiddos being out of school.

Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Lunar New Year, Sesame Street, Chocolate Fest

Everybody feeling (comparatively) warmed up? Great! Because February fun is just getting started for Chicagoland kids. This weekend, celebrate the Lunar New Year with parades uptown on Saturday and in Chinatown on Sunday, a fancy Lunar New Year tea, and concerts and performances courtesy of the Chinese American Museum of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Plus, Sesame Street Live comes to town with a new show this Saturday and Sunday only, while the interactive The World Inside Me opens at The Chicago Children's theater this weekend. 

If you haven't had enough ice to last a lifetime this winter, there's skating, performances, and wintry fun at Ice-a-Palooza in Wheaton and Ice Fest in Downers Grove. For something a little on the sweeter side, the Morton Arboretum hosts Chocolate Weekend with plenty of samples and chocolates just in time for Valentine's Day (or a snack). And speaking of Valentine's Day, this weekend you'll find plenty of opportunities to cuddle up with your sweeties, including a special family screening of Lady and the Tramp and a Valentine's Day family dance party, plus chances for kids to make special Valentine's gifts at jewelry-making and crafting workshops.

For more winter fun ideas, check out our (updated) list of 50+ FREE Things to Do in Chicago This Winter, and our ultimate winter fun bucket list of 50 Things to Do Indoors With Chicago Kids. Our event calendar is updating every day, too.

 

Cartoon Network Hotel to Open in Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Fans of Cartoon Network's Adventure Time, We Bare Bears, Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, and other programs are getting a treat this summer. The TV network and Palace Entertainment are working together to open the Cartoon Network Hotel, a kid-friendly resort steeped in the channel's animated world, for summer 2019.

The nine-acre, 165-room property will be located in central Pennsylvania's Lancaster County along Route 30. It will neighbor Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park, which is also owned by Palace Entertainment, so a family could easily enjoy both attractions in one trip. It is the Cartoon Network's first themed hotel.

Seems like there's one more reason to plan a Pennsylvania weekend getaway with the kids.

Mall of America's Most Amazing Attractions for Kids of All Ages

Mall of America, located in the heart of the American Midwest in Bloomington, Minnesota, is nothing short of an indoor entertainment epicenter for kids. Sure, it has over 500 stores, but there’s way more to do than just go shopping at the country's largest mall (so big that it requires its own zip code: 55425).

From Chicago’s iconic Willis Tower to the Harley Davidson museum in Milwaukee, the Midwest is full of fun, interesting, and educational things that kids and their parents will love. Mall of America might possess a more commercial feel than some of the area's other travel destinations, but it also likely offers the most entertainment per square foot (5.4 million square feet to be exact) with some of the most popular kids' characters and brands on hand, including Lego, Nickelodeon, American Girl, and Paw Patrol. There's an indoor amusement park, aquarium, arcade, mini golf, and so much more, all within just a few minutes of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

Read on to check out our list of the top 25 amazing things that kids of all ages can do at Mall of America.

Chicago Winter Fun List: 50 Things to Do Indoors with Kids

A little bit of winter weather never stopped a true Chicagoan from getting out there and enjoying the city…Except when the city is in the grip of a polar vortex, of course. Or when just getting outside also involves putting boots and five layers of winter gear on a troop of small people.

So yeah, sometimes it can be hard to get motivated to head out into the cold for all the kid-friendly events happening in Chicago. But to help, we've compiled a list of 50 awesome places for kids to run, jump, bounce, learn, create, and get cultured indoors this winter. And some are even FREE.

Free STEM Summer Camp from Girls Who Code Opens Registration

Looking for more than mindless hanging out and screentime for your teenage daughter this summer? Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that aims to increase the number of women in computer science fields, is once again offering its FREE summer immersion program for girls entering their junior or senior year of high school. The 7-week STEM summer camp offering FREE coding lessons and more crucial skills will take place in select cities across the country, including the NYC metro area, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, and Chicago.

Keep reading to find out who is eligible, how to apply, and when and where the program is happening in summer 2019. Hurry, because the early application period for this FREE summer program is already open!

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