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Chicago student and youth experiences

Chicago is the ideal place to bring your student and youth groups. Our city boasts some of the leading museums in the country, along with award-winning theatre and one-of-a-kind attractions that are sure to wow. We’ve rounded up some of the top student and youth experiences in Chicago to help get your planning started.

Get to know Chicago

Chicago Architecture Center
Chicago Architecture Center ©Eric Allix Rogers

Take a 90-minute guided tour of the new Chicago Architecture Center galleries and participate in hands-on design activities or join a walking tour of the city’s architectural gems. At the 360 CHICAGO observation deck, take a turn on TILT for a breathtaking downward-facing view of the city. Or head over to Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower and dare to walk onto the glass-enclosed Ledge, hovering 103 stories above the city. At the Chicago History Museum, participate in exciting workshops with themes like the Great Chicago Fire and roll yourself up in a giant Chicago-style hot dog (a great photo op!).

Museum adventures

Art of the Bicycle Exhibit @ The Museum of Science and Industry Chicago

Make your way to the Museum Campus, where your group can study Máximo the Titanosaur (the largest dinosaur ever discovered) and view SUE the T. rex at the Field Museum; see an exciting aquatic show in the Oceanarium at the Shedd Aquarium; or watch a dazzling sky show in one of two domed theaters and take on the role of an astronaut in staff-led student group activities at the Adler Planetarium. At the Museum of Science and Industry, groups can explore more than 800 awesome exhibits (like an underground coal mine) and get an interactive science lesson during one of the Learning Labs.

Adler Planetarium
Explore the Adler Planetarium on a free museum day

Arrange a private guided tour at the Art Institute of Chicago and see a world-renowned collection of works by iconic artists, including Renoir and Dalí. Audio tours in multiple languages are also available. Get a new perspective on famous authors and write your own story on a vintage typewriter at the American Writers Museum, the only museum of its kind in the nation.

Take a guided tour of the fascinating International Museum of Surgical Science and work in teams to identify centuries-old surgical instruments. At the free Money Museum, learn about the Federal Reserve System’s role in banking and take home shredded money as a souvenir. Be sure to snap a selfie with the briefcase stuffed with $1 million in cash.

Cultural excursions, music, and more

Family Day at Lyric Opera
Lyric Opera of Chicago ©Todd Rosenber

Discounted tickets are available for select performances by the Grammy Award-winning Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or bring your group to an open rehearsal. The Lyric Opera of Chicago offers Student Backstage Tours that reveal what goes into creating a world-class opera. See a concert at The Chicago Theatre or take the behind-the-scenes Marquee Tour, where you can peek at the signatures scrawled on the dressing room walls by famous stars who have graced the stage.

See a hit Broadway in Chicago play, then participate in a Q&A session with cast members from some of the country’s biggest touring shows. The Bard’s characters come to life on the stage of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater during specially priced student matinees (don’t miss The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, an innovative venue with movable seating towers).

Blue Man Group performance
Blue Man Group ©Lindsey Best

Outside of downtown, check out the North Side and its many unique attractions. At the Briar Street Theatre, the wacky Blue Man Group oozes creative energy and is great for international groups, as no specific language is spoken. Chicago is the epicenter of improv comedy, and your group can laugh right along with select shows at The Second City or an all-ages production by ComedySportz at CSz Theater Chicago.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Butterfly
©Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

At the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, get up close to hundreds of exotic butterflies that flutter freely in the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. Interactive Educational Tours at historic Wrigley Field (home of the World Series-winning Chicago Cubs) include a ballpark tour and an activity passport so students learn as they go. Participate in the Zoo Explorers program at the free Lincoln Park Zoo and join a zoo educator in observing animals that include gorillas and polar bears.

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