Stir-Crazy Siblings: Winter fun for Toddlers/Preschoolers

Winter Fun for Toddlers

We have just had a glorious two-week break filled not only with holiday fun but with new toys and siblings and parents to play with (dad was on vacation too!). I am fairly certain that my toddler is going to have more trouble than anyone else with the back to school, back to work, routine that starts today. I mean he went from a house full of people ready and willing to play to just me, and we have some chores to catch up on!

So here is a revised list of our Stir-Crazy Siblings free or low-cost fun activities modified for winter.

If you don’t fear the cold, the sled hills are open and will be empty today as the big kids head back to school.  If you prefer to stay warm, some ideas:


Photo Credit: Rosie Bridges Photography
Photo Credit: Rosie Bridges Photography

It may be too cold to go outside but both Westfield Hawthorn and Gurnee Mills have FREE indoor playgrounds that are perfect for toddlers. Bonus if you have gifts to return you can get an errand done too! The other benefit to heading to the mall is that if you hvae early risers (or big kids to drop at school) no need to wait until after 10, the playspace is open before the stores are!

Water Play in Winter?

Arctic Splash Indoor Pool

The Wheeling Park District’s Arctic Splash offers Parent/Tot Drop-in Swim every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. This special time is only open to children 3 and under and their caregiver and is only $3 per parent (children are free!).

Hit the Gym

Several park districts offer low cost open gyms for toddlers. Our favorite is the Grayslake Park District tot open gym Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 10:30 – 11:30.  It’s just long enough to burn off some energy and still get back to school for pick up.


With the kids back in school the museums will be less crowded! Check out a new one on a free day for an adventure just for you and the little one.

The Round Lake Area Park District has two great museums on their campus perfect for little ones!  The Children’s Neighborhood Museum is a tot-sized replica of a real neighborhood and has been a Little Lake County favorite for many years.  The Prairie Grass Nature Museum is always FREE and its small classroom size is perfect for young children.  Small live animals and always changing activities are a perfect way to keep littles entertained.

The Lake County Discovery Museum in Wauconda is a local gem offering hands on activities and exhibits that give kids a look at the history of Lake County and more. The museum is FREE for kids on Tuesdays (half price for adults).  Read why Melissa likes it.

And More!

Don’t forget to check our website calendar, the most comprehensive event listing of family-friendly activities in Lake County!  You can filter by category to find exactly what you’re looking for. We highly recommend checking out a library storytime near you.

Head over to Mom & Tot Bowl at Pinstripes in South Barrington or Northbrook  every Monday-Friday 10am-12noon. Kids Bowl for $5 and Mom is FREE (limit 4 children per adult.)  Melissa has enjoyed it for years while I just adore the food!

You can also see all our past reviews from the drop-down menu on our home page under “Places We’ve Been.”  We’ve got reviews on indoor play places, farms, and everything in between that will win over young hearts and minds while saving yours.

 Finally, when worst comes to worst pull out the playdoh and enjoy the silence (worry about the mess for later!) or check out Pinterest boards for Indoor fun and easy crafts for little hands.

Is there anything I missed?  Probably, I’m exhausted. Help a mom out and share your suggestions below.  Sharing is caring.


About Melissa Haak 781 Articles
Melissa is mom to 4. She used to dream of traveling the world, now she dreams of a clean kitchen. She can be found on most social media sites as @PBinmyHair because with this much hair and four kids, you're bound to find something in it.

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