As an Arlington Heights parent of a 7- and 11-year-old, I’m always looking for activities that will engage both of my kids and take advantage of living in Chicago. This is getting harder as they get older. If it can be both fun and engaging, it’s a win-win.

There are so many Best of lists out there that feature the same places. Here are some lesser-cited recommendations in the city and surrounding suburbs. Enjoy!

#1: Gnome Hunt at The Morton Arboretum

This has been a hit for so many families, young and old. Get some fresh air and be amazed by what you find along the way before it leaves Chicago on March 31.

#2: The Kindness Connection at Northbrook Court

It’s hard to find ways for younger kids to volunteer. My daughter and I had the best experience here and I loved how she gained a deeper empathy for others while learning a different way of thinking about kindness to others. Bonus: she got to complete an art project and learned that it’s also important to be kind to yourself. You don’t have to make a reservation, so it’s a great last-minute activity.

#3: KidCon on March 15 in Rosemont

So many fun hands-on activities for all ages, including making slime, coding, obstacle courses, henna and more.

#4: The Orchid Show at Chicago Botanic Gardens

Through March 22, surround yourself with 10,000 brilliant blooms in this beautiful exhibit for the entire family.

#5: Your Local Theater

We’re so lucky to have access to so many amazing local children’s theaters in our communities. Check out “The Princess and the Pea” at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, “Dog Man: The Musical” at  North Shore Center for The Performing Arts in Skokie, or “The Little Mermaid” at Theater of Western Springs.

#6: STEM Kids Chicago

There are so many STEM events happening all over that you can check out. I always love to check this list before finalizing our weekend plans.

#7: Chicago Architecture Center

On the second Saturday of every month, CAC runs a Family Day including building and take-home craft projects. There’s an awesome 1-day camp on April 6 for girls 11 – 14 years old to design an affordable dream home.

#8: Your Local Public Library

I’m always so blown away by what our local library offers the community, especially kids. When was the last time you checked out what they have planned—even for your tween?

#9: Chicago Symphony Orchestra downtown

Did you know the city of Chicago designated 2020 as the Year of Chicago Music? There’s often a family-friendly monthly concert, like the upcoming “Philharmonia Fantastique” program on March 28.  Check out this running list of cultural and special events all year long.

#10: Comedy Sportz Improv in Lakeview

This is a super fun family-friendly show. Maybe it will inspire your kid to design their own sketches or take an improv class which is an amazing skill to have.

Tajalli Horvat is Galileo’s Senior VP of Midwest Operations. When she’s not heading up our camp’s operations in the midwest, Tajalli loves to dance, cook, and spend time with her family.