A Learning Experience
This city is home to some of the most recognized landmarks and historical attractions in the United States. And, the city is also home to some of the most interesting museums in the world, too. Chicago is rife with history, and it is a must-see destination for adults and children alike who are looking to educate, enlighten, and inspire themselves with the world-class museums and culture that Chicago has to offer.
This planetarium and museum focuses on the study of astronomy and astrophysics. It was established in 1930, making it the first planetarium in the country. It is also part of Chicago's Museum Campus. From outside of the museum you can enjoy a skyline view of the city, and when the weather is calm you might even catch it's reflection in the water.
1300 South Lake Shore Drive, South Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60605
Shedd Aquarium is Chicago's indoor aquarium with more than 32,000 animals. It's located on Museum Campus and has a number of exhibits that include fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and more.
1200 South Lake Shore Drive, South Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60605
The Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum is one of the largest national history museums in the world. It has impressive exhibits and educational programs as well as a large collection of specimen and artifacts. The exhibits are diverse and show fossils, cultures, and interactive programming that the whole family can enjoy.
1400 South Lake Shore Drive, South Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60605
Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago dates back to 1879 and is found in Chicago's Grant Park. It's home to one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country where it houses a large collection of more than 300,000 works including Pablo Picasso's The Old Guitarist and Grant Wood's American Gothic.
111 South Michigan Avenue, Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60604
Museum of Science and Industry
This informative science museum has unique exhibits on everything from mirrors and mazes to the weather. It's a very interactive museum that's perfect for visitors of all ages. There's a restored U-505 German submarine as well as a simulated coal mine. The unique exhibits at this museum make it a popular destination within the city.
5700 S Lake Shore Dr., Hyde Park, Chicago, IL, 60637
Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country. The zoo is also one of the largest free zoos in the country. It has more than 200 species of animals that are each divided into different exhibits. There ae two-toed sloths, western lowland gorilla, African penguins, lion, giraffes, and more.
2001 N Clark St, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60614
American Writers Museum
Located near Millennium Park, this unique writers museum is the first of its kind in the United States. It offers an overview on the history of American writing including a variety of genres such as fiction, poetry, journalism, and more. It highlights several specific authors and has a number of relics from the history of writing.
180 North Michigan Ave, Loop, Chicago, IL, 60601
The Pilsen neighborhood is in the Lower West Side of Chicago and it was historically made up of predominantly Czech immigrants but today it has a large Latino population, lots of great music venues, and a number of a great restaurants. The neighborhood also has impressive murals. There are street vendors who sell tacos as well as the National Museum of Mexican Art.
1235 West 21st Street, Lower West Side, Chicago, Illinois, 60608
Ukrainian National Museum
Located in the historical Ukrainian Village neighborhood, this museum houses a number of Ukrainian artifacts, artwork, musical instruments, and folk costumes.
2241 West Superior Street, Ukrainian Village, Chicago, Illinois, 60612
National Museum of Mexican Art
The National Museum of Mexican Art highlights Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and culture. This is the only Latino museum that's accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
1852 West 19th Street, Pilsen, Chicago, Illinois, 60608
International Museum of Surgical Science
This unique museum is run by The International College of Surgeons and has a number of interesting exhibits including photographs, sculptures, medical equipment, skeletons, medical specimens, and a library with more than 5,000 rare medical texts.
1524 North Lake Shore Drive, Gold Coast, Chicago, Illinois, 60611
Head to Greektown for a lively nightlife scene and excellent restaurants. It's part of the Near West Side community area and this unique neighborhood brings locals and tourists together in a fun setting.
Greektown, Chicago, Illinois, 60607
Brookfield Zoo, or the Chicago Zoological Park, is located just outside of Chicago in the suburb of Brookfield. It has about 450 species and 216 acres of land. This was the first zoo in the country to house both Giant Pandas and an indoor dolphin exhibit. There's also a unique indoor rainforest simulation.
8400 W 31st St, Brookfield, IL, 60513
U-46 Planetarium, Elgin
The U-46 Planetarium is run by the Elgin public school system. Operating since 1963, the building is actually registered as a historic place which still provides educational and entertaining astronomy shows to local students and the general public.
355 E Chicago St, Elgin, Illinois, 60120
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum offers educational exhibits on the natural world. There are exhibits that cover a number of habitats including the prairies and river ecosystems. There's also an outdoor nature trail (1/3 mile) and a butterfly room.
2430 N Cannon Dr, Lincoln Park, Chicago, 60614
Chicago Architecture Center
Located in the impressive Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s skyscraper at One Illinois Center, this museum has exhibits on the many skyscrapers of Chicago. Located right by the Chicago Riverwalk, they offer a number of walking, bus and boat tours as well.
111 E Wacker Dr,, South Shore, Chicago, IL, 60601
Bronzeville Children’s Museum
Bronzeville Children’s Museum is the first African American children’s museum in the United States. This unique museum takes visitors on a guided tour through a number of hands-on, interactive exhibits. There are a variety of kid-friendly exhibits including "You Are What You Eat", and the African American Inventors tour. This museum is great for kids between the ages of 3 and 9.
9301 S Stony Island Ave, Bronzeville, Chicago, IL, 60617
Fox River Trolley Museum
This railroad museum is located in South Elgin, and it has a special focus on trolleys, street cars, and other commuter trains. Visitors can board and see a variety of historic trolley and passenger trains from various periods in history. It's also possible to take a ride on their tracks in one of the historic trains. With seasonal events throughout the year and during the holidays, this is a fun place to visit for the while family.
365 S La Fox St, South Elgin, Illinois
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Money Museum
This free museum will teach you all about money. You can keep your hard earned cash while you learn all about historical currencies, how the Federal Reserve works, and more. It's a fascinating and unique museum for anybody with or without money.
230 S LaSalle St., Loop, Chicago, IL, 60604
Herbert Trackman Planetarium, Joliet
Located at Joliet Junior College in the western suburbs of Chicago, this planetarium puts on shows in their 30 ft. dome which educate and entertain the public about all things astronomical. Students, school groups, and the general public attend the shows which are scheduled throughout the year.
1215 Houbolt Road, F-Building, Joliet, Illinois, 60431
Great Lakes Aquarium
The Great Lakes Aquarium is about 2.5 hours from Chicago and it features a number of habitats and animals from around the world. There are 205 different species of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. This is also one of the few aquariums in the country that focuses almost exclusively on freshwater ecosystems. Many of the habitats are based on those found in the Great Lakes.
353 Harbor Dr #100, Duluth, MN, 55802
Chicago Children’s Museum
The Chicago Children's Museum is a world class kid's museum located at Navy Pier. With a Tinkering Lab, WaterWay playground, and the Treehouse Trails, kids can play, build, explore and immerse themselves in a world of imagination. These exhibits are perfect for young kids whose imagination guides their play, and exploration is how they learn.
700 E Grand Ave, Streeterville, Chicago, IL, 60611
Located at Northwestern University, the Dearborn Observatory has an 18.5 ft. telescope which allows visitors to gaze at the night sky like never before. They often have public nights on Friday evenings which are open to the public.
2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois, 60208
Chicago History Museum
This fascinating museum has exhibits that educate visitors on the history of the city and it's unique personality. With information on everything from Abraham Lincoln to Chicago-style hot dogs, this museum offers a bit of insight into how Chicago became Chicago. There are old photographs, vintage vehicles, and plenty to explore.
1601 N Clark St., Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, 60614
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $14 to $200. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $70. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in Chicago
How much do vacation rentals cost in Chicago? Prices vary by location, date, size of the place, and the level of luxury. See below for options.