Fun Things to Do With Kids This Weekend in Chicago & The Suburbs

Lisa D. Small

The push toward spring begins now, and even if Mother Nature is warming up only a little, we’ve got your ticket for red-hot weekends. Now that the Chicagoland area has advanced to Tier 1 Mitigation, options have improved for families to enjoy their days off. As always, if you’re leaving […]

The push toward spring begins now, and even if Mother Nature is warming up only a little, we’ve got your ticket for red-hot weekends. Now that the Chicagoland area has advanced to Tier 1 Mitigation, options have improved for families to enjoy their days off. As always, if you’re leaving the house, be sure to wear a face covering and heed social distancing requirements. If you’d prefer to stay inside, try virtual trips to local museums, drive-thru events or a chance for a new experience at home.

Note: We’re updating our website as quickly as we can, but changes may occur due to COVID-19. Please double check before heading out for the most updated information on safety precautions and any last-minute cancellations. Stay safe!

In-Person Events

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom

  • When: Opens Saturday
  • Address: Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie
  • Cost: Free with timed admission

Families can learn about the life of Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous human rights defenders of the 20th century and the face of a movement against racial injustice. A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994, Mandela devoted his life to fighting apartheid and creating a more just society. The exhibition details his life in five zones – Apartheid, Defiance, Repression, Mobilization, and Freedom – through interactive exhibits, artifacts and objects, oral histories, videos and art. In one area, the exhibition replicates Mandela’s 8-foot by 7-foot prison cell. When entered, the cell becomes a digital theater whose walls bring to life the story of repression and resilience.

Candyland Trail

  • When: Saturday
  • Address: Springbrook Nature Center, 130 Forest Ave., Itasca
  • Cost: $20, $15 residents; registration required.

The beloved children’s game is brought to life in this sweet and whimsical hike. Participants will walk the path and encounter familiar characters, play interactive games, and find delicious treats. Masks are required. Dress warm for this outdoor event.

ChiTown Movies Presents: Drive-In Theatre

Watch classic and cult movies from the comfort of your car. Moviegoers will have the option to have popcorn, tacos, wings and more delivered right to the car. Cars are situated in the lot at a safe distance from one another, with one car for every two spots. This weekend’s movies: Friday – Jaws, 7 p.m.; Friday the 13th, 9:30 p.m.; Saturday – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 8:30 p.m.; Friday the 13th, 10:30 p.m.; Sunday – Shrek, 5:30 p.m.; Mean Girls, 7:30 p.m.

Winter Story Trail: The Snowy Day

A story walk is an outdoor reading experience where a children’s book is deconstructed, and the pages of the book are placed along a trail. Walk the Red Wing trail at Sand Ridge Nature Center anytime during weekends in February to experience “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats. All participants are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing.

Virtual Lunar New Year Parade

This year, due to COVID-19, the city of Chicago will not allow street closures for a parade. However, Chinese New Year will still be celebrated. Instead, the Chicago Chinatown Community Foundation will go from business to business with lion dances beginning at noon at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue, then end up in Chinatown Square at about 1 p.m.

Wonder Woman 1984 Experience

Fans of the newly released Wonder Woman 1984 and of DC Comics can stop by the AT&T Flagship Store on Michigan Avenue for access to behind-the-scenes content, costumes, props and more. Pose for photos, check out touch-less interactive exhibits and play trivia to test your knowledge of the DC universe. All social distancing guidelines set by the state will be followed; interactive exhibits that are touch-based will use stylus pens or have been adjusted to use touch-free motion technologies.

Virtual Events

Virtual Fam Bam Dunham Dance Jam

  • When: Saturday
  • Cost: $5 donation

Learn about African American dancer Katherine Dunham, choreographer, creator of the Dunham Technique, author, educator, anthropologist, and social activist, while jamming with your family. Hold a baby, dance with a 4-year-old, sit quietly in another room while your teenager lets loose. All ages and families are welcome to this Dunham Technique-inspired dance workout. This event is co-sponsored by Kido Chicago and Free MVMT Shop.

Black History Month Story Time

  • When: Saturday
  • Cost: Free, registration required

Kids from birth to 8 years can join Ms. Corina from the Back of the Yards Branch of the Chicago Public Library for a fun Black History Month story time for the whole family. Share songs, rhymes and books, plus suggestions for at-home activities to honor and celebrate Black people all over the world.

Little Leaders + Little Legends Storytime with Vashti Harrison

  • When: Saturday
  • Cost: Free

Wonder, inspiration, truth – just a bit of what you can expect from the historical stories of trailblazing Black, Indigenous, and People of Color by Vashti Harrison. Kids and adults will enjoy learning about these exceptional men and women through her beautifully illustrated and engaging book series.

Black History Month Virtual Author Reading: Storytime with Meena Harris

  • When: Saturday
  • Cost: Free

Lawyer, entrepreneur, and New York Times best-selling author Meena Harris will read her newest picture book, “Ambitious Girl.” A true story based on her mother, Maya, and aunt, Vice President Kamala Harris, this is this perfect story for anyone who’s ever felt underestimated or overshadowed.

Virtual Zoo Studio with Brookfield Zoo

  • When: Saturday
  • Cost: $40, $30 members, $20 additional children

Kids ages 3-5 are invited to a Play Zoo workshop activity that will focus on animals and themes. Materials will be sent a week before the class so that families can create during class as Brookfield Zoo facilitators animals talk about the animals, share stories and maybe even encourage moving like one. Themes change for each class. Saturday’s theme: Crocodile

Imagine U Storytime

Northwestern University School of Communication Theatre Department storytellers will read and perform books for kids weekly on the Wirtz Center Facebook Page and the Wirtz Center YouTube Channel. Sunday’s story: “Choose Your Own Tale of Peter Rabbit”

Virtual City Walks: International Edition

  • When: Saturday
  • Cost: $60, $48 members

Travel abroad — no passport required — through six programs produced in partnership by the Association of Architecture Organizations and AAO members in Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, New York City and Prague. Each virtual tour in this inaugural series is led by representatives from leading architecture organizations. Visit or revisit these spectacular cities in the safe hands of local experts and guides who know their streets the best, enjoying their surprises and architectural icons, both contemporary and historic. Saturday’s location: New York: SoHo Cast Iron Historic District

Virtual ComedySportz

  • When: Saturday
  • Cost: Free

ComedySportz is an approved-for-all-ages improv competition. They make up the story up with suggestions from you as two teams battle each other for your love and points. The Ref presides over the whole thing and by the end of the night, one thing will have won: comedy.

New Philharmonic: A Night of Broadway and Opera

  • When: Through Feb. 28
  • Cost: $40

Four acclaimed guest artists, Alisa Jordheim (soprano), Kate Tombaugh (mezzo-soprano), Jesse Donner (tenor) and Bill McMurray (bass/baritone) join New Philharmonic in a program of works from some of the best-loved Broadway musicals and operas. Families can download the program, which includes feature selections from “Carmen,” “Gianni Schicchi,” “Samson and Delila,” “Merry Widow” as well as “This is the Army,” “Allegro,” “Hello, Dolly,” “Les Misérables,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Sunset Boulevard.” “The Way We Were” and “A Chorus Line.”

Around Town

Learn about your own neighborhood or explore a new one (maintaining social distancing, of course) with Walkie Talkies, a new program from Chicago Children’s Theatre. Different local theater artists walk you – podcast style – through their favorite neighborhoods.

  • These Black-owned businesses in Chicago can help you replenish your bookshelves, keep your kids happy with adorable toys or fill your dinner table with fantastic food. Also, this weekend ends Chicago Black Restaurant Week, with specials and deals galore for hungry families.
  • February and March are already sold out, that’s how exciting Immersive Van Gogh is to Chicago. Start planning your April spring break now (yup, April weekends are sold out, too) and find tickets to the new exhibit on the Gold Coast.
  • The weather is finally warming up (just a little) to enjoy at least an hour on the hills. These great hills in Chicagoland are welcoming to sledders, snowtubers and snowboarders.
  • These Midwest destination locations have taken social distancing to comfortable levels and invite families to try a weekend away. If your family is itching to escape the house, plan a road trip of fun!

At-Home Fun

While you and your family remain at home, you can try out a new kids’ show or virtually visit your favorite Chicagoland locations!

  • How long has it been since you’ve seen Cool Runnings? Sit with your kids for a viewing, then try some of these screen-free activities that can be paired with the movie.
  • Designed by the Chicago Children’s Theatre, kids and adults of all abilities will love the new X Marks The Spot podcast series to get you through long days at home. X Marks The Spot theater is specialized for the visually impaired and the move to the podcast serial takes that fun with it. Join the story of the Otis family and its move from Chicago to a lake community in Michigan, including the adventures that follow the family’s four children.
  • If you’re missing the Lunar New Year events in Chinatown this year, celebrate Lunar New Year at home with food, crafts and more.
  • Looking for a new way to enjoy lunch? If you haven’t tried the Tortilla TikTok Hack yet, this is a great way to let kids in on the fun of cooking!

Parents Only

Partners who are so over all this family time and looking for alone time, we feel you. Whether it’s starting a fabulous puzzle or cooking a new dish together, here are a few of our favorite ideas for this weekend. (If you want more – or just like to plan ahead – check out this list of at-home date night ideas.)

  • So you spent quarantine binge-watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix, now you can check out a dining experience that is better than fruit wine. Replay Lincoln Park’s newest pop-up – Schitt Happens – features Moira’s Wig Wall and the welcome to Schitt’s Creek sign, a food and cocktail menu courtesy of “Café Tropical,” themed trivia, local vendors that will treat guests to a shopping experience like that at Rose Apothecary and more. Tickets are $20 and reservations are required.
  • On Saturday, test your knowledge against other teams at a trivia night to benefit The LeaderShop (a leadership organization in the Western Suburbs that fosters community-minded activities for local youth). The entry fee is $20 per team member, but there are raffle prizes so there’s a chance to win even if your team isn’t first!
  • This is the weekend to try Painting with a Twist offered by Bottle and Bottega in Lakeview. These virtual Sip & Paint experiences for family, friends and groups allow you to pick the canvas you’d like to paint and schedule the time together.

This post is updated regularly. 

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