The kids are out of school for two weeks, it’s cold, and you need to wear them out so bedtime is quick?! I’ve got some great winter break ideas for you! I’ve divided up these ideas into two categories: Budget-Friendly and Splurge (meaning more than about $30 per person.) I hope this helps you plan out your “break!”
Budget-Friendly Activities in Chicago for Kids
- Altitude Indoor Trampoline Park – My kids love the huge trampolines and they always sleep so well that night!
- Chicago History Museum – They have a kids exhibit for under age 12 about the Great Fire and it’s super interactive. Illinois residents under the age of 18 are always free. You could also pair this with the zoo since it’s across the street! Or grab pizza from Ranalli’s on Clark.
- Downtown Holiday Tree Hop – There are so many beautiful Christmas trees on Michigan Avenue! Check out my guide here. This is a little indoor and outdoor!
- Cuddle Bunny – book an appointment at this cute Lincoln Park studio and literally cuddle bunnies for an hour. Head down the street to 2D Restaurant afterwards for lunch or Stan’s Donuts for a snack.
- Exploritorium – This indoor play space in Skokie has activity stations like a big water table area, pretend play, multi-level soft play structure, and a sectioned off area for crawlers and toddlers. Bonus points for the big parking lot, too! Best for kids 10 years and under.
- Fit City Kids – Another great indoor play space that has a huge soft play structure. Check out their camps and classes, too! They are actually running winter break camps too!
- Funtopia – Funtopia in Glenview specializes in rock climbing and rope courses but also has a big multiplay area for the kids who feel safer on the ground. 🙂
- The Winter Flower Show at Garfield Park Conservatory – This free (reservation required) event at the Garfield Park Conservatory is always so beautiful and fun! This years theme is Snow Day and a great winter break easy activity to do.
- Ice Skating – There are a bunch of different options, see my roundup here!
- Little Beans – Little Beans in Evanston is a huge, airy, and clean indoor play space. Features include lots of pretend play options, a ninja course, basketball court, a mothers room, and a full cafe if you don’t want to leave for lunch. Best for ages 10 and under.
- Let’s Play Work – Let’s Play Work is a new indoor play spot in Forest Park. This genius remote-working concept is an open-play kids area where caregivers can keep one eye on their email and one eye on their kids in an safe, fun environment. Grown-ups get coffee, conference room-sized tables with built-in charging stations, and free wifi. Kids get wooden play structures, books, and toys!
- Spend a day in Pilsen – visit the National Museum of Mexican Art, play at Harrison Park, have dinner at 5 Rabanitos or Rubi’s, shop on 18th st then see a drive-in holiday movie at ChiTown Movies.
- Whirlyball – Whirlyball is so much fun and it’s not just whirlyball – they also have bowling and laser tag! Must be a minimum of 54 inches tall to play whirlyball and 7 years old for laser tag.
- ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo: This is the quintessential Chicago holiday light experience! ZooLights is either free or $5 depending on what night you go.
More Fun Ideas for Chicago Kid’s Activities (Worth the Splurge!)
- Art of the Brick at The Museum of Science and Industry – This is the BEST with young kids or any Lego lovers. Everything is made out of brick from Brick Artist, Nathan Saway. He takes art work and uses Legos to recreate them. It’s so cool and I definitely recommend checking it out! Tickets for this exhibit are additional on top of admission, but take advantage of the FREE days if you can!
- Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier – This kid’s museum is HUGE and amazing. Prepare to be there all day or to make promises to come back! Be sure to check their winter hours.
- Color Factory – my kids LOVE Color Factory! It’s full of interactive displays, surprises, and an epic ball pit. It’s at the bottom of the Willis Tower and there’s plenty of dining in the building and nearby. Use my code CHIGOODLIFE for 20% of tickets!
- DuPage Children’s Museum – This Naperville institution has tons of activities that focus on science, math, and art. Their newest exhibit, Framed: Step Into Art, has kids stepping into life-size recreations of famous paintings.
- Harry Potter: Magic At Play – Immersive exhibits are all the rage and Harry Potter: Magic At Play is the newest to open in Chicago. I got a sneak peek and I highly recommend it! Yes, it’s a splurge. Maybe for a special occasion? Here’s my review! The exhibit is located in Water Tower Place and here for a limited time! Get more info and tickets here.
- LEGOLAND Discovery Center – For your newest LEGO lover or your oldest, LEGOLAND is the ultimate brick destination. I love the displays and the kids love all the building opportunities, rides, and 4D movies.
- Puttshack in Oakbrook Center – We spent the day here last holiday season and had so much fun! Everything is automated from your golf ball, all the various courses are tech-infused, they have kid-size clubs, and yummy food and drinks. Reservations are necessary.
- Winterland at Gallagher Way – this is our new favorite tradition! The kids loved the holiday train, ice bumper cars, ice skating, and the frozen slides. Tickets are $5, but attractions are purchased separately and unless you’re traveling via train/bus to Wrigleyville, you’re going to need to pay for parking.
Did this give you some ideas to fill those chilly days during your kid’s winter break? I’m actually feeling more excited now that I have a plan. 🙂 Let me know what you decide to do!