Fun and Learnin’ at the SciTech Hands On Museum

My son has – and probably always will – love science. And I’m not talking an it’s-cool-to-do-experiments kind of love, I’m talking more of an I’m-totally-obsessed-and-don’t-want-to-do-anything-else kind of love/obsession. I can almost guarantee (unless you’re kinda geeky too) that he can tell you more about certain scientific subjects than you have ever cared to know. I’m amazed by the kid every day.

So when I saw that there’s a museum in Illinois, located less than an hour from my house, called the SciTech Hands On Museum, I knew I totally had to take him. In fact, I’m surprised that I hadn’t taken him sooner. This place is totally up his alley.


What I liked straight from the get-go, was the price. Admission is only $8 for anyone over 4. That’s a bargain for a museum in Illinois! Kids three and under are free.

The museum itself is a lot larger than I thought it was too. Two floors on the main levels, and then a smaller exhibit area in the basement. I thought it was going to be a small, local museum, but for the $8 you pay in admission, you get so much for your money.

With over 150 interactive STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) exhibits, the SciTech Hands On Museum inspires education and imagination at every turn. One of the exhibits we spent the most time at was the KidSpace area.

SciTech KidSpace

Kids can explore their inner engineer and use their imaginations to build with huge foam blocks. A house? Warehouse? Super cool special agent spy headquarters? Sure! Whatever they want!

SciTech KidSpace Building

Another one of our favorite exhibits was the bubble play area. I mean, duh, right? What kid doesn’t like to surround themselves in a big ol’ bubble?

SciTech Bubble

There are exhibits at the SciTech Hands On Museum to satisfy any science explorer. So what are you waiting for? Grab the kids and GO!

The SciTech Hands On Museum is located at 18 West Benton Street in Aurora, IL. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays.

SciTech Second Floor Exhibits

Exhibits on the second floor.

SciTech Hand Prints

Hand prints!

SciTech Motors

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


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.


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.


Little Beans Village |Photo by: Eva Ho Photography


Photo by: Eva Ho Photography



Infant Room


Ninja Warrior-themed obstacle course.


Ninja Warrior Course | Photo by: Eva Ho Photography

Half court gym for games.


A Karaoke room and lots more!


Photo by: Eva Ho Photography

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!

Connect with Little Beans Café

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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.

Connect with Ball Factory
Facebook | Twitter

Get Your Classic Cars Fix at the Volo Auto Museum!

Cars have never exactly been my thing.  I can’t see headlights in the distance and say, “Ooh, that’s a nice 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 right there!”  I say that because that’s exactly something my husband would say.  He goes absolutely gaga for classic muscle cars.  His affection for them and knowledge of classic cars is pretty remarkable.  I, on the other hand, can’t tell the difference between a Honda Odyssey and a Toyota Sienna (minivans in case you didn’t know…I Googled it).

Now that I’m a mom of a little dude, some things have got to change.  Just because I’m not crazy about cars, doesn’t mean I’m not going to expose my son to something he might actually love one day.  Like father, like son after all!

So…drum roll…

Volo Auto Museum Logo

We visited the Volo Auto Museum!  Having a son has certainly changed my view on lots of things.  Never before would you catch me at a car museum.  But now, having been there, I can honestly say –


What You Should Know!

You’ll receive a map when you pay for your admission.  Keep this!  You’ll need it.  When I think of a museum, it’s singular.  One building.  The vehicles at the Volo Auto Museum are housed in five separate buildings, well, six if you count the Military Museum.  We visited recently (in the winter) so that meant keeping our coats on because you had to venture outside to enter the other buildings.

Volo Auto Museum_Classic Cars

The Volo Auto Museum is home to lots of vehicles used in popular movies: the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the Hearse from Terminator 3, “Grease Lightening” from the movie Grease, K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, and SO MANY MORE!

Volo Auto Museum_Movie Cars

There’s also plenty for kids to love with cars from their favorite movies: Herbie the Love Bug, Lightening McQueen and Tow Mater from Cars, the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, the strange-looking vehicle from Cat in the Hat, and you can even take a picture in the Flinstone’s vehicle that was used in the movie starring John Goodman & Rosie O’Donnell!

Volo Auto Museum_Cars in Wonderland

For a couple of quarters you can also take a spin in some of the kiddie cars on display in the kid’s building, Cars in Wonderland.

Volo Auto Museum_Kid Rides

On your way to the Cars in Wonderland exhibit, you’ll be greeted by scenes from two of my son’s favorite movies, Finding Nemo and Monster’s Inc.!

Volo Auto Museum_Monsters Inc

Have a car fanatic in your family?  The Volo Auto Museum is also an auto dealership!  Hundreds of restored, classic cars are for sale.  And for not being much of a car buff myself, even I wanted to buy one to take home!

Volo Auto Museum_Car Dealership

Hungry?  Don’t forget to visit the whimsical Betty Boop Grill.  Reminiscent of an old diner from the past, you can order up burgers, pizza, hot dogs and other seasonal items to chow down.

Volo Auto Museum_Betty Boop Grill

There are plenty of opportunities here for a cute photo op too, so make sure you bring your cameras and a SMILE!

Volo Auto Museum_Simpsons

We visited in the winter, but I noticed several areas and playgrounds for kids to run around and play in warmer weather.  We’ll be back in the spring for sure!

Volo Auto Museum

Before you go, make sure you visit the HUGE Antique Mall located right next door!  Over 400 dealers sell their wares at the Antique Mall.  Even if you’re not looking to buy, it’s definitely worth the visit.

General admission* is $13.95 for adults and $8.95 for kids ages 5-11.  The Volo Auto Museum is open daily from 10am – 5pm.  Connect with the Volo Auto Museum on Facebook and Twitter!  The Volo Auto Museum is located at 27582 Volo Village Road in Volo, IL.


*General admission verified February 2014.

Disclosure:  I received complimentary admission to the Volo Auto Museum to facilitate this review.  I was not asked to provide a particular point of view, and all opinions are 100% my own.

Chicagoland Spots: Monkey Joes in Crystal Lake

Venue: Monkey Joe’s


Location: 6250 Northwest Highway, Suite B, Crystal Lake, IL.  Located near the intersection of Northwest Highway (US Route 14) and South Main Street.

Hours: M-Th: 10:00am – 5:00pm; F-Sa: 10:00am – 8:00pm; Su: 11:00am – 6:00pm

Admission: $9.99 per child ages 3 and up, $5.00 per child ages 2 and under, adults are free.  Party packages are also available.

Parking: Free – plentiful

Monkey Joes_Crystal Lake

Our Experience:  Monkey Joe’s is a fun-filled inflatable play center.  It looks pretty unassuming from the outside, nestled next to a giant Hobby Lobby, but the Crystal Lake location has a total of 7 GIANT inflatables for the kids to enjoy.  Two of them, located towards the front of the play space, are designated for kids 3 and under so my son spent most of his morning there.

This was taken in one of the toddler inflatables.  The bottom was covered in animals that the kids could crawl over.

Monkey Joes_Toddlers

Word of advice:  If you’re headed to Monkey Joe’s on a weekend, be sure to get there early and stay till lunchtime.  We got there right when they opened (10:00 am) on a Saturday and practically has the place to ourselves for a little while, but by lunchtime, the place was packed!

See – our coats were the only ones hanging.

Monkey Joes_Entrance

By the time we left (a little after noon), people that were arriving were waiting for an available hanger.

There’s also a small play area for kids under the age of two – helpful if you have a little one that isn’t quite old enough to enjoy the inflatables.  We kicked back in this little room for a bit.  There’s also a big flat screen TV right next to this area for mom or dad to enjoy while the kids play.

Monkey Joes_Toddler Area

Overall, our $5 was well-spent at Monkey Joe’s.  We spent a good couple of hours there and my son didn’t even want to leave for lunch.

Monkey Joes_Inflatables

A few more helpful tips:

  • Don’t forget to bring socks!
  • Monkey Joe’s serves food and drinks, but you can’t bring in your own (they’ll make you leave it at the door).
  • Party packages are available – there were quite a few parties going on while we were there.
  • Free WiFi is available so bring your tablet or laptop if your child is old enough to explore on their own.
  • If you have smaller kids, be sure to wear comfortable clothes!  You WILL be dragged to a few of the larger inflatables and asked to climb up.  My son just had to slide down the pirate ship slide and guess who got to go along for the ride!  Good times!

Chicagoland Spots: Purple Monkey Playroom

Chicagoland Moms:  Here’s a fun Halloween activity for the kids on October 27th!  Another great kid-friendly activity:

Purple Monkey Playroom!

The Purple Monkey Playroom is located at 2040 N. Western Avenue in Chicago (near the intersection of Armitage & Western).  Join Purple Monkey Playroom on Oct 27th for a fun, festive halloween-themed celebration tailored-made for toddlers and preschoolers. Space is limited so make sure to register or get more information on the Not-At-All Spooky Halloween Party today.

Purple Monkey Playroom is a bright, nurturing destination for young children, parents and caregivers nestled in the heart of Bucktown.  As the venue and the entertainment all rolled into one inviting play space, Purple Monkey Playroom makes planning your child’s birthday as easy as walking through the door. Our playroom can comfortably seat up to 30 guests, and can accommodate a total of 50 celebrants. We welcome any outside food, drink and decoration and can also help coordinate any “extras” in which you might be interested.

Right now you can Save $4 off Drop In Plus $100 on Parties at the Purple Monkey Playroom plus other great deals!

I am loving all the fun, kid-friendly things to do in Chicagoland!  How about you?  Have you been to Purple Monkey Playroom?  Did’ya like it?

Disclosure:  I will be given complimentary admission to Purple Monkey Playroom in exchange for this post thanks to Windy City Kids Guide.


Chicagoland Spots: Nibbles Play Cafe

Hey Chicagoland Moms!  I found another great activity to do with your little ones!!!

Nibbles Play Café!

Nibbles Play Café is located at 13 Huntington Lane in Wheeling, IL (near the intersection of Dundee Road and Huntington Lane).  Nibbles Play Café is a fusion of an indoor play center and family-friendly restaurant. It’s a place where moms connect with other moms over coffee, lunch and more while their children enjoy a great play experience. They have a variety of play areas for children 0 to 7 years of age including dress up, train table, an arts and crafts area, a baby area, and more!  Check their website calendar for daily activities, special dinner events, brunches, and kids programs.  Nibbles Play Café is great for playdates, a rainy day activity, birthday parties and other special family occasions.  They also have FREE WiFi.

Daily admission for children between ages of 1-7 is $7.50 for 1st child; $3.75 for additional siblings. Group rates are available.

But for the awesome readers of Thoughts from Her, I have a coupon for One FREE Admission with $10 Food Purchase at Nibbles Play Café!  How awesome is that?!?!  If you head out there, be sure to let me know how you liked it!

Disclosure:  I will be given complimentary admission to Nibbles Play Café in exchange for this post thanks to Windy City Kids Guide.
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