Things To Do With Kids In Chicago: Family Adventure
April 25, 2023, by Jessica
Chicago, the Windy City, has something for everyone, including families with kids. From outdoor activities and cultural experiences to thrilling adventures and delicious food, Chicago offers many options for families to explore and enjoy.
With so many fun and free things to do in Chicago, planning is essential to making the most of your family trip. In this article, we’ll share some of the best things to do with kids in Chicago and provide tips for a successful family adventure.
Best Things To Do With Kids In Chicago
You can find various outdoor activities in Chicago with kids, including hiking, biking, fishing, golfing, and more. Many of Chicago’s outdoor attractions are family-friendly, making them excellent choices for a day out with kids. Whatever your interests, Chicago offers plenty of outdoor activities, and it’s the perfect city to explore and enjoy the great outdoors.
1. Millennium Park
Millennium Park is a must-visit for families in the heart of Chicago. It is a perfect destination for outdoor activities and cultural experiences. The park’s most famous attraction is the Cloud Gate sculpture, which reflects the Chicago skyline spectacularly and provides a great photo opportunity for visitors.
Kids can run around and play in the state-of-the-art playground, which includes a climbing wall, swings, and slides. The interactive Crown Fountain is also a favorite among families, with its water spouts and video projections of Chicago residents’ faces.
In addition to its attractions, Millennium Park also hosts various events and activities throughout the year. There’s always something happening at the park, from free concerts and movie screenings to cultural festivals and art exhibits. And with its central location in the heart of downtown Chicago, it’s easy to explore other nearby attractions and restaurants after a day at the park.
2. Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is a popular destination for Chicago families looking for outdoor activities. With its spacious green fields and lakefront views, the park provides a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The park has several playgrounds, including the Maggie Daley Playground, which features a lighthouse and pirate ship for kids to explore.
Families can also rent bikes and ride along the park’s scenic trails, enjoying views of the lake and Chicago skyline. The park also hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including the Chicago Summer Dance series, making it a vibrant and dynamic place to visit.
One of the highlights of Lincoln Park is the zoo, which is free and open to the public. Kids enjoy seeing various animals in their natural habitats, from African lions to polar bears.
The Lincoln Park Zoo also has a children’s area where kids can pet goats and sheep. A “farm-in-the-zoo” exhibit showcases local agriculture.
Another attraction in Lincoln Park is the Lincoln Park Conservatory, which houses exotic plants and flowers from around the world. Visitors can stroll through the gardens and learn about different plant species, making it a perfect educational and cultural experience.
Lollapalooza in Chicago is a four-day music festival that takes place annually in Grant Park, typically during the last weekend of July or the first weekend of August.
The festival features a diverse lineup of artists across various genres, including rock, pop, hip-hop, and electronic music. Some of the past headliners have included acts such as The Strokes, Foo Fighters, Radiohead, and Lady Gaga.
Lollapalooza in Chicago also offers more than just music. Attendees can enjoy various attractions, such as art installations, food vendors, and a dedicated area for children’s activities. Additionally, the festival places a strong emphasis on sustainability and offers programs for attendees to learn about and participate in environmentally-friendly practices.
Lollapalooza in Chicago is a highly anticipated event that draws crowds from all over the world. Tickets typically sell out quickly, so it is recommended to plan ahead and purchase tickets as soon as they become available.
4. Taste Of Chicago
Taste of Chicago is an annual food festival that takes place in the city of Chicago, usually in July. The festival features a variety of food vendors from local restaurants and food trucks, offering samples of their signature dishes.
In addition to food, Taste of Chicago also features live music and entertainment on multiple stages throughout the festival. Past performers have included artists such as Weezer, The Roots, and Gary Clark Jr.
Taste of Chicago is held in Grant Park, and admission to the festival is free. However, attendees must purchase tickets to purchase food and beverages from the vendors. The festival is a popular event in Chicago, attracting large crowds each year.
In recent years, Taste of Chicago has expanded to include other events throughout the year, such as “Taste of Chicago To-Go” and “Community Eats,” which bring the festival’s food offerings to different neighborhoods in the city.
5. Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo is a world-renowned zoo that features over 2,000 animals from around the globe. It is a perfect place for families to spend a day exploring the different animal exhibits, including the Tropic World, Australia House, and the Regenstein Wolf Woods.
In addition to these, Brookfield Zoo also offers a variety of activities for children, such as the Hamill Family Play Zoo, where kids can engage in interactive animal experiences like feeding and petting.
One of the zoo’s highlights is the Great Bear Wilderness exhibit, where visitors can get up close with grizzly bears and polar bears in their natural habitats. The zoo also has a 3D movie theater and a children’s zoo, where kids can learn about domestic animals and participate in hands-on exhibits.
6. Chicago Botanic Garden
The Chicago Botanic Garden is a beautiful, serene oasis just a short drive from the bustling city. This 385-acre garden features various plant life and landscapes, from English Walled Gardens to Japanese Gardens to prairie and woodland habitats.
Families can take guided tours to learn about the different plants and ecosystems or independently explore the nature play garden.
In addition to the stunning flora, the garden offers a range of activities for kids, including “drop-in” family programs and summer camps. The park also hosts various seasonal events, such as the Orchid Show in February and the famous Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns in October.
Cultural and Educational Experiences
Chicago Museums are known for their world-class and cultural institutions, many offering special programs and exhibits for children. Some notable options include the Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum.
1. Chicago Children’s Museum
The Chicago Children’s Museum is an excellent destination for families with children of various ages. The museum offers multiple interactive exhibits and engaging activities that promote learning through play.
Children can enjoy exploring a firehouse, climbing a treehouse, and creating their bubble solution, among other fun activities. With a focus on hands-on experiences, the museum provides an exciting and educational environment for kids to discover and learn.
2. National Museum of Mexican Art
The National Museum of Mexican Art is a museum that celebrates and showcases Mexican art and culture. It is home to a vast collection of over 10,000 objects, which includes paintings, sculptures, textiles, and photographs.
The museum offers a unique opportunity for families to learn about Mexican history and traditions through its exhibits and events. Visitors can explore and appreciate the rich cultural heritage of Mexico through the artwork and artifacts on display. The museum is a valuable resource for those interested in Mexican art and culture, providing a window into the beauty and diversity of this vibrant culture.
3. DuSable Museum of African American History
The DuSable Museum of African American History is the oldest museum in the United States, focusing on African American history and culture. Its mission is to increase understanding and appreciation of the contributions made by African Americans throughout history.
The museum features a collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents that tell the story of African Americans from the time of slavery to the present day.
Visitors can explore the many important events and figures that have shaped African American history and better understand their impact on American society. The museum serves as a valuable resource for those interested in learning more about African Americans’ rich and diverse history. It is an important cultural institution in the United States.
4. Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-renowned art museum that houses an extensive collection of art from around the world. The museum boasts two exhibition halls, each containing a diverse array of artwork.
Families can explore the museum’s galleries and view masterpieces created by famous artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet, among others. In addition to its impressive permanent collection, the Art Institute hosts special events, lectures, and workshops throughout the year, giving visitors a unique and immersive cultural experience.
The museum is a must-see destination for art lovers and an excellent educational resource for those interested in the arts.
5. Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry is a fantastic destination for anyone interested in science and technology. The museum has a lot of different exhibits and displays that let people learn about different scientific ideas and discoveries.
The museum’s labs offer real-time experiments, and the world-famous Omnimax theatre provides a unique cinematic experience. The museum has a large permanent collection, which includes a full-size locomotive and an exact copy of a coal mine shaft. Educational programs and summer camps are also available for children of all ages. The Museum of Science and Industry is an exciting and interactive place to learn about the world of science and technology and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in these fields.
6. The Field Museum
The Field Museum is a renowned natural history museum that was established in 1893. It is one of the largest museums of its kind in the world, featuring a vast collection of over 35 million specimens from various parts of the globe. People can look at the museum’s displays, which include artifacts from ancient cultures, fossils, and skeletons of dinosaurs. The museum also offers educational programs and summer camps for children of all ages, as well as special exhibitions throughout the year. For families planning a visit, it’s worth noting that kids under the age of 3 get in for free.
The Chicago Children’s Museum is a fun and interactive destination that provides children with the opportunity to learn and play at the same time. The museum features a wide range of exhibits and activities that encourage exploration and creativity, from a firehouse to a treehouse and even the chance to make your own bubble solution. The amount of time it takes to go through the museum can vary depending on your pace and interests, but many families find that they can see everything in a few hours.
Thrilling and Fun
Chicago is not only a city full of history and culture but also a great place for families to have some thrilling and just as much fun experiences. From soaring high above the city to diving deep into the water, there are plenty of exciting activities for kids (and adults) of all ages. In this section, we will highlight some of the most thrilling and fun activities that Chicago has to offer. Get ready for an adventure!
1. Navy Pier
Navy Pier has lots of fun things to do and is a popular tourist destination in Chicago, located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Originally a cargo and passenger shipping facility, it has been transformed into a family and kid-friendly attraction featuring an amusement park, boat tours, the Chicago Children’s Museum, dining options, and theaters, including the Navy Pier mind-blowing IMAX theatre and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
The most iconic attraction in Pier Park is the Centennial Wheel, a 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel that offers panoramic views of the city and the lake. Navy Pier is an ideal destination for tourists and families looking for a fun-filled day of entertainment, dining, and sightseeing in Chicago.
2. Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium is a popular and incredible indoor aquarium located in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the world’s largest indoor aquariums. It houses over 32,000 animals from 1,500 species, including sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, beluga whales, and penguins. The Oceanarium, which is the largest indoor marine mammal habitat in the world and has white-sided dolphins, beluga whales, and sea lions, is one of its most well-known exhibits. The Shedd Aquarium has animal displays, but it also has educational programs and tours behind the scenes to teach people about marine life and conservation efforts.
3. Adler Planetarium
People and families who want to learn more about the mysteries of space and astronomy should go to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. With interactive exhibits, immersive shows, and a historic telescope, visitors can learn about stars, planets, and galaxies through hands-on activities and demonstrations.
The museum has a variety of displays for people of all ages. One of these is the Atwood Sphere, a historic display that shows the night sky over Chicago in 1913. Additionally, the planetarium has a range of shows and presentations in its state-of-the-art Grainger Sky Theater, where visitors can experience the wonders of the universe on a massive 70-foot dome screen.
Recreational Parks And Outdoor Adventure Spots
1. Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park is an outdoor recreational area that offers a range of activities for families to enjoy. The park features a skating ribbon, where visitors can ice skate in the winter and rollerblade in the summer. Additionally, there are rock climbing walls, a play garden, and a mini golf course. Families can also take a leisurely walk through the park’s beautiful gardens and admire the stunning views of Lake Michigan. Maggie Daley Park is a great destination for outdoor fun and relaxation in the heart of Chicago.
2. The 606
The 606 is a unique outdoor space that spans 2.7 miles and runs through four distinct neighborhoods in Chicago. The elevated trail and park provide families with an opportunity to walk, run, or bike while taking in stunning views of the city skyline. In addition to the trail, the park offers several playgrounds and art installations for families to enjoy. The 606 is a great way for families to enjoy the outdoors and see Chicago’s cityscape, whether they want to take a slow stroll or do something more active.
3. Garfield Park Conservatory
The Garfield Park Conservatory is a stunning botanical garden that showcases a wide array of plants and flowers from around the world. Families can take their time walking through the lush gardens of the conservatory and learning about the different ecosystems and plant species on display. The conservatory also offers a range of educational programs and events for children, making it a great destination for families who are interested in learning more about the natural world. Whether it’s a quick visit or an extended stay, the Garfield Park Conservatory provides a peaceful and educational experience for all ages.
Where to Eat with Kids in Chicago: A Guide to the Best Family-Friendly Restaurants
Chicago is known for its delicious food, and there are plenty of family and kid-friendly restaurants where kids can enjoy a meal while parents can relax. Here are some of the best family-friendly restaurants in Chicago
1. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
Lou Malnati’s is a Chicago institution that serves up some of the best deep-dish pizza in the city. Families can enjoy a delicious pie and a casual atmosphere at any of the restaurant’s locations. The pizzeria also offers other Italian specialties, such as pasta dishes and salads.
Portillo’s is a popular chain of fast-food restaurants that offers classic Chicago-style hot dogs and other comfort foods. Families can enjoy a casual meal at one of the restaurant’s many locations.
Eataly is a massive Italian marketplace located in the heart of Chicago. The complex features multiple restaurants, including a pizza restaurant, a seafood restaurant, and a rooftop restaurant with stunning views of the city. Kids will love exploring the different food stalls and trying new foods.
Giordano’s is famous for its deep-dish pizza, which is sure to satisfy any hungry kid. The restaurant has several locations in the city and serves salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes, among other things.
5. The Chicago Diner
For a vegetarian and vegan option, head to The Chicago Diner. Kids will love the meatless burgers, sandwiches, and milkshakes.
6. The Purple Pig
For a more upscale dining experience, try The Purple Pig. The menu features Mediterranean-inspired small plates that are perfect for sharing with the whole family.
7. Big Star
Located in Wicker Park, Big Star is a popular spot for families looking for Mexican food. Kids will love the tacos, quesadillas, and churros, while parents can enjoy a margarita or two.
8. Little Goat Diner
Stephanie Izard, a well-known chef, is the proprietor of the quirky and entertaining Little Goat Diner. The menu features classic diner fare with a twist, like pancakes with goat cheese and blueberries or a Reuben sandwich made with pastrami-cured salmon.
9. Shake Shack
For a quick and easy meal, head to Shake Shack. The chain, which originated in New York City, has several locations in Chicago and offers burgers, hot dogs, and frozen custard.
Get Curious About Food on Local Chicago Farms and Orchards
Chicago is a city with a rich agricultural history, and there are many local farms and orchards where families can learn about where their food comes from and participate in hands-on activities. Here are some of the best places to visit:
1. Green City Market
The Green City Market is a farmers’ market that features locally-grown produce and artisanal products. Families can go to the market and learn about how to farm in a way that is good for the environment while eating fresh food.
2. The Farm at Byron Colby Barn
The Farm at Byron Colby Barn is a community-supported agriculture program where families can get fresh food and learn about farming. Families can visit the farm and learn about farming practices and sustainable living.
3. Oak Park Farmers’ Market
Located just outside of Chicago in the suburb of Oak Park, the Oak Park Farmers’ Market is a community-oriented market that features local produce, artisanal foods, and live music. Kids can participate in scavenger hunts and other activities to learn more about the different vendors.
Things to do in Chicago with Teens
1. Second City
Second City is a famous improv comedy club that has launched the careers of many famous comedians. Families with teens can enjoy a show and laugh together at this iconic Chicago institution.
2. Escape Rooms
Escape rooms have become a popular activity for families with teens. Chicago offers several escape rooms with themes ranging from mystery to adventure. Families can work together to solve puzzles and escape before time runs out.
3. Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art features modern and contemporary art from around the world. Teens and their families can look at the museum’s displays and take part in events and programs that focus on modern culture.
4. Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise
The Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise is a unique way to see the city’s famous architecture while learning about its history and design. Families with teens can enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the Chicago River while taking in the sights and learning about the city’s architectural landmarks.
5. Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks Games
For sports-loving families with teens, attending a Chicago Bulls or Chicago Blackhawks game can be an exciting and memorable experience. Both teams play at the United Center, which offers a lively and energetic atmosphere.
6. Chicago Riverwalk
The Chicago Riverwalk is a pedestrian walkway along the Chicago River that features a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops. Families with teens can take a stroll along the river and enjoy the views of the city’s architecture and skyline.
7. Chicago History Museum
The Chicago History Museum has displays and artifacts that show the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. Families with teens can learn about the city’s past and attend educational programs and events.
8 Chicago Cultural Center
The Chicago Cultural Center is an old building that shows off the city’s natural history and cultural diversity through exhibits and events. Families with teens can attend concerts, performances, and other cultural events.
9. Chicago Lakefront Trail
The Chicago Lakefront Trail is a beautiful pathway that stretches for 19 miles along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. This trail is perfect for families with teens who want to enjoy the outdoors while getting some exercise. The trail is well-kept and gives you access to some of Chicago’s best beaches, parks, and attractions. It also has beautiful views of the city’s skyline.
Along the trail, families can stop and take in the sights, enjoy a picnic lunch, or even rent bikes and explore the city’s waterfront at their own pace. The trail is also home to several iconic landmarks, such as Navy Pier and the Museum of Science and Industry, making it a great way to see some of Chicago’s most famous attractions.
10. Skydeck Chicago
is an iconic attraction located in the heart of downtown Chicago. The observation deck is situated on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the United States. Families with teens can get amazing views of the city, Lake Michigan, and the area around it from the Skydeck. The highlight of the Skydeck is “The Ledge,” a glass box that extends four feet out from the side of the building, allowing visitors to experience the thrill of standing 1,353 feet above the ground.
In addition to the amazing views, the Skydeck has exhibits and displays that you can interact with to learn more about Chicago’s history and architecture. Families can learn about the building’s construction and how it has shaped the city’s skyline.
11. Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co.
The Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co. offers tours of the city’s most famous landmarks and attractions. Families with teens can enjoy a fun and informative tour while riding on an open-top bus or trolley.
12. Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field is a beloved destination for sports fans of all ages, but especially for families with teens who enjoy baseball. Located in the heart of the Lakeview neighborhood, the stadium is home to the Chicago Cubs and offers an iconic game-day experience. Families can take a tour of the stadium to learn about its history and explore the dugouts, press box, and locker rooms. Also, there are lots of places to eat and buy souvenirs all over the stadium, so everyone can have a fun and immersive time there.
Beyond just attending a game, families can also take part in other activities at Wrigley Field. The Cubs host events such as movie nights and concerts throughout the year, as well as youth baseball camps and clinics. With its historic charm and lively atmosphere, Wrigley Field is a thrilling and memorable destination for families with teens.
13. Chicago Architecture Foundation Center
The Chicago Architecture Foundation Center is a must-visit for families interested in architecture and design. Visitors can learn more about the city’s rich architectural history through the center’s many exhibits, tours, and programs. Families with teens can take part in the center’s educational programs, which offer guided tours of the city’s most famous buildings and landmarks, such as the Willis Tower, the John Hancock Building, and the Aqua Tower.
The center also has displays that show off the city’s innovative architecture, such as a model of the Chicago Riverwalk, which shows how public spaces and green initiatives are being incorporated into urban design in the city. For families with younger children, the foundation offers a “family fun day” with hands-on activities and tours tailored to young learners.
14. North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach is a popular spot for families with teens who want to enjoy the sun, sand, and water. The beach offers a variety of activities, including beach volleyball, paddle boarding, and swimming.
Chicago is a city with endless opportunities for family fun and adventure. From outdoor activities to cultural experiences to iconic landmarks, there is something for everyone in the Windy City. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, exploring Chicago with kids is an unforgettable experience that will create lasting memories for the whole family.
So pack your bags, grab the kids, and get ready to discover all the amazing and fun things to do in Chicago. Don’t forget to plan ahead and book tickets and reservations in advance to make the most of your trip. And most importantly, have fun and enjoy all the amazing experiences that Chicago has to offer.
If you are in need of accommodation during your visit to Chicago, you can consider contacting Jessica of Chicago Homes and Lifestyle for assistance. She offers a range of options for short- and long-term stays, including apartments and vacation rentals. With her knowledge of the city and experience in the hospitality industry, she can help you find the perfect place to stay that fits your needs and budget.