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EXPLORE KID-FRIENDLY CHICAGO

Make Chicago their playground.

Kids flip out for penguin encounters, go wide-eyed for spinning tornados, and erupt over giant, skulking dinosaurs. But since you can’t keep any of those things at home, we’ll keep them for you.

From the aquatic wonders of Shedd Aquarium and the virtual reality wow factor of Crown Fountain at Millennium Park, to upside-down trees, skating ribbons and climbing walls at Maggie Daley Park and a  150-foot climate-controlled Ferris wheel at Navy Pier's Pier Park, there's something to inspire kids of all ages around every corner.

Find out why kids go gaga over Chicago.

 

Kid-Friendly Attractions

Millennium Park 

Crown Fountain Chicago in Millennium Park

In the summer, kids can splash around in the shallow pool of Crown Fountain — and get soaked as water pours from the spouts of modern “gargoyles.” Springtime is perfect for a self-guided tour of Lurie Garden, especially when scoping out birds, worms, dragonflies and bees using a nature hunt scavenger worksheet. In the winter, skate under the twinkling lights of downtown Chicago on the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. And no matter the season, crawl under Cloud Gate and make faces in the reflective surface of the stainless steel sculpture affectionately known as "The Bean."

Navy Pier ©Ranvestel Photographic

Navy Pier

Iconic Navy Pier opens your world to rides on a 150-foot Ferris wheel, an old fashioned Wave Swinger, and a whimsical 1920s inspired Musical Carousel at Pier Park — as well as restaurants, summer fireworks, sightseeing cruises, Segway tours and an IMAX theatre. 

Lincoln Park Zoo

Free to the public, this is one of the nation's oldest zoos. Kids love the old-school carousel and Pritzker Family Children's Zoo, a kid-friendly home for North American animals. Just next door is the Farm-in-the-Zoo, which gives kids a chance to connect to nature and experience a little country in the city. 

Brookfield Zoo

Father and daughter feeding a giraffe some kale

Brookfield Zoo is set within a 216-acre nature park. World-renowned, the Zoo’s 2,000+ residents have captivated and educated visitors since 1934. Don’t forget to take in Dolphins in Action at Seven Seas! Open 365 days a year.

 

Kid-Friendly Museums

Museum Campus

Shedd Aquarium

Take a day or two to immerse yourself in Chicago's Museum Campus, a complex of three of the city's most notable museums: the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum. A couple of things not to miss: At the Shedd, you can arrange for behind-the-scene tours and extraordinary animal encounters, like joining in a shark feeding tour or being a trainer for a day. At the Adler, Astro-Overnights for kids 6-12 and their families, is a unique chance to spend the night under the stars or in an exhibit next to a planet (or spacecraft). And at the Field, there's a new roomie--a titanosauric one! In February 2018, the Field became home to Titanosaur, the largest dinosaur known to man.

Museum of Science & Industry,

Museum of Science and Industry Body Image 2

This is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere -- spinning tornados, a real-life U-boat, trains, planes and, well, just about everything else you could possibly imagine are here.

Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute's Thorne Miniature Rooms bring the world of art and architecture to a kid's level, with meticulously crafted period rooms to gasp at. There's also free admission to the Ryan Education Center, which boasts special events, interactive workshops and family programming for kids 14 and under. 

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

The MCA Chicago hosts Stroller Tours on the first Wednesday of each month. This guided walk packs in an hour of education all about contemporary art.

Chicago Children's Museum

Kids get to play and learn with interactive exhibits built just for them. Curious young learners can stretch out, crawl and use all five senses throughout interactive exhibits such as WaterWaysBIG Backyard and Treehouse Trails. Best of all, the museum is located at Navy Pier—which brings out the kid in all of us.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Chicago

From live native animals to nature-inspired art, from toddler-friendly play spaces to dozens of exotic butterfly species, the exhibits at this museum are sure to entertain, educate, and excite young visitors.

American Writer's Museum

Literary Foundations: Children’s Literature Gallery at American Writers Museum

Visit the Negaunee Foundation Children's Literature Gallery to get the kids all fired up about reading and the power of fictional worlds. A fabulous mural created by celebrated illustrator and author Paul O. Belinsky adorns the gallery, depicting 42 squirrels intensely engaged in reading 34 books that represent significant milestones in American children’s literature.

 

Kid-Friendly Experiences

The Escape Game

The Escape Game Chicago

Take the kids on the greatest adventure ever with the rooms at The Escape Game Chicago in River North. You can choose from Gold Rush, Prison Break, The Heist and Mission: Mars to test problem-solving skills and get kids working with a team.

Skydeck Chicago

Willis Tower: the Ledge at Skydeck

Feel like you’re walking on air on a glass balcony at Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower. Glass boxes extend into the sky more than 1,000 feet above ground.

TILT - 360 CHICAGO

TILT outward over 1,000 feet above The Magnificent Mile and get 360° views of four states. Located at 875 N. Michigan, TILT is housed in the former John Hancock Building, 

Urban Adventure Quest

Experience an adventurous city tour by competing in a family-friendly Urban Adventure Quest scavenger hunt. Blending elements of the Amazing Race, this competition involves solving clues and completing challenges, all while learning about local history. This game allows flexibility with times and pace and highlights both well-known and overlooked gems of the city. 

 

Kid-Friendly Outdoors

Maggie Daley Park

Tower Bridge at Maggie Daley Park Chicago

Kids can test their skills at Chicago's first and only outdoor climbing park at Chicago's newest downtown green space, Maggie Daley Park. Not only that, but the park boasts a skating ribbon and  3-acre Play Garden, a first of its kind in Chicago, and created in the spirit of Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Skate Park in Grant Park

It's not only skateboarders who love the Skate Park in Grant Park. You'll see rollerbladers and BMX bike enthusiasts making the most of the park's multi-skill level concrete ramps, grinding rails and handrails, bench seating and native landscape plantings — all with a lakefront view.

Wateriders

Kayak

Or paddle together on a kayak tour with Wateriders. Kids are welcome to take to the bow (front) of the boat with an adult in the back of the double kayak while a guide takes the group safely through Lake Michigan and the city’s river passages to see fireworks, learn about local history and architecture, or hear tales of ghosts and gangsters.

Bobby’s Bike Hike

Try out popular local tour company Bobby’s Bike Hike, whose kiddie edition Bobby’s Tike Hike is geared for ages 10 and under. In addition to child-sized bikes, regular bicycle tours and rentals from Bobby’s Bike Hike and Bike and Roll Chicago give you the option of buying infant/toddler tickets that include special equipment such as child seats, comfy trailer carriers, and tag-a-long attachments.

 

Kid-Friendly Theater

Emerald City Theatre 

Emerald Theater

Creating fun productions just for young audiences, Emerald City Theatre performs in The Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park and The Broadway Playhouse on the Magnificent Mile. Emerald City specializes in shows for young audiences and hosts children's theater classes and camp.

Chicago Children’s Theatre

Known for its critically acclaimed shows and smiling audiences, Chicago Children’s Theatre takes to the stage of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in the Gold Coast neighborhood  

Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group is the epitome of theater fun—a multi-sensory, super fun experience that keeps kids wide-eyed from the moment the curtain goes up. As Blue Man tells you, "Leave your expectations at the door and let three bald and blue men take you on a spectacular journey bursting with music, laughter and surprises." And if you have a front row seat, expect things to get pretty messy!

Toy Stores

American Girl Place

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 United States. Consider making a reservation for the café at the downtown doll mecca, which serves brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. American Girl is located in Water Tower Place.

The LEGO Store

Also in Water Tower Place, you'll find the colorful building-block wonderland that is The LEGO Store. Add to your collection and check out the creative displays, or make a day out of a trip to LEGOLAND Discovery Center, a giant indoor playground located in nearby suburban Schaumburg.

Build-A-Bear Workshop

At Navy Pier, make a stop at the Build-A-Bear Workshop, where kids have the chance to custom select their very own cuddly friend. 

Disney Store in Block 37

Bring all the wonder of Disney home with you--and fuel the little ones' imaginations--at the Disney Store, Block 37. Located on famed State Street, kids have the chance to dress up like princesses and cowboys, and indulge their wildest imaginations.