Staying home for Spring Break week?
It’s not the end of the world.
The best part about Kenosha Unified’s Spring Break being so late in the season is that when you’re back at school, you’ll be so close to the end of the school year.
Plus, a late April Spring Break brings with it the possibility of decent weather for people who are “staycationing.” (We checked the forecast, however, so don’t grab those shorts just yet. It looks like local Spring Breakers are in for a cool, rainy week.)
Instead of dodging crowds on Panama City Beach in Florida, you can enjoy a refreshing walk on the cold Lake Michigan waterfront. Go to the movies. Explore “The Beautiful World of Butterflies” at the Kenosha Public Museum. Visit Dr. Bob Hartley at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Or zipline among the landscape near Lake Geneva.
Here are some places offering fun things to do in the Kenosha area.
Head to the Racine Art Museum to view entries in this year’s International Peeps Art Exhibition — you won’t believe the creative things people can do with marshmallow candies. The Peeps are on display through April 28.
This year’s show is the 10th Peeps exhibit at the museum and features 165 entries from more than 237 people from across the country — making this the museum’s largest Peeps show.
The pieces include “The Hope Peep,” a necklace fashioned in rhinestones and glitter to rival the world famous diamond, and “Greeting from Mount Peepmore,” a celebratory monument to Peeps expertly sculpted in Styrofoam.
John Leach of Wauwatosa crafted “Nightpeeps,” his homage to Edward Hopper’s famous 1942 “Nighthawks” painting of patrons in a diner.
Over the years, entrants have perfected the use of marshmallow candy as an art material, using methods like carving, painting, hole punching, gluing and melting the Peeps. For this show, Richard W. Marklin Jr. melted a flock of Peeps to make “Raul the Rooster,” a realistic barnyard bird, while April Harris and Autumn Kyle assembled the holiday treats into a bust of “Black Panther Peeper.”
While you’re at the exhibit, don’t forget to vote for your favorite piece. The winner takes home the coveted PEEPle’s Choice Award. Museum admission is $5 for adults, $3 for youths (ages 12-18) and senior citizens and free for kids 11 and younger. www.ramart.org.
Fun at the libraries
The Kenosha Public Library branches have several free family programs during Spring Break:
Movie fun for families: The Northside Library, 1500 27th Ave., is showing the animated film “Meet the Robinsons” from 2 to 4 p.m. on Monday (April 22). Families are also invited to enjoy “a variety of science activities, games and crafts.”
Interactive movie fun: From 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday (April 23), the Southwest Library, 7979 38th Ave., movie fans are invited to watch “Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone” while shouting at the movie, casting spells and snacking. Participants will receive a prop bag and instructions for interacting with the movie. Admission is free; registration is required for this program. Call 262-564-6150.
Blockstravaganza!: From 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday (April 24), families are invited to the Northside Library to “come play with our huge variety of building sets. Build with straws, magnets, trees, plastic, cardboard, wood and more.”
Teen Crafternoon: From 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday (April 24), teens are invited to the Southwest Library to do crafting. (Bring your own craft to work on or participate in the librarian’s craft.) Bonus: Snacks will be provided.
The Floor is Lava: Teen After Hours: Teens should gather at the Northside Library 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday (April 26) to play the classic “the floor is lava” game. You must avoid touching the floor or you’ll get burned! Admission is free; registration is required for this program. Call 262-564-6150.
Little kids still like dinosaurs, right? The downtown Kenosha Public Museum and Dinosaur Discovery Museum offer exhibits and programs for fans of the prehistoric creatures.
Inside the Public Museum, 5500 First Ave., you’ll find the permanent exhibit “The Wisconsin Story,” showing how the state has changed over the past 425 million years, including tracing the excavation of a woolly mammoth skeleton in western Kenosha County (this is where you’ll find the museum’s signature life-size skeletal replica of a mammoth).
At the Dinosaur Discovery Museum, 5608 10th Ave., you’ll find life-size replica casts of your favorite prehistoric reptiles, interactive exhibits, bones and fossils, and an on-site Carthage College paleontology lab.
On Saturdays and Sundays (except Easter Sunday), the Dinosaur Museum hosts free “Dino Digs” from 1 to 4 p.m. Aspiring young paleontologists can experience the excitement of excavating a dinosaur fossil. Admission is free to both museums. 262-653-4140 or 262-653-4450. Note: The museums are closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Family activities at the museums
Next week, the Kenosha Public Museum, Dinosaur Discovery Museum and the Civil War Museum, 5400 First Ave., are offering free Spring Break programs:
1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday (April 24): “Fossil Frenzy” at the Public Museum. The Milwaukee Public Museum’s fossil collection will be at the museum. Visitors are encouraged to touch a fossil, make a fossil replica and take the Fossil Challenge.
1 p.m. Wednesday (April 24): “Monkeys in the Middle” at the Public Museum. Kohl’s Wild Theater is presenting this 45-minute family musical, whcih is all about “monkey business.”
1 to 3 p.m. Thursday (April 25): Live birds of prey at the Dinosaur Museum. Museum visitors can see the birds of prey and explore the connection between these live birds and dinosaurs.
1 to 4 p.m. Friday (April 26): Fun at the Civil War Museum. Families are invited to pan for gold, play world games, build forts, launch stomp rockets and even train to be a Civil War soldier. The programs are free, and everyone is welcome. Call 262-653-4140 for more information.
Old stuff! And cars!
Dig into Kenosha history at the aptly named Kenosha History Center.
Kids — and adults — can learn about past Kenosha businesses and see cool old cars in the Rambler Legacy Gallery.
“All American: Kenosha Style” celebrates the American Motors AMX cars and the famous AMC red, white and blue paint scheme.
The exhibit includes:
1970 Javelin SST Trans Am (85 percent original, one of 100 made, 1 of about 22-25 in existence)
1970 AMC Rebel Machine (original car, unrestored)
1976 Bicentennial Pacer made for State Farm (one of 12 originally made; most likely only one in this condition known to exist; unrestored)
1969 AMC SC Rambler “Scrambler” B Paint scheme (one of about 500 in this paint scheme; one of about 1,500 total; all orginal)
1969 AMC SC Rambler “Scrambler” A Paint scheme (one of about 1,000 in this paint scheme; one of 1,500 total)
“Topel’s Rambler” 1967 AMC Rambler Rebel. Admission to the History Center is free; donations are accepted. www.kenoshahistorycenter.org.
Grab your bicycle
The historic Washington Park Velodrome, 1901 Washington Road, is up and running after extensive renovation work. Kenosha’s track is the oldest working velodrome in the U.S. and was built in a natural bowl. This year marks its 92nd birthday.
You can also set off Saturday mornings from Harborside Common Grounds, 5159 Sixth Ave. The Bike Shop at Southport Rigging hosts the weekly 26-mile group rides from Common Grounds to a coffee shop in Zion, Ill. The rides pedal off each Saturday at 8 a.m. The route is described as “mostly flat and suitable for all levels of riders and anyone 10 and over.” Admission is free, and no sign-up is necessary. For more information, call 262-652-5434.
You can blade in style at the IcePlex, located at the RecPlex facility in Pleasant Prairie. This ice arena has two rinks. Call 262-925-6755 for open skating times.
And if you prefer your skates to have wheels — or you have weak ankles, like we do — head to Burlington to Traxside Skating, 637 S. Kane St. Go to www.traxsideskating.com or call 262-763-4410 for details about Spring Break specials and theme nights.
Back to nature
The Pringle Nature Center in Bristol has free nature-themed Spring Break programs running 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday next week:
Tuesday (April 23) — “Earth Day”
Wednesday (April 24) — “Follow a Trail”
Thursday (April 25) — “Bird’s the Word”
Friday (April 26) — “Forest Frolic”
Spring Break programs are free and open to the public. Registration is not required. The Pringle Nature Center is located within the 197-acre Bristol Woods County Park, on County Highway MB between County C and County Q in the town of Bristol. 262-857-8008 or www.pringlenc.org. Note: The park’s entrance is under construction; use caution when entering the park.
Back to nature II
Need to shake off those lingering winter doldrums? You can’t go wrong with a brisk walk or bike ride along the Lake Michigan shoreline. (And it will be brisk; remember that “spring” is fleeting in Wisconsin and dress accordingly.) The Pike Bike Trail is a 10.2-mile trail that runs along the lake and includes lighthouses, beaches and the Poerio Nature Center.
For nature trails, head out to Petrifying Springs Park at 4909 Seventh St. in Somers; Bong State Recreation Area, 26313 Burlington Road; and Silver Lake Park, 27000 85th St.
Who needs a sunny beach in Mexico? The RecPlex facility in Pleasant Prairie has a 17,000-square-foot aquatics center — where the water is always 86 degrees. The indoor waterpark area contains three water slides, an in-pool playground, zero-depth entry, geysers and fountains. Call 262-947-0437 for schedules and day pass rates.
Theme park fun
If you’re staying in this area, you obviously aren’t spending Spring Break with Mickey Mouse and his pals, but you can spend some time with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the mascots at nearby Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill.
The theme park, home to thrill rides, shows and “kiddie” attractions for the young (and faint of heart) opens Friday (April 19) for another season. For prices, hours and other details, go to www.sixflags.com.
If you’re looking for some real close-to-home thrills during Spring Break, take the family ziplining at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours.
This attraction, which opened in 2011, takes visitors soaring among the trees just north of downtown Lake Geneva. The ziplining course covers a wooded area, soaring over ravines, and ends with a downhill zipping race as riders face Lake Como.
This weekend (April 20-21), the venue’s double racing zupline features an Easter Egg Drop and other Easter activities.
If you’re deathly afraid of heights, you probably won’t like the sky bridges that swing between trees — or, you may take it as a challenge to conquer your fears. There’s also a High Ropes Course. For more details, call 262-248-9271 or visit www.lakegenevacanopytours.com.
An art tour of Navy Pier
A lot of Spring Break activities are aimed at young children, but the whole family can enjoy taking a day trip over the Wisconsin border and checking out free art installations at Chicago’s Navy Pier.
Navy Pier is home to these public art pieces:
The Bob Newhart/Bob Hartley statue: The statue, a 2004 bronze figure of Bob Hartley, the 1970s Chicago psychologist from “The Bob Newhart Show,” is designed for participation. Visitors are encouraged to lie on the couch and enjoy a therapy session with Dr. Hartley.
The Captain of the Helm statue: The statue commemorates the brave mariners of the Great Lakes.
Crack the Whip: This sculpture, installed at Navy Pier in 1996, shows eight children at play, holding hands and running in a semi-circle.
USS Chicago anchor: This 8-ton anchor, installed on Navy Pier in 1995, was from the USS Chicago. For more about Navy Pier’s attractions, theaters, boat cruises, restaurants, shops and other events, go to www.navypier.org.
While Chicago offers big-city stuff to the south of us, Milwaukee is a short drive north and boasts its own collection of museums and other attractions:
The Milwaukee Public Museum is home to a butterfly garden, the newly renovated Streets of Old Milwaukee and the IMAX theater. www.mpm.edu.
The Milwaukee Art Museum has a beautiful Santiago Calatrava-designed pavilion that features a 90-foot high glass-walled reception hall. The mususem also offers an Art Generation Studio, with hands-on activities for children. www.mam.org.
Discovery World Museum, perched on the lakefront in downtown Milwaukee, offers interactive “experiences.” www.discoveryworld.org.
Younger children should find plenty to keep them entertained at Milwaukee’s Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. www.bbcmkids.org.
After you’ve had your fill of museums, stop by the Milwaukee Public Market for a bite to eat. The vendors offer everything from soups to sandwiches, artisan cheeses and wines. You can eat in the market’s second floor Palm Garden or take your purchases home. The Milwaukee Public Market is located in the Historic Third Ward neighborhood, just blocks south of downtown Milwaukee. Bonus: Free one hour parking (with validation) is available in the Water Street lot. www.milwaukeepublicmarket.org.
Bright lights, big city
If you’re looking to get out of town at least one day during Spring Break, consider heading south to Chicago.
It’s a world-class city just a train (or car) ride away from Kenosha.
A day in Chicago can quickly get expensive, but there are some free or low-cost entertainment options available:
The city’s Millennium Park is worth a visit. And making goofy faces at your reflection in the “bean” is always free. 55 North Michigan Ave.
The Chicago Cultural Center offers a ton of programs — concerts, exhibits, lectures — and a lot of them are free. And while you’re there, look around this beautiful building, which is worth the trip itself. 78 E. Washington St. 312-744-6630 or www.chicagoculturalcenter.org.
Chicago is also known for its museums — which, unfortunately, can cost a family of four $100 before they step foot inside. Still, they offer experiences you can’t get elsewhere, so it may be worth the splurge.
The city’s major museums include:
The Museum of Science and Industry, famous for its emphasis on hands-on exhibits — and our favorite, the Coal Mine! — plus the U-505 World War II submarine, among others. www.msichicago.org.
At the John G. Shedd Aquarium, you can see the Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising’s flooded forest, the Oceanarium’s Pacific Northwest coast and Wild Reef’s Indo-Pacific reef. Or, go totally polar in Polar Play Zone. www.sheddaquarium.org.
See the stars and planets at the Adler Planetarium. A popular exhibit for families is “Planet Explorers,” in which children (and adults) are invited to “climb, crawl, control, fly, land, discover and excavate their way through the exhibition.” (This exhibit is aimed at children ages 3 to 8.) www.adlerplanetarium.org.
The Field Museum is home to a famous T. rex named Sue and permanent attractions like “Evolving Planet” and “Ancient Americas.” www.fieldmuseum.org.
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the great art museums of the world, with a collection spanning 5,000 years of artistic expression.
You can quickly get lost here, with galleries and galleries showcasing paintings like Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and an impressive Impressionists collection, plus prints and drawings, sculptures, photographs, video, textiles and architectural drawings and fragments. And, don’t miss the Modern Wing. You’ll be so dazzled you won’t even feel bad about staying home for Spring Break! www.artic.edu.