Indoor Fun for All Ages on Chicago's North Shore
When you look out the window and see rain, it can be easy to resign yourself to a day stuck indoors. However, rainy days are the perfect time to explore Chicago’s North Shore. With so many museums, theaters, and entertainment venues, there are plenty of ways to have fun while also staying nice and dry inside. Here are a few ideas for your next rainy day outing.
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You don’t have to travel far to find some of the country’s best museums.
- The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center (9603 Woods Drive, Skokie) is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. Plan to visit the Take a Stand Center, where you can interact with holograms of Holocaust survivors, or walk through temporary special exhibits like Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross (through Jan. 12, 2020) and Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (opens Feb. 9, 2020).
- The Halim Time & Glass Museum (1560 Oak Ave., Evanston) is one of the North Shore's newest museums. Visit to see collections like Clocks of the World, with more than 1,100 timepieces, or Stained Glass Masters. This is also a beautiful venue for your next event.
- Visit Northwestern's Block Museum of Art (40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston) to explore the permanent collection — there’s roughly 6,000 works — or temporary exhibits, watch films, listen to guest lecturers, and more, all of which "crosses time periods and cultures and serves as a springboard for thought-provoking discussions relevant to our lives today." Check out the museum's latest temporary exhibit, Pop América, 1965-1975 (Now through Dec. 8, 2019), which features nearly 100 works of Pop Art by artists working in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the United States from the mid-1960's through the mid-1970's.
- You'll also find the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston (3001 Central St.). One of the few museums in the country to highlight the history and culture of American Indian and First Nations peoples, the Mitchell Museum features permanent exhibits like A Regional Tour of American Indian Cultures and The Teaching Wigwam, plus events, tours, and more.
L: Illinois Holocaust Museum, Skokie; C: Halim Time and Glass Museum, Evanston; R: Block Museum of Art, Evanston
The next time it rains, spend time indoors watching award-winning theater.
- No matter your performance preferences, you'll find something to love at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts (9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie). This venue hosts a wide variety of shows, including Postmodern Jukebox (Oct. 30), Chicago Philharmonic (Nov. 17), PIGS: Canada's Pink Floyd (Nov. 27), and Chicago Tap Theatre — Tidings of Tap! (Dec. 15).
- Northlight Theatre (9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie). Don't miss the 2019-2020 season with the world premiere of "The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley" (Nov. 7 to Dec. 15) and the world premiere of "How a Boy Falls" (Jan. 23 to March 1), and more.
- Oil Lamp Theater (1723 Glenview Road, Glenview) is a regular North Shore Choice Awards winner and offers an intimate theater experience that's BYOB (plus, the theater offers complimentary cookies, snacks, and soda). The current season include's Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Nile" (through Nov. 10) and the annual "It's a Wonderful Life — A Live Radio Play" (Nov. 29 to Dec. 29).
- The mission of Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre (721 Howard St., Evanston) is "to engaging artists and audiences in an intimate and honest conversation through the language of strong stories and powerful performances to help create an enriched community, empathetic to the human condition." The theater won four Jeff Awards in 2019, and you can see "Hello Again" through Nov. 3. "Working," adapted from Studs Terkel's book of the same name, opens Dec. 6.
- Northwestern is home to the Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts (1949 Campus Drive, Evanston), which produces more than 40 theater, music, and dance productions every year. Upcoming shows include "Fun Home" (Nov. 8-24), "Julius Caesar" (Jan. 31 to Feb. 9), and "Legally Blonde: The Musical" (Feb. 14 to March 1).
- Writers Theatre (325 Tudor Court, Glencoe) was once named the best company in the country by The Wall Street Journal and this year will present productions like "The Niceties" (Nov. 6 to Dec. 8), “one of the best plays about who gets to tell the story of America, and how" (The Washington Post).
L: Northlight Theatre, Skokie; C: Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts, Northwestern University, Evanston; R: Writers Theatre, Glencoe
Use the next rainy day to finally see that movie everyone is talking about, discover a new favorite musician, or learn a new skill.
- Going to the movie theater is a classic rainy-day activity, but update your regular experience with CMX CineBistro Old Orchard (4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie). Order gourmet fare and drinks that will be delivered right to your seat, so you won't miss any of the action (and won't have to rush dinner to make sure you arrive to the theater on time).
- One of the North Shore's best spots for an evening out is SPACE (1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston), a music hall and recording studio that hosts some of the biggest names and best up-and-coming acts in the music industry. Even if you're not familiar with an artist, you're guaranteed a good time. Space has a full line up of shows this November. Check out Joseph Arthur & Jesse Malin (Nov. 9), Brendan James with Pete Muller (Nov. 16), Mason Jennings with David Quinn (Nov. 30) and don't miss E-town Get Down (Nov. 27), an organic dance party featuring hip hop, funk, soul, dancehall, R&B & classic Chicago house.
- For more concerts, check out Evanston Rocks (1012 Church St., Evanston). Upcoming events include Pink Floyd Night With Echoes of Pompeii (Nov. 2), The Pettybreakers — Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Tribute (Nov. 9), and '70s Soul Jam With BBI (Nov. 16).
L: The Actors Gymnasium, Evanston; R: SPACE, Evanston
Keep kiddos entertained on rainy days with these must-visit spots.
- Kids will love exploring Kohl Children's Museum (2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview). This museum wants to "build a foundation for a lifetime of learning" and does so with events, programming, 17 permanent exhibits (Adventures in Art, Pet Vet, Play Cafe, and Water Works, to name a few), and special exhibits like the current Nature Cat: Backyard and Beyond (through Jan. 26).
- Get creative at The Exploritorium (Oakton Community Center, 4701 Oakton St., Skokie), an "Imagination Playground." Kids can explore tubes and tunnels, splash around the water play area, play dress up, and much more.
- Stay active at Funtopia (2050 Tower Drive, Glenview), an indoor adventure park. The Glenview location offers more than 40 Fun Walls, a Ropes Course, a Cave, and a Jungle Gym. Drop off your kiddos on Wednesday Hangout Nights, where they'll enjoy pizza and have the opportunity to explore everything Funtopia offers, or get the whole family in on the fun during Family Fun Fridays.
- Sure, you can stay home and play video games, but it's way more fun at Ignite (8125 Skokie Blvd., Skokie). This "social gaming experience" gives you the opportunity to play the hottest new games, classic arcade games, Rock Band, and more while enjoying food and drinks like chicken tenders, pizza, chips and salsa, and the Nutella milkshake.
- Don't let a little rain keep you from being active. Head to The Actors Gymnasium (Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston), a circus school and theater, for their latest show or sign up for a class like Acro Yoga, Circus Arts, or Handstands.
L: Kohl Children's Museum, Glenview; R: Funtopia, Glenview
These spots will keep you moving despite the rain.
- The next time it's dreary, turn to a classic rainy day activity: bowling. But that's not all you can do at Pinstripes (1150 Willow Road, Northbrook). You can also try bocce, dine on delicious Italian food, or enjoy one of this spot's community events.
- Skatium Ice Arena (9300 Weber Park Place, Skokie) offers public skating hours all year long, so you can learn a new skill or show off your skating chops no matter the weather. Amenities include babysitting, room rentals, and a cafe.
- For more skating fun, check out Winnetka Ice Arena (490 Hibbard Road, Winnetka). Public skating is offered at various times throughout the year, and you can take a break at the arena's cafe.
- Athletico Center (1900 Old Willow Road, Northbrook) is a sports and event center that features an indoor field and basketball court. In addition to hosting leagues, classes, and camps, adults can take part in pick-up soccer games on Monday and Wednesday nights.
Get crafty at these North Shore spots.
- One River School of Art & Design (1033-1035 Davis St., Evanston) is "on a mission to transform art education in America." Sign your kids up for classes like Focus on Drawing and Digital Art Shuffle, or register for your own. You can also explore the school's current exhibit.
- There's so much to do at the Evanston Art Center (1717 Central St., Evanston). Adults, teens, and kids can sign up for classes and workshops, or you can discover a new artist with free exhibits. Plus, see what events are coming up, like the 2019 Winter Arts & Crafts Expo Nov. 16 to Dec. 21.
- Grab your girlfriends and head out to Pinot's Palette (2011 Tower Drive, Glenview) for a fun night out. You'll be guided through that evening's painting as you enjoy wine, beer, or other drinks from the bar, and you can even bring your own food.
- Ayla’s Originals (1511 Sherman Ave., Evanston) is a boutique bead store where you can shop jewelry and gifts, but you can also create your own pieces to wear with classes like Leather Drop Earrings, Memory Bracelet, or Orbiting Pearls.
L: Evanston Art Center, Evanston; C: Pinot's Palette, Glenview; R: Ayla's Originals, Evanston
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