So, let’s get honest for a second. It really sucks to scroll through your Facebook or Instagram feeds and see everyone out enjoying Spring Break on a beach while you are stuck in dreary Chicago over Spring Break. Maybe this is when someone will tell you to stop comparing yourself to other people on the Internet, but let’s get real…it’s HARD and I totally get it. We aren’t traveling for Spring Break this year due to that fact that we bought our dream home a few months ago and now we have to actually fill it with furniture (crazy, right???). But that doesn’t mean that our Spring Break is going to be a total bust…we are just going to get creative with how to stretch a dollar in terms of family fun. Are you in the same boat (don’t lie, most of us are)? Then read to on to find out how we are enjoying Spring Break in Chicagoland on a budget!
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First off, there are SO MANY FREE THINGS going on at any given day or time in Chicagoland. Don’t believe me? Here is my constantly growing list of freebies, including where kids eat free across Chicagoland. My favorite free spots are Ina Mae Tavern for brunch, and Spaghetti Sunday’s at Dutch and Doc’s, right across the street from Wrigley Field.
Another fun and free activity? Story times! Many local libraries have tons of different open story times, and you can also check out toys, books, movies, and more! Also, take note of the different free exhibits going on across Chicagoland’s libraries. The Arlington Heights Memorial Library has an amazing Chagall windows exhibit right now that is interactive and inspiring for artists of all ages.
Typically over Spring Break the weather is still pretty nasty (gloomy, cold and wet…yay!) so we spend most of our time indoors. Thankfully, some of our favorite play spaces have discounted play at least once a week. Little Beans is a favorite because of their delicious coffee and “Big Beans” course since it guarantees a solid nap for you and your little one after spending the day playing in the foam pit. If you have a Lego lover on your hand, take a trip to Lego mecca…otherwise known as Legoland Discovery Center. It is typically on the pricey side, but if you use a Living Social Deal, you can really stretch your budget.
Museums are fun any time of the year, but since they tend to get a bit crowded when kids are out of school, head over to the “off the radar” museums so you aren’t trampled by waves of stir crazy kids such as the Chicago History Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art (free admission to Illinois residents on Tuesdays) and American Swedish Museum (free admission the second Tuesday of the month.
If you would like to visit the more popular museums, be sure to visit the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (free to Illinois residents on Thursdays), Art Institute of Chicago (Thursday evenings are free), and the Chicago Children’s Museum (free Thursday evenings and the first Sunday of the month for kids under 15 years old) during their discounted admission times. Lastly, don’t forget to use your Bank of America card for one free admission to many of the major museums on the first weekend of the month. For tips on visiting Chicago Museums on a free day, click here.
If the weather isn’t too nasty for some exploring, go for a hike to look for the first signs of Spring and learn more about our native habitats at some of Chicagoland’s free nature centers. We also love to visit our smelly friends over at Wagner Farm in Glenview and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Admission is free and it is the perfect time to see animals wake up after their long winter slumber. Want to inject some beauty into your day? Then visit some of Chicagoland’s beautiful conservatories for some inspiration and then head to your local plant nursery to purchase some plants of your own!
There are also tons of free classes that go on throughout Chicagoland, from different free crafting classes at local art stores to musical performances such as “Navy Pier Stroller Groves” from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons, to the Juicebox Free Family Performance Series at the Chicago Cultural Center and Garfield Park Conservatory.
Lastly, if you are getting bored of the same old toys and games at home, connect with another family and do a “toy and game swap.” I don’t recommend lending out beloved toys or ones that will easily break, but it is fun to trade goodies for a bit so your family game night can be a little different than past ones. You can do the same for your family movie night as well–be sure to put these these sports themed movies on your family’s “Much Watch” list! Many libraries also have toys and games for rent, similar to books and movies.
How do you keep costs down when school is out? Would love to hear your budget friendly ideas!
Looking for other Spring fun? Check out my Spring Activity Guide!