Saturday, February 27, 2016

Spring Break Road Trips from Chicago


View from Soldiers and Sailors Monument Indianapolis
View of the Indiana Capitol Building from atop the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument.

Spring Break is around the corner! If you are having a hard time picking a destination that is fun for families but not too far away, here are my picks for Spring Break road trips this year. I did find some special events going on in some of the destinations, so be sure to check those out as well. Easter does fall during this year's Spring Break in our neck of the woods, so be sure to account for that because it may add additional closed days to some attractions.


Rockford, Illinois:

Rockford has quite the collection of museums making it a nice place for families for a little getaway--especially without worrying if there will be nothing to do if weather is less than ideal! The Burpee Museum of Natural History, Discovery Center Museum, Midway Village Museum and Tinker Cottage were all enjoyable adventures for our family! There are a few events in Rockford coming up over Spring Break to add to an adventure:

Starting March 19 at the Nicholas Conservatory enjoy live butterflies flying around you in a tropical conservatory during Simply Spring: Butterfly Exhibit. On March 19, the Bubble Festival at Discovery Center Museum will include  live bubble show and science fun with bubble artist Geoffery Akins. After show, explore with bubble art and experiences in the Bubble-palooza Playground.
Spring Into Science at the Discovery Center Museum March 25-April 1 and celebrate STEM experimenting with reflection, translucent colors, refraction and more. Plus, there will be egg hunts at Burpee Museum and Science Discovery Center Museum on March 26 at 11AM and 1PM (museum admission is included with event admission).

Starved Rock, Oglesby, Illinois: 

Quite a bit of Illinois is flat. So, it is certainly a treat to experience the canyons and cliffs of Starved Rock State Park. There are many options for hikes with various types of topography but be prepared for a work out. Views are worth it! The best chance of seeing waterfalls is after a heavy rain.

On the weekends, reserve a Historic Trolley Tour starting at the Starved Rock Lodge. Visit the Starved Rock Park Visitor Center and Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. Learn more about the history of the area as you visit historic Utica.

Springfield, Illinois:

Springfield is a mecca for any history lover and a great place for children to learn about all things Abraham Lincoln! Families can walk where President Lincoln walked as well as learn about his life and accomplishments at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. In addition to Lincoln sites, the Illinois state capital has other museums and memorials honoring others as well. You can also check out the Cozy Dog Drive In, a Route 66 staple serving up hot dogs on a stick.

Shawnee National Forest, Illinois:

If you really want to get away from it all, a trip to Shawnee National Forest is the way to do it! The Garden of the Gods and other rock formations are must sees. While visiting Shawnee, the kids will also get a kick out of visiting the Superman sites in Metropolis. Ok, you might too!

Indianapolis, Indiana:

The Children's Museum in Indianapolis is the largest  in the world. Definitely a great way to keep the kids busy! The Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway among others will keep the family busy! Don't forget to check out the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. You can actually climb the monument (or take an elevator) for a great view.

The Presidential Egg Roll on March 19 is a unique experience including an egg roll and hunt on the lawn of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. The event includes breakfast, holiday crafts, Easter bunny visits and a narrator that will share about presidential pets. Space is limited, so reserve a spot fast!

St. Louis, Missouri: 

St. Louis is a great location for a little vacation, even at the last minute. The Gateway Arch, St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Science Center and Missouri Botanical Garden make the city an easy choice. Morpho Mania where Blue Morpho Butterflies flood the Butterfly House at the Missouri Botanical Garden will be ongoing during the month of March. If in the area, I recommend also visiting St. Charles which is a historic town dating back to the original French settlers. History, shopping and dining all rolled into one. Nearby in Illinois is Cahokia Mounds which are the remains of a large prehistoric Native American settlement. The site is a UNESCO Heritage site and in addition to being intriguing affords a great view of the Gateway Arch.

Racine, Wisconsin:

The Racine Art Museum hosts its 7th Annual International PEEPS Art Exhibition March 18-April 3. The three week long art exhibition is the perfect way to celebrate a favorite Easter treat. Enjoy art created with PEEPS! You can also tour the SC Johnson Campus including the Research Tower which I highly recommend. The Research Tower and Administrative Building were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Research Tower is particularly interesting to tour and shows a real laboratory set up. Tours are on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Also, be sure to take in the sweeping views of the lake. While in Racine, don't forget to try out a kringle! There are many great bakeries to try them at but we like to check out Danish Uncle Marketplace to peruse gift items in addition to nibbling on kringles.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin:

Milwaukee has tons for families to do but what I really like is the combo of the Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World Science and Technology Center situated near each other on Lake Michigan. Really a gorgeous view with plenty to do. Additionally, the Betty Brinn Children's Museum is nearby. The Milwaukee Public Market in the Third Ward is a fun place for kids and adults alike. We also love the Domes for a nice warm weather walk when it is cold outside and the Milwaukee Public Museum has plenty to experience including walking with the butterflies in the butterfly wing and a special exhibit on dinosaurs through May 15, 2016.
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