Planning a vacation to Chicago? Our insiders put together a list of our top 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 20% guaranteed when you build your own custom pass and bundle two or more attractions together.
Or, save up to 55% with the All-Inclusive Go Chicago Card – a multi-attraction pass to top museums, tours, and attractions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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, although you will need to pay for a ride 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.