How Chicago families can beat cabin fever this winter

The Daily Meal

Man, I love Chicago! The Windy City has it all - food, theater, museums, great places to stay and eat near the lake, and thrills in the sky. Plan a dreamy date with your significant other or get the whole family out and about for one of these urban adventures.

For the older kids
Sometimes that stage is covered in blue paint and toilet paper. Enter: Blue Man Group. Celebrating 20 years at Chicago’s famed Briar Street Theatre, Blue Man Group is Chicago’s longest-running show and perhaps one of the most iconic. Performances, backed by a live neon-clad rock band, observe human behavior and cultural norms that celebrate how we all connect through art, music, comedy and technology.

Other exciting theatrical happenings around the city include Chicago Opera Theater’s Elizabeth Cree, performed at The Studebaker Theater, with music by Kevin Puts, libretto by Mark Campbell, and directed by David Schweizer. In this suspenseful 90-minute theatrical opera, viewers explore Victorian murder, poisoning, and spirits. You’ll see into the window of the trial of Elizabeth, for the murder of her husband, that weaves stories of her days in an English music hall and the dark deaths that happen after she joins the ensemble.

Southern Gothic, performed at Windy City Playhouse, takes you to a Mad Men-inspired shindig in 1960s Georgia, where you watch a spicy spectacle evolve. Actually, you’re a part of the party in this interactive, immersive production. Walk around the set, enjoy a Tom Collins, and be a part of the small group of audience fellows in this voyeuristic theatrical experience.

Seeing a show at The Marriott Theatre, which was founded in 1975, is an experience all in itself. The award-winning theatre, which launches Broadway shows, sells over 400,000 tickets per year and has presented more than 180 productions to about 11 million people. Now, you can see the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Ragtime, which showcases a struggling turn-of-the-century America, divided by race, class and economic standings, through the eyes of three American narrators, all working toward progress and a goal of a better future.


For a change of scenery
A great thing about having kids, or being a rock star guardian, is that you can do things like roll out a sleeping bag and spend the night at a museum. I’ve slept at several museums and zoos with my boys, and the Field Museum is one of the best. First, picture the diorama of the Tsavo man-eating lions that stalked and killed Indian railroad workers, and then imagine walking around at night with a flashlight, with no overhead museum music to comfort you, and staring at the reconstructed pair. Or, picture your child’s face when he walks through the mummy exhibit or the Underground Adventure with the huge spiders and crayfish. Meeting real scientists - to discuss evolutionary habits of ants or to pick mouse bones out of fuzzy gray owl pellets with a tweezers - was a trip highlight. I loved waking up the next morning in the Hall of Dinosaurs, with my boys stretched out in their blankets under the triceratops dinosaurs.

For the hard-to-contain
Trip Advisor rated The Escape Game the No. 1 escape experience in the country. Perfect for a date night or fun for the whole family, this interactive adventure lures you into a new world where you have to solve a mystery, plan a prison break, execute a heist, find gold, or repair a spaceship. You have one hour to complete the mission and, obviously, escape the room, utilizing your team’s abilities and skills. Work together, but do so quickly and efficiently if you want to succeed and get out.

For the science fanatics
Most folks are savvy to the wonders of Autograph Collection Hotels, spread across the globe. New to Chicago’s Streterville, and the Autograph Collection, Hotel EMC2 blends art and science into every nook and cranny. From robot concierges (Cleo and Leo) that deliver amenities to a fabulous restaurant with over 12,000 books on its two-story shelves, to modern conveniences like Alexa in every room (she responds with custom hotel phrases), this property stands out in a big way. Don’t miss dining at The Albert, named after, you guessed it, Albert Einstein, where you can order Acorn Squash, roasted with kale, maple, pecan and pomegranate or French Dorade, served family-style, with cauliflower, brown butter and capers.

For the parents
Maybe you’ve explored Chicago extensively on the ground, and you really feel like you know the Second City . Why not see it from above? Based out of their own heliport, in under 10 minutes from the city, Chicago Helicopter Experience can show you Chicago in a whole new way. From a bird’s-eye view, you’ll fly over the Willis Tower, the Hancock Tower, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and Soldier Field. Pick daylight or evening - or better yet, twilight - and fill your camera with Instagram-worthy snaps. Pro tip: Surprise your loved one with a Romance Flight, which includes the tour, champagne toast, gourmet chocolates, video, and photo - perfect for Valentine’s Day.

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