Things to Do in Chicago with Kids
Chicago offers a myriad of attractions and things to do with kids 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'll experience all of this culture while taking in Chicago's celebrated architecture and famous skyline.
We put together an insiders' guide to the best things to do in Chicago with kids, so you can experience the must see attractions during your Chicago vacation.
Kid-Friendly Chicago Attractions
These kid-friendly attractions combine entertainment, education, and some spectacular sight-seeing! For convenience, the following must-see destinations are grouped together by neighborhood.
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.
Take a ride on the wild side at this amusement park overlooking Lake Michigan. The 150-foot Ferris wheel and the hand-painted musical carousel provide entertainment for all ages.
If your kids are particularly adventurous, take them for a thrill ride on the Navy Pier Wave Swinger, which whisks you 14 feet in the air as it carries you over the lake.
More mellow kids will enjoy riding leisurely to the top of the Light House or mini-golfing at The Links.
Amid dozens of restaurants and shops, the 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 this trolley and upper-deck bus tours. The tours provide transportation to each of the above attractions in addition to several other landmark sites, restaurants, and shops.
Travel around Chicago's downtown and lake front with the convenience of getting on and off the trolley at your freedom.