Nestled north of Chicago in picturesque Lake County, the city of Vernon Hills isn’t as cosmopolitan as Chicago or as ritzy as its neighboring cities of Lake Forest and Highland Park. Instead, it’s a relaxed, family-friendly city, home to several businesses, an enthusiastic local government and parks department and plenty of activities for children to enjoy.
Arts and Culture
Not every event at the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens (luc.edu) is entertaining for kids, but the calendar has a few treasures -- young poetry lovers might enjoy a play about Emily Dickinson, while junior fashionistas can ogle an exhibition on 20th century fashion design. Tours of the mansion and grounds are free on the first Wednesday of each month, so that’s an ideal time to bring younger kids who might not have the attention span for a full-length tour. For a more hands-on arts experience, visit the Painted Penguin (paintedpenguin.net), where kids can paint pottery, make beaded jewelry or work on an excavation project where they chip out a fossil hidden in a block of material.
Kids can burn off lots of energy at the Blast Zone (theblastzone.com) indoor playground. Relax in the comfortable parents’ lounge and watch your kids bounce off trampolines into a foam ball pit, race plastic tubs around a winding speedway, charge through a 16-foot-tall inflatable obstacle course and find their way through a three-story maze. Kids 4 feet tall and shorter can play inside the Hawthorn Center Mall at Yu Kids Island (yukidschicago.com), an indoor playground with creative spaces like an area full of bouncing balloons and a revolving platform with climbing poles.
Sports and Recreation
Kids can start perfecting their golf swing as soon as they turn 7 at the White Deer Run Golf Club’s (whitedeergolf.com) Junior Golf Clinics. Over four days, kids learn the basic rules and methods for playing golf. The Lake County YMCA (ymcalakecounty.org) has classes like aikido, zumba, basketball and ice skating for kids of all ages, as well as enjoyable family events like Disco in the Pool. The lanes at Brunswick Bowling (bowlbrunswick.com) all have optional bumpers to prevent gutter balls, so even new bowlers can enjoy the game.
The nearest branch of the Vernon Area Public Library (vapld.info) district is less than four minutes away in Lincolnshire and hosts free events for kids, including language lessons, gardening sessions in the library’s community garden, craft projects and plays. Check the online calendar for upcoming events. The library also participates in the Museum Adventure Pass program (museumadventure.org), which lets kids check out free or discounted tickets to Chicago area attractions, like the Brookfield Zoo and Legoland Discovery Center, with their library cards. The city of Vernon Hills (vernonhills.org) also hosts family-friendly events throughout the year, including winter holiday light shows, a summer concert series at the Vernon Hills Memorial Arbortheater and Oktoberfest.