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Chicago fun for student & youth groups

There are lots of fun and educational activities for student and youth groups visiting Chicago, from learning about the city’s amazing architecture to biking the lakefront and touring important historic sites. Check out some great Chicago group ideas.

Chicago Architecture Center
Chicago Architecture Center ©Eric Allix Rogers

Tour the stunning Chicago Architecture Center overlooking the Chicago River. The sprawling space features impressive exhibits like giant skyscraper models and the Chicago Gallery, with the interactive Chicago Model that illustrates the city’s growth from its earliest structures built after the Great Chicago Fire to today’s modernist marvels. Book an age-specific workshop for hands-on learning based on building design, urban planning, and community development.

Urban Kayaks

Dive into city history while paddling the scenic Chicago River with Urban Kayaks. The two-hour Historic Chicago Tour will take your group 1.5 miles (2.4 km) downstream to Wolf Point, as a knowledgeable guide shares details and points of interest along the way related to the city’s early history. There is a 15-minute pre-tour session on land where guides go over safety issues and rules of the river, and provide a brief how-to lesson for those who are novice kayakers.

Students in grades K–8 can become zoo scientists for a day during the Lincoln Park Zoo Zoo Explorers program. This 55-minute program for small groups includes animal observation, the use of specialized tools to understand what makes animals thrive in both zoos and the wild, and hands-on investigation of specimens.

Introduce students and youths to classical music at Symphony Center, with concerts designed especially for children and performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Elementary school concerts for grades K–8 feature the full orchestra in historic Orchestra Hall, and often include elements of theater and dance. High school students can attend special youth concerts.

Bring your group to watch a memorable musical production hosted on one of the city’s historic downtown stages by Broadway in Chicago, where discounted tickets, study guides, and post-show Q&A sessions with cast members ensure an interactive and educational experience.

Pullman National Monument

Explore the Pullman National Monument, an 1800s planned industrial community created for the Pullman Palace Car factory workers and Chicago’s only national park. Join a free ranger tour and pick up activity-based booklets at the Administration Clock Tower Building Visitor Center so students can complete the free Pullman Junior Ranger program (30–60 minutes) and receive an official badge.

Take your group on Chicago’s Ultimate City Bike Tour with Bobby’s Bike Hike. Book a private three-hour morning or afternoon tour and pedal with an entertaining guide past some of the city’s quintessential sites, including Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, Navy Pier, the Chicago Riverwalk, and the Museum Campus.

Shermann Dilla Thomas Urban Historian Mahogany Tours
Photo by Colin Boyle, Block Club Chicago

Learn about the city’s rich African American history during Chicago Mahogany Tours, led by TikTok-famous historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas. Hear the fascinating stories behind neighborhoods that include Bronzeville, North Lawndale, Pullman/Roseland, and Bridgeport (once home to the legendary Union Stockyards).

For even more Chicago student and youth group ideas, go to choosechicago.com/students.

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