Family-Friendly Things to do with Kids in Chicago
Chicago is a world-class city with endless family-friendly attractions for kids to see and enjoy themselves. Whether it's a world-class museum, a hands-on science center, or an exciting amusement park, there's something to keep the entire family entertained for days. So, for your next trip, we have assembled a list of the best things to do in Chicago for kids. Let's have some fun!
Beaches in Chicago
12th Street Beach
Follow the path from Adler Planetarium to reach this quiet beach. At night there are often bands playing nearby so it's a chill place to spend the evening.
1200 S. Linn White Dr., Northerly Island Park, Chicago, IL, 60605
Ohio Street Beach
Walking distance from Navy Pier, Ohio Street Beach is small and shallow. If you're looking for a comfortable place to relax by the water, then this beach is convenient. There's a cafe with snacks, beer, and cocktails. This is also a popular training spot for triathletes.
600 North Lake Shore Drive, Streeterville, Chicago, IL, 60611
Getting out in Nature in Chicago
Indiana Dunes National Park
This is a relatively new national park, and it's a popular day trip for Chicago locals who want to escape the city. It has three miles of pristine lake shore that is lined with dunes, marshes, grassland, and forest. There are plenty of places to hike and explore, as well as nine beaches that are great for relaxing in the sun on a warm day.
1050 N Mineral Springs Rd, Chesterton, IN, 46304
How much does it cost to get out into nature in Chicago?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $26 to $85. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $46. A few of the best options are below.
Family-Friendly Activities in Chicago
Chicago is a world-class city with endless family-friendly attractions for kids to see and enjoy themselves. Whether it's a world-class museum, a hands-on science center, or an exciting amusement park, there's something to keep the entire family entertained for days.
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
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
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
Chicago Sports Museum
This interactive museum is perfect for kids and adults who love sports. It's a high tech museum that lets you test your skills against some of the best athletes of all time including Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. There are simulators that let you drive a high-octane race car and virtual reality games that let you go up against some of the greats.
835 N Michigan Ave, The Magnificent Mile, Chicago, IL, 60611
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
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
Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park is an impressive park with a 1/4 mile long ice skating/roller skating ribbon. There's also a 40 ft tall climbing wall and a play garden for kids. The playground includes a pirate ship play structure with slides, rope bridges, and climbing areas. There's also a 18 hole mini golf course in the park.
337 E Randolph St, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, 60601
Millennium Park is a famous public space that's located in Grant Park. The 24.5 acre park is near the Lake Michigan shoreline and includes a number of famous attractions such as Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, Lurie Garden and a number of outdoor performance areas.
Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60601
The Navy Pier is one of Chicago's most popular tourist attractions. It opened in 1916 as an amusement and entertainment area and today it includes about 50 acres of gardens, parks, restaurants, shops, and concert venues. One of the most iconic parts of the Navy Pier is the 150 foot ferris wheel, which offers breathtaking views over the city and lake. There's also a classic historic carousel in Navy Pier Park. Head hear to pick up a boat tour as well.
600 East Grand Avenue, Streeterville, Chicago, IL
Pirates' Cove Children's Theme Park
For the very young kids, this small theme park offers miniature boats, a carousel, a safari train, and a pirate ship ride. There's also a playground and a stage as well as a small concession stand. You can also bring your own picnic lunch. This is a nice place to spend some time on a warm summer day.
901 Leicester Rd, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60007
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
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
Walden Pond & Thoreau's Cabin
Henry David Thoreau, the famous American author, wrote some of his most famous works at this cabin which is now a museum and park. Visitors can walk around the famous Walden Pond which has a small beach area and walking trails. It's a nice spot for a swim in the summer. The area is now a state park and open to the public.
915 Walden St, Concord, Massachusetts
Aquariums in Chicago
Chicago has some of the best aquariums in the country. From the Great Lakes Aquarium to the Shedd Aquarium, you'll find plenty of aquatic animals to marvel at. Kids and adults alike will learn about so many marine species at these amazing places around the city. So, make a day of it and take a deep dive into Chicago's aquariums.
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
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
Zoos in Chicago
Chicago is home to two large zoos, Lincoln Park Zoo and Brookfield Zoo. Lincoln Park Zoo is the oldest public zoo in the country and Brookfield Zoo is the largest zoo in Illinois. Both zoos offer numerous exhibits, activities, and events for the whole family. Children and adults can learn everything they could dream of and more about all sorts of fascinating animals at these zoos in Chicago.
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
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
Where to Stay in Chicago