35+ Things To Do in Chicago with Kids

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Chicago is an amazing city for families. Tons to see and do, both indoors and outdoors. With any large city, you have a lot to cover and with kids in tow, time is of the essence.

So GoWhee App selected a list of the best things to do in Chicago with kids, from local parents’ favorites to must-sees while visiting the Windy City.

things to do in chicago with kids blog cover
Local's Favorite, Ed Debevic's diner. Photo by @sparklearning

1. See How People Lived in Ancient Egypt at the Field Museum

The Field Museum has lots of interactive exhibits for kids to enjoy. Their Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit lets kids see a real Egyptian tomb and mummies!

Key Information: $29 basic admission – Restrooms with changing tables – Food onsite

Good To Know: The museum regularly has Free Admission Days for IL residents.

>>> Discover More Things to do in Chicago With Kids, here.

2. See a Giant Octopus at the Shedd Aquarium

You can meet hundreds of incredible marine animals at the Shedd Aquarium, including the charismatic Giant Pacific Octopus

Key Information: Adult entry is $39.95 – Food onsite – Restrooms with changing tables onsite

Good To Know: The Shedd is the only aquarium in the world where you can pet a sturgeon– the lake sturgeon in the touch tank love to be gently stroked.

Shedd aquarium in Chicago, dolphin show
Dolphin Show at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Photo by @wonderswithinreach

30+ Things To Do in Chicago with Kids

3. Go Shopping on Michigan Avenue

When you go shopping on Michigan Avenue, you can visit doll heaven at the American Girl Place, get creative at The LEGO Store, and stop in for some tasty Chicago Mix at Garett’s Popcorn.

Key Information: FREE – stroller-friendly – can be crowded, so hold onto little hands tightly

Good To Know: There are lots of kid-friendly restaurants on Michigan Avenue.

4. Spend a Day Touring Millennium Park

Millennium Park is a green oasis in downtown Chicago popular with tourists.  

Key Information: FREE – dining nearby – public restrooms

Good To Know: If you visit in summer, kids can splash in Crown Fountain.

>>>Discover tons of outdoor places to visit with kids in Chicago, here.

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5. Enjoy a Not-So-Fancy Meal at Ed Debevic’s

Ed Debevic’s has been serving classic diner fare with a side of sass since 1984. Their kids’ menu is sure to please even the pickiest eaters.

Key Information: Adult entrees are $15~$20 – No parking – No tree nuts, peanuts, or sesame in the kitchen 

Good To Know: The World’s Smallest Ice Cream Sundae is their signature dessert– it really is small enough that everyone in the family can have their own.

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6. Create Your Own Ice Cream Flavor at the Ghirardelli Store

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company’s Chicago store is a chocoholic’s paradise. 

Key Information: Create-Your-Own ice cream starts at $6.75 – Restrooms available – Not stroller friendly (park it by the door)

Good To Know: Ghirardelli’s hot chocolate is probably the best in the city. Try it and see if we’re wrong.

>>> Find more sweet shops and kid-friendly restaurants, here.

7. Catch a Baseball Game at Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field has been entertaining baseball fans since 1914, and the Cubs always put on a great game.

Key Information: Tickets start at $37 – Tickets must be purchased online – Lots of youth promo nights available

Good To Know: Wrigleyville’s streets get extremely crowded after the games let out, so if you have really little kids or you’re using a stroller, it’s better to wait a few minutes to let the worst of the crowds thin out.

Discover More things to do in Chicago city with kids

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8. See Exotic Plants from Around the World at the Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory is home to thousands of exotic plants and lots of natural play spaces for kids.

Key Information: FREE – Reservations required – Limited walkup reservations

Good To Know: The Sensory Garden is designed to be a fun, joyful experience for kids with sensory needs.

9. See A Reptile That Used to Be Extinct at the Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo is home to dozens of rare and endangered species, like the Jamaican Iguanas. Kids can have a great time learning about how we can make a difference and help the environment.

Key Information: FREE – Food onsite – Restrooms with changing tables onsite

Good To Know: Lincoln Park Zoo is also an important nesting ground for the yellow-crowned night heron. Look up and see if you can spot these beautiful wading birds in the trees!

10. Get Some Energy Out at Oz Park

Oz Park is one of Chicago’s hidden gems. This beautiful park is home to a playground, gardens, and statues of many of the beloved characters from The Wizard of Oz.

Key Information: FREE – Lots of dining nearby – No public restrooms

Good To Know: While Oz Park doesn’t have public restrooms, it’s right across the street from a Target– you can run over there for a quick bathroom break.

11. Splash in Lake Michigan at Montrose Beach

There are lots of places to play along Chicago’s lakefront. If your kids want to swim in Lake Michigan, Montrose Beach is a great place to take a dip.

Key Information: FREE – Food onsite – Restrooms with showers onsite

Good To Know: Swimming at Montrose Beach is allowed from 11 AM to 7 PM, when the lifeguards are on duty.

12. Explore Chicago’s Night Sky at the Adler Planetarium

Thanks to light pollution, it’s hard to see the stars in Chicago’s night sky. But at the Adler Planetarium, you can see what’s hidden above your head.

Key Information: Basic adult entry is $19 – Planetarium shows cost extra – Food onsite

Good To Know: Don’t miss the Atwood Sphere on the planetarium’s ground level.

13. Tour the Chicago Cultural Center

Every Thursday and Friday, the “People’s Palace” offers free guided tours.

Key Information: FREE – Tours are limited to 25 people – Tours last 45 minutes to 1 hour

Good To Know: On the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month, a shorter 30-minute tour is held. This tour is also free.

>>> Discover more museums great for the whole family, like this one, here.

Chicago Cultural center radio exhibit.
Chicago Cultural center exhibit. Photo by @sparklearning

14. Take a Boat Tour of Famous Chicago Architecture

When you take a cruise on the Chicago River, you’ll get to see a new view of the city’s historic architecture. 

Key Information: Tickets start at $51.96 – Cruises last 90 minutes – Food and drinks available

Good To Know: The boat’s lower deck is comfortably air-conditioned, so even on really hot days this is a great activity.

15. Do a Scavenger Hunt in Downtown Chicago

UrbanAdventureQuest’s fun Chicago scavenger hunt will take you past lots of awesome landmarks like the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate (aka the Bean).

Key Information: $49 – Requires a smartphone – 2 miles of walking

Good To Know: Expect to spend about 2 hours on your tour.

16. Walk Among Hundreds of Butterflies at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

When you visit the butterfly sanctuary at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, you can watch a colorful cloud of butterflies and walk among them as they flutter and feed from flowers.

Key Information: Adult admission is $9 – Food nearby – Restrooms with changing tables onsite

Good To Know: Butterflies are released at 2:00 PM every day.

17. Climb to 37 Feet at the Chicago Children’s Museum

The Cloud Buster at the Chicago Children’s Museum is a nearly 40-foot-tall climbing structure. If your kid’s not a climber, the museum also has a dinosaur dig, an art studio, and more.

Key Information: $19 – Food nearby – Restrooms with changing tables onsite

Good To Know: The Chicago Children’s Museum is located on Navy Pier, so there are lots of food and shopping opportunities nearby.

>>> Find other things to do in Chicago with kids, here.

18. Ride the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier

Did you know the Ferris Wheel was invented for the Chicago world’s fair in 1893? Relive the excitement of that first ride on the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier

Key Information: $18 – Strollers must be folded/parked – No height requirement

Good To Know: Enclosed gondolas make for a comfortable ride no matter the time of day or year.

Ferris Wheel Navy Pier. Photo by @Jonathan J Castellon

19. Enjoy Hands-On Fun & Learning at the Bronzeville Children’s Museum

The interactive exhibits at the Bronzeville Children’s Museum are sure to please. 

Key Information: $5 – Best for kids 3-9 – No food onsite

Good To Know: The museum offers 1-hour guided, themed tours through the exhibits.

20. Explore the Play Garden at Maggie Daley Park

The Maggie Daley Park’s Play Garden has inventive play spaces designed to nurture kids’ imaginations. It’s the perfect place for kids ages 5-12 to spend a magical day.

Key Information: FREE – Food onsite – Restroom available in the fieldhouse

Good To Know: During the summer, you can walk, rollerblade, or ride scooters on the ice skating ribbon.

>>> Find tons of playgrounds and parks, in Chicago, here.

21. Ride into a Coal Mine at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry has dozens of exhibits that will totally enthrall your kids, including the Old Ben Coal Mine, the museum’s first exhibit and a kid-friendly favorite since 1933.

Key Information: Adult admission is $21.95 – coal mine tickets are an additional $12 – no strollers in the coal mine 

Good To Know: MSI’s admission line can be really long, so it’s much easier to buy your tickets in advance.

museum of science and industry hands on exhibit.
Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Photo by @sparklearning

22. Try The Original Rainbow Cone: Chicago’s Favorite Ice Cream

Rainbow Cone has been serving up stacks of the same five flavors since 1926. You can’t help but smile when you see their classic servings.

Key Information: Cones start at $3.89 – Trucks and brick and mortar locations – Contain nuts

Good To Know: If you’re downtown, there’s usually a truck parked at the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Shedd Aquarium.

23. Stand 1,353 Feet Above Chicago on the Willis Tower SkyDeck

Get a bird’s eye view of the city from the Willis Tower’s SkyDeck.

Key Information: Tickets range from $22-44+ – Family bathrooms – Stroller friendly

Good To Know: SkyDeck tickets are timed; book in advance to get the time you want.

24. Eat Authentic Deep Dish at Pizzeria Uno

Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, and the original Pizzeria Uno downtown is where it was born.

Key Information: Pizzas start at $9.49 – Not stroller friendly – Limited parking

Good To Know: The entrance has stairs, but they’ll provide a portable ramp if you ask.

 

>>> Discover more restaurants recommended by local parents, globally, here.

25. Check Out the Ultimate LEGO Experience

Legoland Discovery Center is a place to build, ride, and have a blast.

Key Information: $24.99 – Food onsite – Free parking

Good To Know: Tickets must be purchased in advance.

26. Learn About America’s Most Famous Writers

Dive into the world of American writing at the American Writers Museum.

Key Information: $14 – Kids under 12 are FREE – Validated parking

Good To Know: Check out the museum’s virtual exhibits to get great ideas for that next book report.

27. Teach Kids About Black History at the DuSable Museum

The DuSable Black History Museum is America’s first museum dedicated to Black history and culture.

Key Information: $14.50/$5 – Food nearby – Stroller friendly

Good To Know: You cannot miss the animatronic Harold Washington. Kids can “meet” Chicago’s first Black mayor and listen to him talk about the city’s history.

The Dusable Black History Museum and Education Center.
The Dusable Black History Museum and Education Center. Photo by @sparklearning

28. Walk the 606 Trail

Walk through railroad history when you take the 606- this gorgeous green space is an old rail line!

Key Information: FREE – 6 AM-11 PM daily – No public restrooms

Good To Know: There are lots of cafés along the trail– perfect for a snack break.

29. See Famous Works of Art at the Art Institute of Chicago

There are lots to see and do at America’s favorite art museum, the Art Institute of Chicago! 

Key Information: $25 – Food onsite – Several kid-themed activities

Good To Know: Don’t miss the arms and armor exhibit- it’s a kid’s favorite.

30. Catch a Thrill at iFLY Indoor Skydiving

Learn to fly in a vertical wind tunnel at iFLY Lincoln Park!

Key Information: Flights start at $64.99 per person – For ages 3 and up – Food nearby

Good To Know: If your kid really loves this experience, iFLY does birthday parties.

31. Take a Day Trip to Six Flags Great America

Six Flags Great America will have your kids screaming with excitement!

Key Information: Tickets start at $34.99 – Mix of thrill and kiddie rides – Food onsite

Good To Know: For hot days, you can get a ticket bundle for the nearby Hurricane Harbor water park.

32. Visit the Harold Washington Library

Explore, play, and learn at Chicago’s largest children’s library.

Key Information: FREE – Open daily – Restrooms with changing tables onsite

Good To Know: The Chicago Public Library system offers lots of free kids’ events.

33. Take On the TILT at 360 Chicago

TILT at 360 Chicago suspends you out over Michigan Avenue- it’s the city’s highest thrill ride.

Key Information: $30/$20 – Kids under 3 FREE – Food onsite

Good To Know: This is the building formerly called the John Hancock Center.

34. Check Out the Model Railroad at the Chicago Botanic Garden

There are lots to see at the Chicago Botanic Garden, but the model railroad is a time-tested kid favorite.

Key Information: Admission starts at $14.95 – Food onsite – Restrooms onsite

Good To Know: Kids also love the butterfly garden.

35. Play & Learn at Kohl Children’s Museum

At Kohl Children’s Museum, kids can learn through play.

Key Information: $15 – Food onsite – Restrooms with changing tables onsite

Good To Know: The museum holds free events for children with disabilities.

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