Kid Zone: The Great Train Story at the Museum of Science and Industry, Blue Man Group, Notebaert Nature Museum and Chicago Botanic Garden
Notebaert Nature Museum
Local spots to let the kids learn, be amazed and be themselves
By Trent Modglin
Notebaert Nature Museum
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood — just across the street from the Lincoln Park Zoo and Fullerton Avenue Beach — is loaded with enriching exhibits and opportunities for hands-on interactions with a variety of animals. Brand new this winter is the Dragons Alive! the Science and Culture of Reptiles exhibit, showcasing 10 live species of reptiles and lizards from around the world.
It also explores the connections between dragons, people and cultures throughout history. Also save time for a stroll through the serene Butterfly Haven (home to more than 1,000 free-flying butterflies), and check out their daily Critter Connection and animal feedings — always a hit with the little ones. 2430 N. Cannon Dr. NatureMuseum.org
Museum of Science and Industry
Chicago’s world-renowned Museum of Science and Industry offers a plethora of vibrant learning opportunities, and one exhibit sure to draw the attention of both kids and adults alike is The Great Train Story.
As the centerpiece of the museum’s imposing Transportation Gallery, this massive model railroad features better than 20 trains and 1,400 feet of winding track representing, in astounding detail (think Rocky Mountains, farms, crossing lights, a replica of downtown Chicago and Seattle’s docks, etc.), the continental journey between the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. The craftsmanship is superb, and interactive buttons allow kids to set off tunneling dynamite, cut down trees, lift drawbridges and pull a Metra train out of the station. 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr. MSIChicago.org
Save time at the Notebaert Nature Museum for a stroll through the serene Butterfly Haven (home to more than 1,000 free-flying butterflies), and check out their daily Critter Connections and animal feedings — always a hit with the little ones.
Blue Man Group
This acclaimed, thought-provoking, interactive performance art consists of three blue men drumming, dancing, painting and catching marshmallows in their mouths — plus plenty of new material involving new-age technology.
Described by critics as “innovative, energetic and wildly entertaining,” this is a form of entertainment that defies categorization and appeals to all ages. Perfect for a spring break getaway or birthday party.
3133 N. Halsted at the Briar Street Theatre. 773-348-4000. BlueMan.com
Chicago Botanic Garden
With spring in the air, any parent knows full well that the kids are ready for some exercise, nature and fresh air. And few places offer a healthy mix of all three quite like the Chicago Botanic Garden in suburban Glencoe. We’re talking more than 350 acres of luxurious gardens — think extensive and exotic plant collections and displays, as well as lakes, waterfalls and fountains — in which to roam that are free to the public, this is a beautiful indoor and outdoor facility that can occupy the family for a full day.
Seasonal shows and workshops give visitors the chance to attend lectures and demonstrations and even buy an array of flowers and plants. And if the train-loving kids are with you, don’t forget to check out the incredible outdoor model train exhibit.
1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe. It’s also a 20-minute walk from the Braeside Metra stop. ChicagoBotanic.org