Go West Young Man – To Aurora, Illinois

Listen, Chicagoans are a proud people. NO city is greater than ours, I don’t care what anyone says, BUT there are places that I will proudly add to my list of “surprised the heck out of me,” Aurora, Illinois has made it. 

Thank you to the visitors bureau of Aurora for hosting our family! 

Just 45 minutes west (or 37 miles if you’re into THAT type of measurement) of Chicago’s city center, Aurora is bursting with things to do, and I’m quite embarrassed to say that I have a sibling living out that way who already TOLD me about the things, but that Chicago Pride yo. 

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On our trip west, we took part in three activities. The SciTech Museum, Paramount Theatre‘s showing of The Wizard of Oz, and dinner at Two Brothers Roundhouse. The day was so much fun, and I even have to confess that I made us late for The Wizard of Oz, because I was having too much fun playing with the switchboard at SciTech Museum. 

I’m here to let you know about The Wizard of Oz – playing now through January 6th, and the SciTech Museum which is chock full of greatness for the family to enjoy. 

The Wizard of Oz 

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Paul-Jordan Jansen plays Cowardly Lion, Carl Draper is Tinman, Elizabeth Stenholt plays Dorothy, Kyle Adams is Scarecrow and Nessa plays Toto in Paramount’s The Wizard of Oz.
Photo Credit: Liz Lauren 
Paramount Theater – $36 – $74 
2.5 hours with intermission 

Upon seeing the Paramount, I totally though old school theater. It just FEELS historic. It is a lot larger inside than I thought, and I was pretty impressed at the fact that the orchestra wasn’t sitting in a pit at the bottom of the stage. That’s neither here nor there, the production was so full of color, and pizazz that it kept my full attention, even with a 15 minute intermission and the joy of being almost 40. 

Everyone kept full energy, no matter if their parts were large or small, and you could tell that there was just joy in being there. The way that they handled things like the tornado and the Wizard leaving in a hot air balloon also brought out the little kid in me. Of course the houseful of littles loved the fact that Toto was also a live actor, and marveled at how much more well behaved they were than our dog Dennis. 

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(from left) Caron Buinis plays the Wicked Witch of the West,
Harriet Nzinga Plumpp is Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and
Elizabeth Stenholt plays Dorothy in Paramount Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz.
Photo Credit: Liz Lauren 

Booster seats are offered to those of you who have children who may not be able to see over the backs of the theater chairs, and no seat is really a bad one – as we found out when we entered the theater after the show started. Just a note – make sure to pick up a couple of chocolate chip cookies from the concession stand, I’m not sure what they put in them, but they are addictive. 

The Wizard of Oz is playing now until January 6th, and I could easily see this becoming a holiday tradition worth going west for! 

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SciTech Hands on Museum – Aurora, Il 

SciTech Hands On Museum 
18 W. Benton St., Aurora, IL

Tuesday – Thursday & Saturdays 10 – 5, Friday 10-8 Closed Sun & Mon
$10 ages 4 – 59 , $8 Military and seniors, children under 3 free. 

I was not prepared to get sucked into this building as quickly as I did. Converted a couple of decades ago from an old post office, the SciTech Hands on Museum is a place of wonderment and joy. Kind of like Oz, but without the flying monkeys or wicked witches. We learned about tornadoes, magnets, hot air balloons, and velocity & force. I took a special liking to the switchboards and phones of yesteryear and made us tardy to the party for The Wizard of Oz. 

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The culprit of my tardiness. I could have played with this switchboard for hours. 

When visiting museums, I like to check to see if they are welcoming to EVERYONE, and I’m happy to say that SciTech Museum is a participating member of Museums4All. If you present your Illinois LINK card and photo ID, you are able to receive a $3.00 admission for up to four people per card.

Being a proponent of getting EVERY PERSON into museums has been something that has been on my mind for years. Once the area implemented museums for all, I became giddy, and while I focused only on the museums in the immediate Chicago area, I’m glad that it’s caught on to our suburban cities as well! To top it off, there is free parking as well, and THAT my friends is how you encourage everyone to come out and learn. Make it possible for them! 

While we’re in the last month of the year, I can’t tell you about all of the great Super SciTech Saturdays that they have had, but I can inform you that you can make it to their last one of the year – December 29th and all of the ones scheduled for next year too! With a paying adult, up to four children will be admitted for free. They focus on STEAM projects and create space for children to explore those areas deeply. 

This space is friendly for all ages, given that it has a space especially for toddlers and smaller children. The adults have just as much fun as the kids if you’re open to it, and there’s an impressive selection of gifts, including a lollipop with a cricket in it that immediately caught the eye of my youngest child. I suggest you plan on spending two or three hours here to get the full gist of the space, and make sure you’re ready to travel back in time! 

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