Chicago has always been a welcoming city to both young and old (and in-between), so it’s no surprise that this is a great city to bring the kids to. Whether you’re looking for gigantic toy stores or family-friendly museums that are just that little bit different, there are lots of family-friendly things to do in Chicago.
Take a look at what the city has to offer…
The Field Museum
Every child is bound to be fascinated by Sue. She’s the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen ever found and has pride of place standing 4 meters (13 feet) tall at The Field Museum. There are lots of other fascinating animals and exhibits on display too. In fact, this is home to over 25 million objects – and one of the must-see exhibits is the collection of authentic Pharaoh tombs from Ancient Egypt. One of the most fun things to do in Chicago with minors.
Red Route, Stop: Museum Campus
Willis Tower Skydeck & The Ledge
Wondering what to do in Chicago with kids? Well, if your little ones have got a head for heights, then make sure to bring them here. Formerly Sears Tower, the observation deck at Willis Tower lets them take in the view from 103 floors up. If they’re feeling extra brave, they can step out onto a glass balcony called The Ledge, where they can look down between their feet to the Chicago streets below.
Red Route, Stop: Willis Tower Skydeck & The Ledge
Every kid likes splashing about in puddles. So take them to a water feature with a difference. Millennium Park is a wide-open space designed for fun, and the Crown Fountain is an interactive multimedia water feature that your children will love. Take a family selfie in front of ‘the Bean’, a mirrored sculpture that earned its nickname thanks to its distinctive shape, and then dry off with a picnic in the park.
Red Route, Stop: Millennuim Park & Palmer House Hilton
American Girl Place Chicago
A must-do Chicago activity if there’s a doll-crazy kid in your family. This shop features all the American Girl characters, and visitors can get creative here by designing their own doll and American Girl T-shirts. They can even bring along their American Girl doll for styling at the Doll Hair Salon. Which character will you bring to life?
Red Route, Stop: 360 Chicago
Pizza Walking Tour
If pizza is their favorite food, then Chicago may well be their favorite place. This mouth-watering tour with a difference takes you to four locally famous pizzerias, including Pizzeria Ora and Bongiorno’s Restaurant. You’ll learn about the rich culture and history behind the delicious star of so many famous American movies. And of course, you’ll all get to enjoy a few slices fresh from the oven, after the chef shows off the key skills to making that perfect pizza. Who knows, maybe the Chicago food will inspire a little chef?
Indulge their inner astronaut (and yours too!). At the Adler Planetarium they’ll experience all the thrills and excitement of space travel as they fly over lunar craters in the Shoot for the Moon Exhibition. It’s both educational and entertaining at this Chicago tourist attraction, find out what life is like on a spacecraft by exploring the restored Gemini 12, and gaze at the stars in the spectacular shows held at the Definiti Space Theater.
Red Route, Stop: Adler Planetarium
What’s their favorite marine animal? Dolphins, penguins or sea lions? Well they’re all at home here. There are 32,000 animals to meet so this fascinating world should captivate the children for hours. Walk through a year of rising and falling tides in the Amazon, follow a green sea turtle in the Caribbean, or learn through play at the Polar Play Zone. They’ll have a splashing good time.
Red Route, Stop: Museum Campus
The old fairground rides are the best, don’t you think? Navy Pier has got plenty of classic rides that the kids will love, a brand new, 200-foot tall Ferris wheel, a 1920s-inspired Carousel and a Wave Swinger to keep them entertained. And if you’d like something more contemporary, there’s a vast IMAX cinema here too. Plus, plenty of cafes and eateries to keep them going until dinner. A trip here is one of the best things to do in Chicago.
Red & Blue Route, Stop: Navy Pier
Building Blocks Toys
This iconic toy store has been around for about 20 years and is aimed at the very young market - ages 3 and under. From educational toys to fun puzzles and early learning books, you’ll find lots to engage and excite young minds. It’s actually two stores in one – there’s one outlet on Lincoln Avenue and one on W Division Street.
And if you think the Windy City is just a place for the little ones to have fun, think again. There’s plenty to keep you entertained when the sun goes down, get some inspiration with our guide to the Chicago Nightlife.