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Shedd Aquarium

Spring Break Starts Here

Mar 24, 2024 Family Fun

A family snaps a selfie at Maggie Daley Park in Chicago.

From waterparks to waterfalls, there are plenty of ways to embrace spring break in Illinois.

Illinois offers so many ways to have a fun spring break. From city staycations to road trips to outdoor adventures, all you have to do is pick a destination and go. Get inspired with some of these ideas below.

Exterior of Great Wolf Lodge during sunset.
Great Wolf Lodge

Road Trips

With mile after mile of open road, Illinois is the perfect state to explore on a road trip. Take the kids to splash around at the Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee. Get a taste of Americana on the Mother Road, Route 66. Journey through the scenic Great River Road, or discover some quirky roadside attractions

Or find your zen at Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa in Galena, only three hours from Chicago. While you're out there, stay at the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel and try authentic Irish cuisine at Frank O'Dowd's Irish Pub and Grill. And don't forget to sip award-winning wines at Galena Cellars or participate in a guided tour and wine tasting. 

This is just a sampling of what Illinois has to offer. We have more than 100 itineraries to choose from, with all sorts of attractions, dining and hotels along the way. All you have to do is pick one, pack up your crew and hit the road.

View of the Chicago Riverwalk at Night
Chicago Riverwalk

Escape (or Staycate) to the City

Throughout Chicago, warmer spring weather breathes new life to the city's already incredible attractions. Museums like the Art Institute of Chicago and The Field Museum offer world-class cultural experiences, while the Shedd Aquarium lets you get breathtakingly close to marine animals. 

At the Art Institute of Chicago Delve into Picasso’s dynamic and revelatory prints in Picasso: Drawing from Life, rediscover your wonder in Radical Clay: Contemporary Women Artists from Japan, and unravel global traditions of textiles in Threaded Visions: Contemporary Weavings from the Collection. With daily tours, art making for all ages, and delicious dining options, there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy. Kids under 14 and Chicago teens under 18 always visit the museum for free.

The Museum of Science and Industry also offers an up-close look at extraordinary wonders with exhibits like the U-505 Submarine, United's Boeing 727 Airplane, the Henry Crown Space Center and Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle.

Stroll down Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile to spend the day getting lost in kid-friendly stores such as American Girl Place and The LEGO Store. More fun awaits at historic Navy Pier, the iconic lakefront destination where the family can see Chicago from new heights on the Centennial Wheel, which offers incredible 360-degree views of the lake and skyline.

Everyone in the family will also love exploring outdoor attractions like the Lincoln Park Zoo and Maggie Daley Park, or getting an up-close look at Chicago's legendary architecture with Wendella's Signature Lake & River Tour or Chicago's First Lady Cruises. There are so many options to dine and play, making Chicago the perfect place for a spring break staycation.

Wax man figure of Abraham Lincoln behind a desk
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

Pal Around with Presidents

Give your spring break a fun historical spin with a trip to Springfield, where you can step back in time and walk in the footsteps of our 16th president. Don't forget to visit Lincoln Tomb and rub his nose for good luck! There's so much more for the family to do in Springfield, from interactive museums to iconic dining spots. Kids will love spending the day learning while having fun at Springfield’s Kidzeum of Health and Science, dedicated to teaching children the importance of healthy habits, helping their communities and making smart decisions to help the environment.

Or, you pack up the family and take the history lesson on the road with our presidential road trip itinerary that starts in Springfield and journeys through Dixon, Galena and Chicago.

Bell smith springs
Bellsmith Springs

Explore The Wild Side of Illinois

The outdoors of Illinois offer endless opportunities for adventures this spring. Go rappelling or horseback riding through Giant City State Park, or kick it up a notch by ziplining through the Shawnee Bluffs Canopy. Illinois has miles of scenic hiking trails -- over 400 miles in Shawnee National Forest, home to Garden of the Gods. More trails await at Starved Rock State Park, along with scenic waterfalls and incredible local natural beauty.

A mid-week getaway is the perfect time to explore Matthiessen State Park in Oglesby, where you can discover hiking paths that wind through tall trees, wildflower meadows, and even past waterfalls for the kids to spot. Stop at the overlooks along the Illinois River, and don’t forget to remind the kids to look up—you might see a bald eagle flying overhead. Stay at Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort in Utica offering an indoor water park for kids to play while you unwind.

Or see the wildlife from around the world in our own backyard at the Brookfield Zoo. For some kid-friendly climbing, try the rope courses and climbing walls at the exciting Forge at the Lemont Quarries.

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