No matter what the calendar says, February can feel like Chicago's longest month. Here are three escapes:
300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago, (312) 74-5100, garfield-conservatory.org
For a warm and free excursion, nothing beats Garfield Park Conservatory. Explore the thousands of plants in room after warm room. Ask for a scavenger hunt from the front desk to make a game of your visit. Or, take part in the weekend family programs (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) in the Children's Garden.
Chicago, Schaumburg and Gurnee, rainforestcafe.com
My kids love a trip to Rainforest Café for a special winter treat. We go for lunch and the wild animatronic show, and they each bring a few bucks from their piggy banks to use in the gift shop. All in all, it's well worth the price for a couple hours in a wild environment.
9415 Ogden Ave., Brookfield, (708) 485-4700, gallopingghostarcade.com
Older kids (and parents) will love an afternoon playing an assortment of more than 200 restored video games. For one admission price, you can spend an entire day trying to top the high score on Frogger, Tron or Ms. Pac Man. Pop and candy are available for purchase. Be warned: games are unrated, so parental supervision is advised.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.