Winter doldrums? Here are 25 free things the whole family can enjoy
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Yes, we know. You are fed up with winter. You are sick of looking out your window at a gray sky. You are tired of being stuck inside, especially when the kiddies are home and you just wish there was something other than video games to occupy their time.
Don’t despair. And don’t think you have to spend a whole lot of cash, either, because these events are FREE (or offer free admission; check websites for specifics).
Here are some suggestions of free events/programs to consider for February and March.
SUNDAY YOGA SERIES
Lululemon, 900 N. Michigan
11 a.m.to noon, Sundays
All levels of yoga aficionados are invited to take part in this free class. A perfect way to bond with your tweens and teens!
GREEN CITY MARKET
Peggy Notebaert Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Dr.
8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays
Grab the family and check out one of the coolest indoor farmer’s markets in Chicago!
Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon, 337 E. Randolph
Daily through March
Strap up your skates and take a lap or two around one of the most beautiful places in the city. Admission is free; there is a charge for skate rentals.
OLD ST. PATRICK’S CHURCH TOUR
Old St. Patrick’s Church, 700 W. Adams
8 a.m. – 11 a.m. Monday-Friday
The whole family will enjoy a tour of one of Chicago’s oldest churches and historical places
Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand
Noon to 1 p.m., Tuesdays in February and March
Get out of the house with your little one and check out the popular music series presented in conjunction with the Chicago Children’s Museum.
TIMELESS TOYS STORYTIME
Timeless Toys, 4749 N. Lincoln
11 a.m. Wednesdays, February and March
Get the kids out of the house and enjoy a new story each week.
FREE MUSEUM DAYS (Valid Illinois ID required)
The Field Museum is celebrating all month long with the return of “Free February.” Show proof of Illinois residency and general admission is free every day through Feb. 28, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., fieldmuseum.org
The Adler Planetarium is offering free general admission Feb. 19-22, with proof of Illinois residency; 1300 S. Lake Shore; adlerplanetarium.org
The Shedd Aquarium’s Feb. 14 free general admission day (proof of residency required) is the last one until June (what a splash this could be for Valentine’s Day!); 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., sheddaquarium.org
The Museum of Science and Industry is offering free general admission for Illinois residents with valid ID Feb. 12–15, 20–22 and 26–27; msichicago.org
XOXO: AN EXHIBIT ABOUT LOVE & FORGIVENESS
Arlington Heights Memorial Library, 500 N. Dunton, Arlington Heights
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 12
Have trouble expressing your emotions to those you love the most? This program is custom made for you.
NATIONAL FERRIS WHEEL DAY
Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 14
This Valentine’s Day, be one of the first 2,500 people to register for a free ride on Navy Pier’s Centennial Wheel with the people you love the most.
Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand
February 16 and running through April
Kids of all ages will love Navy Pier’s new interactive installation in Polk Bros. Park, featuring 25 pivoting prisms that create a kaleidoscope effect.
17TH ANNUAL HOMEWOOD CHOCOLATE FEST
H-F Park District Auditorium
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 17
2010 Chestnut Road, Homewood
Consider all things chocolate via demonstations, activies and yummy baked goods!
UMOJA BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATION
Homan Square Park. 3559 Arthington St., Chicago
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 17
Celebrate the cultures of Africa and African-Americans in this family-friendly program featuring art, music and more.
SPIN, 344 N. State
Noon. to 4 p.m. Feb. 18
Create a special memory playing a simple game of ping pong with the family. Not sure how to play? Mini-lessons will be available.
POLAR ADVENTURE DAY
Northerly Island, 1400 S. Lynn White Dr.
Noon – 4 p.m. Feb. 24
Enjoy all of what winter has to offer via encounters with huskies and wolves, and create winter-themed art while you are there!
LUNAR NEW YEAR PARADE
Chinatown, Intersection of 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue
1 p.m. Feb. 25
It might not be summer, but there is always time for a parade! The kids will love the marching bands, colorful floats and beautiful music.
Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. March 3
Brighten the gray days of winter with the Smart Museum’s “Perception Party,” which will make you look at colors in a whole new way.
CHICAGO POLAR PLUNGE
North Avenue Beach, 1600 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
10 a.m. March 4
Come out to cheer on these brave souls as they plunge into Lake Michigan’s chilly waters in this annual fundraising efforts to benefit Special Olympics.
AVALON STRING QUARTET CONCERT
Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington
12:15 p.m. March 7
Do your kids need a little culture in their life? Take them to a free live classical music concert!
FAMILY CHESS NIGHT
Chicago Public Library, 6151 S. Normal Blvd., Chicago
5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 8
Let a little of your competitiveness out with a friendly game of chess with the entire family.
WTTW-CHANNEL 11 KIDS BIG IDEA TRAVELLING LAB
Chicago Ridge Mall, 444 Chicago Ridge Mall, Chicago Ridge
10:30 a.m. March 10
Perfect for kids ages 2-7, this interactive free presentation will bring many of WTTW’s most popular kids shows to life!
ORIGAMI OPEN HOUSE
Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 North Central Park Avenue
Origami always fascinated you? Try it for yourself at this free workshop and learn the basic skills of this ancient, intricate art.
SOUTH SIDE IRISH PARADE
On Western Avenue, from 103rd to 115th Street
Noon March 11
This parade has now transformed into a true family event where you can be sure everyone will have a good time.
DYEING OF THE CHICAGO RIVER
Chicago River, Intersection of Michigan and Wacker
9 a.m. March 17
Before the St. Patrick’s Day parade kicks off at noon, check out this annual spectacle.
CHICAGO’S ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE
Noon March 17, the parade heads north on Columbus Drive from Balbo to Monroe, rain or shine. Free.
It’s one of the largest free celebrations of Irish heritage in the country!