Activities in Chicago

American Girl Place

Address 835 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 Map, Tel 1-877-247-5223 Call, Hours Open daily Website

If your child collects American Girl Dolls, a visit to the American Girl Place will be a very special experience. The store offers shopping, a cafe where children can have lunch with their dolls, a hair salon, and a theatre with live musicals. There is also a doll hospital where mishaps can be repaired, and an opportunity to pose for a fake magazine cover with your doll. Of course all of this comes at a price, and it's pretty hefty. For example, a visit to the hair salon is $10-$20 (only offered for American Girl brand dolls) and a photo package costs between $23 and $35. Meals begin at $18 per person for Brunch and cost up to $22 per person for dinner. There are also occasional free events and craft activities more

Architecture River Cruise (CAF - Chicago Architecture Foundation)

Address Michigan Avenue & Wacker Drive, Chicago Map, Tel 312.922.3432 Call, Duration 90-minute, Cost $28-$30, Location Look for our blue awning marking the stairway entrance., Reservations Recommended (especially on weekends) Website

The Architecture River Cruise was a hi-light of my trip to Chicago. Each guide is a certified Architect who volunteers their time to give these tours. They do a fabulous job of sharing the drama of Chicago's skyline. more

Art Institute of Chicago

Address 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL Map, Tel 312-443-3600 Call, Hours Daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's days, Cost Adults: $12; Kids 12-18 $7; Under 12 Free Website

The Curators at the Art Institute have gone to extra effort to make the museum fun for kids. Ask at the information desk for one of the several booklets designed to help kids enjoy the museum, or start your visit down at the Kraft Education Center where kids can touch the artwork and even create some of their own. more

Chicago History Museum

Address 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL Map, Tel 312-642-4600 Call, Website

Where else can you make your mom into a hot dog, complete with condiments? (See picture at Minnemom.) The "Sensing Chicago" area was a hit with the kids. more

Children's Museum

Address 700 E. Grand Avenue, #127, Chicago, IL 60611 Map, Tel 312.527.1000 Call, Open 7-days, Cost $9.00 for ages 1+ Website

While the Chicago Children's museum isn't as extensive as the DuPage Children's Museum in nearby Naperville, it is a fun choice on a bad-weather day. There is a huge water-play area (bring extra clothes) and a very fun hands- on building area where kids can build their own chairs, tables or other structures. more

Daley Bicentennial Plaza in Millenium Park

Address 337 E Randolf St, Chicago Map, Website

It's no suprise that Millennium park has one of the newest playgrounds in the city. The plaza also has a fitness center, locker rooms and tennis courts. During the winter there is also ice skating. more

DuPage Children's Museum

Address 301 N. Washington St., Naperville, IL Map, Tel 630-637-8000 Call, Website

This is a great hands-on museum. There are several baby/toddler areas throughout the museum. Our older kids' favorites were the water area, the workshop with real tools, and the music area. Restrooms are convenient. It's a fun place for kids. more

Field Museum of Natural History

Address 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL Map, Tel 312-922-9410 Call, Hours 9am-5pm Daily, Reservations Purchase online or consider a Membership which may save money for larger families. Website

The Field Museum was founded in 1893 to house biological collections, and is widely regarded as one of the finest museums of its kind in the world. Inside you'll find "Sue," the largest and most complete T.Rex anywhere, an exhaustive collection of Native American Art, and countless exhibits about natural phenomena, animal species, and human history. In the basement, the Crown Family Playlab gives young kids some much needed hands-on time that can be difficult to find in the rest of the museum. more

Graue Mill

Address 3800 S. York Road, Oak Brook, IL Map, Tel 630-655-2090 Call, Website

We were there on a special event day, when they had scavenger hunts for the kids, and our oldest son got to go behind the scenes and help run the mill. There's a park nearby, and walking paths along the creek, making it a very peaceful visit. more

Jazz Showcase

Address 47 W. Polk Street, Chicago, IL 60605 Map, Tel (312) 360-0234 Call, Hours Sunday 4pm Matinee show is a good time to bring children, Cost Under 12 free; Adults $30. Cash only. Website

Located in the historic Dearborn Station, the Jazz Showcase is a particularly good place to introduce children to Jazz. The venue is able to attract top-notch talent on a regular basis. During the club's 4pm Sunday matinees, all ages are admitted, and kids under 12 are free. For adults admission covers all of your costs, and you are not expected to buy drinks once inside (though a full bar is available). Reservations are recommended for "big name" acts. more

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

Address 601 N. Martingale Rd, Schaumburg, IL Map, Tel 866-929-8111 Call, Location "The Streets of Woodfield" shopping center next to Woodfield Mall, Cost Adult $19.00, Child $15.00, ages 2 and under Free, Hours Open daily except for Christmas Day, Transit Take the CTA Blue Line train to the Rosemont Station. Transfer to the Route 606 Pace Bus to Woodfield Mall. Take the Free Schaumburg Woodfield Trolley to the Streets of Woodfield stop. Website

The LEGOLAND Discovery Cener is the first indoor legoland in the US. There are a variety of lego-related activities, from intricate models to a mini factory and a "model builder's workshop" where kids can build to their heart's content. There is also a play area where kids can work off some of their physical energy. The Discovery Center isn't intended to an all day or multi-day destination like Lego's theme park in San Diego, but it is a great place to spend a half a day or more. Duplos are available for young kids. more

Lincoln Park Zoo

Address 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago Map, Tel 312-742-2000 Call, Cost Free, Open 365 days Website

The Lincoln Park Zoo prides itself on offering something for everyone, from animal exhibits to paddleboats to spray fountains and even a carousel. The hilight for our city-living family, though, was the small farm within the zoo where my kids got to feed the cows, visit a Pig and her newborn piglets, and see an owl up close. more

Millennium Park

Address 201 E. Randolph Street, Chicago Map, Tel (312) 742-1168 Call, Hours Daily 6am-11pm, Cost Free Website

Millennium Park is the heart of Chicago's outdoor life. During the summer, expect to find outdoor music or to stroll through the park and enjoy public art displays and incredible architecture. Kid will love playing in the water at the Crown Fountain towers and will be enthralled with the 50-foot glass video-projection walls. more

Museum of Science and Industry

Address 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL Map, Tel 773-684-1414 Call, Hours Open every day except Christmas, Cost Adult $13 Child 3-11: $9.00 Child 2 and under Free; Extra fee for Omnimax and other special exhibits Website

The Idea Factory is a wonderful kids' hands-on area, but our children also liked the U-505 submarine, the Pioneer Zephyr train, the farm exhibit, the model railroad, and more. There's kid-friendly food in the cafe area. This is a must-see for us each time we're in Chicago. more

Navy Pier

Address 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL Map, Tel 312.595.PIER Call, Hours Open 7 days Website

The Navy Pier is crowded and heavily touristed, but for many people, a trip to the Navy Pier is a quintessential part of any family trip to Chicago. There is a 150-foot-high Ferris wheel, an old fashioned carousel, and a wide variety of family friendly museums located here. The Chicago Children's Museum is located here too, making this a good choice even on a bad-weather day. more

North Avenue Beach

Address North Avenue Beach, Chicago Map, Tel 312.742.7529 Call,

Bring some buckets and shovels (or buy them at one of the nearby shops) to this very crowded beach for a welcome break from the city. Once you are done here, walk south along the lakefront path for beautiful views of the city. more

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Address 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614 Map, Tel (773) 755-5100 Call, Website

This museum is all about getting kids to engage with nature at their own level. The butterfly haven is a colorful and warm respite from cold chicago winters, and the indoor water play area and "habitat" playground let kids run and play even when the weather is terrible outside. For us, though, the hi-light was the regular opportunities for kids to get up-close and personal with real animals. Not only were there lots of terrariums and aquariums at kids-eye-level, but the kids got to touch a turtle, feed a frog, and even watch a butterfly release. more

Sears Tower Skydeck

Address 233 S Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL Map, Tel 312-875-9447 Call, Hours Open Daily. Less crowded after 5pm Website

A fast elevator ride, great views of the city, and the Knee-High Chicago exhibit on the inside walls that is interesting for kids and adults. more

Seneca Playlot Park

Address 228 E Chicago Ave, Chicago Map, Website

Seneca Park, which features a shaded lawn, is a nice place for a picnic. There is also a functional (if unimpressive) play area. more

Shedd Aquarium

Address 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL Map, Tel 312-939-2438 Call, Website

This aquarium features a number of really amazing exhibits! Make sure not to miss the Dolphin show in the Oceanarium. more

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Free Wigglesworm Concerts at Millenium Park

Address 201 E Randolph Street Chicago IL 60601 Map, Tel 312-742-1168 Call, Website

Free wigglesworms concerts and other child-friendly activities at Millenium Park. The Wigglesworms concerts are child-friendly sing-alongs that occur almost every day and there are other activities for children in addition. more

Garfield Park Conservatory

Address 300 North Central Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60624-1945 Map, Tel (312) 746-5195 Call, Website

For younger kids, there is a children's garden with a slide and plastic structures to climb. For older children there are demonstrations about different plants, animals and conservation efforts on Saturday and Sunday mornings. There is also a steady stream of special events and presentations for kids throughout the week, as well as a scavenger hunt to encourage attention to detail and greater exploration of the plants grown at the conservatory. more

Kids Science Labs

Address 1500 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago, IL 60642 Map, Tel (312) 806-2443 Call, Website

Kids Science Labs (KSL) is an interactive learning center offering exciting hands-on science, problem solving, and creative design classes for kids 2-12 to explore the wonders of science all around them. Our hands-on classes are all based on science that kids understand because we address practical life experiences with materials and objects that they encounter everyday. more


Address 1312 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201 Map, Tel 847-328-7303 Call, Website

lollie is a unique kids boutique conveniently located just North of Chicago in the heart of the Chicago-Dempster Street Shops in Evanston, IL. They are especially known for their selection of distinctive clothing, toys, books and gifts for boys and girls from infant to size 10. Parents can shop while their kids can play in the designated kids area, enjoying a complimentary lollipop! Be sure to check out lollie's calendar for fun events for the whole family, as well! more

Millenium Park

Millenium Park, in downtown Chicago, offers a lot for kids to do! First, there is the Bean - a giant silver sculpture of a bean. Our daughter took over 100 photos on her digital camera of her being silly in the reflection from the Bean. There are water spouts, fountains, and people-watching galore! more

Morton Arboretum - Lisle, Illinois

Address 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL Map, Tel 630-968-0074 Call, Website

Incredible Children's Garden - picnics, hands-on activities and play areas, beautiful gardens. more

Museum of Science and Industry

Address 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois Map, Tel 773-684-1414 Call, Website

I love the Museum of Science and Industry! there is soemthing to do there for children of every age, including adults! They have everything from a real life submarine, to air planes, trains, and a castle fit for a queen! It's a hand on museum - go and explore YOUR inner child! You'll be glad you did! more

Patch's Book Club at Navy Pier

Address 600 E. Grand Ave, Chicago, Il Map, Tel 312-595-PIER Call, Website

Patch’s Book Club is a nine-week series encouraging kids to read through storytelling and make-believe fun with Patch, Navy Pier’s mascot. Allow your child's imagination to run wild with new themes each week, and different stories told each day. Patch will get into the spirit of reading by dressing up in some of his favorite costumes - feel free to dress up, too! more

The ComedySportz Theatre

Address 929 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL Map, Tel 7735498080 Call, Website

The ComedySportz Theatre's main stage show 'ComedySportz' is CLEAN short-form improv for the entire family. The improvisers play short games so it keeps everyone's attention. If you don't like the skit, it's over in a few minutes and it's on to something else. The suggestions come from the audience so it's a great way for the kids to get involved and laugh at stuff THEY know about. more

The Murder Mystery Company in Chicago

Address 525 W Arlington Pl, Chicago, IL 60614 Map, Tel 8886432583 Call, Website

The Murder Mystery Company provides a live, interactive theater experience that allows kids to get involved and learn problem solving skills in a fun way. This isn't a play that kids have to sit, watch and be bored with, this is something that will get them on their feet interacting with professional actors. more