Party Time at the Skokie Exploritorium

Exploritorium Logo

For the last two years, we have been invited to a birthday party at the Exploritorium in Skokie. It’s quite a drive for us, but we really can’t say no to an opportunity to hang out at the Exploritorium. We used to drive to Skokie frequently before my in-laws moved to Florida, but never have we stopped at the Exploritorium. Thank goodness for these birthday parties – it gives us a great reason to come out and play.

Exploritorium Tunnels

The Exploritorium is a large indoor playground that is part of the Skokie Park District.  There are multiple areas that are perfect for interactive play. You can play make-believe in a costumed dress-up area; run your fingers through a water play area; make music, climb a wall, play with trains, experience new heights in two-and-a half-story tubes and tunnels, and so much more. My son loves coming here – it’s just a bummer that we live so far and don’t make it out to Skokie more than once a year.

Exploritorium Slides

This place sort of reminds me of a mini children’s museum, complete with a water table, a train table, and a huge lite brite! It would be so easy to spend a few hours here – too bad the party time is only one hour.

Exploritorium Water Table

Exploritorium Water

Exploritorium Train Table

Exploritorium Gear Table

Exploritorium Lite Brite

When you book a party at the Exploratorium, you get one hour of play time, and another hour in the party room. You bring your own food and cake, which is really nice – but it doesn’t seem like you have a dedicated party helper. The play time alone makes it completely worth the drive to Skokie.

Open play hours are 9 am – 5pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday and 9am – 1pm on Saturday. They are closed on Thursday & Sunday. The cost for non-residents is $5 per person and they are located at 4701 Oakton Street in Skokie.

Day Trip: Madison Children’s Museum in Wisconsin

My family loves to visit children’s museums. I’ve tried to visit all the ones near me and we always seek one out when we’re on vacation. In Illinois alone, we’ve been to the one in Oak Lawn, Rockford, Naperville, Champaign, and Glenview. We hope to hit them all in the coming years too! This time, we decided to venture a couple of hours away from home to visit the Madison Children’s Museum in Madison, WI. It’s only a little over two hours from my house – and it’s totally worth the drive.

Madison Children's Museum

Let’s be honest – any kid would love a trip to a children’s museum. Some of the exhibits at the Madison Children’s Museum, though, make this one of our favorites. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Controlling the water.

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Climbing the Wildernest.

Madison Children's Museum_Wildernest

And running across the Wildernest.

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Transporting the veggies at the Wildernest.

Madison Children's Museum_Wildernest_Veggies

Painting on the windows at the Art Studio.

Madison Children's Museum_Painting

Rearranging the magnets on the refrigerator.

Madison Children's Museum_Magnets

Admiring the sculpture on the Rooftop Ramble.

Madison Children's Museum_Rooftop Ramble_Sculpture

Climbing the hay bales on the Rooftop Ramble.

Madison Children's Museum_Rooftop Ramble

Ahoy matey! Hoisting the pirate flag.

Madison Children's Museum_Pirate Flag

Nice view of the Capitol Building from the Rooftop Ramble.

Madison Children's Museum_Capitol Building

And no children’s museum visit would be complete without a trip to the train table. Notice the building in the center?

Madison Children's Museum_Train

As you can see, there’s lots of fun to be had at the Madison Children’s Museum in Wisconsin. They are open Tues – Sun 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. plus the last Monday of each month. As of April 2014, admission for both adults & children is $7.95.

When’s the last time your kids enjoyed a children’s museum?

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Kid-Friendly Shows at the Staerkel Planetarium in Champaign, IL #visitchampaign

My son is obsessed with our solar system.  He’s four now, but has been able to recite the planets (in order) since he was about 26 months old.  (Totally not a brag, but it is what it is. He is SO smart!) So, what better activity for my astronomer-in-training than a trip to the William M. Staerkel Planetarium?

Staerkel Planetarium-Kids

Photo By: Staerkel Planetarium Facebook

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit nervous to take him to a planetarium show because I wasn’t sure he’d be able to sit still through the whole thing.  I’ve never even taken him to the movies before so this would be our first “movie” experience together.  We had tickets to the “Santa’s Secret Star” show on a Saturday so I was banking on it being kid-friendly.  Thankfully, it was! (Please check show descriptions before visiting with young kids. Not all shows are recommended for children.)

Staerkel Planetarium-Seating

The Good:  The planetarium theater itself was beautiful.  Located on the Parkland College campus, the planetarium’s state-of-the-art digital projection system, operated by the (nicest) planetarium director, Dave Leake, proved to be breathtaking.  His storytelling held my son’s attention the entire time – and I’m sure seeing Santa up in the sky didn’t hurt either!

Staerkel Planetarium-Dave Leake

The Bad:  At the time of our visit, campus construction blocked the front entrance of the planetarium, making it a bit difficult to navigate our way inside. Construction should be 100% now so you shouldn’t have any issues driving and finding parking.

Overall:  We loved the kid-friendly show at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium, and would certainly return for another show!

Staerkel Planetarium-Planets

The Staerkel Planetarium is open August through May on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:00 and 8:00 PM (barring college closure for holidays). A variety of show types are presented. Check the calendar to find out the current schedule of offerings. Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for kids 2-12. Special discounts are available for double-header shows.(Pricing verified February 2015 – check the website for updated information.)

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Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission in order to facilitate this review and I was not required to state a particular point of view. All opinions are 100% my own.

The New Little Beans Café is ALL Fun & Games #LBEvanston

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A new kids’ play space will be opening in Evanston on Friday and the northern suburbs are in for quite a treat! My family had an opportunity to take a sneak peek at the all new Little Beans Café in Evanston, and we were absolutely blown away.

littlebeans-exterior

Located in a former grocery store building, this new play space offers the same great playspace as their Chicago location, the Little Beans Village (a play area for kids 0-6 years), plus SO MUCH MORE! The new Little Beans Café is such an amazing venue, and after 3 full hours of play, my son did not want to leave.

So what is the Little Beans Café?

Little Beans Café and Family Activity Center is an imaginative playspace, recreational center and café targeted to kids 0-12 years. They offer drop-in play for kids 0-6 years in the Little Beans Village, and for kids 5-12 years in the Big Beans play area. There’s also classes, events, camps, birthday parties and more. At the Little Beans Café, kids have the freedom to play, learn, imagine, and create in their custom interactive indoor playgrounds, while parents and caregivers can enjoy an upscale ambiance, delicious coffee, and a large selection of food.

Highlights of the Little Beans Café

Camp-themed imaginative play village.

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Little Beans Village |Photo by: Eva Ho Photography www.evaho.com

littlebeans-slide

Photo by: Eva Ho Photography www.evaho.com

littlebeans-train

littlebeans-infant-room

Infant Room

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Ninja Warrior-themed obstacle course.

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Ninja Warrior Course | Photo by: Eva Ho Photography www.evaho.com

Half court gym for games.

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A Karaoke room and lots more!

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Photo by: Eva Ho Photography www.evaho.com

Located at 430 Asbury Avenue, the new Evanston location is all set to open to the general public this Friday, February 13th. Drop-in play is $12 per child, with a discount available for siblings. Stop by and take advantage of this wonderful new playspace – your kids will love it!

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Have Fun Learning about Science at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in Champaign, IL

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you’d know that my family loves to visit children’s museums. We’ve been to quite a few and always seek one out when we’re on vacation. In Illinois alone, we’ve been to the one in Oak Lawn, Rockford, Naperville, and Glenview. We hope to hit them all in the coming years too!

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Exterior Signage

On our last trip to the Champaign-Urbana area, my entire family visited the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum and we had a good time.  We dropped by on a Sunday afternoon about 10 minutes before the museum officially opened at noon.  A birthday party was just wrapping up while we waited for opening time.   It’s obvious that the museum used to be a theater and we loved the architecture and some of the original details inside.  The museum isn’t very large, but it is situated on 2 levels with various exhibits that incorporate a fun way to learn about science.

The Good

My son had a great time at some of the exhibits at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum.  Some of his favorites were the train table (of course…it was so hard to pry him away from the train table), the water table (again, a favorite among many kids – but this table was different in that it had different sized plastic pieces that you could configure to control water flow), and a sand table with purple sand!

Orpheun Children's Science Museum-Train Table

Kids love the train table!

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Water Table

Cool water table!

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Purple Sand

Purple sand play was awesome!

My teenage daughter and I really enjoyed the Momentum Machine on the lower level.  A small spinning circle teaches angular momentum –  just like you see the figure skaters do on the ice.  You kick off with one leg, hold your leg out to the side, then slowly bring your leg back to your other leg.  You’ll start spinning faster and faster!  We were so dizzy but kept trying it out over and over again!

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Momentum

During the summer months, the outdoor courtyard features a dinosaur dig area where kids can excavate dinosaur bones from the large sand pit. There were many opportunities at the museum to teach your kids a science lesson.  My son, while only a toddler, had lots of “Why?” questions for us about different exhibits – thank goodness my husband was there to answer many of his science-related questions.

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Vet Area

Vet area

The Bad

The museum was a tad bit on the small side, and we couldn’t get some of the exhibits on the second level to work – due to missing pieces and such. That didn’t deter us from trying everything though!

Overall

The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum is a great way to spend a few hours.  Children will benefit from the many science lessons found throughout the museum – and they’ll have tons of fun doing it!  Admission is only $5 per person (as of January 2015, please check website for details), so it’s an inexpensive educational outing for the kids!

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Mirrors

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Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission in order to facilitate this review and I was not required to state a particular point of view. All opinions are 100% my own.

Let Out Your Inner Rock Star at the Rhythm! Discovery Center in Indianapolis #VisitIndy

Rhythm Discovery Center

 

If you’re visiting Indy and are looking for something totally awesome to do indoors, I hope Rhythm! Discovery Center is on your list.  Rhythm! Discovery Center is THE place to be to let your inner rock star out – and have loads of fun doing it too!  We visited Rhythm! Discovery Center on our last trip to Indy, and my son still  has not stopped talking about it.

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Beatles

I hadn’t heard much about Rhythm! Discovery Center before my visit, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had no idea that this place is totally interactive.  What kid wouldn’t have a good time here?!?!  My 3-year-old had a blast and, I’m not gonna lie – I totally did too!  Percussion, percussion, percussion.  Instruments made of wood, skin, and metal.  We tried them all!

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Steel-Drum

We must’ve banged on every drum, shaken every tambourine, and played every xylophone in the place!

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Headphones

We really loved the interactive tribal-like circle featuring the many percussion instruments created right at home by The Leedy Drum Company, a company that began in Indiana.

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Leedy

Their Interactive Area was also a lot of fun – I can see many field trips having a good ol’ loud time here.  So many instruments to choose from.  Believe me, my son tried them all!

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Interactive-Room

Probably our favorite parts of the museum were the sound-proof rooms that allowed you to play a real drum set and be as loud as you wanted to be – we felt like rock stars!

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Sound-Proof

Handy Tip: Visit this museum late in the day.  We arrived about an hour and a half before closing and had the entire museum to ourselves.  I’m sure it’s very noisy (and migraine-inducing) at peak times.

Rhythm! Discovery Center is located at 110 W. Washington Street, Suite A (in the basement), in Indianapolis, IN.  Admission prices (as of January 2015) are $10 for adults, $6 for kids 6 and up, kids 5 and under are FREE!

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Disclosure: My family was invited to visit Indianapolis by the Indianapolis CVB, Visit Indy, and were provided with complimentary admission to many attractions and a hotel stay.  I was not compensated for this post.  I was not asked to provide a particular point of view, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Indoor Play Space: Ball Factory in Naperville, IL

Winter break is almost over, and if you’ve exhausted all of the nearby holiday light displays and neighborhood light shows, you might be looking for another spot to let the kids run wild – and a place where you can come out of the cold!  Why not try the Ball Factory in Naperville?  I visited the Ball Factory a few months ago with my son and, at the time, he cried and cried because he really did not want to leave.  I’m thinking that now’s a great time to take him back for some ball jumpin’ fun!

Ball Factory_Exterior

Ball Factory Naperville is a safe, clean, and stimulating environment for physically active children aged 12 and under to play and explore.  As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by the massive multi-story play structure.  This, my friends, is the reason my son did not want to leave (and I had to drag my overweight self inside this thing to get him to come out).

Ball Factory_Play Structure

The first play area at Ball Factory is designed for smaller kids, although my son did have a bit of fun here too.  The soft play area is for kids up to age 4 so we weren’t breaking any rules by playing here. Smile

Ball Factory_Soft Play

I loved how Ball Factory’s open play area ensured children’s safety, while challenging them to reach, think, interact, explore, and have fun.  Although pulling my son out of this when it was time to leave was not fun for ME…

Ball Factory_Play Structure Zoom

All joking aside, Ball Factory has so much more to offer than this one huge play structure.  There’s the Ball Launcher Room…

Ball Factory_Ball Launcher

The Riding Toys and Pedal Cars Area…

Ball Factory_Ride On

A café area with lots of seating…

Ball Cafe_Cafe Menu

Ball Factory_Cafe Seating

And the best part of the café?  GELATO!

Ball Factory_Gelato

Overall, we had an absolute blast at the Ball Factory in Naperville.  And with a week left on winter break, I think that’s exactly where we will go.

Know Before You Go

    • Enjoy coffee, snacks, free WiFi, magazines, and a game of pool in the Parents Lounge.
    • Socks are required for play and are available for purchase at the front desk, should you forget.
    • The restrooms are very clean, with kid-sized toilets and sinks too!
    • Please check the Ball Factory website for hours and pricing, as costs vary by age and day of the week.

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Top 5 Things to Do in Indianapolis with Kids #VisitIndy

This summer, I had the pleasure of visiting Indianapolis with my family.  Considering I live in the Chicago area – and it’s only a 3-hour drive from the Windy City – I’m surprised that I’ve never ventured to Indy before.  Little did I know that Indy had so much to offer families visiting the area.  From parks and museums to festivals and fantastic food, Indy has it all!  I broke it down to my family’s Top 5 Things to Do in Indianapolis with Kids – do you have a favorite spot that I’m missing?

Top 5 Things to Do in Indianapolis with Kids

5. Indianapolis Firefighter’s Museum

Firefighters Museum_Indy

This small museum is sure to please any fire truck enthusiast in your household.  The upstairs is designed like a real, working fire house and you’re introduced to everything from the beds the firefighter’s sleep in, to the uniforms that they wear, and the equipment they use.  Located in the trendy Mass Ave. Arts District, there’s plenty to see if you take a stroll afterwards.  Have some froyo right across the street at YoguLatte.  Their coconut mocha latte is delish!

4. Indianapolis Zoo

Indianapolis Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo is a must-see in Indy.  Their new International Orangutan Exhibit was completed this summer, and a new aerial cable ride (not yet open when we visited, but check the park for current availability) will allow guests to view the animals like never before.  We saw orangutans climbing the structure and they are mesmerizing to watch.  The zoo’s Dolphin Adventure Pavilion is gorgeous too and their interactive dolphin show is very entertaining.

3. Rhythm! Discovery Center

Rhythm Discovery Center_Indy

My 3-year-old had a blast at the Rhythm! Discovery Center, and I’m not gonna lie – I totally did too!  We must’ve banged on every drum, shaken every tambourine, and played every xylophone in the place!  Probably our favorite parts of the museum were the sound-proof rooms that allowed you to play a real drum set and be as loud as you wanted to be – we felt like rock stars!  Handy Tip: Visit this museum late in the day.  We arrived about an hour and a half before closing and had the entire museum to ourselves.  I’m sure it’s very noisy (and migraine-inducing) at peak times.

2. Conner Prairie Interactive History Museum

Conner Prairie_Indy

Visiting the Conner Prairie Interactive History Museum was, by far, the highlight of our trip – for me at least.  We also had two teenagers with us, and they would undoubtedly say the same.  The historic aspect drew me in, but there’s so much for kids to experience here too.  For one, their indoor Discovery Station is designed for younger kids and allows plenty of room for free-play, exploring, crafting and climbing.  The Civil War exhibit even has an outdoor splash pad (open Memorial Day through Labor Day) and an indoor play area with a large climbing structure.  All that is really fun for kids, but it’s the people at Conner Prairie that really make this visit worthwhile.  They never break character, and you really feel like you’re living in the 1800’s.  I cannot say enough good things about this place – get there if you can!

1. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Childrens Museum of Indianapolis

What visit to Indy with kids would be complete without a trip to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis?  The almost 500,000-sf facility is the largest children’s museum in the world and is visited by more than 1.2 million people each year.  We love visiting children’s museums and I can honestly say that we experienced things here that we haven’t at any other children’s museum we’ve seen.  Where else can you let your imagination run wild and run a Chinese restaurant , slide down a long Great Wall of China slide, be transported to the land of dinosaurs, or create a colorful sculpture – all in one place?  Only at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

HOTEL BONUS: Indianapolis Marriott North Hotel

Marriott North Indianapolis_Room

Image courtesy of Marriott

Staying at the Indianapolis Marriott North Hotel was a no-brainer for us.  With two teenagers in tow – that had NO interest in visiting some attractions with my preschooler – it was important to me to be located near a place that they would find interest in.  Thank goodness for Keystone at the Crossing, a shopping mall located within walking distance of the hotel!  The hotel itself was great too – friendly staff, clean rooms, and a nice swimming pool are all things I look for that will be sure to please my family, and the Indianapolis Marriott North Hotel did not disappoint.  Be aware, however, that this hotel is located about 25 minutes from the downtown area so plan your excursions accordingly.

GOOD EATS BONUS: Great Restaurants in Indy

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I honestly didn’t think I’d be overly-pleased with the food in Indy, but I’m so glad to say that I was wrong.  Breakfast at Café Patachou was one of the highlights of my dining experience with their fresh and healthy food (and fabulous coffee too!), dining outside at Iara’s Italian Restaurant with my whole family was fun – and their portion sizes were huge – we definitely did not leave hungry, Shapiro’s Delicatessen was a delicious surprise, and Arni’s Restaurant probably had the best pizza I’ve ever had – and I’m from Chicago so that’s saying a lot!  You won’t be disappointed with all the restaurant options in Indy!

As you can tell, we had a fabulous weekend in Indy – and I am confident that we will be back.  It would be impossible for me to list all the fun things to do with kids in Indy, and I feel like we just hit the tip of the iceberg on our weekend stay.  I wish we had planned on a weeklong visit – there’s still so much to see.

What about you – have you ever visited Indy?

For more information on the Indianapolis area, connect with Visit Indy!

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Disclosure: My family was invited to visit Indianapolis by the Indianapolis CVB, Visit Indy, and were provided with complimentary admission to many attractions and a hotel stay.  I was not compensated for this post.  I was not asked to provide a particular point of view, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Get Your Bounce On at Monkey Joe’s in Wheaton, IL

Bouncing off the walls…seems like kids could, literally, do this all day.  My son could easily spend an entire day bouncing on inflatables.  I have no idea how those tiny little legs don’t give out from bouncing around, but they don’t and my boy loves it.  Monkey Joe’s is one of our go-to spots when my son needs to let out a little bit of pent-up energy.  We enjoy Monkey Joe’s so much, we also visited the Crystal Lake location.

Monkey Joe's_Wheaton

Monkey Joe’s is just one of those places where, as a parent of an active child, you just can’t go wrong.  Kids jump from attraction to attraction, looking for the thrill of the bounce.  And Monkey Joe’s definitely delivers the thrill.

Monkey Joes_Slide

The Wheaton location is set-up much like the Crystal Lake Monkey Joe’s.  When you walk in, the party rooms and tables/chairs are in front of the wide-open area where all the inflatables are.  There’s a Mini Monkey Zone for younger kids too.

Monkey Joes_Overview

The biggest draw at this location for my pirate-loving boy was the huge pirate ship inflatable.

Monkey Joe's_Pirate Ship

I enjoyed the comfy chairs and big TV’s in the parents area.

Monkey Joes_Parents Area

There’s also a nice arcade area when the kids need a break from all the bouncing around.

Monkey Joes_Arcade

My only gripe with this Monkey Joe’s was the number of broken attractions when I was there. Granted, I’m sure this isn’t an everyday occurrence, but we were bummed seeing all the deflated ones on the ground.

Monkey Joe's_Deflated

My son didn’t seem to notice (or care) that a few of the attractions were down.  He was having way too much fun at Monkey Joe’s in Wheaton with all the other amazing inflatables.

Monkey Joes_Castle Climb

Monkey Joe’s is located at 286 E Geneva Road in Wheaton.  They are open M-Th 10am-5pm; F-Sa 10am-8pm; and Su 11am-6pm.  Admission is $9.99 3 and up; $5.00 2 and under (if playing).  Adults are free.

Where do your kids like to bounce around?

There’s Lots to Do at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, MI #ExperienceGR

One of the biggest surprises for my family during our trip to Grand Rapids was the John Ball Zoo. We had no idea we’d have such a great time, and even see some animals we’d never seen before! My family – my husband and I, my teenage daughter, my toddler son, and my mom – spent about 3 hours at the zoo, and only wish we had more time to explore more.

John Ball Zoo_ExperienceGR

The John Ball Zoo, just a short drive away from the downtown area of Grand Rapids, is a smaller zoo with a surprising number of animal exhibits. Admission to the zoo in the summer is $8.50 for ages 14 and up, and $6.50 for ages 3-13 (admission prices vary during the off-peak season). There are a number of concession stands throughout the zoo, as well as picnic table areas.

One of the neat features of the zoo is the Idema Funicular, a train-like vehicle that can take you to the highest point of the zoo (or back down near the zoo entrance). It’s a great way to quickly move from one side of the zoo to another, although you won’t see any animals on the ride. There is an extra charge of $3 per person for a one-way ride.

Photo courtesy of John Ball Zoo on Facebook

Another unique feature of the John Ball Zoo is the number of “adventure” opportunities offered. You can take off on a zip line ride ($6 per person), navigate a ropes course ($6 per person), ride a camel ($5 per person), and touch some stingrays and sharks in a small pool ($1 per person). I really wanted to try the zip line (an item on my bucket list), but both my husband and teen had no intention of trying it with me.

Photo courtesy of John Ball Zoo on Facebook

Some of the exhibits here seemed too close together to me, but that didn’t take away from our experience at all. One of our favorite exhibits included the Pelican Pier, located near the entrance of the zoo. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pelican in real-life, and I was mesmerized by these beautiful birds.

John Ball Zoo_Pelican

My toddler loved the Aquarium, where he got to play with a penguin. It was so cute – the penguin would follow him from one side of the tank and back. He got a kick out of his interaction with the penguin, and we all did too!

John Ball Zoo_Penguin

Red’s Hobby Farm, the children’s zoo at John Ball, was another family favorite. Both of my kids got to pet some sheep and goats!

John Ball Zoo_Children's Zoo

We also enjoyed watching a zoo keeper interact with a grizzly bear, watching a mountain lion pace back and forth in his habitat, and watching the monkeys playfully interact with each other.

John Ball Zoo_Grizzly Bear

John Ball Zoo_Mountain Lion

John Ball Zoo_Monkeys

Overall, I’d say that my family would definitely revisit the John Ball Zoo the next time we’re in Grand Rapids. A new tiger exhibit, set to resemble their natural habitat, should be completed in 2014 and it’s a great reason to bring my family back next year!

Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission to the John Ball Zoo in order to facilitate this review, and I was not asked to provide a particular point of view. All opinions are 100 % my own.

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This review originally appeared on Trekaroo!

Huntley, IL: Deicke Park is Worth the Drive

One of my favorite things to do with my son is to visit lots of local (and even some not-so-local) parks.  It’s the best way for him to burn off some pent-up energy…and it doesn’t cost me a dime.  I’ve been trying to keep my spending in check so we’ve been visiting a lot more free venues and activities for kids.  Just because you don’t have a lot of money to spend doesn’t mean your kids need to stay cooped up in the house, ya know?

Deicke Park Sign

We have visited so many parks in the far northwest and west suburbs and I won’t review them all here, just the ones that we think are extra, extra cool…like Deicke Park in Huntley, Illinois.  It’s one of our favorites, and has a fantastic toddler area, Discovery Zone, for smaller kids.  The entire perimeter of the Discovery Zone area is secured by a black iron fence with only two entrances – so you can rest easier knowing your kids can’t just run right out of the park.  Not to say they shouldn’t be supervised, just a perk of not having to watch them like a hawk either.  A restroom is located just outside of the Discovery Zone area.  Definitely not one to miss if you’re in the area.

Deicke Park Discovery Zone

Here are some of the things you can expect to find in the Discovery Zone.  The first thing my son was drawn to was the GIANT red fire truck to climb on with a couple of slides.  There’s even a panel on the truck that lists 5 rules of fire safety!

Deicke Park Firetruck

Deicke Park has a really large sand area too – one that even has a water element (shown in the photo above).  Fun times for the kids, but I’d bring extra shoes and a change of clothes because things can get very messy in this area.

Deicke Park Sand Area

The music area at Deicke Park is pretty impressive.  If you stomp on the musical notes (inside the red stars) you’ll hear music!  Bring your own chalk if you want to write on the large chalk walk located just on the other side of the music section.

Deicke Park Music Overview

Playing on the percussion instruments is really fun too.

Deicke Park Music

A favorite at this park amongst lots of kids is the railroad crossing sign.  When kids push the red button, the bells start to ring just like the real railroad crossing signs (loudly, I might add).

Deicke Park Railroad Crossing

The schoolhouse area is perfect for little climbers.  The bus actually rocks, there are tunnels to climb through, small rock walls to conquer, and lots of slides.

Deicke Park Schoolhouse

My son’s favorite?  The one he calls the “cylinder” slide!

Deicke Park Cylinder Slide

The basketball area in the Discovery Zone is really cool.  The park has a full-sized court too, but the one here has baskets in varying heights, and cool backboards to “help” the kids score a basket.  Bring your own balls to make sure your kids can play in this area – my toddler loved it!

Deicke Park Basketball

The last time we visited Deicke Park, my son and I decided to take a little walk to see what else this great park had to offer.  One of our favorite finds was the long metal slide.  Kids climb up the steps and take a long, fast ride down the slide.  Some kids were even using their jackets as a sack to get down even faster!

Deicke Park Long Slide

The Discovery Zone isn’t the only playground here either.  There’s another area for slightly older kids with lots of taller slides.

Deicke Park Playground Slides

The climbing wall at the other playground area was pretty cool too – and longer than any at any other park we’ve been to.

Deicke Park Climbing Wall

The other playground also has a smaller are if you have younger kids in tow.

Deicke Park Smaller Playground

Some of the other amenities at Deicke Park include jogging paths, a baseball diamond, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, four picnic shelters, and an over-sized pond.  Deicke Park is part of the Huntley Park District, and is located at 11419 South Route 47 in Huntley, IL.

So tell me?  Wouldn’t your kids love to play at Deicke Park?

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