Fun Ways to Spend a Rainy Day

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Your daily forecast: Busy, with a chance of scattered meltdowns. Sound familiar? Not to worry — you’re doing a great job weathering this whole parenting thing. But now that it’s rainy season, you might need a few ideas for keeping the kids occupied. These diversions are perfect when skies are stormy and your little puddle jumper has the stir-crazies.


Go roller skating.
Remember your childhood roller rink? The races. The couples’ skate. The Debbie Gibson tunes pounding from the DJ booth. Glide back to those carefree days and bring your kid along for the ride. You can do it at Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Family Entertainment Center. The old-school rink features open skate and birthday parties with light shows and plenty of music, old and new. Even beginners will have an easy time of it, thanks to Skate Mate, a wheeled, walker-like contraption that offers stable support. Once you’ve had your fill of crossovers, head to the attached bowling alley, which is complete with bumper lanes.

1219 W. 76th St.
South Side
Admission is $3-$7; skate rental is $3
For the current open skate schedule, click here.


Romp with dinosaurs. 
A small shop in Evanston is a rock-solid choice when you have an hour to burn. Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop appeals to serious collectors with its selection of rare stones, geodes and gem jewelry. But kids delight in it, too — and that’s thanks to its intriguing display of dinosaur fossils. Unless you have $1,200 to shell out for a piece of pyritized ammonite you’ll probably do more browsing than buying. And that’s okay, because the entire lower level of the shop is a mini gallery. Called the Prehistoric Life Museum, it houses a giant dinosaur egg, cave bear skeleton, dinosaur femur, dinosaur nest fossil from herbivores, and other finds that will make you forget it’s 2013.

704 Main St.
Admission is free
Open Mon., Tues. & Fri.,10:30 am-5:30 pm; Thurs., 10:30 am-7 p.m.; Sat., 10:00 am-5:00 pm


Drop in an art class.
A little drizzle doesn’t stop creativity from flowing. Channel active imaginations with a drop-in art project at Unicoi Art Studio. Every Saturday at noon, the Roscoe Village mainstay has an all-ages open house, at which families are given supplies to make jewelry, a painting or stationery. Parents are required to stay with their kids, and no advanced reservation is needed. Unicoi also offers drop-in rates for any of its existing classes (everything from mixed media to sketching is offered), however one-day notice is usually needed.

2059 W. Belmont Ave.
Roscoe Village
Cost of open house is $10 per child; $5 for each additional child
Every Saturday, 12:00 pm-1:30 pm


Get a bird’s eye view of the city.
When it’s just too cloudy for that helicopter ride, check out the city from above via the 3-D Chicago Model City in the atrium of the Santa Fe Building downtown, home to the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The 320-square-foot re-creation is the only accurate and continually updated multi-dimensional portrait of Chicago. Interestingly, it was built using three-dimensional printers, rather than traditional hand-made models. Its highly detailed buildings cover 400 city blocks, from Lake Michigan to Halsted and from Oak Street to 16th Street. Of the 1,000-some mini buildings, you can try to spot your favorite attractions, from the John Hancock Observatory to the Goodman Theatre. Talk about a fun way to bring out your inner Godzilla.

224 S. Michigan Ave
The Loop
Admission is free.
Open daily, 9:00 am-6:30 pm


Show them the money.
Your little allowance earner will learn about the value of a buck at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Money Museum. Interactive displays shed light on the history of money (at one time there were $10,000 bills in use!) and teach you how to spot counterfeits. You’ll also peek at rare currencies, including Colonial coins and bills, and witness the Million Dollar Cube, a swiveling glass cube filled with $1 million worth of dollar bills. Ka-ching, indeed.

230 S. LaSalle St.
The Loop
Admission is free
Open Mon.-Fri., 8:30 am-5:00 pm

What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day? Let us know in the Comments section below.

— Kelly Haramis

Photos: Courtesy of USA Skating, Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop, Unicoi Art Studio, Chicago Architecture Foundation & Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago