Things to Do in Chicago with Kids for an Amazing Trip

Planning a vacation to Chicago? Our local experts put together a list of our favorite things to do in Chicago with kids.

Consider adding a few of these kid friendly attractions to your vacation itinerary.

Chicago offers a myriad of things to do that are fun for the whole family. From world-renowned museums to beautiful urban parks, there are plenty of family-friendly sights for you and your children to enjoy.

Chicago also boasts many free year-round activities, including concerts from local and internationally acclaimed musicians, art exhibits, theater performances, and film screenings.

Best of all, you can experience all of these things while taking in Chicago’s celebrated architecture and famous skyline.

Save on Admission to Kid Friendly Attractions

Many of these great kid friendly attractions are available on the Go Chicago® Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of top Chicago attractions and save up to 55% off combined admission vs paying at the gate. Or, build your own pass and save up to 20% off.

See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

A few fun things to do in Chicago with kids included on the Go Chicago Card include…

  • Shedd Aquarium
  • The Field Museum
  • Chicago Children’s Museum
  • Navy Pier Ferris Wheel
  • and more..

Shedd Aquarium

shedd-aquarium-chicago-museums

Shedd Aquarium is known for being one of the best things to do in Chicago with Kids. It’s packed with kid-friendly exhibits and explores topics they’ll find both fascinating and educational.

Get a diver’s-eye view of the underwater world’s most interesting creatures at the World’s Aquarium.

The floor-to-ceiling exhibit windows put you eye-to-eye with beluga whales, moon jellies, parrotfish, sharks, and even the giant octopus.

Shedd Aquarium’s 8 unique exhibits will give your children the opportunity to be explorers for the day.

The Field Museum

field-museum-chicago-museums

Come meet Sue, the world’s largest T-Rex, at this famous museum of science and anthropology. At this larger-than-life exhibit and many others, you and your family will travel back in time and all around the world.

In addition to these educational and astounding displays, the younger kids will enjoy “interpretative stations” that host hands-on activities like writing in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Adler Planetarium

adler-planetarium-chicago-museums

Experience outer space without leaving Chicago at America’s first planetarium. Let your child become a space voyager at “Planet Explorers,” the most immersive, hands-on exhibition the museum has ever offered.

Catch a stellar space show in one of the museum’s three full-size theaters. And don’t let the fun stop when you leave; walk out onto the Adler’s north or south terraces to view the breathtaking Chicago skyline.

Chicago Children’s Museum

chicago-childrens-museum

Amid dozens of restaurants and shops, the Navy Pierce Family Pavilion houses the Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM). The CCM is a first-rate museum where play and learning come together for families with children through the age of 10.

Also, check out the Navy Pier IMAX Theater to view re-mastered Hollywood hits on a 60-foot screen. Just beyond the pavilion, explore the famous Crystal Gardens, an enormous indoor botanical park that hosts over 70 full-size palm trees.

Tall Ship Windy

tall-ship-windy-chicago

Grab the family and jump on board Navy Pier’s 148-foot, four-masted traditional schooner for a sailing adventure to remember.

Whether you’re a first time sailor or more experienced on the open water, this unique view of Chicago is one you won’t want to miss.

Marvel at unparalleled views of the Chicago skyline while learning about the history and practice of sailing from the Windy’s knowledgeable and creative crew. After some instruction, practice hoisting the sails yourself. Don’t forget the camera!

360 Chicago

360-Chicago-John-Hancock-Tower-1
360 Chicago is the newly renovated observation deck on the 94th floor of the iconic John Hancock Tower located on Michigan Avenue.

You’ll get excellent views of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier (just look for the Ferris wheel), the city skyline and its surrounding suburbs, and more.

Have adventurous kids? Consider purchasing a ticket to experience Tilt! You’ll be able to look out over the Magnificent Mile below as the floor, wall, and ceiling move downwards to a 30-degree angle–not for the faint of heart!

The Art Institute of Chicago

art-institute-of-chicago-museums

No trip to Chicago is complete without a stop at the Art Institute, celebrated worldwide as a leading museum for high-quality art.

With the huge variety of exhibits the Institute offers, there’s bound to be something everyone in the family will enjoy.

Wander through the 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms (built on a one-inch-to-one-foot scale), explore the collection of medieval arms and armor, or watch the evolution of photography from 1839 to the present.

Another perk – kids under the age of 14 are admitted for free!

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

chicago-bus-tour

Transportation is fun and expedient with a Hop-On Hop-Off Chicago bus tour.

The tours provide transportation to plenty of things to do and many of the attractions listed here, in addition to several other landmark sites, restaurants, and shops.

Travel around Chicago’s downtown and lakefront with the convenience of getting on and off the bus at your freedom.

Museum of Science and Industry

museum-of-science-and-industry-chicago-museums

Kids will love exploring the largest science museum in the Western hemisphere. Filled with exciting interactive exhibits, fun hands-on activities, and enlightening films, this museum is an educational haven for kids of all ages.

Highlights of the museum include a replicated 40 foot tornado, a real German submarine dating from WWII, a 727 aircraft, a fully-functional eco-friendly home, and much more! It’s the ideal attraction for the curious.

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center

legoland-discovery-center

Who doesn’t love LEGO®? There are plenty of things to do with kids here. Take the whole family to explore this totally immersive indoor LEGO wonderland, populated by exciting and interactive exhibits that really bring your children’s favorite toys to life.

Some of the most popular attractions at LEGOLAND include the 4-D cinema experience, the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride, and construction demonstrations by the Master Model Builder.

Little ones will especially enjoy MINILAND, the interactive LEGO world built just for them!

Brookfield Zoo

brookfield-zoo-chicago

Spend a day at Chicagoland’s largest zoo and meet some of the world’s most charming and fascinating creatures.

This 216-acre nature parks is filled with a wide variety of animals, plants, and even an animal-themed carousel – so your kids will find plenty to enjoy.

Don’t forget to take a ride on the Motor Safari tram, explore the “Great Bear Wilderness,” and pop into the “Butterflies!” exhibit.

Lincoln Park Zoo

lincoln-park-zoo-carousel

This smaller urban zoo is nestled in the heart of one of Chicago’s most popular parks, and its accessibility makes it a popular attraction for local families.

Admission to the zoo is free, but you’ll need to pay for a ride, or use a Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass, on their Endangered Species Carousel or Lionel Train Adventure.

Popular creatures at the Lincoln Park Zoo include the brand new Red Pandas at the Kovler Lion House, the playful snow monkeys, the young snow leopard Taza, and many more.

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel and Rides

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel and Rides

Navy Pier and its surrounding attractions are full of fun activities for kids and adults alike. Take a stroll around the pier, sample some classic boardwalk eats, and take a spin on the iconic Ferris wheel for unbeatable views of the city.

Use your Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass to get a 4-Ride pass for Navy Pier attractions, including the Ferris wheel and Pepsi Wave Swinger®.

Bike and Roll Chicago

Bike-Rentals-Chicago

Looking for things to do in Chicago with kids that don’t stop? Burn off some excess energy and explore the city by bike.

Chicago is a very bike-friendly city with 26 miles of easy, lakefront trails. You can use your rental as transportation to and from attractions you plan to visit, just ride north to Lincoln Park (home of the zoo and Chicago History Museum) or south to Grant Park and the Museum Campus.

Millennium Park

Millennium park chicago

By Headsillroll (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Take a stroll around this impeccably designed urban greenspace and be sure to note some of the park’s design highlights, including the Pritzker Pavilion, Lurie Garden, Crown Fountain, and the famous Cloud Gate Sculpture (also known as “the Bean”).

Let’s Recap

There you have it – some of our favorite things to do in Chicago with kids.

Plan to add a few of these attractions to your vacation itinerary and we are sure you will have a fun time during your trip.

Remember, you can save on combined admission to many of these popular family friendly attractions and more.

Go Chicago Card

Comments

Please leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*