Family Activities in Chicago

The 10 Best Family-Friendly Activities in Chicago

Chicago’s rich culture, iconic landmarks, and world-class attractions will thrill your entire family, whether you’re visitors or locals. Check out our list of the 10 best family-friendly activities in the Windy City. You’ll see just how many options you have!

Enjoy the Rides at Navy Pier

Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s most famous attractions. Its 50 acres of parks, restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues provide all sorts of entertainment options. You can ride the iconic Ferris wheel, run through a funhouse, or catch a show at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Navy Pier also hosts seasonal events like outdoor movies and fireworks shows.

Navy Pier in Chicago via Getty Images

Learn About Natural History at the Field Museum

The Field Museum is a natural history museum that has over 24 million specimens in its collection. Take a trip through time as you learn about dinosaurs, fossils, ancient Egypt, and modern genetic research. The museum also has a 3D theater and an interactive hands-on lab for younger children.

Lincoln Park Zoo via Getty Images

Visit the Animals at Lincoln Park Zoo

The animal lovers in your family will love Lincoln Park Zoo. There are almost 200 species on display at the zoo, including big cats, primates, and reptiles. The Farm-in-the-Zoo exhibit lets kids get up close to the animals. The zoo also has a carousel and a miniature train. Go on a ride after you’ve seen the animals. Or, for something more exotic, go on a virtual reality trek to watch gorilla families in a forest. Even your wallet will love Lincoln Park Zoo. Admission is free.

Art Institute of Chicago via Getty Images

Make Your Own Art at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-renowned art museum with a collection of over 300,000 works, including pieces by Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh. There are several rotating exhibits in addition to the permanent collection. The museum also offers programs and events for visitors of all ages. Stop by its Ryan Learning Center to make your own art.

Stroll Through Millennium Park

Millennium Park is a gorgeous urban oasis. This public park is an excellent choice if you want to get some fresh air in a beautiful setting. You can see the famous Cloud Gate sculpture (also known as “the Bean”—you’ll know why when you see it!) and the Crown Fountain, a unique interactive video sculpture.

The park also has an outdoor pavilion that hosts concerts and events. And don’t miss the Lurie Garden, a beautiful garden full of sun and shade perennials.

Sun rising behind the Adler Planetarium via Getty Images

Look to the Stars at the Adler Planetarium

For an educational outing, head to the Adler Planetarium. The planetarium’s interactive exhibits offer fun and engaging ways to learn about the cosmos. Explore the space-themed displays, attend a sky show in the dome theater, and spot planets in the night sky when the observatory is open.

Watch a Shark Feeding at the Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is an excellent choice for anyone who loves marine life. This world-class aquarium has nearly 32,000 animals on display, including dolphins, sea otters, and penguins. For a more up-close experience, you can book spots in the Sea Otter Encounter or Penguin Encounter tours, and you can even go on a behind-the-scenes tour to watch the aquarium’s sharks being fed.

Explore diverse ecosystems, including the Amazon rainforest and the Great Lakes, or attend an Animal Spotlight show to learn a little more about the aquarium’s residents.

Take the Kids to the Chicago Children’s Museum

The Chicago Children’s Museum is a hands-on museum that’s ideal for families with young children. The museum’s interactive exhibits and play spaces include an art studio, a tinkering lab, and a water play area. Several of the exhibits offer workshops, so check their calendars to see what’s available. The museum is an excellent place for children to explore and develop their creativity.

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago via Getty Images

Tour the City with the Chicago Architecture Center

The Chicago Architecture Center is a museum and cultural center whose exhibits focus on architecture and design. Its interactive Chicago City Model Experience, which highlights the birth and growth of Chicago, is its main attraction and features over 4,000 model buildings.

The center offers guided tours if you want to see life-sized versions of the buildings. You can take a walking tour, but you can also travel by bus, boat, or train.

Chicago Theatre on North State Street via Getty Images

Watch a Show at the Chicago Theatre

The Chicago Theatre is a charming historical landmark with ornate architecture. Get tickets to a concert or comedy show and enjoy the magic of live entertainment in a beautiful building. Performances run throughout the year and include options for audiences of all ages.

A Quick Review of Chicago’s Top Attractions

Whether you’re a local or a tourist, our list of the 10 best family-friendly attractions in Chicago should keep you entertained for days. The Windy City’s museums, zoos, parks, and theaters appeal to visitors of all ages. Check out some (or all!) of the spots on our list for an unforgettable experience.

Find out some useful tips for Moms traveling solo for the first time.

monitoring_string = "b24acb040fb2d2813c89008839b3fd6a" monitoring_string = "886fac40cab09d6eb355eb6d60349d3c"