City guides

Things to do with kids in Chicago

Unearth the top attractions in Chicago that guarantee a whirlwind of excitement and learning for the young adventurers.

September 19, 2023
 min read
Last updated:
Jan 11
A view of the Chicago skyline, with the Chicago river in the foreground.

Chicago, often dubbed the Windy City, is more than its renowned deep-dish pizzas and majestic skyscrapers. It's a vibrant metropolis teeming with experiences tailored for the young and the young-at-heart. Let's embark on a journey through some of the city's most enchanting spots that are sure to make any family trip to Chicago a cherished memory.

Millennium Park

Right in the city's pulsating heart lies Millennium Park, a sprawling urban oasis that seamlessly blends art, nature, and entertainment. The park's centerpiece, the Cloud Gate (fondly known as "The Bean"), is a marvel of modern art and a favorite among kids who love to see their reflections in its shiny surface. A stone's throw away is the Crown Fountain, where children can splash around and cool off during the warmer months. With open-air concerts, lush gardens, and interactive art installations, Millennium Park is more than just a park; it's an experience. 

Shedd Aquarium

Venture into the deep blue at Shedd Aquarium, a magical underwater realm that houses over 32,000 marine creatures. From the vibrant coral reefs of the Caribbean to the mysterious depths of the Amazon River, the aquarium offers a window into the diverse aquatic ecosystems of our planet. Children can get up close and personal with playful dolphins, watch majestic sharks glide by, and even touch a stingray. Educational programs and interactive exhibits ensure that this visit is not just entertaining but also enlightening. 

Lincoln Park Zoo

A day at Lincoln Park Zoo is a day well spent. Established in the 19th century, this zoo is among the country's oldest and is a testament to Chicago's commitment to wildlife conservation. Home to a plethora of animals from around the globe, kids can marvel at regal lions, observe playful primates, and even feed farm animals at the petting zoo. The zoo's layout, interspersed with gardens and water bodies, makes it a delightful place for a leisurely stroll. And the cherry on top? It's completely free of charge. 

Chicago Children's Museum

Nestled within the iconic Navy Pier, the Chicago Children's Museum is a wonderland for budding minds. Every corner of this museum is designed to spark curiosity. Whether it's climbing a three-story schooner, excavating dinosaur bones, or experimenting in the tinkering lab, the museum offers a plethora of hands-on activities. It's not just about play; it's about learning through play. The museum's exhibits cater to children of all ages, ensuring that every visit is a new adventure. 

Adler Planetarium

The universe is vast and mysterious, and there's no better place to explore its wonders than at the Adler Planetarium. This astronomical museum offers a journey through space and time. With state-of-the-art planetarium shows, kids can travel to distant galaxies, witness the birth of stars, and even walk on the moon. The interactive exhibits demystify complex astronomical concepts, making them accessible and engaging for young minds. It's a celestial adventure that's bound to inspire future astronomers.

Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park is more than just a park; it's a realm of endless fun and exploration. Located adjacent to Millennium Park, this 20-acre wonderland is designed with children in mind. The Play Garden, with its whimsical play areas, invites kids to climb, slide, and swing. During winters, the park transforms into a magical icy playground with its Skating Ribbon, where families can glide against the backdrop of the city skyline. In warmer months, the mini-golf course becomes a hotspot. With its unique blend of natural beauty and man-made marvels, Maggie Daley Park promises a day of pure joy for the little ones. 

The Field Museum

Journey through time and witness the wonders of our natural world at The Field Museum. This iconic institution is a treasure trove of knowledge. As children step inside, they're greeted by "Sue," the largest and most complete T. rex ever discovered. But that's just the beginning. From ancient Egyptian tombs to the vibrant ecosystems of the rainforest, the museum offers a comprehensive look at our planet's history. Interactive exhibits, hands-on workshops, and immersive displays ensure that learning is not just informative but also incredibly fun. 

Navy Pier

Navy Pier, stretching along the shores of Lake Michigan, is Chicago's playground. Beyond its Children's Museum, the pier is a hub of entertainment. The Centennial Wheel, with its enclosed gondolas, offers breathtaking views of the city and the lake, making it a must-ride for families. The pier also hosts a plethora of events, shows, and festivals throughout the year, ensuring there's always something new to experience. With boat rides, an IMAX theatre, and a plethora of dining options, Navy Pier is a place where fun never ends.

Chicago Botanic Garden

Escape the urban hustle and immerse yourself in nature's embrace at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Spread over 385 acres, this garden is a mosaic of diverse habitats. Children can wander through Japanese gardens, explore the vibrant butterfly habitat, or participate in hands-on gardening activities. The garden's commitment to education is evident in its family programs that teach kids about plant science, conservation, and nature. It's not just a visual treat; it's a sensory experience that allows children to touch, smell, and connect with the natural world. 

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Step into a world built brick by brick at LEGOLAND Discovery Center. This indoor attraction is a dream come true for LEGO enthusiasts. With millions of LEGO bricks at their disposal, kids can let their imagination run wild. They can attend a master class at the LEGO Master Builder Academy, embark on interactive rides, or even watch their favorite LEGO characters come to life in the 4D cinema. It's a vibrant, colorful world that celebrates creativity, imagination, and the sheer joy of building.

Chicago, with its rich tapestry of experiences, proves that it's not just a destination for adults. Every corner of the city holds a story, an adventure, waiting to be discovered by young explorers. So, whether you're a local or a visitor, let the Windy City's charm sweep you off your feet. Here's to creating memories, sharing laughs, and experiencing the magic of Chicago with the ones you love the most. Safe travels!

*Prices fluctuate based on season and day of the week.

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