January is a great time to dig out the family calendar and make some plans for the months ahead. Oh, the possibilities!
Chicago is home to plenty of wonderful family activities (more than you could really fit into one one year, honestly). You've likely got the most popular Chicago family activities on your schedule for the coming months. But why not expand your family's horizons in 2012? Here are a few suggestions for new activities to try with your gang this year.
Eat around town! Try a new cuisine. Introduce your kids to an iconic Chicago food or visit an neighborhood ethnic restaurant. Try deep dish pizza. Down a Chicago-style dog. Chow down in Greek Town. Make a reservation for dim sum in Chinatown.
Check out a local nature center. There is more to Chicago than just urban hustle and bustle. Introduce your little urban dweller to one of the local natural oases around town. Start with the North Park Village Nature Center, the Emily Oaks Nature Center or the Nature Boardwalk at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Check out Sky Deck at the Willis Tower. You've never seen Chicago from this perspective before! This is a pricey family outing, but it is worth is to step out on the glass "Ledge" that extends four feet out from the building. Dare you to look down!
Take advantage of the lake front. Hit the beach. Pack a picnic lunch. Take a family bike ride. Book a boat trip. Chicago has one of the most accessible waterfronts in the world. Be sure to make it part of your summer plans.
Make a visit to all of the local childrens' museums. Don't limit yourself to the Chicago Children's Museum. Yes, this is a fabulous destination for families, but the Chicago area is home to several other Children's Museums that have lots to offer. Check out the Kohl Children's Museum, Oak Lawn Children's Museum and DuPage Children's Museum this year. Expand your horizons!
Visit Millennium Park during each season. You probably know that Millennium Park has tons to offer families during the summer months (think free concerts, the fabulous Family Fun Festival and splashing in the Crown Fountain). But Millennium Park has lots to offer throughout the rest of the year as well. Try ice skating on the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink or sign up for a free Family Workshop in the lovely Lurie Gardens.
Cheer for your favorite team (and don't forget about the lesser known, but still totally entertaining Chicago teams). A family outing to a major sporting event can be costly. Instead, buy tickets to see the Chicago Wolves, Chicago Sky or Chicago Fire in action.
Check out one of the Chicago Park District's free programs. Living in Chicago is expensive—catch a deal when you can. The Chicago Park District offers great programs year-round including Polar Adventure Days and Toddler, Tunes and Turtles. Find a free program that works for your family.
Take a tour of the city via the "L" train. Kids love trains. It is a fact. Give your kids a spectacular tour of the city via the "L" train system. Take the brown line up north and then take a scenic tour of the South Side on the red line.
Plan a playground tour. Chicago is home to literally hundreds of parks and playgrounds. Most families tend to stick close to home and make repeat visits to their favorite spots. Boy, are you missing out! Chicago has a fabulous variety of play spaces that your kids would love—everything from water parks to pirate themed play spots. Check out a few new parks and playgrounds this year. Who knows? You may find some new favorites!
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