7 Exciting Things to Do With Kids in Chicago
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Chicago, Illinois is a desirable city for family vacations, weekend getaways, and business travel. Chicago is known as the vibrant hub of the American midwest. Downtown Chicago is filled with interesting attractions, a growing medley of restaurants, and plenty of opportunities for family fun.
The magnificent mile is the bustling district of the city where travelers can find some of the city’s poshest shopping and dining. The Wrigley building, Water Tower Place, and Willis Tower are just a few of the famous landmarks to see here.
The city is easy to navigate for first-timers and boasts an impressive skyline, sparkling shopping centers, and world-class museums. There are so many things to do when traveling to Chicago with children, and here are a few popular favorites.
Chicago Children’s Museum
The Chicago Children’s Museum is fun for kids of all ages because there are simply so many hands-on activities and experiences. Little paleontologists can dig for T-rex fossils in a recreation of an excavation pit in the Dinosaur Expedition. Older children will love the Tinkering Lab, the creative workshop where they can use real tools to craft and innovate.
Every first Saturday of the month, admission is free for children 15 and under and on Thursday evenings from 5:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. everyone receives free admission.
Address: 700 E Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 527-1000
Friday through Wednesday: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Thursday: 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
The Field Museum
Kids can spend the day immersed in learning about science and nature at The Field Museum. The museum is one of the world’s best natural history museums with collections of anthropological and biological exhibitions. The colossal assortment of artifacts at the museum includes ancient mummies, dinosaur fossils, and endangered plants.
Inside Ancient Egypt teaches kids about a day in the life of an ancient Egyptian complete with a 3-story reproduction of an ancient tomb. Go back 4.6 billion years ago to the time of the dinosaurs and experience the types of creatures that lived on Earth once upon a time in the Evolving Planet exhibition.
Address: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: (312) 922-9410
Hours: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. daily
The Adler Planetarium is for kids who are captivated by astronomy and astrophysics. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, the museum includes exhibits that will intrigue kids and adults alike.
The What is a Planet? exhibit goes into the complex detail of what makes a planet. When exploring Our Solar System at the museum, kids will be able to have a hands-on experience examining a moon rock and making their own mini crater. Adler Planetarium runs shows on topics ranging from the planets to the cosmos and the universe that are included in their all-access pass.
Address: 1300 S Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: (312) 922-7827
Hours: 9:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. daily
Museum of Science and Industry
Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum in the western hemisphere. The museum includes interactive displays and inspires creative, hands-on learning that a typical classroom lacks. The vision of the museum is to motivate children to get excited about the fields of science, technology, and engineering.
The exhibits feature a cool look into the technology and characters of Pixar animations. The Coal Mine was the museum’s very first exhibit, allowing visitors to descend into a replica of a mine and take a tour showcasing the machinery used in mining methods. Or, learn about DNA and genetics while witnessing chicks be born in the Baby Chick Hatchery.
Address: 5700 S Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 684-1414
Hours: 9:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. daily
Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier
Pier Park is located at the Navy Pier on the shores of Lake Michigan. The park features fun attractions for kids like a carousel, the Pepsi wave swinger, and the giant ferris wheel, the Centennial Wheel. Not only is the Centennial Wheel an iconic part of the Chicago skyline, but it also offers stunning views of the city from heights of 200 feet into the air.
More amusements for kids include a funhouse maze, a challenging timed race, climbing walls, remote-controlled boats, and more. There are free special events at Navy Pier year-round including fireworks, holiday celebrations, festivals, and more.
Address: 600 E Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (800) 595-7437
Sunday through Thursday: 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Kids that love animals and nature will be pleased with a trip to the zoo. The Lincoln Park Zoo is open every day of the year and best of all, admission is always free. The massive 35-acre zoo is one of the oldest zoos in North America. The zoo’s exhibits include an arctic tundra where polar bears roam ice caves, a penguin cove, a farm, and a lagoon with wading flamingos.
The zoo’s habitats also include a monkey forest, a swan pond, a seal pool, and a zebra Sahara, to name a few. There are events for kids held at the zoo like play days at the farm, sing alongs, and activity camps.
Address: 2001 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (312) 742-2000
Hours: Sunday through Friday: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
Located in the Loop neighborhood of downtown Chicago, Millennium Park is considered the heart of the city and a gathering place for festivals, tours, and concerts. The park was created for the amusement and entertainment for the locals and visitors of Chicago. Millennium Park is the center of free music and live events, and many local vendors sell food and merchandise throughout the park.
The many attractions to explore in Millennium Park include the bean, an ice skating rink, and Lurie Garden, a 3.5-acre urban garden. The calendar of upcoming events includes caroling at Cloud Gate for the holiday season, an art market, and the lighting of the Chicago Christmas tree.
Address: 201 E Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: (312) 742-1168
Hours: 6:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m. daily
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