15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

The city of Chicago is the third biggest in the United States, after New York City and Los Angeles. It has about 10 million people living there. That being said, this city in the Midwest doesn’t always feel as big and overwhelming as the other two. Chicago is on the shores of Lake Michigan and has some of the best restaurants, museums, music, outdoor sports, and more in the country.

Four years in a row, fans of Condé Nast Traveler have chosen “The Windy City” as the best big city in the U.S. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) are the two main airports in the city. This makes it easy to get to from anywhere in the world. Winter can get very cold, but the other three seasons are fun for both kids and adults.

You can go kayaking in the Chicago River and then climb to the top of one of the world’s tallest buildings, or you can eat deep-dish pizza and then watch a baseball game at Wrigley Field. No matter what kind of fun you like, Chicago has plenty of things for you and your family to do. If you’re ready to start making plans for your family trip to Chicago, let’s look at some fun things to do!

The Best Things to Do in Chicago with Kids

1. Spend the Day at Navy Pier

Navy Pier is one of the most popular places to visit in Chicago, both for tourists and locals. It has so many fun things to do, rides, places to at, and events all year long. You can see fireworks, live music, shows, and even take a boat ride on the lake in the summer. The Centennial Wheel is a big Ferris wheel that rises 200 feet above the pier.

15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

It’s a great way to get off your feet and see Chicago and Lake Michigan from all sides. Because the gondolas are heated, this is a good choice even in the winter. There is a beer garden, an IMAX theater, the Chicago Children’s Museum, and a lot of food and drink choices. This is a place where everyone will be happy.

2. Explore the Chicago Botanic Garden

15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

    The Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the most popular places to visit in the U.S. It has 385 acres of gardens, ponds, bridges, flowers, and trees that you can enjoy at your own pace. Visitors under the age of 18 can take part in programs at the garden where they can learn about how plants are linked to art, science, history, and society. The Chicago Botanic Garden is a great place to get away from the noise and chaos of the city and connect with nature.

    3. Play at Chicago Children’s Theatre

    15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

      As you might expect from a city with a lot of theater history, getting kids interested in the arts at a young age is a popular idea. We can help with that at Chicago Children’s Theatre. The goal of this professional theater group is to make great plays and programs for the community that include and inspire young people and their families. The Chicago Children’s Theatre has programs, classes, and other events just for kids ages 0 to 13. If your child is interested in theater, you might want to take them there.

      4. Try the Local Cuisine

        When it comes to food, Chicago has made a name for itself. In Chicago, you won’t be hungry for long if you go to a hot dog stand or a restaurant with a Michelin star. Chicago is known for two foods that kids will enjoy: pizza and hot dogs. It’s not just any pizza and hot dog, though. It’s a Chicago deep-dish pizza and a Chicago dog. It’s known for having high-crust sides that let the cheese and tomato sauce fill the whole pie.

        15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

        There is a lot of disagreement about where it came from and which form is the best, but everyone agrees that it is good. There is no ketchup on a Chicago-style hot dog. Instead, it is served on a poppy-seed bun with mustard, onions, relish, tomato, a pickle cut, pickled peppers, and celery salt on top. It does sound like a lot, and it is. Visit both of these places while you’re in town, but be ready to sleep afterward!

        5. Have Some Fun on the Beach or Water

          You might not think of Chicago as a beach city when you want to go to the beach, but there are over twenty beaches along Lake Michigan that you should think about bringing your swimming suit to. These beaches are spread out along the 26 miles of lakefront in Chicago.

          15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

          They are easy to get to from the Lakefront Trail, bars, restaurants, and other fun things to do. You can take a kayak, a paddleboard, or even a Jet Ski to get out on the water. It’s also a good idea to check out the Chicago River, where many people rent boats to enjoy the view and see the city’s amazing architecture.

          6. Brave the Willis Tower Skydeck

            As well as getting one of the best views of Chicago, going to the top of the Willis Tower is also rather exciting. For 25 years, the Willis Tower, which used to be called the Sears Tower, was the world’s biggest building. It has 108 stories. From the Skydeck on the 103rd floor, people can see up to 50 miles away and even four different states.

            15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

            If that isn’t amazing enough for you, go out onto The Ledge, a glass box that sticks out 1,353 feet from the building. The Ledge gives you a special rush of adrenaline because you know you’re safe but still feel like you’re not. It will either be loved or hated by the kids.

            The Best Museums in Chicago With Kids

            7. The Art Institute of Chicago

              The Art Institute of Chicago is right in downtown Chicago and is known as one of the best art museums in the world. Its galleries cover almost 1 million square feet. You might not pay as much attention to the works of art by Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, and others if you have small children with you.

              15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

              Good thing there are also things for them to do. There are lots of things for kids to do and see in the Family Room and the Ryan Learning Center. You can also make your own JourneyMaker at home to help them plan their trip and get them excited about it.

              8. The Children’s Museum of Chicago

              A real children’s museum is the best kind of museum for kids, and the Chicago Children’s Museum is no different. You should take your kids to this museum if you’re going to Navy Pier during your trip. They will have a great time.

              15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

              There is something for kids of all ages in the Art Studio, the Tinkering Lab, the Treehouse Trails, the Dinosaur Expedition, and the Zoom Room. Besides being fun and educational, it’s also a great way for your kids to get some exercise.

                9. The Field Museum

                  The Field Museum is one of the world’s biggest and best natural history rooms. This Chicago landmark has been around since 1894 and gets millions of visitors every year to see its amazing collection of over 24 million items and interactive exhibits. The exhibits are both beautiful and rare.

                  15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

                  They include fossils and objects from millions of years ago, pieces from China’s Qing Dynasty, and even human mummies from Egyptian tombs. The family-friendly exhibits are great for your little explorer, and the museum’s central location makes it easy to add to your plans while you’re in Chicago.

                  10. The Lincoln Park Zoo

                    The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest in the country. It’s a popular place to visit because it’s free and has lots of cool animals. Kids will learn about the animals they see and how we can help protect and care for them with a focus on community, care, and protection. There are lots of fun things for kids to do, like zoo camps and great programs for teens and young adults. Your child will love going to the petting zoo, riding a horse, or taking a little train ride.

                    15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

                    11. The Shedd Aquarium

                      Since it opened in 1930, the Shedd Aquarium has been a popular place to visit, and it is often the busiest aquarium in the United States. There is a lot to see, with over 32,000 animals and new things added. The aquarium is on the shore of Lake Michigan. It is part of a campus by the water that also has the Field Museum of Natural History and the Adler Planetarium, so you don’t have to go far to spend the whole day exploring.

                      15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

                      Young children will have a lot to do. They can explore the Wild Reef, play in the Polar Play Zone, and learn about the animals that live in the Great Lakes nearby. A CityPASS can save you money and let you see more than one site, even though admission can be pricey at around $40 per person ($10 less for kids ages 3 to 11).

                      The Best Sports for Kids to Do in Chicago

                      12. The Wrigley Field

                        Wrigley Field is where the Chicago Cubs play Major League Baseball (MLB). Any sports fan who goes to Chicago has to see it. Even though it was built in 1914, this old school park is still very charming. The ivy-covered brick wall and the famous red marquee sign over the main door make it stand out.

                        15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

                        From “The Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field on the North Side of Chicago, it’s a great place to watch a game on a warm night. Take advantage of any Sunday games you can find by getting to the ballpark early. The first 1,000 kids under 13 to get there will get to run the bases and get a cool badge.

                        13. The Gallagher Way

                          If you’re in the Wrigleyville neighborhood for any reason, like to see a Cubs game, you should check out Gallagher Way, an open-air garden right next to Wrigley Field. There are always events going on on the big lawn, like parties before or after games, movie showings, exercise classes, concerts, and more. It will be fun no matter what is planned. There is food, drinks, and a lot of room for kids to run around. This is a nice place for the family to go.

                          15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

                          14. The Sports Museum in Chicago

                            The Chicago Sports Museum has some of the coolest, most interactive, and high-tech sports displays in the city. Fans of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Cy Young can test their skills in the Hall of Legends, the Fan Zone, and other fun areas. Both kids and adults will enjoy their time here. Adults pay about $10 to enter the 23,000-square-foot event, while kids 3 to 11 pay $6, and kids under 3 get in for free.

                            15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

                            15. Chicago Riverwalk

                              Both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River make Chicago an incredibly beautiful city, as do many of the buildings that make up the city. The Chicago Riverwalk is a great way to see the city. It’s a mixed-use public area on the south bank of the central part of the Chicago River.

                              The page isn’t loading for me; please check it from your end. But you can do a lot more than just walk along the Riverwalk. You could spend your whole trip just getting to know this part of town. It has 6 different coves, and each one has its own set of things to do.

                              15 Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago (2024)!

                              Along the Chicago Riverwalk, you can find everything from ice cream shops and restaurants to a floating park and places to rent boats. One of the coves is called The Water Plaza. Parents will enjoy sitting by the waterfalls while their kids jump around in the spray. You will have a good time no matter what part you choose. We already told you it’s free.

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                              Last Thoughts

                              Chicago indeed has it all. It’s possible to go from the beach to world-class museums and then to great food without leaving your neighborhood in the summer. There are many things to do in Chicago that are better in the summer, but the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park and the year-round Ferris wheel at Navy Pier can make the city very cool in the winter.

                              All of these fun things to do are great because they are not only good for kids but also fun for the whole family. If you want to take a fun family trip next time, you should think about going to Chicago. If you have any questions or think we should add something to this list, please let us know below or join our Level UP Travel Facebook Group.

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