Willis Tower Skydeck

Heading into town with your favorite teen or tween? From a unique cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady to swimming with beluga whales at Shedd Aquarium, here are ten must-do events and attractions to add to your Summer 2013 Chicago bucket list.

Step onto the Ledge at the Willis Tower Skydeck

Skydeck Chicago

Over 100 stories up the Willis Tower lies Skydeck Chicago - an absolute can't-miss Chicago experience. Open daily, it offers spectacular views (you can see up to four states on a clear day), interactive exhibits and... drumroll, please... The Ledge, a glass box that let's you walk four feet off of the side of the building.

The American Girl Dinner & Chicago's First Lady Cruise

American Girl Place

Offered Sunday evenings (July 21, July 28, August 4 and August 11), this enchanted dinner cruise was created specifically for families, girls (ages 8-12 years old) and their favorite American Girl doll. The evening begins at 5:30 pm, with dinner at the American Girl Place Cafe. Dinner guests are then transported via roundtrip Chicago Gray Line motor coach to Chicago's First Lady Cruises' Riverside Gardens dock. With commentary from a Chicago Architecture Foundation-certified docent, you and your girl will embark on a 60-minute private cruise along the Chicago River to see the city's iconic skyline. The docent also weaves in fascinating details about Chicago's history as it relates to the American Girl's popular historical characters. Advance reservations are required (and go quickly), so contact American Girl Place at (877) 247-5223 before the cruises sell out.

Dance with a Belgua at Shedd Aquarium

Beluga Whale

The Shedd Aquarium offers an amazing array of unforgettable marine animal encounters. Perhaps the most up-close-and-personal is the Beluga Encounter, guided by a Shedd trainer. Your tween or teen will learn all about beluga whales as they wade into the waters of the Grainger Beluga Encounter Habitat.

Witness the Magic


Every Friday evening, the historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel hosts The Magic Parlouran evening with famed magician Dennis Watkins. This classic magic show will have you and your kids on the edges of your seats. Cocktail attire is encouraged for this classy, old-fashioned private parlour performance.

Spend a Day at the Beach


Grab a towel and your swimsuit and catch some rays on Lake Michigan. North Avenue Beach boasts amazing skyline views and a nice expanse of sand for sunning. Castaways, the beach house shaped like a boat, is your go-to place for ice-cream and snacks.

A North Michigan Avenue Shopping Spree

Magnificent Mile

Chicago's Magnificent Mile - North Michigan Avenue - is a teen shopper's paradise: they'll find everything from the Apple Store to Forever 21. Make a pit stop at Garrett Popcorn Shop (625 North Michigan Avenue) for a bag of caramel, butter, cheesy popcorn mix.

The Seadog Speedboat Cruise


The Seadog is the fastest tour boat on Lake Michigan. 2,000 HP of ferocious Seadog energy will both thrill and educate as you learn a thing or two (or three) about Chicago architecture. The adventure is especially worthwhile during the hot summer months (talk about a sea breeze), so don't miss this one.

Enjoy a Chicago-Style Hotdog


What kid doesn't love a good dog? Superdawg (6363 N. Milwaukee Ave.) is our family's hot dog provider of choice. We celebrate birthdays, good report cards, and fine summer nights at this charming drive-in. Though it's well off the beaten tourist path, it's a classic must-do (and eat!). You'll know you've arrived when you spot the unique hot dog mascots, Maurie and Flaurie, on the rooftop. You're kids will get a kick out of the ordering system and the fact that you'll be served in-car by old-school car hops.

Learn & Play at the Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science & Industry

There's an exhibit to match every kid's interestes at the Museum of Science and Industry. Journey to an underground coal mine, watch as baby chicks hatch from their eggs, tour a German submarine, interact with a giant heart, and more. 

A Segway Fireworks Tour


Every Wednesday and Saturday at 8:30pm, Bike and Roll Chicago will not only teach you how to navigate the city by Segway but also lead the way to a top-secret spot for viewing Navy Pier's fireworks.

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