16 Cool Water Playgrounds and Splash Parks for Chicago Kids

When summer comes, smart Chicago parents make sure they've always got a sprinkler "go bag" packed and ready in the trunk, stroller, or tote: towel, sunscreen, water shoes, swim diaper (if you've got a really little mermaid), and spare clothes. Because in a city with this many awesome water playgrounds, splash parks, and spraygrounds, it pays to be prepared.

Our favorite water play zones in Chicago and the suburbs feature interactive sprinklers, sprayers, cannons, and gushers so everybody can get good and soaked—and some spots offer extra-wet bonuses like waterslides and pools. Chicago Park District water playgrounds turn on in June and keep the fun flowing through Labor Day weekend, although most water parks in the suburbs open Memorial Day weekend, and a few water parks remain open on weekends through the end of September.

Read on for 16 great water playgrounds that are as wet as they can get.

Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: MaiFest, Greek Fest, Star Wars, Plane Show, Concerts

Here we go: Summer street festival season kicks off in a big way this weekend in Chicago, with cultural, music, and food fairs all around town, including Maifest in Lincoln Square, the Greek Festival of Lincoln Park, the family fun fest at Do Division, the 57th Street Art Fair in Hyde Park, and the Taste of Mexico in Little Village. Plus, out in the suburbs, there's the LaGrange Carnival and the Taste of Wheaton

This weekend also sees the return of summer concerts outdoors, with the Gospel Music Festival lighting up Millennium Park, the Front Porch series stepping off in Lakeview, and Mr. Dave rocking out for the kids in Wicker Park, plus a Sunday night concert at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

Little kids obsessed with planes will not want to miss the big plane show in Bolingbrook this weekend. Families can also take to the skies at the kite flying festival in Naperville on Sunday. And in Joliet on Saturday, there may not be X-wings, but the vibe is decidedly intergalactic at Star Wars Day

For even more family fun around Chicagoland, see our ever-growing events calendar, and don't forget to bookmark our roundup of summer festivals and fairs for kids.

25 Fun Things to Do in Buffalo, New York with Kids

In Western New York, hugging the shores of Lake Erie, awaits Buffalo, the second largest city in the Empire State. Famous for its spicy chicken wings, this vibrant area is also known for its history, art deco architecture, great restaurants, and plenty of family-friendly fun, indoors and out. The nearby Niagara Falls usually attracts the most tourist attention, but do not skip a visit to Buffalo, which makes the list for being one of our favorite family getaways in upstate New York.

Below are nearly two dozen suggestions of kid-friendly activities for a great family trip to Buffalo, New York.

Noom Review: 5 Things I Loved About the Noom Weight Loss Program (And Some I Didn't)

If you listen to podcasts as much as I do, you’ve probably heard ads for the weight loss program Noom, which says it uses psychology to help you lose weight and keep it off for good. I was curious to try it for myself, so when Noom reached out, I jumped at the chance to review it. I’ve used the program for two weeks now and below are the pros and cons of my experience so far.

Noom is not a diet and it doesn’t promise you’ll lose tons of weight fast. The goal of Noom is to teach you how to make better choices and build habits that you can maintain for permanent weight loss and better health.

Memorial Day Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Parades, Bike Rides, Street Fairs

Memorial Day weekend is here, so the summer can go ahead and kick off already plskthx. Public beaches open this weekend, and Memorial Day observances include the annual parade and wreath-laying ceremony in the Chicago Loop on Saturday, with more local parades on Monday in the suburbs. At Cantigny Park, families can enjoy a day filled with patriotic performances (and helicopters!) followed by an afternoon big band concert.

Best Camp Clothing Labels and Name Tags for Kids' Gear

It's just one of those mundane chores that need to be done: labeling every article of clothing, towel, backpack, and other gear that will travel with your child to summer camp—or to school or daycare—in the hopes that when it inevitably gets lost, it will find its way home to you. Nothing's going to make this job of labeling camp clothes, baby bottles, or school supplies fun, but we've rounded up the whole range of different ways you can label your kids' stuff, from swimsuits to water bottles and sippy cups, with beautifully embroidered personalized labels to fun, custom name tags with cute, colorful designs, to ones you can make at home.

Here are a few the best name labels for kids' and baby gear that we've found, and yes, most all offer dishwasher-safe, easy peel-and-stick options!

Still searching for the perfect summer camp for your kid? Check out our local guide to summer camps near you.

35 Fun Things To Do in Atlanta with Kids

Atlanta may be famous as the genteel home of Gone with the Wind, but these days it's a diverse, cosmopolitan Southern city with lots of fun for the whole family. There are museums galore, offering a world of kid-friendly culture and history, and Atlanta is one of only a few US cities where you can see giant pandas and walk through a shark tunnel. Kids will also have a blast at the many outdoor amusements, including the local Six Flags and a stunning children's garden.

There's plenty to do for families in Atlanta, Georgia, for a weekend, a week, or longer. Check out our list of the 35 best tourist sights and hidden fun before your trip. See our US City Guides for more great places to visit with kids.

Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Festivals, Legos, Turtles, Free Museums

Spring is on a roll in Chicago (finally), with family-friendly festivals and events that include the grand finale of the Lilac Time festival in Lombard, with parades of both pups and people, as well as the weekend-long snack fest at Taste of Glen Ellyn. Also this weekend, kids can bounce, walk, or roll in support of a cure at the Cure SMA Walk-N-Roll on Saturday in Westmont or Cure Jump-a-Thon at Altitude Chicago on Sunday.

Nature-loving kids can celebrate and help protect wildlife in the city at a special bird-watching walk at McKinley Park, or honor World Turtle Day (yes, that's a thing) at Tea With the Turtles at Peggy Notebaert—don't forget to play at the super-cool TreeHouses exhibit while you're there.

Lucky for us, Chicago is home to a treasure trove of incredible museums—the Wired to Wear exhibit at the MSI is a must-see—but did you know that some of Chicago's niftiest museums are way off Museum Campus? Check out Elmhurst's trio of museums at Sunday's Museum Day, when the Elmhurst Art Museum, the Elmhurst History Museum, and the wonderfully funky Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art all open their doors for FREE. (Anyone who remembers the old Santa's Village will dig the Elmhurst History Museum's exhibit devoted to Chicago's local amusement parks.) 

Meanwhile, Lego fans won't want to miss the Brookfield Zoo's new Brick Safari, and kids can keep building toward the future at the Chicago Architecture Center's Lego Build Workshop dedicated to Aqua Tower on Sunday.

For more spring and summer fun for Chicago families, see our bustling event calendar.

12 of the Best Outdoor Water Parks in the US

If your kids love the adventure of amusement parks but are looking for a way to cool off this summer, an outdoor water park might be just the ticket for your family. We've searched out some of the nation's best to compile this list of our favorite family-friendly water parks with relaxing pools, splash pads for toddlers, and thrilling water slides and rides for teenagers.

From New England to Orlando to California, there are plenty of water parks from which to choose. At some of these water parks, visitors can ride the ups and downs of a water coaster, slip through a trap door on a drop slide and spin around an oversized funnel slide for maximum thrills. To truly chill, just pick up a tube and float down a lazy river or rent a cabana with poolside dining.

Have your heart set on a water park vacation but don't want to risk the weather? Check out our list of the 10 Best Indoor Water Parks for Kids in the US.

Mother's Day Weekend Fun for Chicago Kids: Brunches, Cruises, Fests, Shows, and Flowers

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and grandmoms, and may your breakfast in bed include bottomless coffee and minimal burnt toast. If you decide to venture out of bed for your big day, Mother's Day brunches in Chicago this weekend include lakefront cruises launching from Navy Pier or Cityfront Plaza, a Mother's Day brunch that includes admission to the MCA (plus a cocktail), a brunch for moms and families at the Lincoln Park Zoo with live music, a brunch that honors moms with an optional build-your-own-Bloody-Mary bar at the Art Institute, and a luxe brunch at the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden.


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