Home / Travel / Fun Things to do in Chicago with Kids – Family Travel Blog

Fun Things to do in Chicago with Kids – Family Travel Blog

Chicago is a city that I have wanted to visit for a long time – ever since I became addicted to ER many years ago! Unfortunately, I still have not made it to Windy City, but I am feeling even more inspired after reading about what to do in Chicago with kids courtesy of Kirsten Maxwell of Kids Are A Trip. Hopefully you will find this guide to Chicago for kids useful too!

Chicago is the perfect city to visit with a family any time of year. With its location overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan, the city has it all with outdoor adventure, culture, and culinary delights. Families will find there are endless opportunities for fun, but we’re sharing the top 10 things to do in Chicago with kids.

things to do in Chicago with kids

Photo Credit: Choose Chicago

Top 10 Things to Do in Chicago with Kids

1. Explore planes, trains and automobiles at the Museum of Science and Industry.

kids museum Chicago

Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Photo Credit: Choose Chicago

The Museum of Science and Industry has been inspiring creativity since 1933 and kids love returning time and time again. With over 400,000 square feet of hands-on activities, including a World War II submarine, a mirror maze, and a chick hatchery, kids may never want to leave.

2. Get in touch with your family’s wild side at the Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoo’s in the country and it’s absolutely free! There’s an ape center, children’s zoo, and lion house to explore making it a huge winner of the Chicago attractions for kids. It’s a beautiful place on a sunny day to walk around and enjoy nature and its beautiful creatures.

3. Be the ultimate tourist and explore Millennium Park, Crown Fountain, The Bean, and Maggie Daley Park

free things to do in Chicago with kids

Chicago Bean. Photo Credit: Choose Chicago

Kids love visiting Millennium Park because they can run around and enjoy themselves. Visitors will find free concerts throughout the summer and ice skating in the winter.

The Crown Fountain will cool off children who run underneath it and The Bean is the quintessential photo op for all Chicago visitors. Maggie Daley Park is a dream playground with climbing walls, tennis courts, and more.

4. Learn about the city’s history from the water with an architecture boat tour

Chicago Architecture Tour in Chicago for kids

Chicago Architecture Tour. Photo Credit: Choose Chicago

This is one of my favorite things to do with kids in Chicago. There are several companies offering a boat tour on the Chicago River showcasing the architecture of the city. Learning about the city’s history while cruising along is a fabulous way to spend a couple of hours on a beautiful day.

5. Root for the home team at one of the city’s many sporting events

kids activities Chicago at Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field. Photo Credit: Choose Chicago

Even if your kids are not sports fans, take the family to see a game at one of Chicago’s many venues. Cheering on the home team Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, or Bears is a fun way to spend the day and see what the locals are all about!

6. Take in a bird’s eye view of the city from the top of Willis Tower

Views from Willis Tower Chicago activities with kids

Views from Willis Tower

One of the best ways to see Chicago is from above, so head to the Willis Tower where you can go to the Sky Deck, which offers clear views of 4 states on a cloud free day. Braver souls can head out on The Ledge, a glass balcony that extends four feet out from the 103rd floor of Willis Tower! This is not for the faint of heart!

7. Indulge in a feast for the senses at Eataly

If you haven’t been to one of the stores in the Eataly chain, make a point to visit the one in Chicago. Eataly has over 20 restaurants spanning two floors, including a pizza restaurant and gelateria.

There’s a market, cooking classes, a wine shop, and a butcher too, but you have to visit just to take it all in. Kids will love the Nutella bar and parents might be overwhelmed, but it will all be in a good way.

8. Soak up the sun at North Avenue beach

things to do in chicago with kids 3

A trip to Chicago would be incomplete without a visit to the shores of Lake Michigan – one of the fun places for kids in Chicago. With 26 miles of beaches, it’s easy to find one, but North Avenue beach is a favorite for locals and visitors alike.

9. Head for Museum Campus where you will find a natural history museum, an aquarium, and a planetarium!

Museum Campus is home to the world renowned, natural history filled, Field Museum and Sue the Dinosaur, the most well preserved and complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever discovered. It also encompasses the Shedd Aquarium which features dolphins, penguins, and even whales for those wanting to learn about life under water.

The third museum is the Adler Planetarium where families can have an out of this world adventure learning about the solar system, the moon, and everything in between. This site is packed full of things for kids to do in Chicago.

10. Take a ride on the new ferris wheel while spending the day at Navy Pier

things to do in chicago with kids

Navy Pier is celebrating 100 years of entertainment on the lakefront in 2016 with the opening of its Centennial ferris wheel. The pier is home to the Chicago Children’s Museum, Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater, an IMAX Theatre, restaurants, shops, and summer fireworks. With views overlooking Lake Michigan, a ride on the ferris wheel is one to remember.

Where to stay in Chicago with kids

There are many family friendly options when it comes to lodging in downtown Chicago. We would recommend the Kimpton Palomar, Intercontinental Chicago, Hyatt Place, and Four Seasons.

Final Tip: If your family plans to visit several of the above attractions, look into purchasing a City Pass for admission savings.

Read more about Kirsten’s adventures at Kids Are A Trip or like her on Facebook.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on one of these links that we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Tags:  USA Travel Blog

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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.