Spring break is just around the corner. Are you ready? We are lucky that Chicagoland has so much to offer for all budgets and you can actually have an awesome spring break for $20 or less for the entire family (2 adults and 2 kids). Psst! Many of these ideas are FREE! (Unless otherwise noted.) Here are 20 ideas to get you started!

1

Have a blast at Maggie Daley Park. If you can tear the kids away from there, pair the visit with a trip to the free Ryan Learning Center at the Art Institute of Chicago

2

Ever wonder what the bottom of the ocean looks like? Elgin’s Gail Borden Public Library answers that question in its newest exhibit, “Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss and Our Fox River,” that explores the deep-sea exploration and how important the Fox River is to the community. They have a great lineup of programs during spring break.

3

Explore your emotions at Arlington Heights Memorial Library’s latest exhibit, “XOXO: An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness.” The exhibit has plenty of hands-on elements to keep the kids entertained. Hurry though, the exhibit ends March 31.

4

If the weather is alright, take the kids to the park, but try a little something different and go the route of a nature playground. Schedule a trip to Bison’s Bluff in Schaumburg. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! Read all about it here.

5

Plan an Ice cream date. Everything’s always better with ice cream, so go ahead and find a new favorite shop or try a new flavor.

6

Buzz on over to BumbleBee Play Café for the indoor play happy hour after 3 p.m. ($5 /kid. Parents are free.)

7

Have you ever had a chimney cake or kurtos? It’s about time you try one at The Heart of Europe Café in downtown Barrington. The sweet, doughy pastry is made on-site, and can be topped with your choice of items like sprinkles, cotton candy, Oreos or Nutella, plus it’s big enough to share! ($6.50 to $10)

Stroll the cute downtown area and window shop or head to Barrington Area Library’s awesome kids section (they have a slide!) while in the area.

8

On Tuesdays at Marcus Theaters, tickets are $5 — even newly released movies. And get this, members get free popcorn! AMC Theatre also offers $5/ticket on Tuesdays for members. Not a member at either? No worries, it’s free to sign up.

9

Love animals? Lincoln Park Zoo is always a great place to hang out with animals. Check their schedule for fun programs.

10

Head to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on Thursdays for donation day. On Thursday, March 29 drop by to see two live animal shows at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. featuring beautiful birds of prey. (Free, but donations accepted.)

11

The Aurora Regional Fire Museum is a great way to spend an hour or two learning about the history of firefighting. The museum gets cool points for its fire engines and trucks on display, but the kids may never want to leave the children’s play area with ride-on trucks, toys, puzzles, and more. Read about our visit. ($5/adult and children age 3 and older.)

12

Make like a tourist and visit Navy Pier. Walk along the pier, or check out the Instagram-worthy Primatica, an art installation of 25 moving prisms, located at Polk Bros. Park. Visit on Tuesday, March 27 for a free children’s music series by Muntu Dance Theatre, or stop by on Thursday, when admission is free from 5-8 p.m. at the Chicago Children’s Museum. Save money by hopping on their free trolley instead of parking at the garage.

13

Get reacquainted with the beloved Peanuts character, Snoopy. Starting March 23, “Snoopy and the Red Baron” will land at the Elmhurst History Museum. The museum is ready to celebrate with families with Spring Break Snoopypalooza from March 24-31 with a Snoopy scavenger hunt, craft time, and a dance party for preschoolers in the mix.

14

If the weather is nice, head outside and become one with nature! Chicagoland has plenty of nature centers for you to explore along with trails to hike. The best part? Most of the nature centers are free! Here are a few nature centers to visit in the western suburbs. 

15

Get wild at Wildlife Discovery Center. This hidden gem in LaKe Forest showcases reptiles and amphibians, and even a bobcat. (Free, but donations appreciated.)

16

For a more manageable day out at the zoo, head to Phillips Park Zoo, a small zoo in Aurora (free), or Cosley Zoo in Wheaton ($7/adult; kids under 17 free)

17

Tumble and jump around at a gymnastics open gym. Many open gyms are less expensive than their regular hours during these times. It’s a great way to try out the facility, then maybe sign the kids up down the line.

18

See what flowers are blooming at Chicago Botanic Garden. Admission is free, but parking is $25. Head to your local library to grab a Museum Adventure Pass to score 50 percent off parking.

19

Stop to smell the roses (and other flowers) at Garfield Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show: Hashtag No Filter.

20

Climb tank cars at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Kids will love the opportunity to climb the tanks, while parents snap pics. Look through the First Division Museum which underwent a museum redesign last year. No trip to Cantigny is complete without taking a stroll through the gardens or walking the trail. ($5/car)

Looking for more fun spring ideas? Here are more than 30 things to do this spring with kids.





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