The Exploritorium

4701 Oakton St, Skokie, IL 60076

happyly approved

Skokie's Indoor Imagination Playground

Located in the Oakton Community Center, part of Skokie's Park District, The Exploritorium is an awesome indoor play space for infants, tots, and young children.  Just a short drive North of the City (only a few miles from of Chicago's North Side neighborhoods), this suburban destination doesn't require a long drive and is absolutely worth the visit- especially because of the affordability of The Exploritorium's admission prices.

Enter the park district building, check in at the desk and take walk one flight of stairs (or take the elevator) down to the basement play space.  The Exploritorium is safely gated.  Outside the gated area there’s a help desk, coatroom, snack table, vending machines with relatively healthy offerings in the event that you’ve forgotten snacks (eek) and restrooms (there are also 2 bathrooms with changing tables inside the gated play space).  The play area requires shoes, except in the climbing and slide section (socks only for grownups and kids here- there are shoe cubbies right at the entrance to this section).

The area really is a wonder!  There is a designated baby and toddler section with a small scale slide and climbing structure, appropriately sized ride on toys of various designs, mirrors, busy boards and plenty of fiddly toys.  There’s a large U-shaped train table with all sort of vehicles in the center of the play area.  A child sized rock wall, foam block building center and the indoor climbing and tube slide area are to the left when you enter the space.  The climbing and slide area are super fun- but parents should note that it gets “busy” with kiddos way up high and some younger than 5 might get scared (and then you, the parent, need to maneuver up to do some rescuing!).  There’s also a designated magnetic station, chalkboard wall, color station, dress-up corner complete with trains and a giant stage with story book pages that change scenes for a backdrop. 

Perhaps my 2 favorite features of the Exploritorium are the giant life-sized “light bright” (honestly, it is so satisfying to put in the colored pegs and even to take them out and organize them) and the massive water table area.  The water table area has plenty of smocks.  There is also a built-in step stool curving around most of the station.  Kids of all ages and sizes can grab an available fishing net and scoop animals, build damns or even crawl under the cave water fall and pop their heads into the clear bubble for a unique vantage point (stellar photo opportunity here).  The water area also has 2 infant seats for babies to sit safely upright in and splash about themselves. 

We love going here!  They host awesome holiday parties for occasions throughout the year (Halloween is our favorite).  Be sure to check their website to purchase tickets to their special events (they sell out).           

Reenie O'Brien King
My Location
A Chicago native, Reenie grew up in the city's Old Town area. After 6 years on the east coast (Boston and Philly) with her husband, Cabell, they returned to Chicago in 2018 and have settled in the Lincoln Square/Ravenswood area of the city. Reenie is the proud, dedicated and playful mom to two kids, Tiernan (4) and Adeline (2) and one on the way (due in May 2021). She holds a Master's in Education from DePaul University and has taught Kindergarten, First Grade, Middle School Drama and 8th Grade Art. Despite taking time off from full- time classroom work, Reenie remains passionate and active in the educational field serving on the boards of ISCJ School in Chicago and Ingles Sin Limites in El Salvador. She is a founding member and former chairman of the Junior Board at Chicago's Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. Reenie has also done work at Scattergood Ethics at The University of Pennsylvania and consulted with Free Forest School Illinois and Hike it Baby Philadelphia. Currently home "daily adventuring" with her kids, Reenie also serves as the Director of Online and Print Content at her family's Mental Health company, MADO Healthcare. A passionate traveler, horseback rider, yogi, mental health advocate and aspiring Children's Book Author, Reenie is glad to share some views of the city she loves with Happy.ly!
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