Chicago offers lots of ways for families to play. From a downtown skate park to boat rides on Lake Michigan and a museum with a real submarine to explore, there’s no shortage of Chicago family fun for everyone. Add in cheesy deep-dish Chicago pizza or lip-smacking barbecue ribs and you’ve got yourself a family party!


Spring Blossoms

The 20-acre Maggie Daley Park is the perfect place to burn off energy, and not just because of the huge tube slide and suspension bridges. Young explorers romp in the Play Garden (shout “ahoy” from the huge play ship) while older kids edge their way up a 40-foot-tall climbing wall. Nearby in Millennium Park, twist and shout to live music at Millennium Park’s Family Fun Fest, held daily throughout summer. Along with kid-friendly grooves, there are games, crafts and story time. Finish with a stop at Grant Park Skate Park, where the older ones in your brood can do flip tricks on nicely maintained concrete slopes. For lunch, dig into a classic Chicago deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s or Giordano’s in the South Loop.

2. Navy Pier & Children's Museum

Navy Pier Chicago

Families flock to the lakefront Navy Pier, and you’ll soon discover why. You can get there via the free trolley that will whisk you from various downtown pick-up points right to the Pier (operating year ’round on weekends and seasonally on weekdays). Reach for the sky on the new Centennial Wheel, riding in temperature-controlled gondolas that soar up 200 feet. At the Chicago Children's Museum kids can play with water, command a castle and climb the rope rigging of a schooner. Catch the latest mainstream flicks, as well as compelling kid-friendly documentaries, at the massive IMAX Theatre, a 3-D cinema. Or take a Lake Michigan boat tour. From the double-decker splendor of the Odyssey to the architecture-focused Shoreline Sightseeing to the seemingly rocket-fueled Seadog Cruises thrill rides, you'll go on an unforgettable journey. Stop for lunch at one of the many local favorites that have opened Pier outposts including the fish and burger specialties of DMK Burger Bar. Wrap up your day at Pier Park, where the kids will have a blast on the whimsical hand-painted carousel, Pepsi Wave Swinger® and nostalgic remote-controlled boats.

3. Museum of Science and Industry & Books

Kids at The Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park is a must-visit, especially its U-505 submarine, a legendary German vessel captured during World War II. You’ll soak up even more knowledge at the nearby 57th Street Books, which features a large children’s book selection and drop-in story time every Wednesday. Cap off the day with a heaping-tall sandwich at Medici on 57th, a bakery, deli and cafe that’s frequented by the local University of Chicago students.

4. History Museum & BBQChicago History Museum-2

Put those thinking caps on at Chicago History Museum, which welcomes young and old with displays on the Great Chicago Fire and other legendary happenings, plus interactive exhibits that beg for photo ops (imagine a larger-than-life Chicago-style hot dog bun that kids can lie in). Keep the history theme going with dinner at nearby Twin Anchors, one of the city’s oldest restaurants and an Old Town neighborhood staple since 1932. Twin Anchors offers a Little Piglet menu for kids that offers a small fry-sized slab of its famed barbecue ribs.

5. Pizza & Kids ConcertFrasca Pizza

Head to the North Side for brunch at Frasca, a Roscoe Village hot spot where families gather over wood-fired pizzas. While you're in the area, drop by Building Blocks Toy Store where educational books, games and toys are stacked from floor to ceiling. For your kiddo's first rock concert, head to Beat Kitchen, where musicians tear it up as tiny feet tap during its Concerts for Kids.

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