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Things To Do with Kids in Chicago
May 17, 2022

The Windy City has just so much to offer for the whole family. Explore Chicago and discover fun things to do with kids all year round!

Chicago is the third-largest city in the country, with lots of family-friendly attractions and fun activities for kids to enjoy. Its world-famous architecture and towering skyscrapers, cultural offerings, world-renowned museums, and huge urban parks make it one of the most popular cities with endless new things to discover. From the famed 200-foot Centennial Ferris wheel at Navy Pier to the 360 Chicago Observation Deck, there are plenty of fun things to do with kids in Chicago!

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Kids are always excited to go out and have fun. But sometimes, it can be hard to decide what to do and where to go, especially if you have tons of options. Thankfully, Chicago is relatively easy to navigate with kids and packed with attractions and activities that will spark your child’s interest. Are you planning an exciting family outing but don’t know where to start?

Prep your kids up and get themselves ready for some adventure in the Windy City. The wide selection of family-friendly attractions and activities makes Chicago an exciting city to go out with kids. They are centrally located in the downtown area and require a little distance ride — a huge plus for families. Let’s look at some of the fun things to do with kids in Chicago!

Enjoy Family-Friendly Attractions and Things To Do with Kids in Chicago

360 CHICAGO Observation Deck
Photo by: 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck

360 CHICAGO Observation Deck

875 N. Michigan Ave., 94th Flr., Chicago, IL 60611
Phone Number: (916) 751-3681

Soaring 1,000 feet over Chicago’s legendary Michigan Avenue, 360 CHICAGO is one of the city’s most unique attractions for kids and families. Located on the 94th floor of the historic John Hancock Center in downtown Chicago, it offers panoramic views of the city in every direction. You can pay extra to try 360 Chicago’s TILT — the highest thrill ride that offers downward-facing views of the city.

Pack up the kids and head straight up to 360 CHICAGO for epic views of the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan, and significant landmarks. Plus, kids will get a kick out of TILT, a glass-enclosed platform that tilts visitors out over Michigan Avenue. For more information, please visit their website.

Chicago kids attractions and activities - Garfield Park Conservatory
Photo by: Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory

300 N Central Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60624
Phone Number: (312) 746-5100

Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest conservatories in the country. It is one of the top Chicago kids attractions offering a plethora of plant species, and has six greenhouses that guests can explore. There are also two exhibition halls where several events occur throughout the year.

There are weekly programs that the conservatory hosts where kids will be able to enjoy a hands-on experience, perhaps even dig in the soil themselves and get their hands dirty as they learn something new. For more information, please visit their website.

Chicago kids attractions and activities - Navy Pier
Photo by: Navy Pier

Navy Pier

600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
Phone Number: (312) 595-5300

Iconic Navy Pier is the place for rides on a towering climate-controlled 200-feet high Ferris wheel with an incredible 360-degree view of Lake Michigan, an old-fashioned Wave Swinger, and a whimsical 1920s-inspired musical carousel at Pier Park. And it’s the place to feel the excitement of summer fireworks, sightseeing cruises, Segway tours, a fantastic maze, the Chicago Children’s Museum, fun stores, and movies at a mind-blowing IMAX theatre.

Known as the “People’s Pier,” this landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities, and more. Before hitting the road, don’t forget to treat the kids to a loaded Rainbow Cone. For more information, please visit their website.

Best Places to go for Animal Lovers

Fun things to do with kids in Chicago - Lincoln Park Zoo
Photo by: Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo

Cannon Dr. at Fullerton Pkwy., Chicago, IL 60614
Phone Number: (312) 742-2000

Lincoln Park Zoo is free, open, and amazing every day of the year. Kids love the old-school carousel, locomotive rides, and the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo, a kid-friendly home for North American animals. Next door is the Farm-in-the-Zoo, which gives kids a chance to pet goats, cows, and ponies and experience a little country living in the city.

Visitors can go nose-to-nose with gorillas and chimpanzees, howl with red wolves, peer into a black bear den, and immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of Africa with wild dogs, pygmy hippos, and black rhinos. Lincoln Park Zoo also operates one of the most extensive zoo-based conservation and science programs. For more information, please visit their website.  

Fun things to do with kids in Chicago - Shedd Aquarium
Photo by: Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium

1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605
Phone Number: (312) 939-2438

One of the fantastic things to do with kids in Chicago is spending a day at the Shedd Aquarium. It is a delight for everyone where adults will be able to appreciate the splendor of the Beaux-Arts building, while the kids will be mesmerized by the marine life. The Amazon river tanks are a huge hit with the younger lot.

However, one of the favorite parts of this incredible indoor aquarium is the Polar Play Zone, where you can see dolphins, beluga whales, and otters going on with their lives as you observe them. Kids will also learn all about their habitats, making this an educational play. For more information, please visit their website.

Recreational Parks and Outdoor Adventure Spots

Jackson Park
Photo by: Jackson Park

Jackson Park

6401 S. Stony Island Ave., Chicago, IL 60637
Phone Number: (773) 844-2225

Located on Chicago’s South Shore, this park was designed in 1869 by Chicago landscape architect Calvert Vaux and his colleague, renowned Frederick Law Olmstead. Accessible via a footbridge, one of the park’s most beautiful features is the peaceful Wooded Island. It is home to a Japanese sanctuary known as the Osaka Garden or Garden of the Phoenix, which features a pagoda, rock gardens, and a teahouse.

Recreational facilities within the park include a driving range, golf course, disc golf, tennis and basketball courts, a running track, and several playgrounds. At the far northern end of the park sits the Museum of Science and Industry, a fantastic museum with hands-on exhibits that will interest all ages, and an OMNIMAX theater. For more information, please visit their website.

Maggie Daley Park
Photo by: Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park

337 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601
Phone Number: (312) 742-3918

Located in the Loop, Maggie Daley Park is a magical place where you’ll find a Skating Ribbon, a 3-acre Play Garden created in the spirit of Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A mini-golf course also takes you through Chicago-themed obstacles (like a mini Willis Tower) and a climbing wall right on the lakefront. The park also has spots to picnic with the family and a tennis court to enjoy a game.

The play garden will be fascinating for the younger kids with its wave lawn, enchanted forest, and exciting slides. This is one of the best attractions, with lots of activities and fun things to do with kids in Chicago. For more information, please visit their website.

Millennium Park
Photo by: Millennium Park

Millennium Park

201 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601
Phone Number: (312) 744-1168

In the Millennium Park each summer, kids splash around in Crown Fountain’s shallow pool and dash underwater, spouting from the lips of video-projected Chicago locals. Springtime is perfect for a self-guided scavenger hunt through Lurie Garden. Skate with the city skyline as your backdrop at the magical McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in winter. And no matter the season, make faces in the reflective surface of the stainless steel sculpture Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean.”

The park is home to “The Bean,” a massive three-story steel sculpture of a Chicago landmark. The sculpture is officially known as Cloud Gate, and its steel surface reflects the Chicago skyline spectacularly. For more information, please visit their website.

Chicago kids attractions and activities - Wicker Park
Photo by: Wicker Park

Wicker Park

1425 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Phone Number: (312) 742-7553

Located in the West Town community area, Wicker Park totals 4.74 acres and features a fieldhouse with gymnasium and meeting rooms. Outside, the park offers a large children’s playground with an interactive water spray feature, ornamental community gardens, a historic fountain, a dog-friendly area, a baseball field, basketball courts, and an athletic field for soccer or football.

This artsy neighborhood is a fun place to walk with the family and offers plenty of boutiques and unique shops to catch the attention of even the most difficult-to-please teens or preteens. Wicker Park hosts fun special events and Chicago kids activities throughout the year for the whole family, including Movies in the Park screenings, live music concerts during the seasonal farmers market, and more. For more information, please visit their website.

Fun things to do with kids in Chicago - Urban Kayaks
Photo by: Urban Kayaks

Urban Kayaks

111 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL, 60601
Phone Number: (312) 965-0035

Urban Kayaks is the newest favorite warm-weather Chicago kids activities for parents looking for a way to expand their kids’ unending energy. Kids between the ages of 10 and 16 can sign up for the Urban Kayaks youth class, where they’ll learn kayaking and paddleboarding skills that will get them more comfortable in the water. They’ll be placed in intimate groups of five, giving them a chance to socialize and make new friends.

Urban Kayaks has two excellent locations: one on the Chicago Riverwalk and the second on the Lakefront at Monroe Harbor. All children must know how to swim. For more information, please visit their website.

Explore Chicago Museums

Adler Planetarium
Photo by: Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium

1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605
Phone Number: (312) 922-7827

The Adler Planetarium connects people to the Universe and each other. Whether introducing a guest to the Ring Nebula, a neighborhood school to a community partner, or one staff member to another, Adler’s focus on meaningful connections dates back nearly a century. Future explorers and astronomers of tomorrow will marvel at interactive exhibits, immersive planetarium shows, and special programming designed to inspire the rocket scientists of tomorrow.

Today, the museum hosts more than half a million visitors each year and reaches millions more through youth STEM programs, skywatching neighborhood events, online citizen science, and other outreach projects. Kids will especially enjoy the Planet Explorer area, which has a hands-on approach to space exploration and will keep the little ones engaged. For more information, please visit their website.

Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago Children’s Museum

700 East Grand Avenue, Ste. 127, Chicago, IL 60611
Phone Number: (312) 527-1000

Kids can stretch out, crawl, and use all five senses throughout interactive exhibits such as WaterWays, Dinosaur Expedition, and Treehouse Trails. Step into the boots of a firefighter and discover a whole new way to Play It Safe. Put on authentic gear, slide down the pole, drive the truck, and put out the “fire.”

Chicago Children’s Museum’s mission is to create a community where play and learning connect. Best of all, the Chicago Children’s Museum is located at Navy Pier — a goldmine of family-friendly activities and lots of things to do with kids right at the scenic lakefront of Chicago. For more information, please visit their website.

Chicago History Museum
Photo by: Chicago History Museum

Chicago History Museum

1601 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614
Phone Number: (312) 642-4600

Climb aboard the first ‘L’ train car, ride a high-wheel bicycle, hear the Great Chicago Fire, catch a fly ball at Comiskey Park, smell the Union Stock Yard, dive into a giant Chicago style hot dog — all at the Chicago History Museum. The museum offers exhibitions and public programs that illuminate the city’s past, engage the city’s present, and point to Chicago’s future.

Museum’s collection storage rooms are finally getting their chance in the spotlight, and they have some pretty remarkable stories to tell. Permanent exhibitions include Chicago: Crossroads of America, Facing Freedom, Sensing Chicago, and Unexpected Chicago. For more information, please visit their website.

Chicago Sports Museum
Photo by: Chicago Sports Museum

Chicago Sports Museum

835 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
Phone Number: (312) 202-0500

The Chicago Sports Museum combines high-tech interactivity with unique sports memorabilia and an impressive collection of game-used treasures and other artifacts. Kids can test their skills against some of the all-time greats, use CSI-type technology to unravel some of Chicago’s most infamous sports mysteries, step into a replica broadcast booth, call a game just like Harry Caray, and so much more.

The 23,000 square-foot space celebrates all of Chicago’s major sports teams. It is also home to the city’s largest collection of 2016 World Series memorabilia and an impressive collection of game-used treasures and other artifacts. For more information, please visit their website.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Photo by: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

2430 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago, IL 60614
Phone Number: (773) 755-5100

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is one of the top things to do in Chicago with kids. Located in Lincoln Park museum, this is a great museum that creates hands-on experiences for the kids to enjoy themselves and learn something along the way.

The museum is an informative curation of Illinois’ natural history and ecology. The tiny tots will especially enjoy frolicking at the water tables, where they can learn all about rivers and their origins. For more information, please visit their website.

Indoor Play Places for Kids

Altitude Trampoline Park Chicago
Photo by: Altitude Trampoline Park Chicago

Altitude Trampoline Park Chicago

404 N. Armour St., Chicago, IL, 60642
Phone Number: (312) 291-9057

Forget doing backflips on the neighbor’s trampoline. At Altitude Trampoline Park, your kids can run across a sprawling wall-to-wall court. And when they’ve perfected their acrobatic skills, there’s still plenty left to accomplish, from the foam pit filled with a whopping 15,000-plus foam cube to the log roll that encourages balance above it.

There’s a trapeze swing, trampoline basketball, extreme trampoline dodgeball, and even a kid’s court, allowing the youngest family members to get out and jump in a more controlled, safe environment. Altitude Chicago is fresh, new entertainment attractions and activities for kids, families, groups, and individuals to have active fun. For more information, please visit their website.

American Girl Place

American Girl Place

835 Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60611
Phone Number: (800) 845-0005

For little kids 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. It is a dream come true for kids who love to play with dolls and learn about our country’s history through storytelling and imaginative play. The American Girl Place is four stories with plenty of dolls, accessories, books, a salon, a cafe, and more.

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 on The Magnificent Mile. For more information, please visit their website.

ClimbZone

ClimbZone

2500 W. Bradley Pl., Chicago, IL, 60618
Phone Number: (773) 455-0555

Who hasn’t dreamed of climbing Mt. Rushmore? Or the Statue of Liberty? Let’s face it. Kids have wild imaginations and fantastic dreams. Here at ClimbZone, let those imaginations come to life! With 68 different themed walls to conquer, your budding superhero can experience the thrill of reaching great heights and acquiring new skills.

At ClimbZone, you and your children can help Jack fight the Giant at the top of his beanstalk! Rescue Rapunzel by climbing her rope hair to the top of her tower. Soar into outer space! Battle knights, sharks, bees, and falling fruit! Each of their climbing walls is a work of art. For more information, please visit their website.

Krypton VR Lounge
Photo by: Krypton VR Lounge

Krypton VR Lounge

2828 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60657
Phone Number: (773) 661-6031

If you’ve got a moody preteen on your hands who’s impossible to drag away from the PlayStation, here’s the best destination for your kids. Say hello to Krypton VR—the Windy City’s premiere virtual reality lounge. For one full hour, you and your family can take over one of the company’s private rooms, where you’ll be privy to a state-of-the-art VR headset.

The über-realistic technology can take you on a trip worldwide without ever leaving the city and earn you some “cool mom” points. From playing a few first-person shooters to flying anywhere globally, Krypton VR makes sure you receive the most realistic experiences. For more information, please visit their website.

WhirlyBall Chicago
Photo by: WhirlyBall

WhirlyBall Chicago

1825 Webster Ave., Chicago, IL 60614
Phone Number: (773) 486-7777

WhirlyBall is one of the fun things to do with kids in Chicago, going 4 miles an hour. It combines lacrosse, hockey, basketball, and bumper cars in a game of skill coupled with a touch of chance. It’s the endorphin-inducing answer to your typical outing. And for those who like variety also offer bowling, multi-level LaserTag, video games, and pool tables.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect place to burn some energy or want a day of good, clean family fun, you’re likely to find it at WhirlyBall. Keep in mind that while there’s no age limit, kids should be at least 54 inches to play. For more information, please visit their website.

Best Attractions, Fun Activities, and Things To Do with Kids in Chicago

Chicago is an excellent family-friendly destination with so many places to go, and it’s hard to know where to start. Whether it’s a top-notch kid-centric theater production, art exhibits, a hands-on science center, or an exciting amusement park, there’s something to keep the entire family entertained for days. And having an extensive list of family-friendly attractions, kid-friendly activities, and fun things to do with kids in Chicago is essential for every parent!

Chicago offers a wide variety of opportunities for kids to enjoy and have fun all year round! Check out our list of kids resources. Are you looking for more things to do with kids around Chicago? Browse through our places to go and the things to do section. Check out our blog posts if you’re even more curious and seek to learn more about kids’ topics, tips, and guides.

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