Planning a weekend with the kids? It can be tough sometimes to find activities that both hold everyone’s interest and get them learning. If you’re looking for things to do in Chicago with kids, you’ll probably want a variety of options to suit their many moods and interests. And the Windy City is the perfect place to find that!
Chicago is a world-class city offering an abundance of entertainment opportunities for young and old alike. Your kids are bound to enjoy any or all of these fascinating attractions. And who knows… you may even learn something as well!
Here you can enjoy a wildlife tour in the heart of one of America’s urban centers. The Lincoln Park Zoo features an incredible lineup of mammals, birds, and reptiles. One of the more popular exhibits is the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo – this kid-friendly wooded area allows close-up encounters with beavers, turtles, and owls! There’s also a working farm for a behind-the-scenes look at how milk and other food items are produced. The zoo is open 365 days a year and admission is free for all visitors.
Unlike “grown-up” museums where you can look but not touch, the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier is a completely hands-on experience. The exhibits offer fun learning opportunities in science, math, and the world around us. For example, the “Dinosaur Expedition” exhibit is an authentic excavation pit where kids can dig for prehistoric bones. “Skyline” demonstrates the principles behind Chicago’s skyscrapers by letting kids design and build their own structures. You’ll quickly see why this has become the second most-visited children’s museum in the country, putting it high on the list of things to do in Chicago with kids.
Did you know that Chicago is home to the largest indoor aquarium in the world? There’s no better place for kids to learn about the wonders of the world’s oceans and seas. Shedd Aquarium provides a rare opportunity for an up-close look at wildlife, including beluga whales, zebra sharks, and Pacific white-sided dolphins. Kids who enjoy the creepy-crawly members of the animal kingdom will love seeing moray eels, green anacondas, and goliath bird-eating tarantulas. And don’t miss the “One World” aquatic show, which demonstrates the high-quality care all the creatures receive from their trainers.
What kid, big or little, hasn’t dreamed of being an astronaut? At the Adler Planetarium, you can learn all about the mysteries of space, see the area’s largest public telescope at the Doane Observatory, and check out the role of astronomy throughout the years in various world cultures. Plus, three domed theaters show movies like Earth, Moon & Sun and One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure.
Formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, few things to do in Chicago with kids will give you this unforgettable perspective. North America’s fastest elevators take only 39 seconds to get you to the 94th floor, a full 1,000 feet above Chicago’s iconic Magnificent Mile. You’ll get 360° views across Lake Michigan and four surrounding states, and interactive screens let you learn about some of the city’s well-known neighborhoods and attractions. For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, plan your visit in the evening to experience Chicago bathed in the glow of the sunset. Feeling fearless? Check out the open-air skywalk, the highest outdoor public space in the U.S.
Garfield Park is in the heart of the city, but you’ll feel a million miles away. This nature oasis, one of the five largest conservatories in the country, features six greenhouses that house plants and flowers ranging from everyday to exotic. Kids will especially enjoy the Fern Room, which recreates the Illinois landscape as it looked millions of years ago. You also won’t want to miss the Children’s Garden and its hands-on displays. Highlights include the Sensitive Plant, which literally shrinks back when touched, and the Balsa Tree that responds with a hollow sound when the trunk is tapped.
With TakeLessons, kids get a more long-term learning experience, in whatever subject they’re interested in, including sports, crafts, performing arts, and music lessons in Chicago. To get started, browse the teachers in your area, and narrow your choices down based on preferred features such as location, price, and schedule. Think that wonderful acting coach in Los Angeles is out of the question? An online lesson platform transforms your computer into a virtual classroom. You can also manage your account through the TakeLessons website, using it to monitor your schedule, make payments, and more.
As you can see, there are tons of options for things to do in Chicago with kids! Use this list to kickstart your fun-filled, educational journey.
Photo by Marcin Wichary