Chicago

Best Free Public Pools in Chicago for Families

Summer takes its sweet time coming to Chicago, but when it finally arrives, you can find Chicagoans swimming, floating, and soaking up the sun at one of Chicago’s fifty (!) free outdoor swimming pools. Many Chicago public pools have separate splash pads, water playgrounds, or kiddie pools with zero entry for the littlest swimmers, and a few even have water slides! Most public pools are also ADA accessible, and offer locker rooms and bathrooms. While most pools do not have concession stands, there is usually an entrepreneurial neighbor with a popsicle cart nearby.  

Each pool has its own schedule with dedicated times for adults, families, classes, camps, all-female swim, all-male swim, and more. Be sure to check the schedule (and the pool rules!) before you go. Here are a few of our favorite FREE outdoor pools in Chicago for no-cost summer fun with kids. 

Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Taste of Chicago, Bug Encounters, Irish Fest, Street Fests

If your kids like food, music, and activities, we've got good news, and more good news. First off, this weekend brings a tiny little thing called the Taste of Chicago to Grant Park (and a smaller Taste fest to Westmont if you don't want to head downtown). But if you're looking for more opportunities to chow down and get down, there's no shortage of street fairs and festivals. Sample burgers at the Roscoe Village Burger Fest, or hit the Square Roots Fest in Lincoln Square for family performances, a petting zoo, and an art tent. The Southport Art Festival offers kids' activities and free cartoon screenings, while the massive Irish Fest at the Irish Heritage Festival crowds over 100 music and dance performances into two days. The annual Railroad Days festival in Pioneer Park has a carnival, sports, music, and a beer garden, and Westchester Fest is a classic summer street fair for west suburban families.

Still not sure what to do this weekend? Fortunately, there are events lined up for every family interest. Art-loving families won't want to miss the free interactive collaborative arts event Figment Chicago on Saturday. Nature-loving kids should be excited to get up close with creepy-crawlies at the just-opened Fantastic Bug Encounters exhibit at the Field Museum. Music-loving families won't want to miss the day-long music fest Jazz Up Glen Ellyn. The comic-book-obsessed will love FanCon in Arlington Heights. And Naperville Plays brings together nature, storytelling, and history at Knoch Knolls Park.

Believe it or not, those are just the highlights of this jam-packed weekend. For more ideas, see our event calendar, our lineup of Summer Street Fairs and Festivals, and our ever-growing list of FREE things to do with Chicago kids this summer.

 

25 Water Games for Kids To Play All Summer Long

Water games are an easy way to keep the kids entertained—and cool—this summer. From a simple water balloon toss to fancier DIY fun like sprinkler Twister, these outdoor games are sure to please all ages.

One year, I found myself home with both kids for a whole summer due to a shift in my career path, so we got pretty creative with the water games. There were 10 weeks to fill after all! Read on for our favorites—and you can also download this free printable with all 25 top water games for kids.

Need more free and cheap activities for the kids this summer break? Our family started a Boredom Busters jar: a painted Mason jar full of ideas to keep them busy (and tired out). Anyone complaining of boredom can open it and pick out an activity. Many of the ideas come from the Mommy Poppins' 100 Summer Play Activities List and Free Summer Fun Ideas. But their absolute favorites are the water games for splish-splashy, low-key summer fun.

A Tiny House Hotel Vacation Means Big Fun for Families

For traveling families, a tiny house rental can make the perfect hotel solution. It often comes with multiple beds without the cost of a pricey multiroom suite, as well as family-friendly amenities, such as stocked kitchens. It doesn't hurt that they're so very cute and often set among pretty landscapes, from beaches to forests and mountains. 

Tiny houses have grown in popularity in recent years as many of us try to reduce our footprint and that means a tiny house getaway is all the more accessible. There are now villages of tiny houses available for American vacationers. Tiny home resorts have cropped up, too, while some campgrounds and even urban areas have added a handful of rentable tiny homes to their grounds.

So pack light and check out these seven tiny house resorts that allow you and the kids to try on tiny living for size.

July 4 Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Fireworks, Festivals, Family Fun

Not sure what to do with the kids on July 4 this year? There are parades, festivals, and parties for patriots of all sizes on Thursday—including lots to do for littles who can't stay up late enough to see the fireworks. On Thursday afternoon, join the kids' parade in Hyde Park, hit the big town parades in Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, Downers Grove, or Oak Park, or play games at the special festival for the Fourth at Lake Ellyn Park. At night, fireworks light up the skies over Lake Michigan and the suburbs—see our highlight reel below, and the full list in our guide to Chicago's best Fourth of July fireworks for families.

The holiday weekend fun doesn't stop when the fireworks fizzle out. This weekend's family-friendly fun includes West Fest on the West Side, the giant Rib Fest out in Naperville, and the glorious Eyes to the Skies Festival in Lisle, with hot air balloons launching every morning and evening. 

Families can also catch a summer concert at the Brookfield Zoo, roll out a blanket for a free movie or concert under the stars, or see a special, abridged, even more kid-friendly version of The Wizard of Oz. And the Parks Department continues its summer-long celebration of its 85th anniversary with a party at one of the city's most beloved playgrounds, Indian Boundary Park, on Friday night.

There's tons more in our jam-packed event calendar. Happy Fourth of July!

Get Ready for the World's Largest Inflatable 5k Obstacle Course

If you and your children adore trampolines and bounce houses, this family-friendly 5k will be right up your alley: Get "pumped up" to grab your running shoes and your most breathable clothing, because the Insane Inflatable 5K is coming your way.

Touring the country this summer and fall—including stops in Chicago, the Hudson Valley, the Poconos, and Houston—this unique fun-run features giant inflatables which form an enormous obstacle course. Inflatable fun that parents and kids can enjoy together? Count us in! 

Best Fourth of July Activities for Kids That Aren't Fireworks

It's Fourth of July week, and the kids are itching for something fun to do before the big fireworks show. Keep them entertained with these Independence Day activities, including patriotic crafts, cooking projects, and even day trips.

We've rounded up plenty of kid-friendly things to do this Fourth of July, including for toddlers and preschoolers who might prefer to avoid those startling (and thunderous) sky explosions. But we didn't neglect the big kid and teen activities either.

Find more at-home activity ideas in our Boredom Busters for Kids guide, including 100 Awesome Crafts and the Ultimate Summer Play List.

Mommy Poppins Great Big Summer Giveaway!

Yes, Mommy Poppins is your go-to for fun all year round, but especially summertime – our Summer Guides and local family event calendars are jam packed with outings and activities galore. But we wanted to put a little extra sizzle in your season, so this summer we’re hosting our biggest giveaway ever! Each week, for the entire summer, we’re giving away a different awesome prize package.

50 Fun Things to Do on Cape Cod with Kids this Summer

Looking for fun things to do in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with the kids? We're regulars to the beautiful Cape Cod area and are happy to share our favorite family attractions. Known for its pristine beaches, legendary seafood, charming main streets, and a seemingly endless supply of kids activities, the Cape makes an ideal family vacation destination.

Of course, a trip to Cape Cod usually means a focus on low-key activities to wipe the school-year stress away with those sea breezes. Don't fret. From the moment you cross over the Sagamore Bridge, you are on Cape Time. Say goodbye to schedules and uncomfortable shoes and hello to family-time and flip-flops. Spend the day splashing in the water or building sandcastles. Try out mini golf after a leisurely dinner feast of lobster rolls.

Where to See July 4 Fireworks in and Around Chicago

Every year, the Navy Pier fireworks over the lakefront are a highlight of summer in Chicago. While sparklers light up the night sky over Navy Pier every Wednesday and Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the extra-long, super-sized Fourth of July display is one not to miss. With July 4 falling on a Thursday in 2019, you'll want to make plans in advance for how and where your family will catch the big sparkler show. We've rounded up a few of the best ways to watch the Fourth of July fireworks downtown, plus a list of well-worth-the-drive fireworks displays in the near suburbs.

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