What to Do in Chicago with Kids: 8 Fun-Filled Family Attractions

If you’re planning a family trip and need to know ‘What to Do in Chicago with Kids’, our article has you covered with a plethora of activities that will delight both young and old.

Exploring Chicago’s Iconic Attractions

Families visit Chicago's famous landmarks: Cloud Gate, Navy Pier, and Millennium Park. Children ride the Ferris wheel and play in the interactive fountains

Chicago is brimming with family-friendly activities that will delight both you and your kids. From interactive parks to sky-high views, some of Chicago’s most iconic attractions promise a memorable experience for the whole family.

Millennium Park and Family Fun

At the heart of Chicago, Millennium Park is a playground for all ages. Your family can marvel at the reflective splendor of Cloud Gate, affectionately known as “The Bean,” or splash around in the playful Crown Fountain during warmer months. The park’s schedule is packed with free activities throughout the year, making it one of the top things to do for families visiting Chicago.

  • Summer: enjoy free concerts and movie nights.
  • Winter: skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink.

Navy Pier Adventures

Navy Pier, bursting with attractions, offers numerous adventures for kids. The Centennial Wheel provides a gentle thrill with stunning views over Lake Michigan and the city skyline. Indoors, the Chicago Children’s Museum and a galaxy of fun rides await.

  • Must-Visit:

    • Chicago Children’s Museum
    • Centennial Wheel
    • Crystal Gardens
  • Dining Options: Several family-friendly restaurants.

Sky-High Views from Willis Tower

Elevate your Chicago experience by taking the kids to the Skydeck at Willis Tower. Stand on The Ledge—a glass balcony extending four feet outside the building for panoramic views of the city from 1,353 feet in the air. It’s a safe and thrilling perspective that brings the city’s architecture into dramatic focus.

  • Tip: Visit early or late to avoid crowds.
  • Fact: Willis Tower is the tallest building in Chicago.

Remember to check online for the current hours and any special family-friendly events that might be happening during your visit to these attractions.

Museums and Educational Experiences

Children explore interactive exhibits in a Chicago museum, engaging in hands-on educational experiences

Chicago offers a diverse array of museums and educational venues perfect for sparking curiosity and learning in children of all ages. Whether your family is interested in marine life, history, or the cosmos, there’s a discovery waiting around every corner.

Marine Discoveries at Shedd Aquarium

Immerse yourself in aquatic wonders at the Shedd Aquarium. With vibrant marine habitats and hands-on exhibits, you get an up-close look at creatures from around the world. Don’t miss the chance to touch a sea star in the Polar Play Zone, or get face-to-face with the dolphins during a live show.

  • Top Exhibits:
    • Caribbean Reef
    • Wild Reef: Sharks at Shedd
    • Polar Play Zone

Historic Wonders at Field Museum

Step back in time at the Field Museum, where history comes to life. Here, you’ll meet SUE, the world’s largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex. Explore ancient cultures and awe-inspiring artifacts that will transport your family thousands of years into the past.

  • Family Favorites:
    • Inside Ancient Egypt
    • Evolving Planet
    • The Grainger Hall of Gems

Stargazing at Adler Planetarium

Experience the night sky like never before at the Adler Planetarium. Engage with interactive exhibitions that teach the wonders of astronomy and space exploration. Be sure to visit the immersive sky shows that transport you through time and space right from your seat.

  • Must-See Shows:
    • One World, One Sky
    • Skywatch Live
    • Planet Nine

From encountering incredible creatures of the deep blue to gazing upon distant stars, these experiences will delight and educate your family, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Outdoor Expeditions and Green Spaces

Families enjoying picnics, biking, and playing in Chicago's parks and nature reserves

Chicago is full of vibrant green spaces and outdoor attractions perfect for families. You’ll discover urban oases where your kids can immerse themselves in nature without leaving the city.

Wildlife Exploration at Lincoln Park Zoo

At Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the United States, you’ll find a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Free and open to the public, you can watch your little ones’ faces light up as they come face-to-face with exotic animals. The zoo’s lush landscapes and winding pathways make for a delightful day of discovery amidst the city.

Nature Encounters at Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park infuses nature and adventure within Chicago’s concrete jungle. It’s more than just a park; it’s a play garden where you can revel in unique outdoor experiences. From rock climbing walls to whimsical play areas and winding paths, your family can enjoy sightseeing and playful exploration in this green wonderland.

Botanical Treasures at Chicago Botanic Garden

Journey north of the city to the Chicago Botanic Garden and be transported into a world of botanical beauty. Across its 385 acres lie 27 distinct gardens and four natural areas, from the enchanting Japanese Garden to the vibrant English Walled Garden. It’s a treasured getaway for families to learn and relax among nature’s splendor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Exploring Chicago with your family is a delight thanks to the city’s wide array of attractions and activities tailored for all ages. Here, you’ll find answers to common questions about family-friendly fun in the Windy City.

What are some top family-friendly attractions in Chicago?

Chicago’s rich tapestry of kid-friendly spots includes the iconic Navy Pier, famous for its ferris wheel and entertainment options, and the fascinating Chicago Children’s Museum. Don’t miss out on the historic sights at the Chicago History Museum either.

Where can I find fun activities for toddlers in Chicago?

For the little ones, the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier offers hands-on exhibits like the Dinosaur Expedition. Additionally, the Lincoln Park Zoo provides a delightful and educational experience with its array of animals and interactive exhibits.

Can you recommend some free family activities to enjoy in Chicago?

Take advantage of the city’s numerous free offerings such as spending a day at Millennium Park where you can admire the Cloud Gate sculpture or enjoy a family picnic. The Lincoln Park Zoo is also free and open year-round, offering close encounters with a variety of species.

What are the best indoor activities for families in Chicago?

On those chilly Chicago days, dive into the incredible underwater world at the Shedd Aquarium or let your creativity flow at the Art Institute of Chicago which has art-making activities for kids. Moreover, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater offers performances that will intrigue family members of all ages.

How can I entertain my teenagers during our visit to Chicago?

Teenagers will enjoy the thrills of the Skydeck’s Ledge at Willis Tower, where they can step out into a glass box high above the city streets. For a more tech-driven experience, the Museum of Science and Industry showcases hands-on science exhibits that are as educational as they are entertaining.

What are some unique kid-friendly dining experiences in Chicago?

Dine in style with your kids at the American Girl Café, where their favorite dolls get a seat at the table. For a taste of Chicago’s iconic food scene, enjoy a family-style meal at one of the city’s famous pizzerias or indulge in a deluxe milkshake at a local diner.

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Christian Düppre
Articles: 72

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