Millennium Park is my absolute favorite destination for Chicago families – in any season. During the summer months, families can splash around in the Crown Fountain, enjoy a free outdoor concert, or take advantage of the free, daily activities in the Family Fun Festival Tent.
Summer may be over, but the family fun at Millennium Park continues all year-round. Here are some ways that your family can keep on enjoying this fabulous public space (even when you have to bundle up to do it!).
(1) Lurie Garden Family Workshops
The Lurie Garden is a peaceful and serene refuge right in the middle of the city. If you have yet to explore this space with your kids, the free Lurie Garden Family Workshops are a great introduction to the wonders that await.
Throughout the year (and even in the dead of winter), families can take advantage of free workshops designed to explore different aspects of the garden in ways that appeal to kiddos. The next scheduled workshop is Magical Dwellings: Art and the Lurie Garden on October 10th from 12:30 until 3:30 p.m.. Participants will learn how to create diminutive dwellings inspired by the works at the Art Institute and the scenery in the Lurie Garden. On November 13th, families can take advantage of a program called Winter Wonders and Recycled Crafts. Participants will tour and garden and note how the cold has transformed the landscape and then head back to the Chicago Cultural Center to create eco-friendly crafts.
Kids must be over the age of 6 and accompanied by an adult to attend these workshops. Registration is required. For more information on future workshops, visit the Millennium Park website.
(2) Ice Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
November 17, 2010 marks the first day of the 10th ice skating season at Millennium Park. This experience is a rite of passage for Chicago kids. There is just nothing like gliding (or stumbling) around the ice looking up at the city skyline. This is a magical experience – particularly at night. The skating season runs through March 13, 2011 (weather permitting). Skating is free of charge and skate rental is $10. Don’t forget that mandatory post-skate hot chocolate. Visit website.
(3) The Bean!
This artistic marvel (which is technically called Cloud Gate) ) is definitely a year-round activity. Kids (and their adults) love to look at their reflections from all of the different perspectives. Lay on the ground and put your feet on it. Crawl underneath it. Look at it up close. Look at it from afar. See the skyline from a new perspective. Interact with it! (I’m pretty sure that’s what it is there for).
Caitlin Murray Giles is a Chicago mom and freelance writer. She chronicles her adventures with the three little people in her life at Wee Windy City.