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23 of the very best issues to do in Chicago with youngsters

Chicago has popped up in so many motion pictures, a go to virtually seems like seeing an previous good friend – and with so many issues to do in Chicago with youngsters, how way more tempting do it’s worthwhile to ebook?

View of the Chicago skyline and its skyscrapers when viewed from Lincoln park across the lake - my top things to do in Chicago with kids

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

So whether or not you’re trying ahead to seeing the world’s largest dinosaur, making an attempt some deep dish pizza, exploring the Chicago river or enjoying along with your reflection within the Bean, I’ve bought 23 of the very best issues to do in Chicago with youngsters to start out you off.

If Chicago is your start line for an excellent street journey, see my suggestions for Route 66 household sights, in addition to a Lake Michigan street journey with youngsters or a Midwest street journey with youngsters

The Subject Museum of Pure Historical past

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

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 hey to the 67 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus, essentially the most full T-Rex exhibit on this planet, it’s also possible to see the biggest 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 momentary exhibitions.

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

Purchase skip-the-line tickets to the Subject Museum with free cancellation, together with the prospect 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 Conflict submarine? A visit to the Griffin Museum of Science and Business in Jackson Park is a memorable method to get fingers 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 centered on Harry Potter and the Marvel Universe, full with unique costumes – plus exhibits on the Large 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 complete flooring, so it’s greatest to plan an entire day right here.

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

Shedd Aquarium 

The Shedd Aquarium could now not be the biggest aquarium on this planet, but it surely held that title for years and remains to be probably the most spectacular with 32,000 animals throughout 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 simple for youthful youngsters 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 beneath 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 fake (as penguins, in fact)! 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 evening sky, hint the historical past of stargazing over the ages and enterprise into house to see how totally different planets search for shut on the fantastic Adler Planetarium.

It’s good in case you’re visiting Chicago with youngsters, with loads that’s fingers on: get pleasure from leaping on exploding stars or go searching house through pc on A Stroll Via 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 youngsters burn off power by leaping, crawling, flying, and even launching a pc animated rocket ship, earlier than getting your personal inventive juices flowing on the Group Design Labs – the Group Play Lab is geared toward youngsters aged underneath six.

Even the exhibits have choices focused on the littest stargazers, together with an opportunity to affix Large Chicken 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 kids at this Chicago attraction both.

Within the Household Room, you can also make your personal murals and create your personal personalised household museum tour, plus common household festivals and new exhibitions. For those who’re visiting Chicago with teenagers, they may 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 means of 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 teenagers aged underneath 14, so it’s best in case you’re on the lookout for low-cost issues to do in Chicago with youngsters as properly.

Purchase a Chicago Metropolis move to get entry to 5 main Chicago sights, together with The Subject 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 possibilities to get fingers on.

You can see a piece of the unique Fort Dearborn and the primary locomotive to function in Chicago, uncover extra in regards to 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 Avenue within the Nineteen Fifties.

Older youngsters can study extra about every little thing from Abraham Lincoln to the Civil Rights Motion, whereas for youthful youngsters (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 case you wished to mix each.

Purchase tickets for the Chicago Historical past Museum with free cancellation

Lincoln Park Zoo

Based in 1868, Lincoln Park Zoo is likely one of the oldest in North America, and with 200 totally different species of animals together with birds, reptiles, fish and bugs, the zoo has loads to fascinate youngsters 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 with the ability to see all of the unique inhabitants, youthful youngsters can attempt the Lionel Prepare 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 collection of self-guided excursions that will help 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 may go for the most important sights or the bizarre creatures, amongst different choices.

It’s a unbelievable free time out with youngsters in Chicago (there’s a small cost for actions just like the practice trip 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

Trip Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier

Standing almost 200 toes 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 loads extra enjoyable available at Navy Pier afterwards, sitting almost a mile into Lake Michigan, with nice public artwork in addition to a string of sights.

Attempt the Wonderful Chicago’s Funhouse Maze with 4,000 sq. toes 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 youngsters.

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

Willis Tower Skydeck

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

Standing 1,450 toes tall, its glass Skydeck observatory has unmatched panoramic views of town and 4 totally 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 toes from the 103rd flooring, so you may look straight down from 1,353 toes up within the air! It’s value understanding 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 very best 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 observe the solar go down and see the twinkling metropolis lights at nightfall.

360 Chicago

For extra nice views of town, try 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 elevate whisks you up 94 flooring to get a few of the greatest panoramas out over the Windy Metropolis.

In addition to looking to the lake and the shore, you may see right down to Navy Pier, in addition to throughout a few of the skyscrapers of 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 case you’re suspended in mid-air.

Chicago Youngsters’s Museum

This enjoyable attraction on Navy Pier is designed to let youngsters experiment, study and develop their creativity by means of every little thing 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 arduous to beat in case you’ve bought youngsters aged 4 to eight, whether or not they’re exploring Cloud Buster, 37 climbable toes of structural metal, wooden, wire, rope, acrylic, fiberglass, and synthetic turf. Or they’ll dig for ‘bones’ as they study dinosaurs, design skyscrapers or get fingers on with some DIY together with actual instruments.

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

Older youngsters may even 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 greater youngsters too!

Kohl Youngsters’s Museum

In case your youngsters love enjoying let’s fake, then Kohl Youngsters’s Museum is ideal. Geared toward youngsters aged eight and underneath, there’s an opportunity to check out actual life on a mini scale together with the recreations of a Complete 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 prospect 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 formidable 570 parks in Chicago so it’s simple to get outdoors and discover a inexperienced oasis within the metropolis, in case you’re visiting Chicago with youngsters.

No journey to Chicago is full and not using a cease at Millennium Park. You’ll discover exhibitions and particular programmes of occasions in addition to the beautiful gardens, plus the mesmerising Cloud Gate, higher generally known as The Bean.

There are additionally public artwork strolling excursions to affix, and drop by the Crown Fountain, designed utilizing glass and light-weight 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 barely 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 one more nice day open air in Chicago with youngsters, head to the Chicago Botanic Backyard, round a half hour drive from town itself

The Chicago Riverwalk

Heat climate within the Windy Metropolis means lengthy walks and enjoyable instances open air, 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 totally paved so good in case you’re on the lookout 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 in regards to the metropolis’s 18 well-known bridges.

Take a ship tour

When you’ve seen 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 choice with youthful youngsters.

We had been unfortunate sufficient to ebook ours for a wet Might night, however even with the dangerous climate, we bought some unbelievable views – when the solar shines (or on dry evenings with town lit up), it’s arduous to beat.

For those who desire to see town from Lake Michigan, this Lake Michigan Skyline cruise lasts 40 minutes and has a recorded commentary on town’s landmarks.

Or get pleasure from 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 additionally 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 a good way to see a few of the highlights of Chicago with youngsters with out an excessive amount of strolling, it’s arduous 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 Subject Museum and Shedd Aquarium.

It’s free for teenagers underneath two, and there’s no restrict to the variety of instances you may hop on and off, with tickets for someday or two.

Take a Chicago metropolis tour

There’s loads to find in Chicago, so becoming a member of a tour is a good 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 Avenue Artwork tour or go for the Should-See Chicago: Structure, Historical past & Tradition tour.

How a few Downtown TV websites and film tour, visiting 30 areas 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 exhibits.

For those who’re visiting Chicago with teenagers who’re fascinated by town’s skyscrapers, head inside on a Secret Interiors Structure Strolling Tour which exhibits you a few of the stunning 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 facet, from its gangster historical past to its ghostly ghoulish previous on a Gangsters and Ghosts guided strolling tour – open to all ages, although not beneficial for households with infants (and in actuality, higher for older youngsters given the content material).

Don’t need to stroll? This Downtown Household Meals Tour by Bike squeezes in sightseeing between making an attempt every little thing from Chicago deep pan pizza and sizzling canines to brownies. Youngsters over 12 may be part of a Lakefront Segway Tour of Chicago, zipping by means of 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 method to create a memorable household journey, in addition to to spark a love of dwell theatre and the performing arts.

The corporate performs unique performs akin to The Egocentric Large, The Hundred Attire, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, when you’ll additionally discover puppet exhibits on their schedule and performances designed to depart youngsters feeling calmer.

The theatre additionally runs the Pink Kite Challenge for youngsters on the autism spectrum, with particular programmes and initiatives to make their productions accessible to all.

See a ball sport

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 excellent place to see a ball sport – even in case you’re not a devoted fan of the game, the ambiance is unbelievable.

However that;’s not your solely choice – the Chicago White Sox are town’s second MLB group, so that you’ve bought twice the prospect of catching a sport when you’re within the metropolis.

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

Wrigley Subject remains to be solely round quarter-hour drive from town centre (site visitors allowing!) and you should buy tickets to a Chicago Cubs baseball sport 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 youngsters with a go to to The Cauldron, the place you may 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 personal to brew up two extra molecular cocktails – non-alcoholic variations additionally included.

The potion making expertise is about inside a wizard-themed bar and restaurant set inside an previous financial institution and vault – good for imagining you’re at Gringotts! Solely appropriate for teenagers aged 5+, particular time slots out there 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 in regards to 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.

An effective 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 might resist the Museum of Ice Cream – positively not your common museum!

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

To complete, you may play in a pool crammed with hundreds of thousands 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 residence to rides and a 4D cinema, in addition to a lot of possibilities to get constructing among the many hundreds of thousands of brick fashions.

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

Or construct your personal Lego racing automobile and problem your loved ones to a race on the take a look at observe, in addition to including your personal touches to the Lego Associates Heartlake Metropolis city.

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

For extra inspiration for a US household metropolis break, try my prime issues to do in New York with youngsters, Washington DC with youngsters, what to do in Boston with youngsters and the very best issues to do in San Francisco with youngsters

*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 put up comprises 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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