Kids hunt for Easter eggs. Adults hunt for wayward golf balls to the right and wayward golf balls to the left.
Behold the rites of spring break on the North Shore.
In most local school districts, this year’s spring break starts March 27, and students return on April 6. Sportsman’s Country Club in Northbrook opened its nine- and 18-hole golf courses on March 20. The facility also features a practice range and a miniature golf course, and the numbers in its address — 3535 Dundee Road — are the exact numbers (35-35) any golfer would love to card for a round of 18 holes.
“This time of year, right around spring break, people have cabin fever and are eager to get outside and do things,” says John Billiter, head golf professional at Sportsman’s.
Five inches of snow blanketed Sportsman’s on March 23, forcing scratch golfers and duffers to retreat, once again, to the … great indoors.
Many North Shore residents have departed for warmer climes, another rite of spring break. Others like to stick around and enjoy a staycation. The latter folks are the brave ones, the resourceful souls, the creative residents.
There are plenty of things to do during spring break here — besides shoveling.
Not everybody likes to swing for birdies on golf courses. Some like to grip binoculars, look up and observe chirping, flying birds.
Two of the best places to partake in the recreation are at Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe) and Middlefork Savanna, a forest preserve in Lake Forest.
“Loons of Lake County,” an annual Lake Cook Audubon field trip, starts at 8 a.m., on March 29, near Diamond Lake in Mundelein. Outdoor enthusiasts search for migrating loons and other waterfowl. They travel to other lakes, mostly by car. Bring a spotting scope if you have one, the field trip leaders suggest. You do not have to be a member of the Illinois Audubon Society or the society’s Lake Cook chapter to participate in the event.
For more information, visit www.lakecookaudubon.org.
Sign Up for an Activity or Two at a Park District
Not all parents get a spring break. Some have to work. Offerings at park districts allow parents to drop their kids off at a facility in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. The length of a day of activities at a park district usually matches the length of a typical school day (9 a.m.-3 p.m.).
“Working parents are looking for activities that keep their kids entertained and busy,” says Erin Maassen, manager of marketing and communications at Glencoe Park District.
Glencoe Park District offers theme days. Clay Play Day is set for March 30 in the district’s ceramics studio. Nickel City Day will be held on March 31, when spring breakers will head to the arcade and family entertainment center in Northbrook.
Each day costs $45 for Glencoe residents and $54 for non-residents.
Children (ages 4-13) interested in chess or engineering or sports should consider registering for an activity (or two) at the Wilmette Park District (www.wilmettepark.org). Among the sports offerings are lacrosse, basketball, noncontact football, gymnastics and archery. One of the sports camps — Spring Break Sportsters — accentuates sportsmanship and fun for boys and girls (ages 4-9). Campers get to play soccer, floor hockey, kickball, basketball, Wiffle ball and other sports/activities.
“We have a nice mix of activities, a wide variety,” says Shelagh Donoghue, communications manager at Wilmette Park District. “We even have one for kids interested in technology, Jedi Engineering. They get to explore and use LEGO [products].
“Parents, especially working parents, appreciate the hours their kids get to spend here during the break,” she adds.
Easter Egg Hunt
Is there a better place to conduct the annual quest than at Chicago Botanic Garden, a 385-acre living plant museum that makes you stop, stare and wonder when you will be able to take your next breath? Probably not. Kids get to run and search for dyed eggs around the Rose Garden on April 5, right after the Easter Egg Brunch.
Watts Ice Center in Glencoe (305 Randolph Street) is the site of a free spring egg hunt on March 28 (10-11 a.m.). Following the hunt, collectors get to hop-hop-hop inside for crafts, games and photos with the Spring Bunny.
Check Out a Play
Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea” is running through May 3 at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. The one-hour musical for kids (and parents) precedes a Question & Answer session with the cast.
For tickets for groups of 20 or more, call (847) 634-5909, or call the box office at (847) 634-0200.
Head North for Adrenaline Rushes
A popular spring break destination for North Shore residents worried about Chicago weather in late March and early April is KeyLime Cove, a resort and indoor waterpark located a handful of water slides from Six Flags Great America in Gurnee (224) 717-3311.
Thirty-two miles north of KeyLime is America’s Action Territory Family Fun Park in Kenosha, Wis., a spot rife with indoor and outdoor activities. Go there for good times in go-karts and in the attraction’s arcade (more than 150 featured games). Visitors also play laser tag and avoid unusual hazards around a miniature golf course at America’s Action Territory (262 857-7000).