TrolleyTest2Children’s museums close to home often provide a respite to cabin fever and a safe and engaging place for young children to enjoy. Last year we discovered the Discovery Center in Rockford (pun intended because it truly was a discovery for us). Chicago Children’s Museum and Kohl Children’s Museum in nearby Glenview are great for last minute decisions but like the Discovery Center, about an hour west of Chicago’s city center is another hidden children’s museum gem: DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville.
Its current exhibit, How People Make Things, inspired by Mister Rogers’ Factory Tours, features several hands-on activities using real factory tools and machines to create the objects. Kids are encouraged to construct a trolley, shave candle wax from a mold to see how things of a certain shape are created and watch a video on how crayons and plastic balls are made. The exhibit runs through January 27. That alone would have been enough fun but the museum has two floors of stations so we dragged the kids away to check out the next area which included exhibits involving electricity (watch my daughter “figure it out”: priceless) and a water station and this really cool wind tunnel.

Interactive activities are key, as Vegetarian TravelingMom notes, too, when she and her family visited the Delaware Children’s Museum with its climbing structure. Could the second floor have such a thing?

We convinced them that there was more to see (every time they would arrive at a station, they didn’t want to leave) on the second floor (maybe a climbing structure?), we managed to get them to the stairwell and headed up. No climbing structure although there were so many young children (think two to three year olds) that I think the train structure became a climbing structure by default. However, there are stations also appropriate for older kids (think five to seven). The train station area was particularly exciting for both my son and daughter and it became a big fight for my six-year-old son when we announced our 10-minute time limit. He didn’t want to leave despite the fact that the place was going to close soon.

So did they have a great time? Absolutely. Will we return? Count on it. Were the kids exhausted on our hour trip back home? I think the adults were more exhausted but that’s neither here nor there. Fact is that we’ve found yet another fun and engaging children’s museum near our home.

If you’re heading to Chicago and have access to a car or are game enough to ride the Metra (the stop is literally a half block away from the museum), consider visiting Naperville’s DuPage Children’s Museum if you have younger children. 

For those of you with older children whose idea of fun does not include another children’s museum, like Las Vegas TravelingMom’s tweens, pair the visit to Naperville with a food and culture walking tour so they can learn more about the historic town.

Megy Karydes is a freelance journalist focusing on travel, health, sustainable living and fair trade for both consumer and business-to-business media outlets. For her travel adventures, visit Wandering Tastes on Facebook and Twitter or find her online at WanderingTastes. She grew up visiting museums all over the city and is happy to share that tradition with her own kids.