The Family Great Escape

Escape the winter blahs by exploring a children’s museum, taking in a sporting event, catching a live show or diving into an indoor water park.

Winter can make anyone a little stir crazy. Luckily, you don’t have to travel far in Illinois to cure cabin fever. Head to one of these events or attractions to find your family-friendly escape this winter.

Children’s Museums

With more than 50 exhibits each year, there’s always something to explore at the Science Center of Southern Illinois in Carbondale. Recent attractions include a new enclosure for the center’s resident red iguana and a real-time topographical sandbox. 

The DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville just debuted How People Make Things (January 20–September 6). Kids use their hands, tools and machines to learn how common objects like toys and sneakers are made.

At the Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal, kids unleash their inner artists and scientists. Stop by the Art Studio on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for free programming, or head to Innovation Station to tinker with your own projects using real tools and materials.

Sports Events

Get your adrenaline fix with indoor skydiving at iFLY in Rosemont. Certified instructors lead daredevils into a wind tunnel—no jumping or falling required—and kids as young as 3 can take flight. 

Show your team spirit at a Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball Game. Get your tickets and catch the collegiate action during an upcoming home game at the State Farm Center in Champaign (January 30, February 7, 11, 24, March 1, 8).

The Chicago Auto Show returns to McCormick Place (February 8-17). Gearheads of all ages can learn about new technology and safety features at interactive displays and browse a massive collection of cars from more than 30 manufacturers around the world.

Performances and Shows

Disney on Ice: Road Trip Adventures heads to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont (January 2–February 9). Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and the gang hit the road to visit iconic Disney destinations, from a safari with Simba to a whole new world with Aladdin.

See your favorite characters come to life on stage at Nick Jr. Live (February 29– March 2) at the Chicago Theater. Keep an eye out for familiar faces from PAW Patrol, Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies and more.

Catch a family-friendly show at the University of Illinois Springfield Performing Arts Center, with upcoming performances by singer and ventriloquist Darci Lynne (January 25), the Blue Man Group (February 26), and the puppet-filled musical, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (March 8).

Indoor Water Parks 

Enjoy a balmy staycation at the Great Wolf Lodge and indoor waterpark in Gurnee, where kids can climb the water fort tree house and zoom down a four-story slide.

Splash the day away at Water Works Indoor Water Park in Schaumburg. With three water slides, a water playground and a rapid water channel, you’ll forget all about the snow and ice.

In Bolingbrook, Pelican Harbor is a year-round destination for aquatic adventures, offering multiple indoor waterslides, a lap pool and water toys.


Content by Lauren Sieben
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