Happy New Year! 17 Ways to Make it an Epic 2017

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3, 2, 1 . . . 2016 is blasting off! Time to get pumped for adventuring and lazing in the new year. Shows that focus on travel and boats, bundling up for snow play and figure 8 making, berry picking and apple munching, toes dipped in watering holes or new experiences — there’s something for every season and interest lined up for the year. Read on for our Editor’s picks for making the most of family time.

chicago-boat-showphoto: Chicago Boat, RV and Strictly Sail Show

(1) Cast a line at the Chicago Boat, RV and Strictly Sail Show where kids can learn catch and release techniques and act like ginormous hamsters in an inflatable wheel on water.

(2) Daydream about your next family adventure at the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show, which has plenty for kids: they can try out Segways and Trikkes, catch a ride on a camel or try scuba diving.

(3) Retire your sock skates in favor of the real thing while the weather’s perfect for these outdoor ice skating rinks.

Four Lakes Lislephoto: Four Lakes Alpine Snowports, courtesy of Maria Chambers

(4) Take advantage of the snow and learn to carve with the kiddos at Four Lakes Alpine Snowports or load up the sleds and hit one of these hills.

(5) Plan a sleepover that will go down as (pre)historic when you Doze with the Dinos at The Field Museum. Explore the exhibits with flashlights and then snuggle up with Sue, the world’s most famous T.Rex.

(6) Have you heard the news? Aladdin is bringing his magic carpet for a spin in the Windy City One lamp + 3 wishes equals infinite fun! Don’t miss your chance to see Broadway in Chicago’s musical production at The Cadillac Theatre!

Berry Picking Orianaphoto: Berry picking via Oriana Van Someren

(7) Berry-stained fingers and homemade pies are the things memories are made of. Check in on local berry farms to see when their fruits are prime for the pickin’.

(8) Okay, okay, we admit . . . #10 was born out of daydreams of sun on the skin after the abundance of cold we’ve had already ’round these parts. Turn your radio dial to 88.5 March-November and re-live the glory days of drive-ins and lazy summer days at Cascade Drive-In.

navy-pier-fireworksphoto: Navy Pier fireworks

(9) Summers are made for later bedtimes and non-stop outdoor family fun. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, keep your eyes locked to the skies to experience Navy Pier’s bi-weekly fireworks, every Wednesday and Saturday.

Chicago, Illinoisphoto: Morton Arboretum, courtesy of Wendy Altschuler

(10) Explore the gardens at Morton Arboretum or simply lounge listening to live music during Thursday Family Nights, June – August. Don’t be fooled, though, this is a cool spot to hit every season. From holiday lights to warm days spent getting lost in the Children’s maze, it’s always a good idea to add Morton Arboretum to the to-do list.

(11) Very few towns rival the energy our Chi-Town sports team bring to a game. During these days of hibernation, dream about grabbing your cap and soaking up the sun at a (World-Series-winning) Cubs or Sox game. While you wait, hit the UC for a little Blackhawks and Bulls action.

(12) Create a new family tradition of rocking out at Kidzapalooza, the music fest for kids within Lollapalooza. Get inspiration for your own songs as you dance and sing to some of your favorite kindie musicians, and craft your own “masterpieces” at the arts and crafts tables.

centennial-beach-2photo: Centennial Beach Naperville

(13) Dream about a perfect Chicago summer dipping your toes in one of our awesome watering holes that are a bit rugged and off the beaten path.

(14) Save the date for the 34th Annual Chicago International Children’s Festival, the largest film festival dedicated to kids, Oct. 27-Nov. 5

(15) How lucky are we in the midwest that our change of seasons make for the perfect apple growing conditions? Come fall, dust off those wagons and fill ’em with crisp sweetness at one of our many orchards.

ornament-house-christkindlphoto: Christkindlmarket via Kelly Aiglon

(16) We just closed down Christkindlmarket for the season, but don’t forget to keep it on the agenda for next year. Because, it’s just that good.

(17) Indoor water parks when it’s freezing or splash pads for a cool down and indoor play spaces to combat hibernation or high-voltage playgrounds for outdoor playgroup meet-ups, we promise to keep you in the know on all the ways to keep you moving and smiling in 2017.

What plans are you pumped for in 2017? Shout it out in the Comments below.

—Maria Chambers

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