We all know it can sometimes be a hassle to travel with teens. After all, even the least dramatic teens and tweens can have their moments of disinterest or disagreement.
And so, as much as the whole family needs and wants a vacation, it can be difficult to find teen-friendly activities that will keep everyone entertained.
If you’re looking for things to do in Chicago with teens, check out our list of the top attractions and activities, including…
- Shedd Aquarium
- SkyDeck Chicago
- 360 CHICAGO
- Navy Pier Centennial Wheel
- The Field Museum
- Adler Planetarium
- Brookfield Zoo
- Ride a Bike around Millennium Park
- and more…
Save on Admission to Attractions Teens Will Love
Many of these teen-friendly Chicago attractions are included on the Go Chicago® Card.
Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
Head to the Shedd Aquarium
Trust us, the Shedd Aquarium is the mother of all aquariums. This is one of the most popular things to do in Chicago for a reason.
Your teens will be able to enjoy seeing animals that hail from waterways and ecosystems all across the globe, from the nearby Great Lakes to the vast rivers of Asia.
One of our favorite nifty things about Shedd is the Caribbean Reef exhibit, where visitors can actually take a 360-degree tour of an underwater reef community – it’s a really amazing up-close sight and is almost as good as snorkeling in Hawaii.
Bonus for everyone: you can skip the line with the Go Chicago Card, which is a huge benefit during busy tourist seasons. It will keep you and your teens from driving each other crazy during a long wait!
Getting In: Shedd Aquarium tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card.
Get a Bird’s Eye View of the City
Your whole family will love the stunning, panoramic views of one of the country’s most beautiful cities. So visit Skydeck Chicago today!
Even the most skeptical teenagers will be amazed at “The Ledge,” an all-glass balcony that puts visitors four feet out from the edge of the building into space!
Looking for another perspective, and maybe a little more interactivity with your amazing views? Try 360 CHICAGO for another vantage point that’s equally as cool.
360 CHICAGO is also conveniently located near a good deal of trendy shopping, so your teens will particularly love that attraction.
Stroll Navy Pier & Ride the Centennial Wheel
There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned boardwalk stroll. And you don’t need to hit up the Jersey Shore to find one!
You and the teens will love spending some time at Navy Pier. There are a slew of activities to choose from, including the Centennial Wheel and a bunch of fun rides.
There’s also plenty of places to eat and pick up fun souvenirs to remember your trip to Chicago.
Want some more ideas? Check out our post on things to do at Navy Pier and nearby spots.
Getting In: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card.
Snap Photos on the Architecture River Cruise
Chicago is an amazing city for architecture. With a diversity of influences and an eclectic building history, the skyline of Chicago is quite remarkable.
One of our favorite ways to survey this beautiful scenery is on an Architecture River Cruise that highlights the city’s architectural history.
Teens will relish the chance to get that awesome Instagram photo, and it’s fun for everyone to be able to identify famous buildings.
Getting In: Chicago Architecture Boat Tour tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card.
Explore the Famous Museums
Teens into natural history and science will find much to love in Chicago’s museum scene.
The Field Museum is one of the world’s most prestigious natural history museums, featuring tons of fascinating stuff from gemstones to fossils (like the largest intact T-Rex skeleton – above).
For astronomy buffs, the Adler Planetarium is another great option and an amazingly fun thing to do.
Or, for fans of general interest scientific subjects, the Museum of Science & Industry is filled with interactive exhibits like a 40-foot indoor tornado.
Get Inspired by Art
Artsy teens (and their parents!) won’t want to miss out on the chance to visit Chicago’s top-rated museum.
The Art Institute of Chicago is an international favorite, and draws in so many people to its amazing collections of art and artifacts that span the entire globe and all across history.
Be especially sure to check out the Modern Wing. Designed by famed architect Renzo Piano and filled with only the most exciting modern and contemporary art, it’s the happening place to be.
Insider Tip: Download their innovative mobile guide to help navigate the museum.
Getting In: Art Institute of Chicago tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card.
Chill with Animals at the Brookfield Zoo
For fans of animals, Chicago is a delightful destination.
The Brookfield Zoo features a diversity of animal exhibits, a massive nature park, and a fun animal-themed carousel. Teens will especially appreciate majestic creatures like the big cats.
Or, if you prefer to stay closer to the city, Lincoln Park offers a fun, small-scale zoo with an equally entertaining selection of animals. If you’re really feeling like letting lose and acting like a little kid again, there are also some fun rides.
Getting In: Brookfield Zoo tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card.
Ride a Bike around Millennium Park
Encourage the kids to enjoy the great outdoors during the warmer months with a refreshing bike ride around the city.
Pedal leisurely along the waterfront, throughout Millennium Park, or along the 26 miles of gorgeous trails that wind around the lakefront.
It’s also a great activity teens can pursue independently, giving them some “alone time” amidst a family vacation.
Getting In: Bike and Roll Chicago rentals are included on the Go Chicago Card.
Shop ‘Til They Drop
Chicago is also a shopper’s paradise. Whether they’re on a tight budget or have some cash to spend, teens will love the chance to explore Chicago’s amazing shopping districts.
Heck, even window-shopping alone can be a real treat!
From the Magnificent Mile and its unique mix of high-end couture and fast fashion to the more traditional offerings of the Water Tower Place Mall, there’s a store to suit every taste.
Remember to Save on Admission
There you have it. Our list of some of the top things to do in Chicago with teens during your upcoming trip.
Remember, many of these great activities are included on the Go Chicago Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Consider adding a few of these teen friendly options to your vacation itinerary. Enjoy!