Spring is near! Spring Breaks in Lake County start next week, even if you aren’t traveling over break, you can still go somewhere new. Here in Lake County we are fortunate to have access to many beautiful and well appointed forest preserves. Why not hike one of the trails or visit a playground?
There are many museums in or near Lake County, too. No need to trek all the way to Chicago or Milwaukee to give your children a museum experience. Sometimes the big museums are just too much money, too much time in the car, too many people; they can be just too, too much, especially for little kids. You may have heard of our forest preserve district’s museum, the Lake County Discovery Museum, which provides a hands-on learning experience. In addition to being very kid friendly in the regular exhibits, the Children’s Learning Gallery is perfect for even the youngest visitors. Currently, they are hosting a special exhibit titled “Growing up in Lake County.” The museum is located in Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda. Consider going for a walk around the lake while you’re there if the weather cooperates!
No matter where you live in Lake County, you are just a short drive from a museum of some type. There may even be one in your town that you’d didn’t know about! All the museums on this list have public hours, however many are very limited. (There are a few more seasonal museums in the area, but they are NOT listed here.) Make sure to check the websites for availability. Many of these museums are run by small not-for-frofit organizations and charge only a small admission fee, or request a donation with no admission fee. Some are housed in historic buildings, too.
General Interest Museums in Lake County
The Button Room
4072 Old Grand Ave., Gurnee | 224-399-9870
The only button museum and gathering place in Illinois.
Great Lakes Naval Museum
610 Farragut Avenue, Great Lakes | 847-688-3154
Have a little lover of boats or planes? Check this one out. You don’t have to be military to access it (MiaLynn gives you details here). They also have monthly free kid activities.
Illinois Railway Museum
7000 Olson Rd., Union | 815-923-4000
This museum is a bit of a hike from most of Lake County, but if you have a train fanatic in your house it will be well worth the drive time. Read about Genevieve’s visit here.
Kenosha Civil War Museum
5400 1st Ave., Kenosha | 262-653-4141
Kenosha Public Museum
5500 1st Ave., Kenosha | 262-653-4140
The Kenosha Public Museum, features displays of fine art, decorative art, and natural science specimens. Fossil alert! Don’t miss the mammoths.
Lake County Discovery Museum
27277 N. Forest Preserve Rd., Wauconda | 847-968-3400
This is a favorite of ours, see all past stories here.
My kids love to “ride” in the boats of the Chain O’ Lakes exhibit!
Volo Auto Museum
27582 Volo Village Rd., Volo | 815-385-3644
Mom tip: The military exhibit is too much for most kids, in my opinion. However there is plenty to do and see if you skip that. There’s a playground, too. Children with sensory issues should be aware that the rooms can be loud with different movies playing in different areas.
Nature Museums in Lake County
Heller Nature Center
2821 Ridge Rd., Highland Park | 847-433-6901
Don’t miss the new Wander Woods for free play and exploration outside!
Prairie Grass Nature Museum
814 Hart Rd., Round Lake | 847-546-8558
Located in the aquatics center building.
Children’s Museums in Lake County
Bonner Heritage Farm
19412 Sand Lake Road, Lindenhurst
This is an outdoor experience only but also has a playground.
Community History Museums in Lake County
Historical societies and local history museums are often overlooked when it comes to planning activities with kids. They’re usually inexpensive or free, and their smaller scale makes them manageable for families. Models, vehicles, uniform and clothing exhibits, and old tools can be surprisingly interesting to some kids. However, some of these museums may be very “hands-off” and not the best option for more active kiddo’s.
Barrington History Museum
212 W. Main St., Barrington | 847-381-1730
Deerfield Area Historical Society & Historic Village
450 Kipling Pl, Deerfield | 847-948-0680
Visit on a warm day and enjoy an outdoor stroll in the historical village made up of preserved buildings.
Fort Hill Heritage Museum
601 E. Noel Drive, Mundelein | 847-566-8122
Features an old caboose!
Grayslake Heritage Center and Historical Society Museum
164 Hawley Street, Grayslake | 847-543-1745
Located next to the fire station and across from Tastee-Freeze it’s a perfect afternoon trip! Be sure to see the Annex (You may need to ask to have it opened) where Wilbur the fire truck is, Melissa’s kids love it!
1917 N. Sheridan Rd., Waukegan | 847-336-1859
Kenosha History Center
220 51st Pl, Kenosha | 262-654-5770
Lake Bluff History Museum
127 E Scranton Ave, Lake Bluff | 847-482-1571
Lake Forest Lake Bluff Historical Society
361 E. Westminster Ave., Lake Forest | 847-234-5253
Lakes Region Historical Society
817 Main St., Antioch | 847-395-7337
Lakes Region Historical Society’s Museum is located in a preserved school house. The museum is open on Saturdays and by appointment. Walk to the playground after your visit, or stroll down Main Street in historic downtown Antioch to grab a bite to eat. If you have a little girl that loves dresses, there are some beautiful old ones on display here.
Have you visited any of these museums? Do you have any tips for other visitors? Let us know if we missed any of your favorite local spots.