Explore and Play: Family Adventures in Chicago Northwest!



If you’re looking for family-friendly fun, these Chicago Northwest attractions are where it’s at. Whether you’re spending a day at the lake or rediscovering the magic of playing with LEGO®, check out this guide for your next adventure.

Lake Arlington

Photo Credit: Lake Arlington

For a day on the water, head to Lake Arlington! Located in Arlington Heights, this man-made 50-acre lake is the perfect place to make a splash in the summer. Hike or bike along the two-acre walking path. Rent a paddle boat and enjoy an afternoon on the water. Or, cast a line on the fishing pier (permit required). There are plenty of picnic areas for a charming lunch by the lake. Even better, you don’t have to leave your pooch at home – the lake is pet-friendly!

Busse Woods & Ned Brown Meadow

Photo Credit: Busse Woods & Ned Brown Meadow

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Elk Grove Village at Busse Woods & Ned Brown Meadow. Here, over 3,500 acres of diverse landscapes beckon outdoor enthusiasts, from ancient forests to vast meadows and lakes. Hike on 13 miles of paved trails, enjoy a picnic with the family in a grove, or keep an eye out for elk in the elk pasture. Kayaking, fishing and paddle boating are popular water activities. In the winter, it’s an excellent spot for snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

Pirates’ Cove Theme Park

Photo Credit: Pirates’ Cove Theme Park

Ahoy, matey! Prepare for a swashbuckling good time at Pirates’ Cove Theme Park in Elk Grove Village. Open June through August, this pirate-themed park is a great spot to spend the day with the kiddos. Feel the thrill of Pirate’s Plunge, fly through the air on a mini-ship at Soarin’ Schooners, and meet Misty the Dragon at the Castle of Camelot. Refuel with lunch at Buccaneer Bites before hopping aboard the Safari Express train & checking out the shenanigans at the Swashbuckler Wharf Fun stage!

Springbrook Nature Center

Photo Credit: Springbrook Nature Center

Education meets the great outdoors at Springbrook Nature Center in Itasca. Known for its student-friendly programs hosted throughout the year, this center offers children a chance to interact with nature and wildlife. Meet the resident raptors onsite, from Red-tailed Hawks to Barn Owls. Check out the prairie and creek. Guided nature walks and children’s camps are also available during the summer, along with specialty events like moonlit hikes (better bring a flashlight).

Opera in Focus

Photo Credit: Opera in Focus

At Opera in Focus, famous musicals and operas come to life via the magic of miniature rod puppets! Prepare to be dazzled as these puppets sing and dance across the stage, performing Broadway hits and operatic ballads from shows like Annie Get Your Gun and Norma. After each performance, enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at how the puppets operate and a backstage tour!

Chicago Athenaeum International Sculpture Park

Photo Credit: Chicago Athenaeum International Sculpture Park

Just an hour from downtown Chicago, The Chicago Athenaeum’s International Sculpture Park offers 20 acres of meadow, forest and natural prairie to explore. Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and stroll the pathways featuring 16 sculptures from around the world. Marvel at the Fiberwave, a sculpture made from 50 carbon rods and LED lights that simulate a grass prairie. Or, snap a photo of the EccHora, a massive adjustable sundial constructed from painted aluminum.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Feel like a kid again at LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Schaumburg! Get hands-on with fun-filled LEGO® exhibits! Test your LEGO® building skills, make your own creations, soar through the skies on Merlin’s Apprentice, and take out tricky trolls on the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride. Check out replicas of Chicago’s iconic landmarks in MINILAND. And, of course, stop by the LEGO® Store for a new set on your way out!

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Photo Credit: Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Clashing knights and thrilling fights abound at the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament! Travel back to the Middle Ages and watch heroic knights battle for glory on horseback. Dine like royalty with Queen Isabella and feast on roasted chicken, herbed potatoes, tomato bisque, and buttered corn with a stein of fine ale to quench your thirst. Watch a jousting tournament and become a member of the royal guard yourself in the pre-show knighting ceremony in the Hall of Arms.

Schaumburg Boomers

Photo Credit: Schaumburg Boomers

Enjoy a night at the ballgame and cheer on the Schaumburg Boomers at Wintrust Field! Chow down on hot dogs in the stadium. Keep your mitt ready for fly balls. And watch the three-time champions play for a home run! On Fridays and Saturdays, fireworks light up the sky after the game. And throughout the season, family-oriented theme nights add extra excitement.

The Schweikher House

Photo Credit: The Schweikher House

Take a guided tour of the Schweikher House, a historic landmark built in 1938 by young architect Paul Schweikher. Featuring a unique T-shaped design inspired by Japanese architecture, this home on the National Register of Historic Places is a must-visit. Learn about the home’s history, explore the gravel courtyard and marvel at the unique designs, from the brick-lined living room to the piano room and kitchen.

Trickster Cultural Center

Photo Credit: Trickster Cultural Center

In Schaumburg, the Trickster Cultural Center celebrates Indigenous Americans and veterans through art, rotating exhibits and educational programs. Visit the galleries to see Indigenous American artwork, learn about the Native women who served the country and pay your respects at the Wall of Honor, a tribute to Indigenous American veterans. Outside, check out the public art on display (this changes periodically).

390 Golf Experience

Photo Credit: 390 Golf Experience

Perfect your swing at the 390 Golf Experience in Wood Dale. Here, two levels of climate-controlled hitting bays provide visitors of all skill levels with Toptracer technology so you can test your distance, speed and location for every hit! Check out the virtual golf-based games (there are even fun games for kids). Catch a game on one of the 80-inch flat-screen TVs. If you’re hungry, grab a bite from the Parlay Sports Bar. And don’t worry if you don’t have clubs – free rentals are available!

Take this guide on the go with Apple Maps on your iPhone!

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