The past week was hopefully full of presents and food and time with family as the Christmas holiday was celebrated. It’s always such a whirlwind of activity and most kids in the region still have at least another week off of school, so there’s time for lots more fun. The upcoming week is a perfect time to connect as a family with a little road trip. It can be short or long. It can be near or far. If you have an empty calendar this week and are looking for some family fun, here are some of my suggestions based on our family’s wintertime trips of the past. Hop in the car and have a little fun, either in your own back yard or a little beyond. Be sure to check hours in advance as some attractions close on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day or have shortened hours.
– This place is just a hop, skip and a jump away, but through January 6, the free
“A Christmas Story Comes Home” exhibit remains on display, with elaborate scenes
from the classic movie, “A Christmas Story” created by Hammond Native Jean
Shepard. The Indiana Welcome Center
is also located in the center and can be toured for a nominal fee. Because it’s
a tourism center, it’s also jam packed with brochures and booklets that you can
peruse to start planning your next family trip together. Finish off the
afternoon with lunch next door at Cracker Barrel and then head over to Peteyville
at 3033 Crane Place in Hammond (last day up is December 31) to check out the
elaborate holiday display. John
Chanute Air Museum – This expansive museum in Rantoul,
Illinois is dedicated to the accomplishments
of Octave Chanute, the Chanute Air Force base that once occupied the site and
the history of military aviation and Illinois
aviation. For any fans of aeronautics, this is a wonderful collection of
aircraft that spans decades. I especially liked learning about the area and how
it was once a bustling base. Kids will love seeing these planes up close and
seeing how huge they really are. We visited in early January and the crowds
were small and there were opportunities for some great photos.
Springfield – Anyone who lives in Illinois and who hasn’t been to ours state’s
capital needs to add it to their travel bucket list. Not only is it worth it
just to get a glimpse at the many government buildings (the interior dome of
the state capitol is amazing!) but there are also the many Lincoln attractions to be enjoyed, many of
which are free. Lincoln’s Home can be as well as
The Abraham Lincoln Museum is a must see, with two state-of-the-art theatres
that will amaze you, rooms full of Lincoln family artifacts and detailed
historic information on the Civil War. We stayed at the Hilton Springfield,
which is within walking distance of some attractions.
4) Splash Universe – A favorite activity of our family when traveling is to visit water parks. With the frightful weather outside, it’s nice to be able to splash in the water inside where it’s warm. If you’re up for a drive, there are several great spots in Wisconsin Dells to visit with plenty of indoor water fun. A little closer to home is Splash Universe in Shipshewana. The area is home to a big population of Amish and while you won’t be able to visit the roadside farmstands or see an abundance of buggies going down the road, the area always seems so tranquil and slow-paced and it’s a perfect place to relax for a couple days. The indoor water park is ideal for ages 10 and under.
Chicago – It’s always fun
to play tourist for a day or two and see the big city that’s so close. Navy
Pier has lots of indoor fun, including the Chicago Children’s Museum. Recently,
our family made our first visit to the John Hancock Center Observatory, which
was a lot of fun. Lincoln Park Zoo is a fun spot if you’re willing to brave the
And a few others that make for a nice cold-weather road trip or day trip:
Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, South Bend, Fair Oaks Farms, Michigan City in Indiana; Battle Creek or Grand Rapids in Michigan; Milwaukee, Kenosha in Wisconsin and Galena, Rockford or Gurnee in Illinois.