A Midwest Spring Break Staycation

Our children are on Spring Break, and as we’re remaining planted firmly in the Midwest this week, here’s how our “staycation” has been going…

discovery center

Discovery Center Museum, Rockford, Illinois

We spent an entire day at the amazing Discovery Center Museum in Rockford. This museum is one of my children’s favorite places to play. There are lots of hands-on exhibits, science experiments, simple machines and more to interact with here, as well as crafts and other things to make that are also included in the admission price.

discovery center

(Haven’t you always wanted to stand inside a soap bubble? Here, you can!) 

I have lost track of the number of times we’ve gone to the Discovery Center, but it’s easily in the double digits now — and still, our children want to go. Forbes magazine named the Discovery Center as one of the 12 top children’s museums in the entire country — it’s that good.

discovery center

The Discovery Center also includes the Rock River Discovery Park. Calling this a “park” doesn’t do it justice — it’s an enormous outdoor playplace with additional science experiments, water play areas, and an incredible multi-level climber that’s part medieval fort, part castle, part fun house. It even has an underground cave and a fossil dig site. My kids enjoy playing here so much that having the museum attached to it is a bonus. 

discovery center

Admission is only $8! I feel this place is one of the best values for a fun, educational kids’ day out — and that keeps us coming back over and over. 


pie five

Pie Five

We decided to try Pie Five for dinner last night. We’d never been there, but my husband got two coupons for free pizzas at work, and you know how much I like coupons and free things..! We figured it would be an inexpensive dinner out. We didn’t realize until we got there that Pie Five is a “build your own pizza” place! 

pie five

Everyone gets to make their own, personal-sized pizza, choosing everything from multiple kinds of sauces and cheeses to a variety of meats, vegetables and fruit (hello there, pineapple!) Then, your pizzas bake in just two minutes.

pie five

The Algonquin, Illinois location also has a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, which in my opinion, sealed the deal as far as our plans to return to Pie Five. (Yes, I think I will have another Cherry Vanilla Coke.)  Naturally, our boys thought all of this was great fun.  


Ikea, Schaumburg, Illinois

Ikea as a Spring Break destination? Why not? Ikea wasn’t originally part of our staycation plans, but our daughter has been picking out some college-apartment-worthy selections from the Ikea catalog in preparation for her move to university. Lacking a truck to transport her furniture finds home, she asked us to haul them in ours. 


Well, Ikea was a fine pit stop on the way to our next staycation destination, as our boys pointed out that Ikea’s restaurant would also be a great place for lunch. Kids eat free on Tuesdays, and who doesn’t love a nice plate of Swedish meatballs? Mmm! Much better than fast food, and such a bargain too.


Then, just a jump away from Ikea, we headed to…

break 257

Level 257, Schaumburg, Illinois

Our entire family is kind of obsessed with Level 257. It’s a Pac-Man themed restaurant and entertainment venue located outside Woodfield Mall (near the Sears entrance)  in Schaumburg, Illinois. Don’t let the Pac-Man theme fool you though — Level 257 is a very upscale boutique-style destination with a retro feel throughout. The restaurant serves everything from steak to sushi, and the gaming lounge features banks of vintage arcade games from the 1980s, video and pinball cocktail tables and a bank of pinball machines. 

kiss pinball

We love pinball, and Level 257 has a nice mix of classic pins and modern ones, including a Bally Addams Family, which is considered among pinball enthusiasts to be the one of the most innovative pinball machines of all time.  What’s right next to it? Oh yes – a brand-new Stern KISS pin built right here in Illinois. I parked myself right here until my game card let me know I had made so many consecutive plays that it was time to take a break from the KISS machine. (Good thing the Addams Family is right next to it.) 


On Monday, Level 257 announced a Game Day Special offering “matinee” pricing Sunday through Thursdays from 11:30am – 4:00pm: It’s $10 for one hour of bowling (shoes included!) and one hour of gaming. This is a GREAT price for this place. (Bowling is usually $5-$8 per game per person during non-peak times and is charged by the hour during peak times, plus $4 for shoe rental. Game play cards are usually $15/hour.)

As soon as we got the email from Level 257, we added a day of play to our staycation plans. We love dining here too, but in the absence of specials, it’s pricey. Do get on their email list to be notified of play and dining specials, because they offer discounted promotions fairly often.


How are you spending Spring Break, either at home or elsewhere? We’ve already packed a lot into our first two days of break, and the kids are throwing out ideas for the rest of the week… so I’d love to hear yours!


  1. Karen says

    We went to Main Event in Warrenville this week. From 9am to 1pm the price is $9.99 per person. It includes all you can bowl, laser tag and the sky ropes course. Bowling shoes are an extra $3 . http://WWW.mainevent.com

    Another favorite of ours is Cantigny Park in Wheaton. We bring a picnic lunch and eat at the playground picnic/grill area. There are 2 museums, gardens, a splash in fountain, and a tank park where we can climb real tanks. Parking is $5 , admission is free.

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