Ways to keep kids entertained this summer

Doug Knight, owner of Knight’s Action Park, now operates the Giant Slide at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and it will be open on Saturdays all summer leading up to the State Fair.

I don't know about you, but in our house, we have been counting down the days until summer. I'm excited for summer's longer days, time with family and friends, wonderful sticky weather and piles and piles of farmers market produce. There is just something about the simplicity of no packed lunches, no homework in the evenings, no-cook meals and lax bedtimes that I am craving after keeping the family running all academic year. 

I will admit to having some anxiety about how to spend all these spare hours with a house full of kids, but lucky for me, Springfield offers tons of great family options to keep your summer fun and exciting. So get out there and enjoy these warm and whimsical days, because in the words of John Mayer, "a little bit of summer is what the whole year's all about."

Public swimming pools and splash pads

Take your family swimming at either the Nelson Center or Veterans Memorial Pool. A four-person family summer pass to use at both pools is marked down to $70 this year and works between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The Nelson Center Pool will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Veterans Memorial Pool will operate Thursday through Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.

Have littles that need to beat the heat earlier? There are free splash pads at Southwind and Comer Cox parks, and both will be open between 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. this summer.

Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice exhibit at Kidzeum

Looking for an indoors option on a hot or rainy day this summer? Look no further than downtown Springfield's Kidzeum of Health and Science. The Kidzeum will open a brand-new dinosaur exhibit on May 27, just in time for summer learning and exploration. Children will come face-to-face with the prehistoric world and meet dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. The exhibit, created for children ages 3-10, will feature a variety of activities. 

"Find Your Voice" summer reading program

If you have readers in your house (or want to keep your emerging students reading), this summer at the Lincoln library is all about expressing yourself: use your voice to sing, podcast or act. Express yourself with art, crafts, technology, writing or drawing. Register online or in person at the library to learn more about upcoming events, track reading and become eligible for reading rewards.

Knight's Action Park and The Giant Slide

Knight's Action Park has been hosting Illinoisians for big summer fun since 1930, and this year will be no exception. The park will open over Memorial Day weekend and patrons will be able to enjoy the Splash Park, Big Wheel, Paratrooper, Fortress of Fun, mini-golf, driving range, batting cages and go-karts. Also open this summer is The Giant Slide at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The Giant Slide is already open for the season and will operate on Saturdays all summer, leading up to the state fair in August.

Springfield's summer festivals and fairs

There are sure to be plenty of fun summer festivals happening during the next few months. A few that your family won't want to miss include the Springfield Art Association's Paint the Street event (Saturday, June 24), the International Carillon Festival at Washington Park (July 1-4) and The Great Lawn Kite Festival in Southwind Park (July 1-2) Lastly, the Illinois State Fair will run between Aug. 10-20.

No matter what you and your family get up to this summer, have a safe and relaxing time!

Pamela Savage is a freelance writer in Springfield. She is looking forward to summer reading and tomato sandwiches.

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