Chicago events and attractions are never short on fun. And when we say fun for the whole family, we mean it. Whether you’re here to explore one of our world-class museums, discover your favorite deep-dish pizza joint or enjoy a night at the theater, there are endless options to keep your family entertained with these kid-friendly itinerary suggestions.
Iconic Navy Pier will undoubtedly make your must-see list. With rides including a 150-foot Ferris wheel, as well as restaurants, summer fireworks, sightseeing cruises and Segway tours, it’s no surprise the Pier remains a top Midwest tourist destination for all ages.
With more than 40 museums that engage and enlighten, you’re sure to find a museum that sparks your interest. On Chicago’s Museum Campus you can walk from the bottom of the sea at the Shedd Aquarium up to the moon at the Adler Planetarium. Then meet Sue—the world's largest, most complete, and best-preserved T. rex—on display at the Field Museum.
For science buffs, the Museum of Science and Industry is hard to top. It’s the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. For art aficionados, check out the largest collection of Impressionist works outside of the Louvre at the renowned Art Institute of Chicago. And for the youngest tykes, play and learn with interactive exhibits built just for them at the Chicago Children's Museum. Whatever your interest, Chicago has a museum or two to enhance it.
Don’t let a fear of heights stop you from enjoying some of the most incredible views of Chicago. Feel like you’re walking on air at the Ledge at Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower. Glass boxes extend into the sky more than 1,000 feet above ground. For a 360-degree view of four states, check out the incredible view from the John Hancock Observatory.
Or take to the water and go on a boat cruise. Chicago's First Lady Cruises is the official vessel for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's famous River Cruise that boasts views over 50 famous Chicago buildings. Plus, you'll learn about the history and designers of these famous icons.
Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises, Chicago Line Cruises, and Wendella Sightseeing Boats also offer fun boat tours such as fireworks cruises, nighttime tours, and dinner cruises.
When it comes to the performing arts, Chicago’s theater scene will have you at the edge of your seat. Aspiring dancers will be in awe of the breathtaking beauty of the Joffrey Ballet or the energetic contemporary productions from the Hubbard Street Dance company.
In the mood for a musical? Check out the dazzling performances on Broadway In Chicago stages. For mind-blowing theatrics go no further than the Lookingglass Theatre or introduce the family to the works of William Shakespeare with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “Short Shakespeare!” productions.
Animal lovers will enjoy a visit to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo and Brookfield Zoo, both open year-round with cool lights shows over the holidays. Two options for an all-seasons outing that would interest any budding green thumbs are the Lincoln Park Conservatory and Garfield Park Conservatory. And the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum will wow your little naturalist with its open-air butterfly haven and colorful wilderness walks.
Explore the scenic outdoors with a Chicago tour on bike, bus, Trikke or even Segway! For the active set, these excursions cover a lot of ground and expert guides show off the city—from the lakefront parks to the downtown riverwalk to the vibrant neighborhoods.
And be sure to visit Millennium Park, another year-round favorite where kids can splash around on a hot summer day or ice skate in the winter.
For little girls with big imaginations, a visit to Chicago would not be complete without a trip to American Girl Place, the first store of its kind in the U.S. Consider making a reservation for the café, which serves brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.
Indulge in some cheesy goodness. Pizza joints abound in Chicago, so you decide who reigns as king. Popular spots include Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Giordano’s Pizza and The Original Gino’s East of Chicago.
Year-Round Chicago Events
From the Air & Water Show to the Thanksgiving Day Parade, from Taste of Chicago to Christkindlmarket, and from Chicagoween to the Mag Mile Lights Festival—no one celebrates like Chicago. We even dye the river green on St. Paddy’s Day! It's no secret that we take fun seriously.