It's in the stars
Don't let the post-holiday blues take over. Families can enjoy special hands-on activities, workshops and educational programs during Charter One Family Week at the Adler Planetarium. Visitors can stop by the Reason for the Seasons activity cart to learn about seasons on Earth and other planets or visit the Lights in the Sky activity station to discover the beauty of the Aurora Borealis. There's also the planetarium's newest holiday tradition, the "Season of Wonder" sky show.
9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Tuesday, Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, at 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Activities are free with general admission, which is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for children 3-11. Additional fee for the sky show. (312) 922 7827 or adlerplanetarium.org.
In medieval times on the day after Christmas, nobles presented gifts to those living on their land. The boxed gifts give the holiday its name. How did the Hemingway family celebrate Boxing Day, a holiday still honored in Canada, Britain and other countries? Come to the renowned writer's boyhood home for an afternoon of traditional English music, food and a performance by Readers Theater. Bring a food item to donate to the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry and receive $2 off admission.
Noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 26, at the Hemingway Birthplace Home, 339 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park. Tickets cost $7-$10. (708) 848-2222 or ehfop.org.
Let it snow
Snow trekking comes to the 90-plus acres of Northerly Island when there's at least 3 inches of the white stuff on the ground. If you have your own cross-country skis or snowshoes, it's free to ski and trek around the island or check out equipment (on a first-come, first-served basis).
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 12, 13, 26, 27; Feb. 2, 3, 9, 10, 23, 24, at 1521 S. Linn White Drive, Chicago. Equipment rental costs $5 for two hours. (312) 745-2910 or chicagoparkdistrict.com.
Enjoy going belly up on the Everslide at Echo Valley Winter Sports Park in Kalamazoo, Mich. Reach speeds up to 60 mph while tobogganing down the all-season sledding surface, before coming to a stop at the end of the quarter-mile-long runs. There is also a 43,000-square-foot ice rink and a tubing hill. When parents tucker out, they can relax on the observation deck watching the skaters, tobogganers and tubers.
11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, from Dec. 25 to Jan. 6. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12 to Feb. 24, at Echo Valley Winter Sports Park, 8495 E. H Ave., Kalamazoo. Tobogganing or tubing is $12, a combo ticket is $18, and ice skating is $5. (269) 349-3017 or echovalleyfun.com.
Building castles in the (Northwoods) air
Every winter since the late 1920s, a glittering ice castle is constructed in Eagle River, Wis., and 2012 volunteers are ready for the task. Nearly 3,000 12-inch-thick ice blocks from a local lake are hauled to downtown Eagle River, the Snowmobile Capital of the World, where the structure is erected between Christmas and New Year's Day. A new design is sculpted every year and depending on weather, the Ice Castle normally stands until late February. Located on a major snowmobile trail, hundreds stop to have pictures taken in front of the design and it's also lit at night.
Dec. 25 to Feb. 28 in downtown Eagle River. (800) 359-6315 or eagleriver.org.
I've got a line on you
You know you've always wanted to try ice fishing and here's your chance at the free Frosty Fishing Fair at the Hollows Conservation Area in Cary. Bundle up, pack your fishing gear and learn the tricks of ice fishing on Lake Atwood, a 22-acre lake stocked with largemouth bass, rainbow trout, bluegill and channel catfish. Learn ice-fishing safety, equipment and techniques from experts, play fishing games, visit with vendors and representatives from local fishing clubs, and warm up with hot food and beverages. An Illinois State Fishing license and an Inland Waters Trout Stamp are required for ages 16 and older. If the ice isn't thick enough, there will be shore fishing.
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Hollows Conservation Area, 3804 Route 14, Cary. (815) 479-5779 or mccdistrict.org.