23 of the best things to do in Chicago with kids

23 of the best things to do in Chicago with kids

Chicago has popped up in so many motion pictures, a go to virtually appears like seeing an previous buddy – and with so many issues to do in Chicago with children, how rather more tempting do it’s essential e-book?

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The largest metropolis in Illinois, it was voted finest massive metropolis within the US three years in a row – hardly stunning when you think about the improbable museums, its well-known skyscrapers, plus loads of inexperienced area and its setting on Lake Michigan.

So whether or not you’re trying ahead to seeing the world’s largest dinosaur, attempting some deep dish pizza, exploring the Chicago river or enjoying along with your reflection within the Bean, I’ve received 23 of the perfect issues to do in Chicago with children to start out you off.

If Chicago is your place to begin for an important highway journey, see my ideas for Route 66 household sights, in addition to a Lake Michigan highway journey with children or a Midwest highway journey with children

The Discipline Museum of Pure Historical past

Dwelling to world well-known 40ft T-Rex skeleton Sue, the expertly curated collections on the Discipline Museum are unmissable for anybody visiting Chicago with children.

T-Rex skeleton - a visit to the Field Museum, home to several famous dinosaurs, is unmissable if you're visiting Chicago with kids

When you’ve mentioned good day to the 67 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus, essentially the most full T-Rex exhibit on this planet, you may as well see the most important dinosaur that ever lived, Maximo the Titanosaur.

Then take a stroll to see the mummies and hieroglyphics of the Inside Historic Egypt exhibit, earlier than travelling to the 1800s to go to the Pawnee Earth Lodge, or one of many short-term exhibitions.

Little ones will love the Crown Household Play Lab (open Thursday to Monday). Geared toward children aged two to 6, they will study science by play whereas dressing up as animals and uncovering fossils.

Purchase skip-the-line tickets to the Discipline Museum with free cancellation, together with the possibility to go for a one-hour VIP tour and ticketed exhibitions

Museum of Science and Business

Fancy making a tidal wave, seeing the beginning of a twister or climbing inside a Second World Battle submarine? A visit to the Griffin Museum of Science and Business in Jackson Park is a memorable approach to get arms on – together with getting blown away by a Tesla coil!

Purchase tickets to the Museum of Science and Business with free cancellation right here

Museum of Science and Industry on the waterfront in Chicago on a sunny day - one of the many things to do in Chicago with kids

Science and historical past apart, you’ll discover pop-up reveals showcasing pop-culture favourites – earlier ones have targeted on Harry Potter and the Marvel Universe, full with authentic costumes – plus reveals on the Big Dome Theater.

However don’t miss the classics just like the chicks at The Hatchery and bringing maths to life within the Mirror Maze – to not point out the museum’s first exhibit, descending into the true Coal Mine.

One of many largest science museums within the US, you’ll additionally discover interactive reveals filling three entire flooring, so it’s finest to plan an entire day right here.

Purchase a Chicago Metropolis move to get entry to 5 main Chicago sights, with an possibility to go to the Museum of Science and Business and several other others together with the Discipline Museum, as properly the Shedd Aquarium and Skydeck Chicago

Shedd Aquarium 

The Shedd Aquarium could now not be the most important aquarium on this planet, however it held that title for years and remains to be one of the spectacular with 32,000 animals inside the aquarium partitions.

You received’t simply see fish, there are reveals with birds, snakes, amphibians, together with sharks. The Amazon Rising Exhibit has glass home windows proper right down to the ground, so it’s straightforward for youthful children to see what’s taking place, from electrical eels and frogs to small monkeys.

Or drop by the Abbott Oceanarium exhibit to witness dolphins and beluga whales frolic and play, earlier than heading to the Wild Reef Exhibit under for gorgeous corals, sharks and stingrays.

The Polar Play Zone is the right place for little ones to let off steam whereas enjoying costume up and faux (as penguins, after all)! Don’t neglect to go to the contact pool to see what starfish and stingrays really feel like too, plus you’re proper by the lake shore too.

Get discounted tickets to Shedd Aquarium right here

Adler Planetarium 

Take a peek at Chicago’s night time sky, hint the historical past of stargazing over the ages and enterprise into area to see how completely different planets lookup shut on the great Adler Planetarium.

It’s excellent in the event you’re visiting Chicago with children, with a lot that’s arms on: take pleasure in leaping on exploding stars or go searching area through pc on A Stroll By means of House and Time.

The Adler Planetarium with its domed room - one of the many family attractions if you're visiting Chicago with kids

Or within the Planet Explorers exhibit, let children burn off power by leaping, crawling, flying, and even launching a pc animated rocket ship, earlier than getting your individual artistic juices flowing on the Neighborhood Design Labs – the Neighborhood Play Lab is geared toward children aged beneath six.

Even the reveals have choices focused on the littest stargazers, together with an opportunity to hitch Massive Chook and Elmo on a visit to the moon.

Artwork Institute of Chicago

With over 300,000 works from all around the world, there’s no scarcity of artwork to see on the Artwork Institute of Chicago – and no scarcity of issues to do with youngsters at this Chicago attraction both.

Within the Household Room, you can also make your individual murals and create your individual personalised household museum tour, plus common household festivals and new exhibitions. In the event you’re visiting Chicago with teenagers, they’ll love the particular audio information produced by Chicago teenagers as properly.

To not point out modern and trendy artwork galore to encourage younger artists: Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Warhol, Pollock… the checklist goes on.

The Art Institute of Chicago with its lion statue outside - there are some great family-friendly ways to explore if you're looking for things to do with kids in Chicago

Take the household on a cultural journey by the ages as you drop by the Thorne Miniature Rooms to take a peek at their tiny European and American interiors from the thirteenth century to the Thirties.

There’s no cost for youths aged beneath 14, so it’s very best in the event you’re searching for low cost issues to do in Chicago with children as properly.

Purchase a Chicago Metropolis move to get entry to 5 main Chicago sights, together with The Discipline Museum, Adler Planetarium, Artwork Institute of Chicago and Museum of Science and Business, as properly the Shedd Aquarium and Skydeck Chicago

Chicago Historical past Museum

Uncover Chicago’s historical past, in addition to its place in America’s previous, on the Chicago Historical past Museum – filled with artefacts and many probabilities to get arms on.

You possibly can see a bit of the unique Fort Dearborn and the primary locomotive to function in Chicago, uncover extra concerning the Nice Chicago Fireplace, peer down from an I-beam on the prime of the sears Tower, stroll throughout the hardwood from the unique Chicago Stadium or study what it was like to walk down Maxwell Road within the Fifties.

Older children can study extra about the whole lot from Abraham Lincoln to the Civil Rights Motion, whereas for youthful children (OK, everybody), one spotlight goes to be pretending to be a Chicago-style sizzling canine although. It’s additionally near Lincoln Park Zoo (learn on for extra particulars) in the event you needed to mix each.

Purchase tickets for the Chicago Historical past Museum with free cancellation

Lincoln Park Zoo

Based in 1868, Lincoln Park Zoo is among the oldest in North America, and with 200 completely different species of animals together with birds, reptiles, fish and bugs, the zoo has a lot to fascinate children and adults alike.

Aerial photo of the Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in north America and a great place to visit in Chicago with kids

In addition to having the ability to see all of the unique inhabitants, youthful children can attempt the Lionel Practice Journey, which passes forest and canyon, in addition to the endangered species carousel. It’s by no means too early to start out studying about conservation!

The zoo has additionally created a sequence of self-guided excursions that can assist you uncover the highlights. Attempt the Little Explorer Tour, which incorporates the Pritzker Household Youngsters’s Zoo, with its hands-on experiences and cattle. Or you possibly can go for the largest sights or the strange creatures, amongst different choices.

It’s a improbable free time out with children in Chicago (there’s a small cost for actions just like the practice experience and carousel).

You’re additionally near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which can be in Lincoln Park – there are child pleasant reveals and walkways to identify some native wildlife at this museum, which focuses on the surroundings

Journey Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier

Standing practically 200 ft tall, you’ll get some superb 360-degree views throughout Chicago and Lake Michigan on the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier – and as they’re enclosed and local weather managed, it’s nice everytime you go to Chicago.

A view of the Centennial wheel at Navy Pier - one of the fun things to do in Chicago with kids

Plus there’s a lot extra enjoyable available at Navy Pier afterwards, sitting practically a mile into Lake Michigan, with nice public artwork in addition to a string of sights.

Attempt the Superb Chicago’s Funhouse Maze with 4,000 sq. ft of results, splash within the interactive fountains at Polk Bros Park (all 12,500 sq. foot of them!), stroll the Crystal Gardens indoor botanic gardens or benefit from the rides, from carousel to heart-racing enjoyable.

The Chicago Youngsters’s Museum can be set right here – scroll right down to learn extra about why this ought to be in your checklist of issues to do in Chicago with children.

Purchase tickets to experience the Centennial Wheel with free cancellation right here

Willis Tower Skydeck

The long-lasting Willis Tower – previously often known as the Sears Tower – normally tops each traveller’s Chicago bucket checklist, and much more so in the event you’re visiting Chicago with children.

Standing 1,450 ft tall, its glass Skydeck observatory has unmatched panoramic views of the town and 4 completely different states throughout 50 miles. There are some nice free bonuses for households too, together with a scavenger hunt and reality sheets to obtain.

Much more thrilling, head to The Ledge to expertise the exhilarating feeling of standing on high-strength laminated clear glass that juts out 4.3 ft from the 103rd ground, so you possibly can look straight down from 1,353 ft up within the air! It’s price realizing that your time is proscribed – 60 seconds for teams of three or much less, 90 seconds for teams of 4.

Though you’ll get nice views all through the day, the perfect instances to go to the Skydeck are straight after opening (take advantage of any jetlag and get there early!) or arrive round half-hour earlier than sundown, to look at the solar go down and see the twinkling metropolis lights at nightfall.

360 Chicago

For extra nice views of the town, take a look at tickets to 360 Chicago, previously the John Hancock Constructing Observatory, 1,000ft above Michigan Avenue.

After a video and a small exhibition on Chicago historical past and its neighbourhoods, the superfast raise whisks you up 94 flooring to get a few of the finest panoramas out over the Windy Metropolis.

In addition to looking to the lake and the shore, you possibly can see right down to Navy Pier, in addition to throughout a few of the skyscrapers of the town’s iconic skyline.

For an added thrill, attempt Tilt (further ticket) the place the glass window tilts you slowly ahead to look down, as in the event you’re suspended in mid-air.

Chicago Youngsters’s Museum

This enjoyable attraction on Navy Pier is designed to let children experiment, study and develop their creativity by the whole lot from play to STEM reveals.

Young girl in waterproofs playing with a water exhibit at the Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier - one of the best things to do with young children in Chicago

It’s onerous to beat in the event you’ve received children aged 4 to eight, whether or not they’re exploring Cloud Buster, 37 climbable ft of structural metal, wooden, wire, rope, acrylic, fiberglass, and synthetic turf. Or they will dig for ‘bones’ as they study dinosaurs, design skyscrapers or get arms on with some DIY together with actual instruments.

For the youngest guests to Chicago Youngsters’s Museum there are child and crawler play trails, very best in the event you’re visiting Chicago with a toddler,

Older children may also love Zoom Room, letting them ship toy automobiles hurtling round a colossal racecourse, with greater than 40 tracks to mess around with. Enjoyable for even larger children too!

Kohl Youngsters’s Museum

In case your children love enjoying let’s faux, then Kohl Youngsters’s Museum is ideal. Geared toward children aged eight and beneath, there’s an opportunity to check out actual life on a mini scale together with the recreations of a Entire Meals Market, Fingers On Home and Play Cafe.

You’ll additionally discover music, artwork and books among the many 15 everlasting indoor areas, in addition to the Pet Vet areas for small animal lovers and enjoyable methods to find science and maths with the possibility to construct skyscrapers from blocks, play with trains and extra.

Don’t miss the Water Works station, balancing balls on water, spinning submerged gears and floating plastic jellyfish – that is all the time a winner.

People reflected in the cloud gate, better known as the Bean, at Millennium park - visiting is one of my top things to do in Chicago with kids

Discover the parks

There are a powerful 570 parks in Chicago so it’s straightforward to get exterior and discover a inexperienced oasis within the metropolis, in the event you’re visiting Chicago with children.

No journey to Chicago is full with no cease at Millennium Park. You’ll discover exhibitions and particular programmes of occasions in addition to the stunning gardens, plus the mesmerising Cloud Gate, higher often known as The Bean.

There are additionally public artwork strolling excursions to hitch, and drop by the Crown Fountain, designed utilizing glass and lightweight in addition to water.

This family-friendly bike tour contains Millennium Park and the Riverwalk as you attempt a few of the metropolis’s prime meals alongside the best way, together with deep dish pizza and a real Chicago sizzling canine, or the Museum of Illusions is simply a few minutes stroll away from the park

Or head to close by Maggie Daley Park for extra adventures to fill your day. Additionally situated within the Loop, the park has an entire string of actions that children will love, from wall climbing to mini-golf, play areas, a wave backyard and slides, not forgetting ice skating in the course of the winter.

For an additional nice day outdoor in Chicago with children, head to the Chicago Botanic Backyard, round a half hour drive from the town itself

The Chicago Riverwalk

Heat climate within the Windy Metropolis means lengthy walks and enjoyable instances outdoor, and there are few locations higher than the Chicago Riverwalk.

The 1.25 mile path has some nice views of the skyline, in addition to actions and loads of locations to seize some meals alongside the best way – it’s additionally absolutely paved so excellent in the event you’re searching for one thing stroller-friendly.

The river at Chicago with a bridge half open as boats sail underneath - heading to the Chicago Riverwalk is a great thing to do with kids in Chicago

You’ll discover extra public artwork, together with murals and sculptures alongside the best way, or cease off on the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum to study concerning the metropolis’s 18 well-known bridges.

Take a ship tour

When you’ve seen the town from the Riverwalk, head out onto the water itself with a river tour or some kayaking. This 90-minute structure cruise is family-friendly and departs from close to DuSable Bridge, whereas there’s additionally a 45-minute structure cruise if you’d like a shorter possibility with youthful children.

We have been unfortunate sufficient to e-book ours for a wet Might night, however even with the unhealthy climate, we received some improbable views – when the solar shines (or on dry evenings with the town lit up), it’s onerous to beat.

In the event you favor to see the town from Lake Michigan, this Lake Michigan Skyline cruise lasts 40 minutes and has a recorded commentary on the town’s landmarks.

Or take pleasure in views from each the Chicago River and Lake Michigan on an City Journey River and Lake Cruise – the 90-minute daytime tour packs in a few of the structure, views of Navy Pier and the lighthouse, but in addition permits you to expertise the Chicago Harbor Lock as you enter the Nice Lake.

View of Chicago's skyscrapers on a cloudy evening from the river, during an architecture boat tour - one of the fun things to do with kids on a road trip around Lake Michigan

Take the hop-on hop-off bus

If you wish to get your bearings earlier than exploring, or need an effective way to see a few of the highlights of Chicago with children with out an excessive amount of strolling, it’s onerous to beat a hop-on hop-off bus tour.

There’s dwell commentary and also you’ll move a few of the metropolis’s iconic skyscrapers, in addition to stops close to Navy Pier, the Willis Tower and sights together with the Discipline Museum and Shedd Aquarium.

It’s free for youths beneath two, and there’s no restrict to the variety of instances you possibly can hop on and off, with tickets for someday or two.

Take a Chicago metropolis tour

There’s quite a bit to find in Chicago, so becoming a member of a tour is an effective way to see a few of the metropolis’s highlights – take a 90-minute stroll on a Magnificent Mile Strolling Tour, uncover Chicago Chinatown Historical past and Tradition, attempt an Offbeat Guided Road Artwork tour or go for the Should-See Chicago: Structure, Historical past & Tradition tour.

How a couple of Downtown TV websites and film tour, visiting 30 places which have featured in some iconic motion pictures – nice whether or not you’re a fan of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Darkish Knight, the Blues Brothers – or an entire host of TV reveals.

In the event you’re visiting Chicago with teenagers who’re fascinated by the town’s skyscrapers, head inside on a Secret Interiors Structure Strolling Tour which reveals you a few of the lovely particulars contained in the landmarks in addition to introducing you to the challenges architects confronted in designing these spectacular towers.

Or study Chicago’s darker aspect, from its gangster historical past to its ghostly ghoulish previous on a Gangsters and Ghosts guided strolling tour – open to all ages, although not really helpful for households with infants (and in actuality, higher for older children given the content material).

Don’t need to stroll? This Downtown Household Meals Tour by Bike squeezes in sightseeing between attempting the whole lot from Chicago deep pan pizza and sizzling canines to brownies. Youngsters over 12 may also be part of a Lakefront Segway Tour of Chicago, zipping by a few of the metropolis’s parks alongside the best way.

View of the fountain in Millennium Park Chicago on a sunny day - there are a string of tours to help explore Chicago with kids

Chicago Youngsters’s Theatre

The Chicago Youngsters’s Theatre is designed for younger audiences, and these enchanting productions are an ideal approach to create a memorable household journey, in addition to to spark a love of dwell theatre and the performing arts.

The corporate performs authentic performs comparable to The Egocentric Big, The Hundred Attire, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, when you’ll additionally discover puppet reveals on their schedule and performances designed to depart children feeling calmer.

The theatre additionally runs the Purple Kite Venture for kids on the autism spectrum, with particular programmes and initiatives to make their productions accessible to all.

See a ball recreation

The Chicago Cubs are one of many oldest Main League Baseball groups within the US (some say the oldest, however that’s an extended argument!) in addition to having the second oldest stadium at Wrigley Park so it’s an important place to see a ball recreation – even in the event you’re not a devoted fan of the game, the environment is improbable.

However that;’s not your solely possibility – the Chicago White Sox are the town’s second MLB crew, so that you’ve received twice the possibility of catching a recreation when you’re within the metropolis.

The White Sox stadium (Assured Charge Discipline) is barely nearer to Downtown Chicago, lower than 10 minutes’ drive (though do enable time for recreation day visitors) – you should buy tickets to a Chicago White Sox baseball recreation right here.

Wrigley Discipline remains to be solely round quarter-hour drive from the town centre (visitors allowing!) and you should buy tickets to a Chicago Cubs baseball recreation right here.

Game at Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field Baseball stadium - one of the fun things to do in Chicago with kids

The Cauldron

Add some magic to your time out in Chicago with children with a go to to The Cauldron, the place you possibly can refuel with a spot of potion making.

After a welcome drink poured by magic wand, you’ll even be geared up with a wand of your individual to brew up two extra molecular cocktails – non-alcoholic variations additionally included.

The potion making expertise is ready inside a wizard-themed bar and restaurant set inside an previous financial institution and vault – excellent for imagining you’re at Gringotts! Solely appropriate for youths aged 5+, particular time slots accessible for households.

Take a donut tour

What’s higher than a strolling tour? A strolling tour which leads you from donut retailer to donut retailer, whereas studying extra concerning the metropolis.

The Underground Donut tour begins at Chicago’s French Market, with at the least 4 stops alongside the best way in the course of the two-hour stroll. The toughest half? Deciding which donuts you’re going to decide on.

A good way to take in some historical past and deal with your self. Simply be ready for the sugar rush and crash!

Hand holding an ice cream cone against a blue sky - save time for a visit to the Ice Cream Museum if you're visiting Chicago with kids

Chicago Museum of Ice Cream

Don’t fancy doughnuts? Who may resist the Museum of Ice Cream – positively not your common museum!

With 14 multi-sensory installations, you’re inspired to get arms on as you study ice cream and its historical past, tantalise all of your senses – and naturally, eat some scrumptious treats, with 5 completely different choices to decide on between.

To complete, you possibly can play in a pool crammed with tens of millions of sprinkles or attempt a spherical of mini golf on the Putt-Putt course to burn off some sugar.

Legoland Discovery Heart

Not removed from O’Hare Worldwide Airport, the Lego-themed attraction is dwelling to rides and a 4D cinema, in addition to a number of probabilities to get constructing among the many tens of millions of brick fashions.

There’s an opportunity to benefit from the Chicago skyline and cityscape in Miniland, whereas children may also love coming head to head with life-size Lego animals on a Jungle Expedition on the Legoland Discovery Heart, together with a path as you go.

Or construct your individual Lego racing automobile and problem your loved ones to a race on the check observe, in addition to including your individual touches to the Lego Pals Heartlake Metropolis city.

Good for a wet day in Chicago with children, or in the event you’re visiting the town in winter – however that is one household pleasant attraction that youngsters will love year-round.

For extra inspiration for a US household metropolis break, take a look at my prime issues to do in New York with children, Washington DC with children, what to do in Boston with children and the perfect issues to do in San Francisco with children

*First printed 2021, up to date 2024*


The best things to do in Chicago with kids - from fantastic views from the Centennial Wheel and Skydeck, to huge dinosaurs at the Field Museum, world-class art, two children's museums and green space galore including the Chicago Riverwalk and Millennium Park with the Bean. Plus more tips on visiting Chicago with kids

Disclosure: This submit incorporates affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I could obtain a small fee

Shedd Aquarium interiors/360 Chicago views/cloudy river view/Millennium Park fountain copyright MummyTravels, all different pictures courtesy of Depositphotos


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