Blue Star Museums And More

Growing up as a military child, you get to see different parts of the country and sometimes the world. Each place is different and unique, and brings with it opportunities to see the sights in the time you’re there. Read on to see where you can take your family this summer and this year in Lake County, Chicago and Milwaukee as part of the Blue Star Museum program. Blue Star Museums offer free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.


Moving to the Midwest, I was very excited because I would finally have a chance to live close to my family in Michigan and Indiana. I also have a few cousins that live in Chicago who are always fun to go see as well because they know the best places to eat and they get to see their city from a tourist’s viewpoint. When we moved here our children were five and seven, so I was on high alert for children’s museums.

© Kari Alford | Little Lake County.com |2017

Chicago Children’s Museum
700 E. Grand Avene, Chicago | (312) 527-1000
The Chicago Children’s Museum is a must-see and it’s free for military members and their children and spouses.

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago | (312) 939-2438
Another must for us is anything aquatic, so we went to the Shedd Aquarium during the Blue Star months and got in free, with the option to pay for the extras like shows.

© Kari Alford | Little Lake County.com |2017

Museum of Science and Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago | (773) 684-1414
We enjoy visiting the STEM exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago | (312) 443-3600
We visited the Art Institue of Chicago, where my daughter finally got to see a Jackson Pollock painting in person!

© Kari Alford | Little Lake County.com | 2017

Here are other area children’s museums and play places that are free to anyone with a military ID all year long; just show your military ID at the entrance:

TreeHouse Lake Zurich
985 S. Rand Road, Lake Zurich | (847) 438-8887

Kohl Children’s Museum
2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview | (847) 832-6600

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe | (847) 835-5440

If you’re looking for a vacation, Disneyland, Disneyworld, Disney Cruiseline, Legoland (California, Florida and Schaumburg), Country Springs and Great Wolf Lodge all offer military discounts all year long, and I’m sure you know someone that lives near one of those that you can stay with to make it an even better vacation!

Moving on to shopping, these stores offer military discounts:

Green Kids Resale
833 E. Rollins Road, Round Lake Beach | (847) 986-6232
Green Kids offers a 10 percent discount to military families.

Gurnee Mills
6170 W. Grand Avenue, Gurnee | (847) 263-7500
Select stores offer year-round military discounts with military ID.

MainStreet Libertyville
Select merchants in downtown Libertyville offer discounts and special offers with military ID. Please check the website for current listings.

Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets
11211 120th Ave, Pleasant Prairie, WI | (262) 857-2101
If you’re off for a day of shopping at the outlets in Pleasant Prairie, head over to the information desk and show your military ID to get a free discount book

Other local stores that offer military discounts include Disney Store, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Gap, Forever 21, Express, and Timberland.

If you’re taking a trip to Milwaukee, the following places offer special military discounts. Also check out Little Lake County writer Loralie’s take on a Gas Tank Getaway to Milwaukee.

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
929 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI | (414) 390-5437

Discovery World
500 N. Harbor Drive, Milwaukee, WI | (414) 765-9966
Read about Little Lake County writer Jessica G’s experience at Discovery World here.

Harley Davidson Museum
400 W. Canal Street, Milwaukee, WI | (877) 436-8738

Some Culver’s restaurants (check with the manager) offer a military discount all year long, and don’t forget to use your military ID at The Home Depot and Lowes to get 10% off.

If you’re looking to get your Active Duty member(s) in free and are ok with paying for the rest of the family, there are plenty of sight-seeing locations and hotels that offer free Active Duty admission and discounts all year long. If you’re going to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) soon, or are wanting to plan a summertime visit to another state, here is a list of all the Blue Star Museums across the country.

© Kari Alford | Little Lake County.com | 2017

Moving every few years can be the pits, but getting to live somewhere long enough to take the time to see all the attractions will help take the sting out of knowing that PCS season is just around the corner.

Do you have suggestions for military families? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Dance academy of Libertyville
About Kari Alford 27 Articles
Kari is a military wife who gets to travel the globe with her favorite people: her family! She has a husband who is funnier than she lets on, a daughter who is more creative than anyone she’s ever met, and a son who is always up for an adventure (especially if it involves a sword fight!) Kari hails from Michigan, but thanks to joining the Navy when she was 19, she has lived in California and Japan until returning to the Midwest in 2015. Kari loves to experience what cities have to offer but also loves to kayak with her family, or explore the wilderness. Every day is a different one since she’s on her children’s school’s PTO board, the AYLL board, and goes to college part time. Kari hates being bored, so you’ll often find her with her crochet bag, working on an afghan while she’s waiting for her children during practice.

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