Exploration Station – A Children’s Museum

| February 21, 2009 | 0 Comments

By Shannon Capanna

So you’ve been there, done that with all the children’s museums in the Chicago area?  And you’re looking for something new to do in these last few weeks months of bitter winter weather? Why not take a trip down to our slightly more rural neighbors to the south, Bradley and  Bourbonnais?

Besides being home to the training facilities for our famous Chicago Bears, the area also boasts an awesome and affordable children’s museum, the Exploration Station!  The station was a pleasant 45-minute drive from my home in the south suburbs, and I say pleasant because we were removed from the traffic of the city.  This suburbanite could barely believe she was really seeing real farms with barns and grain silos.

The museum itself is actually housed in a cute little barn.  The facility is operated by the Bourbonnais Township Park District, and it’s quite affordable.  Admission for non-residents is $5 for adults and $4 for children, plus an extra $1 per person if you want a wristband that allows you to visit the animal room.

What I loved about this museum was that it somehow managed to be low-key while simultaneously offering an extensive collection of fun activities.  Plus there was ample parking that was free and easy.

The museum is geared toward smaller children (ages 3-10, according to the website).  Upon entering and signing in, children get to meet an adorable live rabbit in a cage.  The museum boasts a medieval castle and pirate ship to climb in, as well as various vehicles that children can pretend to operate.  There is art, a water table, a percussion area, a make-believe post office, and my personal favorite, the pretend ice cream shop where kids can serve their parents pretend milkshakes and sundaes.  Plus there are children’s museum classics such as a puppet theater, a dress-up area, and a train table. There is even a small crawling area with various foam shapes for the youngest guests.

The museum also offers birthday party packages, perfect for those of us who were unfortunate enough to be born during the colder months.  The facility can be rented for special events or fundraisers, and it’s a popular destination for field trips.  Also check out their upcoming Earth Day Awareness Fair on April 3, where admission is free when you bring in 6 recyclable items.

Make sure to check out the museum’s hours before you visit, because they vary by season.  Also plan your visit around a mealtime because there is no food available for sale and there didn’t appear to be a place that non-field-trippers could eat.  There is a lovely park next door that would be great for a picnic during the warmer months.

Actually, the museum itself is part of the larger Perry Farm Park, which also includes such features as live animals, ample hiking trails, and fruit orchards.

Of course, we couldn’t do any of that in the middle of winter, so we’re planning a return trip if the Chicago weather ever warms up.  Until then, the Exploration Station was a great destination, just the perfect thing for my little two-year-old and his two-and-a-half-year-old friend!

This is an original Chicagonista article


Shannon Capanna is a writer, editor, and mom who lives in south suburban Homewood with her husband, toddler son, and cat. She blogs at ChicagoMoms Blog, and at her personal site,
target=”_blank”>Boringtown’s Closed.

Category: See & Plays

About the Author ()

Joining Shannon Capanna in Home Sweet Homewood are her professor husband, toddler son, and giant cat. Career-wise, Shannon worked as an elementary school teacher for three years before becoming an editor for math textbooks. She quit that job to try to achieve that elusive work-life balance, and she is now trying to cobble together some kind of career as a writer, editor, and mom. Shannon enjoys swimming, watching quality television, and cat-watching.She also blogs at Chicago Moms Blog, and at her personal site, Boringtown's Closed.

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