Teen Travel Chat: A Low-Key Spring Break in Chicagoland

In this month’s Teen Travel Chat, our teen correspondent Brooke discusses her spring break in Chicagoland. 

Spring break 2016 came with a much needed and appreciated breath of fresh air and time to sit back and enjoy being on vacation with my family. Although the school year has at times seemed to go by very slow (like in some of my classes I don’t particularly have an interest in), time has once again made me realize how quick my sophomore year in high school will soon come to an end. It has also forced me to come to terms with the fact that I have to get up before the sun comes up Monday morning. For my spring break this year, my family and I traveled to the Windy City and enjoyed adventuring, eating, and taking it easy.

ETA Creative Arts Foundation

The first thing we did in Chicago was to go see a play at ETA Creative Arts Foundation. They strive “for the preservation, perpetuation, and promulgation of the African American aesthetic in the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the Nation” (ETA’s Mission statement). The play we saw was titled Lines in the Dust by Nikkole Salter, and directed by Phyllis Griffin. It displayed the risks a woman, named Dinitra Morgan, was willing to take in order to get her daughter into a more prestigious school, so she would have a better chance at getting into a good college. Dinitra is desperate to do whatever it takes to allow her daughter to have a better future than she did, and takes many risks along the way. This play centers around what people do to go to a school that is outside of their residential area, which the playwright refers to as lines in the dust. The production was pretty deep and had many underlying themes and ideas within it that I felt were powerful. Plays at ETA are known to be well executed and worthwhile, which I completely agree with after my experience. There is a wide range of productions throughout the year for kids as well. I recommend seeing a play here if you have the opportunity. I also suggest trying to visit Black Ensemble Theatre, which is a North-Side theatre company that has top-rated productions.


Hanging Out With Family

BarrisTourista-Brooke Museum Chinese Soldiers

On Easter, we attended a church outside of Chicago. We went to the early service and then stayed afterwards to watch all the adorable kids put on a great Easter program. Later, we ate brunch at Jam n’ Jelly Cafe in Woodridge. They serve delicious breakfast and lunch entrees for everyone in a positive family friendly environment. This is the perfect place to eat if you want breakfast or lunch. My mom, dad, and little sister all ordered breakfast, while I ate the best chicken tenders and French fries, of course. They are seriously really good! After dining at Jam n’ Jelly, we chilled for a bit before heading over to my aunt and uncle’s for Easter dinner and a chance to see their first grandchild…a bouncing baby boy! I really love to spend time with family, and had a fun time eating, relaxing, talking, and enjoying everyone’s company, including my adorable cousin that was born just over a month ago.



The ladies go shopping! The day after Easter, my little sister, mom, and I went shopping at Chicago Premium Outlets, which is just 40 minutes from downtown. I purchased a tan vest, a pair of nude strappy sandals that I will be excited to wear on warmer days, and a pair of running shoes from Asics for track & field. Although we did not go all out with the shopping, we still had a wonderful time together. We snacked at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Lindt. I got the cinnamon sugar pretzel, while my mom and sister got the almond pretzel and plain salted pretzel respectively. Lindt is a chocolate lover’s paradise. My sister loves chocolate and was super excited when my mom allowed her to get two chocolate bunnies because they were half off after Easter. If you love chocolate, this place is probably for you, and you should definitely check it out. 🙂


Color Me Mine

BarrisTourista-Brooke Art

On Tuesday, my mom took my sister and I to a pottery studio called Color Me Mine. We chose a ceramic item and painted our individual pieces together. Since I love arts and crafts, it was a lot of fun. It takes four days for them to fire each piece in the kiln. The colors become much more vibrant and shiny after being fired. I enjoy seeing the pieces after they are fired, and was pleasantly surprised at how awesome the pieces turned out!

For dinner that evening, we went to The Cheesecake Factory. We love this restaurant and enjoyed eating here. I tried something new this time! Straying away from the tempting, persuading thoughts of the picky eater inside me, I decided to go for a new dish instead of what I always get: Spaghetti without the meatball, and a side of French fries (these are a must have for me). Instead, I ordered the Southern Fried Catfish. It comes with mashed potatoes (which of course I substituted for French fries), green beans, buttered corn, and remoulade sauce. I am glad I tried this entrée and stepped out of my comfort zone. The green beans and corn had a lot of flavor and the catfish was exceptional.


The Field Museum of Chicago

BarrisTourista-Museum Small

In the middle of the week, my family set out midday for the Field Museum in Chicago. This visit was fabulous. It did not take long to find parking, get our tickets, or find the next exhibit we wanted to see throughout the day. Before we went in, I took a picture of the outside. The architecture is incredible on the exterior and interior. Right when you step inside, you are greeted with high ceilings and a lot to take in.

One thing that does not need much of an introduction is Sue the T. rex who is straight ahead when you come in the front doors. There is so much to see within the huge museum, that we could not fit everything in, but I think we hit the places we were most interested in seeing. Some exhibits we visited included: Looking at Ourselves, Inside Ancient Egypt, Northwest Coast and Arctic Peoples (where there were some incredible totem poles on display), Hall of China, Africa, and China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors, which is a temporary exhibit. We also saw a 3D movie about the unique life forms in the Galapagos. It featured breathtaking footage! I think going to any museum, if you are interested in them, is a perfect option on any vacation. And Chicago is known for its top-notch museums.

The Field Museum is nestled close to the heart of Chicago, so you can definitely be adventurous and go to other places nearby before you leave the area. Plus, if you find a good parking spot that is close to where you plan on going, you can save some money because you don’t have to drive to each place. After concluding our trip to the Field Museum, my family went to eat dinner at a cafe called Cosi. There are actually four of these on the north side of Chicago in close proximity to the Field Museum. Cosi is known for their homemade flatbread but also has other tasty dishes. They have options for both kids and adults, including smart fit choices. Cosi serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with a selection of desserts. I like this place for their yummy flatbread and also because it is fast but tastes good. I also think it is an ideal place for someone who wants healthier options and their expansive menu has something for everyone.



After our day at the Field Museum, we spent most of the day relaxing. It was a weird weather day—sunny one moment, then cloudy with down pouring rain the next. However, we did head out to Regal Cinemas to watch Miracles from Heaven, which I really liked. A movie is always a good option on a rainy day.



We definitely ended our Spring Break with a bang! We made a worthwhile visit to Paramount Theatre, in Aurora, to see the Broadway musical Hairspray! This was such a fantastic show. Every single performer did so well, including those that were making their debut performances at the Paramount. The show was executed extremely well and I highly recommend checking it out if it returns. Of course, there are other shows to see at Paramount, so I would consider checking out a production there if you visit the Chicagoland area.


Spring Break in Chicagoland

Brooke-BarrisTourista Totem Poles
I strongly suggest coming to Chicagoland for anyone who is even just a little interested in exploring the city and the surrounding areas. Chicago is such a fun place with plenty to do and see; so much so that I could not cover everything in the amount of time I was there! I still want to go to the Willis Tower someday and see if I am brave enough to go on the Sky Deck! There are so many more things I want to do that are exclusive to Chicago, and I believe it is an outstanding destination for anyone of any age, with plenty of children’s activities, museums, and culture. Whether you indulge yourself solely in the city or venture out farther into the many suburbs and smaller towns in Illinois, you will not be disappointed after visiting the Chicagoland area with your family.


brooke bio cancun spring break in chicagolandI am Brooke Lauryn. I am a high school student with diverse interests. I enjoy being a member of my high school band and marching at Friday night football games, along with participating in basketball and track & field. I appreciate art and music and learning about other cultures. I love spending time with my family and friends. Since I was a child I have always enjoyed traveling, and I look forward to sharing some of my favorite places and “cool” things to do with you.


I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

12 comments on “Teen Travel Chat: A Low-Key Spring Break in Chicagoland”

  1. Wow! You guys had a fun filled, and packed spring break 🙂 . My favorite would have been seeing Hairspray (loved the movie) and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Just the thought of that has me drooling..heath bar crunch cheesecake 🙂

  2. Chitown is one of my FAVORITE cities!! I have students visiting the area this summer to visit universities. Will pass the link along to give them something to do!

  3. Aww, what an awesome Spring break venture you and your family had. Inspires me so much and makes me want to travel. We have two little ones at home (age 8 and 5) so it is kind of hard to just pick up go. I’m so looking forward to the days we can spend family outings like this when they get a little bigger of course LOL.

    1. Aww I bet your kids are a lot of fun (and absolutely adorable)! If you can, try planning a trip close to home, them venture out into vacations farther away. It might take a little getting used to but I bet everyone will be happy once they arrive at the destination and make awesome memories 🙂 I loved to travel when I was a kid.

  4. I always see people going to Color Me Mine. I will have to do that one day. I need to go back to Chicago. I have more pizza I need to eat. This Jam N Jelly spot I have to look into as well.

    1. I completely agree. Chicago is a place that is worth the trip and returning to in an effort to explore even more.

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