Chicago’s designation as a booming Midwest tourist destination and arts & culture hub draws in countless families every year. Whether you’re an out of state traveler coming to Chicago for the first time, or an Illinois resident looking to plan a family-friendly weekend in the city, here are some activities you and your kids won’t want to miss.
The Field Museum
Likely Chicago’s most popular kid-friendly venue, the Field Museum boasts over 26 million artifacts that are sure to keep your little ones captivated for hours. The most memorable items include SUE the T. Rex, the 3D theater and two ancient Egyptian mummies on display. Let the kids lead the way and explore to their hearts’ content, or download a free guided tour that will give you the highlights of each exhibit. Either way, with over 4 billion years of Earth’s history in one place, the Field Museum is sure to hold something to educate and delight everyone in the family.
No trip to Chicago is complete without spending some time marveling at the Cloud Gate sculpture lovingly referred to as ‘The Bean,’ in Millennium Park. Not only is the park free, it’s a great way to keep the kids entertained and create some fun memories at the same time. Thanks to the unique sculpting of the metal, Cloud Gate is like a giant funhouse mirror with an endless number of angles to morph your reflection into hundreds of laughable shapes. Millennium Park is perfect for a family-centered afternoon.
Chicago Children’s Museum
Geared toward children 10 and under, the Chicago Children’s Museum is a toddler’s dream play zone. Still, many of the exhibits encourage your child to use their creativity as they camp and burrow through the enchanted forest, or paint, sketch or sew in the Kraft studio. One of the museum’s most exciting features is the Dinosaur Expedition, where kids can dress up and uncover hidden fossils in the recreated Saharan expedition, where one of Chicago’s own paleontologists discovered a new species of dinosaur. The Chicago Children’s Museum is located on Navy Pier, which includes a Ferris wheel and other carnival-like activities for kids.
Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry is certainly one of the most fascinating and educational kids’ activities in Chicago. In addition to traditional science exhibits, the museum includes a very realistic Omnimax theater, special events and live science experiments for your kids to be a part of. Highlights include the Science Storms exhibits, which explain the science behind natural phenomena like earthquakes and tornados, and a tour of the U-505 Submarine, a real German submarine. At only $10 for kids and $15 for adults, the Museum of Science and Industry is a great value.
–Dan Paterson, Director of Internet Marketing, CityPASS
One great way to see some of the family friendly attractions above is with the Chicago CityPASS. You’ll save on admission to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and more.