1 year old, thanksgiving, midwest. Go
November 21, 2015 5:13 PM   Subscribe

I live a couple of hours south of Chicago. Given a 4 hour driving radius, what would be a good place to go with a 14 month toddler? I don't expect her to make any memories from this trip, so it's really more of a trip for her parents (us!) .

We live in Champaign, IL, just me, the Mrs and a 14 month old. She likes animals, we have taken her to the zoo in Bloomington, IL. Anywhere else we can go that you guys can recommend for thanksgiving break next week?
posted by harisund to Travel & Transportation around Midwest, WY (9 answers total)
A comment:
Driving during Thanksgiving break can really suck because people are traveling to see their family/friends. If one can avoid driving from Tuesday afternoon-Thursday midday and then Thursday night-Monday morning, that is best. As I recall travel times can double or triple on these days.
And on "Black Friday" driving anywhere near a mall or shopping area will really suck too. It can be insanity.
And recall that kids are out of school during this period, so any sort of aquarium, zoo, science center, or kid-related place is going to likely be crawling with older kids and be really busy so it will not be as enjoyable as a normal visit. Bathrooms will be packed, lines to see stuff will be long, etc.

If I were in your shoes, I would stay at home. Or if you really want to get out of town, leave on Monday, come back maybe Saturday during the day and be walkable to whatever thing you want to see. What about going to Chicago and going to the Field Museum and aquarium? But again, the shops will be insane on Friday and the museum and aquarium will be extremely busy.
posted by k8t at 5:31 PM on November 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

St. Louis. The zoo is wonderful, and free, like most of the other museums in forest park.

if you give us some of your interests, I (and other. Louis mefites) can give more specific recommendations. But it's much cheaper than Chicago and has a lot of great family friendly stuff to do.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:31 PM on November 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yup, I went to the StL Zoo a month ago when I had family in town and they went *all out* with the Fall/Halloween decorations (even having tiny pumpkins in with the Tarantula at the Insectarium). I don't know what they do for Christmas, but I bet it's fantastic and I'm itching to go back and check it out.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:47 PM on November 21, 2015

The St. Louis Zoo does have a light display — it opens next weekend though, so it might be more busy than usual since it's the first weekend. Also from what I've heard, animals are scarce, since you'd be there at night (you could go early to see the animals, and then stay). And unlike the zoo normally, you do have to pay.

Another St. Louis option that opened this weekend is the Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

And I haven't done this one so I can't vouch for it, but the Grand Hall at Union Station has a "Magical Holiday Dinner and Show", where apparently the Hall is decorated and there's a 3D light show projected on the ceiling. Seems like fun.
posted by brentajones at 6:40 PM on November 21, 2015

Indianapolis has a fun zoo.
posted by irisclara at 6:56 PM on November 21, 2015

Indianapolis also has an awesome children's museum with a whole exhibit area just for kids under 5. I have easily spent a couple of hours with my toddler just in that part of the museum.

Indy also has some other interesting museums and breweries and restaurants and such. Not sure what holiday events are happening next week except for the tree lighting on Monument Circle downtown. Happy to offer other suggestions if you have questions!
posted by percolatrix at 10:01 PM on November 21, 2015

Have you tried all the ideas in your previous question?
posted by Liesl at 4:08 AM on November 22, 2015

Peoria has an excellent toddler-size zoo (as well as a brand new children's museum right next to the zoo that would suit her -- Peoria PlayHouse). Also near Peoria, Wildlife Prairie Park is a big Wildlife park with elk, bison, etc., as well as Wildlife rehab and good hiking. Forest Park Nature Center is a prairie river bluff ecosystem in the city with nice hiking trails -- the shorter, 1-mile trails are totally doable with a toddler -- and at this time of year you will almost certainly see wild turkey and deer foraging near the trails.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:32 AM on November 22, 2015

The Magic House in St Louis is also a top-notch destination for kids, although 14 months may be a wee bit young for it.
posted by slogger at 6:25 AM on November 23, 2015

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