The final frontier
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Looking for a sensory jolt in the dead of winter? Explore the new, sophisticated Grainger Sky Theater at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum with imagery that will wow even the most jaded techie. "Deep Space Adventure," a 22-minute show written by science-fiction author Nick Sagan and narrated by actor Billy Crudup takes visitors aboard a futuristic starship.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Show and general admission is $28 for adults and $22 for children ages 3-11. (312) 922-7827 or adlerplanetarium.org.
Treat the family to a retreat
Laugh in the face of the sullen season and book the Winter Family Retreat Package at the Peninsula Chicago. The overnight package includes daily continental breakfast for two, dining for children 12 years and younger from the children's menu, overnight valet parking for one vehicle, a movie through the hotel's entertainment system, a children's welcome amenity and a lucky draw at check-in for the chance to win a prize.
Valid for stays through March 31 at the hotel, 108 E. Superior St., Chicago. Rates start at $400 per night. (312) 337-2888 or peninsula.com/chicago.
Flying LEGOs and Potato Heads
Innovative exhibits are on their way to the world's largest children's museum in Indianapolis just in time for a spring break visit. Launching Saturday, Feb. 25, is "CSI: Flight Adventures," which includes an all-new multimedia show, programs and displays that explore the science of flight. Little ones will go for "The Adventures of Mr. Potato Head" and its series of interactive explorations undersea, in outer space, in the jungle and on an archaeological dig through May 6. "LEGO Travel Adventure" opens Saturday, March 10, and lets kids build the perfect dream machine.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, 3000 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis. Tickets cost $17.50 for adults, $12.50 for children 2-17 and $16.50 for seniors 60 and older. (317) 334-3322 or childrensmuseum.org. For Family Fun Adventure Packages and other discounts, visit childrensmuseum.org/accommodations.
If it's the Festival of the Sugar Maples, spring is right around the corner. Join the McHenry County Conservation District's fun and educational program to discover how syrup is made from the sap of maple trees. Hear how maple syrup was made hundreds of years ago, learn how maple trees produce sap and how it is collected and see how syrup is made at the evaporator house. You'll finish with a taste of fresh Coral Woods maple syrup. Dress for a half-mile hike on a rugged nature trail.
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4 and 10-11, at the Coral Woods Conservation Area, 7400 Somerset, Marengo. Tours leave every 15 minutes. (815) 479-5779 or mccdistrict.org.
Klondike Cold Rush
Wisconsin's No. 1 winter festival precludes the need to travel to the Yukon to celebrate Klondike Days. The 22nd Annual Trig's Klondike Days features a rush of events including an authentic period Voyageur encampment with re-creators and exhibitions of smithing, muzzle loading and ax throwing. There also will be dog sled weight pulls, horse pulls, ice sculpture, chain-saw carving, Native American exhibits and dancing, a cut, stack and splint contest, and an Amish quilt show and sale. Rounding out the fun will be live entertainment and food.
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4, at 1800 Pleasure Island Road, Eagle River, Wis. (800) 359-6315 or eagleriver.org.
Worth the trip
Civil War buffs will want to plan a visit to Tennessee's Shiloh National Military Park during the 150th commemoration of the strategic battle. A series of spring events include the state's 2012 Sesquicentennial Signature Event: "Invasions By Rail and River: The Battle of Shiloh." Expect a forum with historians on the battle of Shiloh, living-history demonstrations, a special Sesquicentennial Civil War exhibit offering rare artifacts and a musical performance by the 52nd Regimental String Band. Other events include special ranger-led hikes, two re-enactments featuring more than 6,000 participants and 100 cannons and a "Grand Illumination" with luminaries placed around the battlefield representing the 23,746 people killed, wounded or missing.
March 29 to April 8 at 1055 Pittsburg Landing Road, Shiloh, Tenn., tnvacation.com/civil-war.