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illinois-winter-bucket-list1 The Midwest gets pretty cold in the winter, but that doesn’t mean all fun has to come to an end, right? Whether you want to hit the slopes or spend the day in museums, Illinois has so much to offer that you’ll be crossing things off your Bucket List all winter long! Here are some Illinois ideas that you won’t want to miss:

Learn a Thing or Two in Illinois

Museums are a fun learning experience for the entire family, and make for the perfect winter field trip when you want to defrost a bit!

Located in the city of Normal, the Children’s Discovery Museum’s mission is to inspire the love of learning through the power of play! Spend a day with the kids exploring many hands-on exhibits while they put their imaginations to work. Admission is $7 for everyone ages 2 and up. There is free parking available on most days, or you can park on the a parking deck for $1 an hour. The museum is closed on Mondays so be sure to plan your trip for another day and call ahead to see their hours of operation.

The Prairie Aviation Museum in Bloomington has a wide variety of aviation related exhibits. Airplane lovers will enjoy their extensive collection of space and other aviation items! Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children over 5. They’re open Thursday through Sunday, but have odd hours so check their website for exact times before you head over.

Brave the Snow and Ice

Think you can handle the cold? Bundle up and head out to these awesome spots!

Eagle Watching can be relaxing and enjoyable. The Cache River Wetlands offers the opportunity to spot eagles as well as other birds. They also provide resource materials to get you more involved in what you’re seeing.

This list of Illinois Ski Resorts will keep you busy for a while! I also like to know when ski resorts are open or closed, so keep an eye on Ski Central for updates. Some locations may have ski product rentals, but you may want to be prepared with your own ski equipment.

Don’t forget about Lake Michigan! Yes, it’s going to be cold – really cold – but it’s worth the trek just for the views alone! If you have the time (as well as a hat, scarf and gloves!), consider renting a Divvy Bike and riding up and down the paths by the beach!

On select days in November and December, you can experience the Fox Trolley Polar Express in South Elgin. The trains are heated, and pajamas are encouraged! The train transports you to the “North Pole” where Santa will be waiting. Tickets are $29.70 each and you must get them ahead of time as they do sell out.

Favorite Chicago Spots

There is more to Illinois than Chicago, but Chi-Town is definitely worth visiting – for as long as you can! And yes, even in the winter! Millennium Park is the obvious choice, but don’t overlook the rest. As a Chicagoan myself, I always enjoy visiting the landmarks, museums, and events in Chicago – and I know you will, too!

An obvious choice because it’s inside, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is perfect entertainment for a date night “out on the town”. They offer programs for adults, but they also offer amazing programs for children. Try to plan a trip so that you can have an amazing experience with the family.

Plan your visit to the Chicago Children’s Museum around the free and discounted days if you want to save a few bucks! Exhibits include the Treehouse Trails, Kidstown, and more. Plus, since it is located at Navy Pier, you can plan play miniature golf, go on the Centennial Wheel, visit the beautiful crystal gardens, and have an excellent meal!

One of the most inclusive options for seeing Chicago landmarks on a budget is to participate in a CityPass. This will grant you admission to five of the major Chicago attractions like the following:

  1. The SkyDeck is a one-of-a-kind experience for kids and adults alike. Located in the Willis Tower, the SkyDeck will let you see Chicago like the birds do – with what seems like no ground beneath your feet!
  2. If you haven’t visited the Shedd Aquarium yet, what are you waiting for?? Explore the world’s oceans, rivers, and reefs, along with 32,000 animals all without leaving the city. Plus, it’s inside which means you’ll stay nice and cozy.
  3. Learn a thing or two on your trip! The Museum of Science and Industry brings science to life for guests of all ages. A few of the things on my “must list” are the Coal Mine Exhibit, the Submarine Tour, the Mirror Maze and the baby chicks.
  4. The Field Museum is a location that you can’t miss. Between Sue, the largest T. Rex ever found, the Egyptian history section with the largest collection of mummies and the DNA Discovery Center, you will walk out with a whole new appreciation for natural history.
  5. Be careful when you enter The Art Institute because you may never leave! With over 300,000 thousands of pieces of artwork, you will be able to see everything from Chinese bronzes to contemporary design to textiles to installation art.

For an even more comprehensive list of things to do in Chicago, check out my list of Chicago Family Staycation Ideas.

Illinois has so much to see, but you don’t have to wait until summer! Use this Illinois Winter Bucket List to get you in motion even in the colder months!


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

gifts-suggestions-for-the-kids-birthdays-holidays-graduations1 Birthday gifts for your little one, holiday gifts for your teenager, graduation gifts for your eighth-grader – we all need gift suggestions sometimes! Use these gift ideas for the kids to pick out the perfect present for the special young people in your life.

Sports Gifts For Kids Fantastics Help your child support their favorite sports team! Whether it’s basketball or the Olympics, there’s lots of gear that will help any fan get into the game! Start with these:

Marbles Deals If your child likes puzzles and games, Marbles: The Brain Store has some really fascinating and fun games that you’ve never seen before. These will be different (and maybe more challenging and entertaining!) than other games your child may have gotten!

Sleepyheads Gifts For Her, Him And Kids What about pajamas?? Pick up ADORABLE matching pajamas for the entire family or get something just for the kids! You’ll know what works best in this situation, so go with your gut.

verabradley Vera Bradley is always a great option! The designs of these bags are bright and fun while also being practical and durable. There are backpacks and bags that will be perfect for any child!

Flirty Aprons For Kids For any child who enjoys cooking or baking, picking up an extra special apron will help make the experience even better! These are fun and extremely functional.

knex-deals K’NEX are the perfect gift for any child that likes to build and create. You can get everything from general building sets to STEAM sets and while your child is having fun, they’re also having an educational experience!

Kidorable Gift Guide Deal A cute umbrella, rain coat and rain boots is always a good option – and something that most kids need! Whether they’re growing into a new size or lost one boot, super cute replacements are fun to open!

Gymboree Deals Do the kids need some new clothes? Gymboree has excellent, quality clothing that you can hand down after your kids grow out of them. Be sure to check the front page for sales and offers, as these change often.

Mermaid Blankets Jane is a really fun one to explore as well. They carry some amazing kids gifts mermaid blankets to fashion and much more, but everything is created by smaller shops and sold here. Sales usually run for a few days, so you will find completely new inventory every single day. See if there’s something unique for the child in your life!

National Autism Resources If the child in your life has tactile or sensory issues, is autistic, has anxiety or is sensitive to stimuli, you may want to check out the amazing items that they have through National Autism Resources.

Cents Of Style Deals Kids can be fashionable too! Cents of Style has some fun shirt and scarf designs that your kids might love!

Magazine Deals Everyone loves a good magazine! Magazines are the gifts that keep on giving, so the recipient can enjoy them all year long. Discount Mags has thousands of popular titles to choose from and you can use coupon code COUPONINGFOR4 to get 20% off almost any purchase.

ThinkGeek Deals For any fan of Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Sherlock, Pac-Man, Firefly or SO MANY other fan favorites, ThinkGeek is the place for you. This is where you’ll find fun and unique items that you won’t find elsewhere!

Mabel's Labels Deals Mabel’s Labels has a lot of fun options, but they’re best known for their personalized labels. These aren’t address labels! They are peel-and-stick personalized name labels that can go on everything from children’s coats to their lunchboxes to their sippy cups. Most schools ask for us to write our children’s names in and on their belongings, so this is an easy way for you to remember AND for them to have something cool!

Crocs Deals Crocs never go out of style! Most of us think of Crocs as summer shoes, but they make the perfect gift for any time of year! From summer shoes to boots, there are lots of fun designs to choose from.

GearXS Deals If the kids loves lots of littler things, there are tons and tons of options on GearXS. They carry things like trick lottery tickets, digital coin counter money jars, water blasters and lots of things that you may never have thought of. Inventory changes regularly and shipping is always free. Pay attention to the shipping window, as some items will ship sooner than others.

Toys As always, you will also want to check the toy and gift sections at Amazon, Kohl’s, Target and Walmart to see if they have any sales going on!

Gifts for the kids can be a little daunting – especially as they hit those pre-teen years! Getting them something a little different might be just the ticket. Think about what their interests are and go for gold! If you’re looking for something for one of the men or women in your life, check out my gift guide for her and gift guide for him!


Gift Suggestions For Him (Birthdays, Holidays, Anniversaries)

November 21, 2016

Birthday gifts for your husband, holiday gifts for your boyfriend, thoughtful gifts for your dad – we all need gift suggestions sometimes! Use this gift guide for him to pick out the perfect present for the special man in your life. Help him support his favorite sports team! Whether it’s football or NASCAR, there’s lots […]

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Gift Suggestions For Her (Birthdays, Holidays, Anniversaries)

November 19, 2016

Birthday gifts for your wife, holiday gifts for your girlfriend, thoughtful gifts for your mother – we all need gift suggestions sometimes! Use these gift ideas for her to pick out the perfect present for the special woman in your life. One of my favorite gifts to get for people are things that they will […]

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Illinois Treasurer’s I-Cash Program May Have Missing Cash Waiting For You!

November 15, 2016
I-Cash Program

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Illinois Treasurer’s I-Cash. All opinions and statements are my own. One of the things I can honestly say is that I’ve never heard anyone exclaim, “I have enough money! I’m good!” Whether you are living paycheck to paycheck or find yourself more comfortable financially, a little more […]

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How To Take Care Of Your Skin On A Budget

October 24, 2016

Most people are on some sort of budget, right? More often than not, skin care is one of those things that has to fall to the wayside. Even if you are on the smallest budget, you can still take care of your skin! Here are some tips on how to get skin care products and […]

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How To Live Without A Bank Account

October 1, 2016

In this day and age, it’s almost crazy to think about living without a bank account. What is almost scarier is that bank accounts seem to be the life blood for the American people. It’s where we keep our everyday money and our savings as well as a lot of trust. That said, many people […]

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Top 10 Book Recommendations For Fall

September 20, 2016

It’s fall and life is back in the swing of things for the kids! Whether you read before bed or while the children are in school, you have to have a great book on hand! Here is a list of my top 10 book recommendations for fall: White Oleander – One of my favorite books, […]

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How To Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

September 6, 2016

Laundry detergent is one of those products that you cannot live without, but the costs really add up. If you’re up for it, homemade laundry detergent is great for a few reasons. You know exactly what is going into your detergent (huge when you have allergies in the household), it is much cheaper, and it […]

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8 Frugal Baking Shortcuts You Need To Know

August 23, 2016

Baking can be a fun way to express your creativity, relieve stress, or just have fun, but it can also be an expensive hobby. There are a lot of shortcuts and workarounds that will allow you to continue baking while not breaking the budget though! Here are some tips to help you cut back on […]

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5 Cheap Ways To Get Your Car Cleaned

August 22, 2016

Isn’t it nice when your car is clean and all the crumbs have been vacuumed up? Unfortunately, finding cheap ways to get your car cleaned isn’t always easy. A good car cleaning can cost $30 or more! If you don’t want to spend that kind of money each week or month, there are thriftier ways […]

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5 Ways To Save Money At A Carnival, Fair Or Theme Park

August 8, 2016

Going to the carnival can be so much fun, but it can also be very expensive. Shortly after arriving with friends or family, you’ve spent over $100 and don’t have much to show for it! The good news is there are ways to save money. Whether you look for coupons or set a budget for […]

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How To Save Money On Textbooks

August 2, 2016

Textbooks are the second largest expense that college students will face when it comes to their education, so finding out how to save on them is a necessity. The cost of textbooks can be insane, but they don’t have to be! There are so many ways to save money. Whether you borrow textbooks or shop […]

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How To Remove Sticker Residue From A Washed T-shirt

July 18, 2016

Have sticker residue on a T-shirt? Here is how to remove sticker residue from a washed T-shirt based on my own experience. You can save that shirt – I’ve done it! If you are like me, you know the pain of trying to remove sticky adhesive from your clothing after you’ve washed it. My daughter […]

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