Chicago is one of the biggest cities in the country, so it makes sense that there would be lots of things to do, especially with kids.
Luckily, most of the city’s kid-friendly attractions are also ones that the parents will enjoy too. And as if that wasn’t good enough, many of them are also free!
So, here are 13 fun things to do in Chicago when traveling with kids. All ages will enjoy them!
#1 – Museum of Science and Industry
Chicago is home to one of the world’s largest science museums, and it’s fun for all ages. It has 14 acres of exhibits, most of which are interactive. Kids can learn about topics like natural disasters, aircrafts, eco-friendly homes, electricity, and so much more. If you’re a visual or hands-on learner then this is the best way to learn about incredible science topics. There’s so much to look at here that you and your family will be entertained all day!
#2 – Millenium Park
If you’re visiting Chicago, Millennium Park is a must-see. Not only is it free, but it’s also home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, more commonly known as “the Bean.” All ages love seeing their reflection in the bean-shaped structure, along with the Chicago skyline behind them. Another popular attraction at the park is Crown Fountain, which features massive faces that spit out water. Kids love to splash around in this fountain for as long as you’ll let them.
#3 – Lincoln Park Zoo
Not only is the Lincoln Park Zoo one of the best things to do in Chicago with kids, but it’s also one of the best free attractions. It’s one of the nation’s oldest zoos and one of the best free zoos you’ll find. It’s home to many animals like lions, giraffes, and red pandas. It also has other fun attractions for kids to enjoy, such as a carousel, train, and petting zoo. Your family will have a blast without you having to stress about overpriced admission.
If your kids can’t get enough of looking at animals, the Shedd Aquarium is another exciting educational experience. You’ll be able to get up close to aquatic animals from all over the world. Beluga whales, sharks, jellyfish, and otters are just some examples of animals you’ll see. A lot of areas even have small play spaces to cater to younger kids. And to make this aquarium even more exciting, it often hosts special events, such as sleepovers, animal encounters, and behind the scenes tours.
Traveling with kids often includes a trip to a children’s museum. And luckily, the Chicago Children’s Museum is a favorite among younger audiences. It’s located on Navy Pier, so it’s within close proximity to a lot of the other exciting attractions. It’s recommended for any children 10 years and younger. Some of the interactive exhibits at this museum include a dinosaur expedition, a DIY tool space, and an art studio. Your kids will have a blast without even knowing that they’re learning something.
Navy Pier is another action-packed attraction in Chicago that your family won’t want to miss. Specifically, most kids are drawn to the iconic Centennial Wheel that towers over the nearby attractions. Along the pier, you’ll also find an abundance of other things to do, including shopping, dining, a funhouse, a carousel, theaters, and more. Depending on the time of year, fireworks are also popular in this area. And luckily, there’s no cost to explore the pier during your trip.
#7 – Willis Tower Skydeck
The Willis Tower is one of the best things to do in Chicago with kids, as long as you’re not afraid of heights. This structure is also one of the tallest buildings out there, so of course, it has observation decks with impressive views. On the observation deck, you’ll find glass boxes that you can walk out on and see the city from all angles. Yet, these glass floors could even make grown adults queasy, so be prepared. Of course, you can also learn some history about the tower and buy souvenirs while you’re up there too.
#8 – Adler Planetarium
The Adler Planetarium is often praised for being one of the most beautiful planetariums in the country. It’s also the oldest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. It not only has educational sky shows, but it also has lots of other interactive exhibits that all ages will love. You can look at telescopes, pretend to be space explorers, and enjoy beautiful views of the city’s skylines. It’s the perfect attraction for any kids with a fascination for space.
#9 – Maggie Daley Park
The Maggie Daley Park is located in “The Loop.” It’s not your typical nature park, but instead, it’s a kid’s paradise! It has an outdoor climbing park, a 3-acre play garden, mini golf, tennis courts, picnic areas, and even a skating path in the winter. So, imaginative kids will play here for hours on end, not wanting to leave. It’s the perfect attraction for the warm summer days of the city.
#10 – Art Institute of Chicago
An art museum might not sound like one of the best things to do with kids, but the Art Institute of Chicago isn’t your typical museum. It’s one of the leading art museums in the world, and it’s so big that you’ll never run out of things to look at. While the endless pieces of art might become boring to kids, there are also plenty of children exhibits to cater to younger audiences. There are family-friendly mini tours, a learning center, and a family room filled with puzzles and art projects.
#11 – The Field Museum
The Field Museum is a popular attraction for dinosaur-loving kids. In fact, it’s known for its Tyrannosaurus skeleton named Sue. It also has other fascinating exhibits like the largest known dinosaur, mummies, 3D movies, and more. It even has lots of interactive exhibits and a play lab where kids can get hands-on learning. This is the perfect way to show kids that learning and history can be exciting!
#12 – Legoland Discovery Center Chicago
The Legoland Discovery Center is found just outside of the city, but it’s worth the drive. Even if your kids aren’t obsessed with Legos, they’re sure to find lots of amazing exhibits at this attraction. It’s one of many Legoland attractions around the world. It has lots of Lego displays, a 4D theater, some rides, and of course, lots of opportunities to build with Legos. This attraction is geared toward younger children, but teens and adults can still have a great time too. In the city, there’s also a Lego store that you won’t want to miss.
The Lincoln Park Zoo isn’t the only opportunity to see animals in Chicago. While it’s not free, the Brookfield Zoo is a bigger Chicago zoo that kids are sure to love. It’s a 216-acre nature park with thousands of animals living there. You’ll get to see dolphins, bears, butterflies, giraffes, and penguins. There’s even a family area designed specifically for kids. Kids can pretend to be zoo keepers, dress up as some of the animals, or even make animal-themed crafts.
Are you and your kids ready for an Illinois adventure? If so, you should check out some of these fun things to do in Chicago with kids. Your whole family will have a great time, and it’ll be a trip you’ll never forget. So, what are you waiting for? Make Chicago your next vacation destination.