By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 23, 2023 at 7:31 AM

Looking for a fun Chicago family getaway?

There are lots of ways you and your family can get hands-on in the Windy City, with a range of fun and engaging interactive venues.

Here are some venues were you can get into the act on your next visit to the Windy City.

WNDR Museum is “a multi-sensory interactive art and technology experience that is designed to ignite the curiosity within each of us.”

With locations in San Diego and Chicago, it’s less a typical museum than an immersive experience with a variety of multi-media installations that draw you in and allow you to control or affect the artwork.

We Are All ArtistsX

Your movements change lights and sounds and colors, perfectly illustrating the neon sign just inside the entrance that proclaims, “We are all artists.”

I was addicted to the simple synthesizer that allowed me to create my own beats that also influenced the imagery in the space around me.

Kids will love the light floor, the perspective-challenging AMES room and Yayoi Kusama’s “Let’s Survive Forever” infinity experience, but this is not a kids venue – it’s perfect for all ages.

infinity room
Yayoi Kusama’s “Let’s Survive Forever” infinity room.

The same is true for the Chicago location of Color Factory, in the lower level of the Willis Tower.

Color Factory – which also has locations in New York and Houston – is similar to WNDR in that it is filled with immersive and interactive installations, though it has, as the name suggests, a bit more focus on color, specifically.

Take a moment to look really closely at someone else by drawing them with a single uninterrupted line. Sample a variety of pop rocks and guess their colors using your taste buds. Use your movements to control a chorus of electronic horns. At the end of the experience, dive into a baby blue ball pit.

Ball pit
The ball pit.

Along the way you’ll get a series of treats to draw your palate into the experience, too.

(Note that at both WNDR and Color Factory, there are lots of blinking lights, color changes, swirling movements and music.)

Aimed at a much younger audience is the Sloomoo Institute, a sensory celebration of slime.

You can experience vats of slime of all different colors and textures, toss some slime at a dripping slime wall, join in what looks like a wacky game show and have slime shoot down from the ceiling onto your head and, best of all, make your own slime by mixing a base with colors, scents and charms.

SlooMoo InstituteX

Although my kids have pretty much aged out of slimemania (which did grip our home for what seemed like too long;  reminders of it can still be found in the carpets), there was no denying that this loud, active place (with locations in Atlanta and NYC, too) was fun.

Somewhere in the middle in terms of age-appeal is the Museum of Ice Cream, which also has locations in New York, Miami, Austin and Singapore.

Museum of Ice CreamX

While the "pool" filled with giant plastic sprinkles and some simple activities might be aimed straight at the youngest visitors, who doesn't love unlimited ice cream?

There are Dove bars to cups of ice cream with Pop Rocks to hot dog ice cream on a bun and beyond. You can also upgrade your admission to include milkshakes and more.


Some simple carnival-style games, including ones based on whack-a-mole, mini golf, pop-a-shot and water gun competitions, are fun for everyone and there are some quirky experiences tossed in, too, like a room full of dangling plastic pink and yellow bananas.

Did I mention there's unlimited ice cream?

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.