While summer is coming to a close, your family fun in Chicago doesn’t have to end. A new season brings a fresh roster of kid-friendly events and activities all around the city, from an apple-themed fest to hands-on museum exhibits. Check out a few of the top family-friendly things to do in Chicago this fall.

Fall fest at Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo’s fifth annualFall Fest is a family-friendly celebration that brings harvest fun to one of the oldest free zoos in the country. The festival includes a Ferris wheel, corn maze, fun slide, inflatable obstacle course, a pumpkin patch, professional pumpkin carvers, animal chats, and much more. Take your family to pick the perfect pumpkin and say hello to Chicago’s favorite wild animals. 

Dates: Sept. 27 – Oct. 27, 2019
Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Lincoln Park Zoo
Tickets: Admission to the zoo is free, some of the attractions at Fall Fest are ticketed. Tickets are only available at the zoo. 

New exhibit at the Chicago Children’s Museum

This play-and-learn exhibit is inspired by the art and characters of the beloved children’s book author and illustrator Mo Willems. Kids can see familiar characters come to life including best friend duo Elephant and Piggie, faithful companion Knuffle Bunny, and The Pigeon, the wily city bird best known for his antics in Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! 

At The Pigeon Comes to Chicago! A Mo Willems Exhibit, kids can interact with a variety of immersive stations including a double-sided phone booth, plinko game, and can even try out art techniques that Mo uses for his own books.

Dates: Sept. 21 – Jan. 12, 2019
Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location:Chicago Children’s Museum
Tickets: Admission to the museum is $14.95 for children and adults, $13.95 for seniors

Art activities at the Art Institute Of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago family drawing activity

Kids can create their own Pop-inspired drawings at the Art Institute’s Family Drop-In Drawing. Head to the Modern and Contemporary galleries to let your little ones channel their inner Andy Warhol through art activities, then see his works for yourself at the major new Warhol retrospective that’s showing at the museum this fall. 

Dates: Nov. 2, 3, 15, and 17, 2019
Time: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Location:Art Institute of Chicago
Tickets: Free with museum admission, view ticket options

Apple Fest in Lincoln Square/Ravenswood

Kick off fall with the 32nd annual Apple Fest in the charming Lincoln Square/Ravenswood neighborhoods. Dozens of local vendors participate, selling everything from fresh apple pie to hot apple cider. Plus, enjoy live local music at the Lawrence Avenue Music Stage and visit the Leland Avenue Kids Zone for magicians, family yoga, storytelling, and more.

Dates: Oct. 5 – Oct. 6, 2019
Time: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Location: Lincoln Avenue between Lawrence and Eastwood
Tickets: $5 suggested donation 

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Have a friend or family member running in the Chicago Marathon? Or just want to experience the unforgettable energy one of the city’s biggest athletic events? Make a homemade sign with the kids and bring the family to cheer on the runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The course weaves its way through 29 diverse neighborhoods, so pick a spot on the course and get ready to cheer.

Date: Oct. 13, 2019
Time: 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Check out the course map
Tickets: Free to watch

Open House Chicago

Elks National Memorial
Photo by Eric Allix Rogers

For two days only, Open House Chicago opens doors to some of the most historic buildings in Chicago. Families to explore members-only clubs, soaring skyscrapers, private residences, theatres, hotels, and other areas not typically open to the public. 

This completely free event features more than 270 places spanning across 29 neighborhoods. Map out your family’s route by picking up a printed event guide or visit the interactive Open House Chicago site list and map.

Dates: Oct. 19 – Oct. 20, 2019
Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Locations: Check out the 2019 site list
Tickets: Free to attend

Science Career Celebration at the Museum Of Science + Industry

You! the Experience exhibit @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Show your kids a world of possibility at the annual Science Works Career Celebration. This museum-wide event invites families to learn about interesting jobs straight from professionals in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The event features an array of dynamic speakers, hands-on activities, and one-on-one discussions from over 40 companies and organizations throughout the museum.

Date: Oct. 19, 2019
Time: 9:30 a.m. — 2:30 p.m.
Locations:Museum of Science & Industry
Tickets: Free with museum entry, view ticket options 

Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade

Turkey balloon float in front of Macy's at the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade

Create a Thanksgiving Day tradition your kids won’t forget. Chicago’s televised Thanksgiving Day Parade marches down iconic State Street in the heart of the Loop and features colorful floats, majestic horses, live performances by local and national stars, and an appearance from Santa Claus. If you can’t make it in person, you can tune in on WGN 9 Chicago or WGN America. 

Date: Nov. 28, 2019
Time: 8 – 11 a.m.
Location: State Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Randolph
Tickets: Free to attend

Go Chicago
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  • Skydeck Chicago
  • Shoreline Architecture River Cruise
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  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Navy Pier rides
  • And so much more!

Explore Go Chicago options:

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