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Home » Exploring Chicago with Kids: A Guide to Family-Friendly Activities and Attractions

Exploring Chicago with Kids: A Guide to Family-Friendly Activities and Attractions

Chicago’s bustling streets showcase the iconic skyscrapers that reach the sky. This city offers something for everyone! This guide will take you on a journey through the family-friendly activities and attractions that make Chicago great.

Admire the famous Willis Tower or take a stroll down the Magnificent Mile. Little ones can marvel at the wonders of modern engineering.

Venture farther to explore the world-class museums specifically catered to children. The Museum of Science and Industry and Shedd Aquarium offer interactive exhibits to ignite curiosity and educational opportunities.

Visit Lincoln Park Zoo to observe animals from around the world. Or enjoy nature’s tranquility at Millennium Park s Lurie Garden or Lake Michigan s sandy beaches.

Don’t forget Navy Pier, an iconic attraction with thrilling rides and fireworks displays. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel and feel like a child again!

Pack your bags and get ready for an adventure-filled trip to Chicago with your little ones. Book your tickets today and create lasting memories!

Best Family-Friendly Activities in Chicago

Chicago with Kids: Discover Family Fun in the Windy City

Chicago offers a plethora of exciting and educational activities for families. Engage your little ones with these recommendations for the best family-friendly experiences in Chicago.

  • Explore the wonders of nature at the Lincoln Park Zoo: Immerse your family in the animal kingdom and enjoy a day of wildlife encounters. With its free admission, the Lincoln Park Zoo provides an ideal opportunity to observe various species up close.
  • Experience science come to life at the Museum of Science and Industry: Ignite your children’s curiosity with interactive exhibits, hands-on experiments, and captivating displays. From the massive U-505 submarine to the awe-inspiring Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, there is something to fascinate everyone.
  • Unleash your inner artist at the Art Institute of Chicago: Stimulate your family’s creativity and appreciation for art at this renowned institution. Marvel at iconic masterpieces like Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and engage in hands-on art-making activities designed specifically for kids.

For a truly unique experience, don’t miss the family-friendly Chicago Riverwalk. Stroll along the picturesque walkway, soak in stunning views of the city skyline, and indulge in delicious food from various vendors.

Now is the time to embark on unforgettable adventures in Chicago with your loved ones. Don’t miss out on creating lasting memories and cherished moments together. Embrace the rich culture, attractions, and family-friendly activities this vibrant city has to offer.

Exploring the Museums: Where kids can finally touch things without setting off alarms or earning lifetime bans.

Exploring the Museums

Chicago is a paradise for art-lovers and history-buffs. There are plenty of world-class museums offering masterpieces from renowned artists and interactive exhibits to bring history to life.

Amongst the must-visit Chicago museums is the Art Institute. It’s downtown and has a huge collection of art from different eras and styles. Right now, the “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” exhibition is displaying a unique look into the artist’s own space.

If science is your thing, check out the Field Museum in Grant Park. Their exhibit, “Jurassic World: The Exhibition,” will let you get up close with life-sized dinosaurs and explore their prehistoric world.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park is hosting the “Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes” exhibition. Here, original comic art can be seen alongside interactive displays that show how science helps superheroes.

The Shedd Aquarium at Museum Campus is the place for underwater wonders. Their special exhibit, “Underwater Beauty: A Cross-cultural Conversation,” takes visitors on an exciting journey through aquatic ecosystems and their marine life.

Finally, the Adler Planetarium at Northerly Island is presenting “Imagine the Moon.” It’s a great way to explore lunar exploration and humanity’s fascination with the moon.

Museums preserve culture and education, and Chicago’s museum scene has grown from the city’s early aspirations of becoming a cultural hub. This has made it one of the best places for museum fans from all over the world.

Visiting the Navy Pier

At the Navy Pier, families can explore! Boat rides along the Chicago River or a leisurely stroll on the waterfront. There’s also a range of restaurants, where visitors can indulge in yummy food with a view of the skyline.

Plus, the pier has cultural attractions. Like the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. They provide educational fun and live shows that will enchant young minds and spark creativity.

One family cherished their visit. They wandered through gardens and danced to music. Their kids had the biggest smiles. To top it off, they watched a magical fireworks show that lit up the night sky. A moment they’ll never forget!

Enjoying the Lincoln Park Zoo

Explore the wonders of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago – a must-visit destination for families. Enjoy a variety of animal exhibits and activities.

Discover majestic lions, playful primates, and more captivating creatures.

Take part in interactive experiences – feed a giraffe, pet a goat, or watch a penguin feeding frenzy.

Create lasting memories with kids and adults alike.

Learn from passionate zookeepers about conservation. They give educational talks, feeding demonstrations, and behind-the-scenes tours.

Relax in one of the park’s landscaped gardens and scenic views.

Discover the rich history of the zoo – founded in 1868 when Abraham Lincoln gifted two pairs of swans.

Make cherished memories and enjoy all that this remarkable institution has to offer.

Next time you’re in Chicago, make sure to include visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo on your list. Let curiosity flourish and magical experiences await!

Discovering the Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is a must for families who want to explore marine life. It’s full of aquatic animals and fun exhibits.

Discover the enchanted world of underwater creatures. Marvel at the tropical fish in the Caribbean Reef and watch the playful penguins in the Polar Play Zone. Be amazed by dolphins and beluga whales in the amphitheater.

Interactive experiences let you touch starfish and stingrays and learn more about them. Or, book a beluga encounter or penguin encounter for a close-up look.

The Shedd Aquarium takes part in conservation projects and works with other organizations to protect delicate ecosystems and endangered species.

Since it opened in 1930, over 32 million people have visited this iconic institution.

Visit the Shedd Aquarium for a unique experience of education, entertainment, and environmental awareness. Make lasting memories with your family while helping conservation efforts. Come explore today!

Top Family-Friendly Attractions in Chicago

Chicago’s Premier Family-Friendly Destinations

Chicago offers an array of delightful attractions suitable for families with children. Here are the must-see destinations in the city that will surely captivate both kids and adults alike.

  • Millennium Park: A beloved spot for families, Millennium Park boasts a wide range of activities, including the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, popularly known as “The Bean.” Children can also enjoy the interactive Crown Fountain and get their creative juices flowing at the Family Fun Festival during the summer months.
  • The Shedd Aquarium: Dive into an underwater wonderland at the Shedd Aquarium. Home to over 32,000 aquatic animals and several interactive exhibits, this attraction offers memorable experiences for the whole family. From penguins and dolphins to turtles and sharks, the aquarium guarantees a day filled with excitement and education.
  • Lincoln Park Zoo: Nestled in the heart of the city, Lincoln Park Zoo is a free, family-friendly destination providing a chance to get up close with various animal species. Children can marvel at lions, giraffes, monkeys, and more. The zoo also offers educational programs and events catering to different age groups.

While these top family-friendly attractions are a must-visit, Chicago has even more hidden gems waiting to be explored and enjoyed.

Looking for an offbeat adventure? Head to Maggie Daley Park, an expansive green space with imaginative playgrounds and a Skating Ribbon. It’s the perfect spot for kids to burn off energy while parents relax in the serene surroundings.

If your family enjoys art, the Art Institute of Chicago is a must. Housing a vast collection of artworks, including famous masterpieces, this museum offers guided tours and engaging activities specially designed to appeal to young art enthusiasts.

For a unique experience, hop onboard a Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. Kids can marvel at the city’s stunning skyscrapers while learning about the rich architectural heritage of Chicago. The knowledgeable guides make this excursion entertaining and educational for all ages.

The Skydeck at Willis Tower: A great opportunity for parents to conquer their fear of heights while their kids conquer their fear of boredom.

The Skydeck at Willis Tower

The Skydeck is perched on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, making it one of the highest observation decks in the world. You can step out onto The Ledge – glass boxes extending from the building structure – and feel the exhilaration of being suspended above the city.

Interactive exhibits at The Skydeck provide fascinating facts about Chicago’s history, architecture and landmarks. For an adrenaline rush, The Skydeck offers special events like yoga classes and ledge walks, to give an unforgettable experience.

The Skydeck also features Skyride, the state-of-the-art elevator system. This provides a virtual tour of Chicago’s iconic landmarks as visitors ascend to the top. Enhancing the overall experience at The Skydeck, this added element of excitement makes it even more memorable.

A remarkable piece of Willis Tower’s history is connected to The Skydeck. In 1973, during the construction phase, two workers were stuck on a scaffolding platform outside the 103rd floor due to bad weather. They were eventually saved after several hours above 1,300 feet. This daring rescue mission highlighted the heights The Skydeck would later offer.

The Skydeck at Willis Tower captivates visitors with its stunning views, interactive exhibits and extraordinary experiences. It stands as a reminder of the city’s architectural marvels, providing a thrilling journey for all ages.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Visit the renowned Art Institute of Chicago! It’s a must-see for art-lovers and families. With its impressive collection from many cultures and centuries, you’ll be immersed in beauty.

Entering the Art Institute is like entering a world of creativity. Find masterpieces from all over the world – from Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” to ancient Egyptian artifacts.

Plus, it’s great for kids. There are interactive exhibits and educational scavenger hunts. Art workshops are also available, taught by experienced instructors.

Before your trip, check the Institute’s website. Get information on current exhibitions and special events. Plan ahead to make the most of your time at this cultural gem.

Millennium Park and Cloud Gate

Millennium Park invites you to explore and enjoy its free admission and 7-day-a-week attractions. Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean,” is the centerpiece. Its curved reflective stainless steel surface creates distorted reflections for play.

Close by is Crown Fountain. It has two 50-foot glass block towers that project images of Chicagoans who “spout” water into a pool below. It’s a great spot to cool down on hot days.

Lurie Garden is another highlight. It changes with each season, showcasing vibrant plant life. Visitors can stroll along its paths or relax on its lush green lawns.

Pritzker Pavilion is a great place to watch concerts or attend festivals. The spacious lawn provides plenty of room for picnics and gatherings.

The art installations and sculptures by renowned artists such as Jaume Plensa and Anish Kapoor further enhance the park’s atmosphere.

For a tranquil urban oasis, visit Millennium Park early in the morning or during weekdays. Enjoy the beauty without the crowds!

The Adler Planetarium

A visually appealing table displays the diverse offerings at The Adler Planetarium. It showcases:

  • Sky Theater with cutting-edge technology for mesmerizing shows.
  • Telescopes to glimpse distant galaxies.
  • Interactive exhibits to foster scientific understanding.
  • A vast history and collection charting astronomical advancements.
  • Special events for all ages.

Plus, its lakeside location in Chicago gives visitors breathtaking views of the skyline.

Max Adler, a businessman with a passion for astronomy, founded The Adler Planetarium in 1930. It was the first of its kind in America, and continues inspiring countless visitors with education and exploration of our universe.

Tips for Exploring Chicago with Kids

With Kids guide to Exploring Chicago, you will find valuable information to make your trip enjoyable and fun. Here are 6 tips to help you navigate the city with your little ones:

  1. Make a visit to the Shedd Aquarium, where your children can explore a wide variety of marine life.
  2. Enjoy a day at the Navy Pier, which offers numerous family-friendly attractions such as amusement rides and ferris wheel.
  3. Take your kids to Millennium Park, where they can have fun at the Crown Fountain and the interactive Cloud Gate sculpture.
  4. Visit the Field Museum to discover fascinating exhibits about natural history, including the famous T-Rex skeleton named Sue.
  5. Don’t miss the Lincoln Park Zoo, a wonderful place for kids to see animals from all around the world.
  6. Explore the Chicago Children’s Museum, where your children can engage in hands-on activities and interactive exhibits.

Additionally, consider taking a stroll along the beautiful Lakefront Trail or experiencing the vibrant atmosphere of the Magnificent Mile. These unique details will add to your overall Chicago experience and create lasting memories for your family.

Did you know that Chicago’s Navy Pier is one of the most visited attractions in the Midwest? It attracts more than 9 million visitors every year, making it a popular destination for families.

Get your ducks in a row and book those tickets, because exploring Chicago with kids is like herding cats through a maze of deep-dish pizza and skyscrapers.

Planning Ahead and Booking Tickets

Planning is key for a stress-free family trip to Chicago! Here are some top tips:

  1. Research attractions and events. Before buying tickets, look for age-appropriate activities.
  2. Check ticket availability. Popular places may require advance booking.
  3. Compare prices. Look for deals or discounts online or through travel agencies.
  4. Flexible tickets! Rescheduling or cancelling may be needed with kids.
  5. Book transportation in advance. Flights, trains, car rentals – secure it all!
  6. Rest breaks. Give everyone time to recharge throughout the day.
  7. Special packages. Offers for families with kids often include extra benefits.

And there you have it! With these tips, you’ll have an unforgettable trip in Chicago!

Fun Fact: Navy Pier sees over 9 million visitors each year – making it one of the city’s most popular attractions!

Choosing Accommodations with Kids in Mind

When travelling with kids, picking the proper accommodation is essential for a good trip. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Location is key: Look for places close to attractions and stuff they’ll like, like parks, playgrounds, and family restaurants.
  • Amenities and services for kids: Find hotels or resorts that offer swimming pools, game rooms, or organized activities to keep the kids busy.
  • Room configurations: Get rooms with separate sleeping areas or suites with more space for families. That way everyone has their own space.

Plus, ask about any unique details about the accommodations. From special menus for the little ones to on-site babysitting services, these extra features can make the trip even better.

In Chicago, there are plenty of places suitable for families. For example, Loews Chicago Hotel offers various amenities, such as a Kids Club with supervised activities made especially for children.

So, when travelling with kids to Chicago, choose accommodations that fit their needs with location convenience, kid-friendly amenities, and comfortable rooms. With these considerations in mind, you’re sure to have an awesome family vacation in the Windy City.

Utilizing Public Transportation

Public transport in Chicago is great for a family tour. Buses and trains make it easy to get around. Plus, you don’t have to worry about driving or finding parking.

Plan your routes in advance. Check the bus and train schedules. The CTA website has all the info you need.

The ‘L’ train‘ is part of the fun! Kids will love seeing the city from an elevated view. Plus, there’s no traffic to worry about.

For ease, get a Ventra card. This reloadable fare payment system lets you pay without cash or tickets. It also gives kids discounted fares.

Pro Tip: Make the most of public transport while exploring Chicago with kids. Plan ahead and get a Ventra card. Enjoy the views from the ‘L’ train!

Packing Essentials for a Day Out in Chicago

Pack wisely for your day in Chicago! Here are the must-haves:

  • Comfy shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking; be kind to your feet.
  • Weather-appropriate clothes. Check the forecast; bring layers that can be added/removed. Also, an umbrella or raincoat if it’s gonna rain.
  • Snacks and water. Keep everyone energized and hydrated.
  • Sunscreen and hats. Protect your skin. SPF and hats are a must.
  • Map or navigation device. Get lost, but not too lost.
  • For kids, keep in mind their needs. Toilet stops, parks/playgrounds, activities/games.
  • Finally, portable chargers for electronics. Capture memories of this family outing. Be prepared! Enjoy your day in beautiful Chicago.


Chicago is a city with endless possibilities for family-friendly fun! From world-class museums to beautiful parks and unique neighborhoods, there’s something for everyone. Take a stroll along the Lakefront Trail or explore the Art Institute of Chicago! Kids and adults alike will love it.

Museums are abundant in Chicago. The Shedd Aquarium lets children get up close to marine life, and the Museum of Science and Industry has interactive exhibits to engage young minds. They’re both entertaining and educational.

The Windy City also has lots of outdoor spaces that are perfect for families. Millennium Park and its iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (aka “The Bean”) are great for kids to run around. Lincoln Park Zoo is also free and popular – kids can observe many animals.

On a recent visit, I experienced the family-friendly atmosphere of Chicago first-hand. At Navy Pier, a group of street performers entertained us with acrobatics and comedy. Not only did they make us laugh, they even invited us to join in! It was a moment we’ll never forget.

Chicago is a city that caters to families. With its range of activities and attractions, everyone can have a great time. Grab your loved ones and go on an adventure in the Windy City!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are some family-friendly attractions in Chicago?

Chicago offers a wide range of family-friendly attractions. Some popular options include Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, Millennium Park, Lincoln Park Zoo, Museum of Science and Industry, and Adler Planetarium.

2. Are there any outdoor activities suitable for kids in Chicago?

Yes, there are plenty of outdoor activities for kids in Chicago. You can visit Maggie Daley Park, which features playgrounds, a climbing wall, and an ice-skating ribbon. The 606, an elevated park and trail system, is also great for biking, walking, and exploring.

3. What are some indoor activities for kids in Chicago?

If you prefer indoor activities, you can check out the Chicago Children’s Museum, which offers interactive exhibits and hands-on learning experiences. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Kohl Children’s Museum, and the Skydeck Chicago are also popular choices.

4. Are there any family-friendly shows or performances in Chicago?

Absolutely! Chicago has several options for family-friendly shows and performances. You can catch a Broadway show at the Oriental Theatre or the Cadillac Palace Theatre. The Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil performances are also great choices for family entertainment.

5. Can you recommend any unique experiences for families in Chicago?

For a unique experience, you can visit the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s River Cruise, where you can learn about the city’s iconic buildings from a boat tour. The Art Institute of Chicago also offers family programs and interactive exhibitions that make for an enriching experience.

6. What are some dining options for families in Chicago?

Chicago has a variety of dining options suitable for families. You can visit Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s for some famous deep-dish pizza. The Rainforest Cafe and Navy Pier’s food court are also great choices for family-friendly meals.

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