No spring break plans? No worries. My family of seven has taken more than our share of road trips and explored nearby states for you. So buckle your seat belt and take a road trip to three great family-friendly cities that are eight hours or less away from Chicago.
St. Louis, Missouri (Approximately 4 hours 33 min from Chicago)
- Gateway “Golden” Arch Perfect for all ages.
- City Museum For adults and kids $12 per person.
- Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company See how candy is made and tour a chocolate factory. Tours are free, which include tasting samples along the way. Appointments preferred.
Traverse City Michigan (Approximately 4 hours, 51 min from Chicago)
- Grand Traverse Pie Company With 14 pie shops in Michigan, the original is in Traverse City…a must for delicious pie.
- Great Lakes Children’s Museum Admission is $6, kids 2 and under are free. Funday Sunday is offered through end of April, where families with children of multiple ages will find fun activities for all at 1:30 and 2:30 in the afternoon.
- Cross Country Skiing Your family will love seeing the sights from any of the trails starting at two miles. Some trails charge a small fee, but many are free or ask for donations.
Branson, Missouri (Approximately 8 hours and 15 min from Chicago)
- Chinese Acrobats and The Haygoods are just a few of the family entertainment venues. Shows are offered in the afternoon or evening.
- Silver Dollar City is a theme park for all ages. Opening March 14, it has the Best New Ride of 2013 worldwide, the Outlaw Run. World-Fest is the first of seven major festivals, which begins April 5 featuring new entertainment, and events.
- Bowling, mini-golf and arcades are a lot fun, too.
Once you select your destination, it will be time to focus on in car activities to keep your wee ones entertained. With these no-mess, no-hassle ideas you’ll avoid the dreaded question, “Are we there yet?”
- Make your own ‘I Spy’ pouch.
- Create a License Plate Checklist.
- Crayola window markers $5.49 at Target, Walmart, Walgreens. Let kids draw on the windows and wipe clean with a baby wipe.
- Make your own dry erase board using an old cookie sheet and Con-Tact paper; the cookie sheet helps because markers stay inside the tray when not in use.
- Head to your local library and check out a few books on CD; this will keep kids of all ages occupied.
- Have your kids journal about the trip. Teachers love this, since it encourages writing, storytelling and keeps minds active. They will also have a keepsake reminding them about the great trip you had.
- Make a craft kit for each child, using items from the dollar store. fill it with envelopes, paper, stickers, colored pencils and put it in a hard pencil type case. They can use the stickers to decorate the case.
- Buy a few toys from the dollar store, wrap them and hand them out as incentives for good behavior every few hours. Kids love unwrapping things.