75+ Delightful (& Affordable) Things to Do in Chicago with Kids

Last Updated : April 13, 2022 /

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94 Awesome Things To Do In Chicago With Kids

Are you looking for things to do in Chicago with kids? If you have some free time from your busy schedule and now looking for kids activities and places to hang out with your tots, kids, tweens, or teens in Chicago this guide will help you get past the cabin fever and do a little family bonding that is so much fun, not forced. A family-friendly option is what everybody looks for. There are plenty of options, such as the Children’s art Museum, 360 Chicago skyline view atop John Hancock Building, Navy Pier, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Millenium Park, Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science, Maggie Daley Park, Field Museum, kayak tours, Lincoln Park Museum, and Chicago Architecture Center or even some family fun activities downtown Chicago.

Whether you’re a Chicagoland native, traveling to Chi-town for the first time, or even permanently moving to Chicago, you’ll find kid-friendly activities and places to go with your kids. From the best restaurants to tourist attractions, this guide has you covered. From downtown Chicago to Lake Michigan and Willis Tower, there’s something for everyone.

Updated February 2021 to include information on COVID-19 restrictions.

Content: Things to do in Chicago with Kids

Each chapter is organized by topic so you can find suitable family activities in Chicago the quick and easy way. With so many options on offer, we hope by the end of reading this guide you’ll never have to wonder what to do in Chicago with kids again. Happy reading!

Snack Happy at These Fun Chicago Kid-friendly Restaurants

Chapter 1: Kid-Friendly Chicago Restaurants

Who said you can’t have fun with your food? These Chicago-area eateries elevate dining to an attraction that kids of all ages will love. If you are in Chicago with kids, you’re in for a treat. From the most appealing food tour to one of the most beautiful city skyline. You can host a momentous birthday party or go visit a museum of science. From a medieval adventure complete with jousting to the only kid-friendly, G-rated restaurant where waitresses dance on the tables that we know of, this list is loaded with as much fun as food.

Rainforest Café (Fun Food Venue for Kids)

Located not far from Lake Michigan, Rainforest Cafe is one place not to miss. Perfect for all ages, the Rainforest Café makes mealtime an adventure. Part of a major chain of eateries, the food is tasty and kid-friendly, but the real benefit is the ambiance. Your kids will feel like they’re on an adventure in the depths of a rainforest. If you intend to visit this cafe in Chicago with kids, it’s all fun and no fear here, though.

Rainforest cafe perfect for kids activities Chicago

Price: $$

Tip: This is a fun place to bring the grandparents, too, and AARP discounts are available.

Even though the Chicago location closed in August 2020 as a result of the pandemic, the location in Gurnee Mills is still open. It’s a bit of a drive but is still a fun way to pass the time. If you’re not quite ready for indoor dining, you can order take-out.

American Girl Place Café

A great stop for little girls who love dolls and pretending to be grown-ups, the American Girl Café is a fun place for ages 4-12. Brunch, lunch, and dinner are served here, but to make every little girl’s dream come true, check out tea time for the ultimate in tea parties. Reservations are strongly recommended, and meals and tea are served at specific hours, so you’ll need to plan ahead.

American girl place cafe for ideal for kids activities

Price: $$-$$$

Face covers are required at all American Girl store locations. Entrances and capacity are limited. Dining is still possible, but hours and table sizes are limited so reservations are even more important than they were before. Temporarily, the cafe has switched to disposable menus and removed loaner dolls.

Medieval Times

Located in Schaumburg, Medieval Times (Chicago Castle) brings the adventures of princes, princesses, knights, and the 11th century to life in a family-friendly dining experience. It’s the ideal spot to take little princesses and knights in training, of all ages. Best with the 4 to 10-year-old crowd, adults will have a good time, too. The set menu includes tomato bisque soup, roasted chicken, sweet buttered corn – and no utensils. Vegetarian options can be provided on request (but ask in advance!).

Medieval times fun spot for kids in Chicago

Price: $$$

As of February 24, 2021, the Chicago castle has yet to re-open. When it does, we’ll update this post with the COVID-19 guidelines.

Billy Goat Tavern (Chicago Area)

Not a great place for little kids, the Billy Goat Tavern is a solid pick for pre-teens and teens. With nine locations serving the Chicago area, the chain is a local favorite with a quirky and entertaining back story. The food is worth the trip, but it’s the sarcasm and wit that keep this place popular – not to mention the prices. And don’t miss the Cheezborger.

Billy goat tavern is a fun and place to go with preteens and teens

Price: $

The restaurant is currently accepting orders for carryout and delivery. Dine-in is not available.

Ed Debevic’s

There’s a place in Chicago where table dancing isn’t something dirty – Ed Debevic’s is it. Snark, sass, and a cheap menu make this a fun place for teens. Little kids love the bright 1950s color scheme, and fast service is a plus for days when you’re in the mood to eat on the run.

Ed Debevic’s: Kids friendly and affordable place in Chicago

Price: $

This restaurant remains closed as of February 24, 2021. Plans to reopen in 2020 were delayed as a result of the pandemic.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

Need something a little more upscale? Visit Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Jenni’s ice cream is made fresh in small batches with local ingredients. The flavors range from seasonal specialties to traditional favorites like the white chocolate peppermint ice cream that made Jeni famous. If you can’t decide what flavor to try, there are always “flights” of mini scoops for tasting. Jeni’s ice cream is located on 3635 N Clark St Chicago, IL 60613.

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Get Close to Nature in the Windy City

Chapter 2: kids Outdoor Activities

A wide range of habitats and diverse wildlife make Chicago naturally beautiful. Bring your kids closer to it when you visit one of the area’s many nature centers, botanic gardens, or zoos. One of the most prominent attractions is the Lincoln Park Zoo. With more picturesque additions like the Chicago children’s museum, you are up for one of the most exciting things in life.

Peggy Notebeart Nature Museum

This museum is more than a pretty name – it’s the Chicago Academy of Sciences Museum. Kids, teens, and adults will all learn something on a visit to this enchanting place. The museum operates numerous learning programs and classes, as well as citizen science projects. This museum is located at 2430 N Cannon Dr Chicago, IL 60614.

Peggy Notebeart Nature Museum kids activity

Price: $, Thursdays are suggested donation days (no set fee)

The museum remains closed to the public until further notice. Virtual visits and classes are available.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the last free zoos in America. Lincoln Park Zoo has a reputation for great holiday lights in winter and phenomenal views of the city when the weather is warm and clear. It’s a perfect spot to let the kids run wild and learn about their favorite animals.

Lincon park zoo for family outing with kids

Price: Free, but parking can be pricey

The lincoln park zoo is closed until March 4th. Upon reopening, to comply with capacity and social distancing guidelines, free admission reservations are required. Reservations are released every Sunday and Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Central Time.

Lincoln Park Museum

Located not far from Lincon Park Zoo, is the Lincon Park Historic Museum that houses artifacts and exhibits of the local history during the depressions era. The Historical Society of Lincoln Park and its supporters collect and preserve artifacts, as well as printed and photographic materials pertaining to the history of Lincoln Park. Here you can teach your kids about the history of this beautiful city. 

Chicago Botanic Garden

Don’t miss the Wonderland Express train for kids that chugs through this free and delightful botanical garden. Plant lovers of all ages can get a free plant monthly beginning in May. The food served in the onsite café is delicious, too. Plantlife is a great attraction to keep your kids entertained and engaged.

Chicago Botanic Garden ideal for family activities

Price: Free, but parking can be pricey

All visits must be planned in advance for capacity and social distancing. Visitors are required to preregister for timed entry.

North Park Village Nature Center

A fun Chicago-area park for nature lovers of all ages, the March Maple Syrup Festival is a local hit. The park is home to deer, birds, and other wildlife, and also has its own apiaries for bees. If you’re looking for a great way to help kids get in touch with nature, you just found it. If you are in Chicago with kids, you are sure to have a treat at these retreat centers as they are designed to have a truly exotic experience and reconnect with nature.

North Park Village Nature Center

Price: Free

The pedestrian and bike trails from Oak St. to Ohio St. are closed until further notice.

Emily Oaks Nature Center (Birthday Spot)

A thirteen-acre break from urbanity, Emily Oaks Nature Center is home to coyotes, flying squirrels, water snakes, and other animals that can seem like living myths to little kids. The three-acre pond is a perfect place to rest and enjoy the scene. The Woodland Wander Inn is a great spot in the park to help kids (and adults) learn about the surrounding environment.

Emily Oaks Nature Center

Price: Free

The visitor’s center and restrooms are only open to program participants and rental groups. The trail is only open from Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m until sunset and on Sundays from 10 a.m. until sunset. Gate closes at sunset daily.

Tip: This is a great place for birthday parties in summer and early fall!

Crabtree Nature Center

This nature center, over 1,000 acres in size, was formed by glaciers. Today, it’s a pristine escape in Cool County that offers family-friendly options to families traveling to Chicago with kids, the chance to connect with the natural world. It’s a great place for birdwatching, with more than 260 species on site, including many migratory species. Several miles of self-guided trails are also available. Great for all ages, and with a focus on helping kids connect with nature, the center also offers several special programs to cater to individual interests.

Crabtree Nature Center

Price: Free

The grounds, trail, and bathrooms are open every day from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The exhibit buildings are closed, and drinking fountains are not available. You’ll need to bring your own water bottle. Parking is limited to 50% and visitors are expected to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines during their visit.

Wildwood Nature Center

Part of the Park Ridge Park District, the Wildwood Nature Center is a fun stop for little ones – preschoolers will love the turtle pond, interactive exhibits, and the Nature Nook playroom. Older kids can have their birthdays here and take part in scouting activities or school programs on site. Fun in any season, there’s also a campfire pit, rain garden, and even a butterfly pavilion on site. This is indeed one of the best things that are fun-filled and fulfilling at the same time. So if you are in Chicago with kids, you do not want to miss these family-friendly options to have a gala time with your children.

Wildwood Nature Center

Price: Free

The Wildwood Nature Center building is only open to those registered for in-person programs. It remians closed to the public. Face coverings are required.

Thorn Creek Nature Center & Preserve

The 600+ acre nature preserve offers an impressive mix of habitats, with a large number of species and a nature center housed in a converted church that was built in 1862. Throughout the year, the center hosts variety of educational programs for all ages. With one of the world’s largest natural reserves, Chicago children need not worry about their entertainment options.

Thorn Creek Nature Center & Preserve

Price: Free

When visiting the area, you must wear a face covering and practice social distancing. It’s also recommended to have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you during your visit.

Tip: No dogs allowed in the park!

Hidden Oaks Nature Center

From archeology to geothermal heating to natural habitats, Hidden Oaks Nature Center offers children of all ages the chance to explore the natural world around them. Inside, the exhibits offer a look at some of the area’s birds and animals. The center also places a focus on restoring the local ecology.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center

Price: Free

The nature center is closed until further notice. However, the trails and other outdoor spaces are open to the public. Visitors are expected to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

Plum Creek Nature Center

Set in the 890-acre Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve, Plum Creek Nature Center gives kids a chance to encounter nature in a hands-on, interactive setting. The nature center is surrounded by cattail marshes, a pond, forests, and fields, making it a great place to see multiple habitats, too.

Plum Creek Nature Center min

Price: Free

Due to COVID-19, no tube rentals are available. Outdoor areas and restrooms are open to the public. Face coverings and social distancing required.

River Trail Nature Center

If your little kids act like animals, give them the chance to do so for real. At River Trail Nature Center, they can crawl in an eagle’s nest or a fox’s den. Other fun onsite activities include making nature puppets or exploring one of this nature centers many trails. In the mood for something sweet? The sugar maples here are a pretty sight in summer and fall, and the annual maple syrup festival is a treat for all ages. Your trip to Chicago with kids just got a whole lot happening.

River Trail Nature Center

Price: Free

The grounds, trail, and bathrooms are open every day from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The exhibit buildings are closed, and drinking fountains are not available. You’ll need to bring your own water bottle. Parking is limited to 50% and visitors are expected to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines during their visit.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Four display houses, warm temperatures year-round, and an impressive history make the Lincoln Park Conservatory a beautiful place to visit. It might be too relaxed for younger kids, but preteens and teens will enjoy the lush greenery and impressive history of this beautiful building. Seasonal displays and a retreat from harsh weather are a few of the perks of this place. One of Chicago’s most monumental places to take you on an exhilarating ride full of adventures.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Price: Free

The conservatories remain closed until further notice. When operations resume, we’ll post an update here.

Heller Ridge Nature Center

Located in Highland Park, the Heller Ridge Nature Center is a family-friendly destination in all seasons. Snow-sowing and cross-country skiing in winter, hiking and sports in summer, and learning about birds of prey, owls, and other creatures year-round make this a fun place to visit.

Heller Ridge Nature Center

Price: Free

The nature center building is closed. Trails are open from 7:30 a.m. until dusk.

Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary

Run by Schaumberg Park District, the Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary is over 125 acres of outdoor fun. Winterfest keeps the park popular even in the coldest months, although it’s a beautiful spot year-round. Nature demonstrations, classes, and educational programs for all ages are offer all year, too.

Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary

Price: Free (Special events like Winterfest often involve a small cover charge.)

The museum and visitor center are currently closed. Grounds and trails are open to the public. Face coverings and and social distancing is required while you stroll.

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Let the Kids Go Crazy in Chi-Town’s Best Indoor Play Places

Chapter 3: Indoor Play Activities for children in Chicago

Before you head to any of the indoor play places listed below, make sure your kids are wearing socks – they’re almost always required. Chicago children are adventurous and always on the lookout for something that causes an adrenaline rush. Family events at such prime locations are enough to elevate your entire experience.

Pump it Up

Get your bounce on with Pump It Up of Chicago. This prime party spot has open play divided by ages, and you can also join in on special family days. The operating hours, since the site also caters to birthdays and private parties. There’s a 20-foot climbing wall, bounce play structures, and more to enjoy here.

Pump it Up

Price: $$

The Chicago location permanently closed as a result of the pandemic. The Glenview location is still open for those who are interested.

Purple Monkey Playroom (A good venue for Birthday Parties)

Ideal for under 5s, the Purple Monkey Playroom captures the sweetest side of childhood, but also lets your kids cut loose. A great stop for drop-in play, you can also schedule a birthday party or baby shower here. Remember that drop-in play hours are limited by their birthday party schedules and bookings.

Purple Monkey Playroom

Price: $-$$

Private Playtime and small classes (limited to 10 attendees max) is available. Group playtime is available by reservation only. Register in advance on the website.

Jump ‘N Jam Playland

This place is a bouncy castle lover’s dream. Filled to the brim with inflatable play structures, open play at Jump ‘N Jam Playland is a workout for kids and a relaxing break for parents. Open play is offered Wednesday through Saturday.

Price: $-$$

Call 708-862-2500 for more information about COVID-19 restrictions. Groupons are not accepted at this time.

Haunted Trails

A ghoulish twist on family amusement, Haunted Trails caters to kids ages 4+ and adults. Outside, you’ll find go karts, mini golf, and even a few mini-roller coasters. A few arcade games are also available on site, and there are mini go karts and rides for the younger set.

Haunted Trails

Price: $$

Currently, the restaurant is open and Game Room hours will be open 3 PM – 10 PM Friday, 12 PM – 10 PM Saturday and 12 PM – 9 PM Sunday with limited capacity with the plan to expand when state safety guidelines permit. Face masks are required for all guests over age 2. Social distancing must be observed whenever possible. Families must say together. Groups of no more than 10 must also stay together. Hand sanitiziation guidelines must be followed.

Jump Zone

Catering to kids ages 2-12, the open play at Jump Zone is a great way to reward your kids for great grades on their last report card or help them burn off a little steam on a rainy or snowy day. This is a franchise play place, but every location is different. Call ahead to make sure there’s open play on the day you want to go.

The Niles and Crystal Lake locations are currently open. The Buffalo Grove and Schaumburg locations are closed.

Price: $

Jumps ‘n’ Jiggles

Part of the Elk Grove Park District, this isn’t your typical indoor playground. A 28-foot-high carousel and a colorful themed playground for little kids make it a great stop for indoor fun. The structures and set up are ideal for ages 8 and under.

Jumps ‘n’ Jiggles

Price: $

Closed until further notice.

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Theme Parks and Outdoor Adventure Spots in the Windy City

Chicago-Kid-Activities-Chapter 4- Theme Parks and Attractions

Looking for something a little more active than your average park or nature center? This section has a host of theme parks and outdoor adventures that will tucker out the tiniest members of your family and offer lots of laughs and fun in the process. Chicago architecture center (111 E Upper Wacker Dr Chicago, IL 60601) is one of the most out-of-the-world attractions that can bring together people from all apart.

Pirate’s Cove Theme Park

Designed for fun-loving kids ages 1-9, the Pirates Cove Theme Park is a popular Elk Grove attraction. Castles, carousels, ships, and slides capture the attention of little buccaneers and maidens. There’s a picnic area and snacks can be purchased here, too.

Pirates Cove Theme Park

Price: $$

Closed until further notice.

Tip: Gym shoes and socks are strongly recommended. This place is packed with activity, and your kids will be on the go for hours.

Legoland Discovery Center

4D cinema, a technicycle ride, Legos to play with, a factory tour, and a Duplo village are all part of the fun at this Chicagoland attraction. Ages 3-12 will have a blast while here. We can name a few adults who would love it, too…

Legoland Discovery Center

Price: $$

Purchase tickets online in advance to guarantee admission. All guests over age 2 are required to wear a fask mask during their visit. Some attractions are closed, while others have limited capacity.

Tip: Buy your tickets on the Legoland website for a steep discount.

Adams Water Playground

Part of Adams Park, the Adams Water Playground is a great stop to cool off in summer. With slides, spray fountains, waterfalls, and padded ground, the water features here are loads of fun. The park also has plenty of dry playground space if it’s a little chilly out to jump around in the water.

Adams Water Playground

Price: Free

Outdoor spaces are open to the public. Visitors are expected to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

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Enrich Your Child’s Mind in Chicago Museums, Libraries, and More

Chapter 5: Educational Activities for Chicago children

There’s no shortage of fun and educational museums and cultural attractions in the Chicago area. We’ve gathered the info on some of the best in the area. The best part? Most are free or low cost. The art institute of Chicago, the adler planetarium, navy pier, and museum of science are some of the attractions in Chicago, IL.

Historic Water Tower

Older school children and some older teens may enjoy the stunning architecture and impressive art collection found here. Located on the Magnificent Mile, Chicago’s one of the most easily recognized landmarks was built from 1867-1869 and survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Exhibits change regularly so check the website to see what’s on display before you visit.

Price: Free

Closed until further notice.

Swedish American Museum

The big attraction here is the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration. The first of its kind, this museum offers a hands-on experience for children that helps them to imagine the Swedish immigration experience. Kids of all ages will have a great time here, engaging in activities on an old Swedish farm like milking cows or setting the table for dinner, then ride a 20-foot ship to America, and move into log cabin in the United States.

Price: $-$$

Online events continue as planned. The store offers curbside pickup and online orders. The Museum & Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration is closed until further notice.

The Art Insitute of Chicago

For a more old-fashioned museum experience, the Art Insitute of Chicago is right up your alley. The museum houses an impressive collection of European and American art, and its special exhibits may leave you in awe. It’s also conveniently located in downtown Chicago. The Art Institute is definitely a must-see for all ages. The Art Institute is located on 111 S Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60603.

 

Museum of Science and Industry

Easily one of the best museums in the Chicago area, the Museum of Science and Industry is a high-tech experience for all ages. For a special treat, the museum offers a behind-the-scenes tour that kids and adults will equally appreciate. Exhibits vary, but don’t be surprised if you find robots, mirror mazes, fairy castles, steel trains, and space-themed activities here. It’s a great pick for ages 3 and up. In addition, the museum is located right on the banks of Lake Michigan.

Price: $$-$$$

Reopens to the public March 7th with limited capacity. Reserve tickets online. Museum cafe is not open. Fae coverings and social distancing required.

Chicago Children’s Museum (Kids Favorite)

Kids ages 0-10 (and the adults that hang out with them) are guaranteed a good time at this fantastic museum. Chicago Children’s Museum is loaded with hands-on activities and educational play opportunities, it’s one of the best children’s museums in the United States. Step inside and enjoy the fun!

Price: $$

Temporarily closed.

Chicago Public Library

Always an all-ages attraction, the Chicago Public Library makes reading fun and interactive. Bring your little ones to the library for activities, story time, and to choose a book to read to keep them entertained.

Price: Free

Call your desired location for more information. Some locations are closed for building improvements, while some are closed because they are too small to maintain safe social distancing. Hours at many locations have temporarily changed.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House Tour

An ideal outing for older kids with artistic personalities, the Robie House is a local cultural icon. Arm your older kids, preteens, and teens with digital cameras and let them loose. At the end of the day, share your photos for a unique look into the way your child sees the world.

Price: $$

Tours are limited to eight people and must be scheduled in advance. Social distancing and face masks are required. Store purchases are credit card only.

DuSable Museum

A powerful museum dedicated to African-American history, culture, and art, the DuSable Museum is a perfect place to take older kids and teens, although children ages 5 and up are welcome. Past exhibits have covered everything from the impact of Jewish scholars in African-American colleges to poetry and African-American soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Price: $-$$

Temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

Muntu Dance Theater

Although not the best for very young children, Muntu is a great stop for older kids and preteens, as well as some teens. This dance theater hosts performances, but if you ask around, you’ll hear about make and take mask-making classes and dance classes, too. African dance is a great way to get a little exercise with the kids while sharing a cultural experience.

Price: $$

Call to learn more. Auditions are virtual at this time.

Shedd Aquarium

Located at lake shore Dr Chicago, this all-ages outing is great for anyone who loves the water or the creatures that live in it. The tanks here are so large that there are some unexpectedly large guests living here – whales! It’s an experience your kids will never forget. In the Polar play zone, children can experience what it’s like to be a penguin, and see Beluga whales in a kid-sized submarine. To make it even more so, consider taking one of the behind-the-scenes tours. The Shedd Aquariam makes sure you and your family have an excellent time.

Price: $-$$

Location: 1200 S Lake shore Dr Chicago, IL 60605

Advanced ticket purchase required. Face coverings must be worn and social distancing must be practiced during visit.

Adler Planetarium

It might look a little frightening from the outside, but inside, the Adler Planetarium is a fun and engaging museum. It offers a wide variety of shows on a daily basis, and includes an education center that’s designed to get young minds excited about the universe that surrounds them.

Price: $-$$

Closed to the gneral pulic until further notice.

Chicago Cultural Center

There’s always something happening at the Chicago Cultural Center. The building itself is worth looking at, but inside there are dozens of free events each month, including concerts for little kids and activities for school children. Take a look at the calendar and plan ahead – events fill up fast in this attractive venue.

Location: 78 E Washington St Chicago, IL 60602

Price: Most Events are Free (some events may cover a small fee, so check in advance)

Temporarily closed.

Chicago Greeter Tours

Staycations are a great option for busy families, and the Chicago Greeter Tours can help you feel like you’re on one, even when you’ve only got a few hours. The tours are free, offer plenty of insight into Chi-Town history, and are fun and engaging, even for the wildest tots.

Price: Free

Advanced registration required. Groups must be four or less. Face masks and social distancing required. Use of pulic transportation during the tour is temporarily suspended. Heavily populated areas avoided on the tour.

Kohl Children’s Museum (For Young Kids)

Designed to entertain children ages 0-8, there are 16 permanent exhibits and several temporary ones at the Kohl Children’s Museum. Theatre games, art and nature activities, and science-related adventures bring imagination to life while accommodating Illinois educational criteria.

Price: $$

Call the museum to learn more about hours and restrictions during COVID-19.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Located at 300 N Central Park Ave Chicago, IL 60624 you and the kids can interactively learn about Chicago’s cityscape and stories of history and culture that visitors can control. 

Field Museum

The Field Museum is everything you’d expect in a natural history and science museum. Kids can shrink to the size of a bug to crawl around the Underground Adventure or sit back in awe, watching Sue the T-Rex’s life story in 3D. The Crown Family Play Lab is a place just for the smallest visitors, and gives kids a hands-on opportunity to explore the exhibits. A DNA Discovery Center, the Grainger Hall of Gems, and the Pawnee Earth Lodge (interactive) are just a few of the Field Museum’s highlights.

Price: $$

Reserve your time in advance as the building capacity is limited to 25%. Face masks and social distancing required. Some exhibits are closed.

Bronzeville Children’s Museum (Only for Young Kids)

Although this African-American history museum follows a strict age policy, only letting children ages 3-9 enter, it’s worth the visit. Bronzeville offers a unique window into Chicago’s past – one it can be hard to find in history books, but that needs to be shared. The museum only offers guided tours, and keep in mind that hours are limited.

Price: $

Call to learn more about COVID-19 restrictions.

Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn

A play-based museum with fully-interactive and educational installations, the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn is learning through fun. Inside, it feels like a play place crossed with a classroom, in all the best ways. Great for ages 8 and under.

Price: $

Advanced tickets are required.

Children’s Neighborhood Museum

This fun museum is a part of the Round Lake Park District. It’s a miniature town, and kids can take on any role in society want to. Everything is perfectly sized for 1-6 year olds, and there’s a special crawler zone for kids under age 1.

Price: $

Temporarily closed.

Tip: This place fills up fast and has a maximum capacity of 30 kids, so get there early to make sure you can get in!

Cuneo Museum & Gardens

An active part of Loyola University, Cuneo Museum and Gardens is more than an educational institution. The grounds are gorgeous, and in winter, the light show is unbeatable. Wander around the sculpture garden or great lawn in summer, and make it into a fun art activity for the kids by bringing sketch pads along so they can draw what they see. The mansion is still open to the public, and you can download a virtual tour from Loyola’s website, too.

Price: Free

Temporarily closed.

Elk Grove Village Historical Museum

Activities for young kids, youth, and teens are available at the Elk Grove Village Historical Museum all year, including the Pirates Cove Theme Park for little kids we mentioned earlier. The museum is open all year, and offers a captivating view of Elk Grove’s history. Outdoor activities include skating, a water park, sledding, golf, and more. Indoors, there are dance and aquatics facilities that host a wide range of programs and even an onsite preschool.

Price: Free-$$

Schedule your visit in advanced and arrive within 15 minutes of the schedule time. Face coverings are required for the duration.

Evanston Art Center

Catering to ages 4 and up, the Evanston Art Center offers a host of classes as well as exhibitions of artists, including several from the local area. Camps, free film screenings, and art parties are part of the fun here, too.

Price: Free (exhibits and film screenings)-$$$ (classes, camps, and art seminars)

Open with reduced capacity for open studios, in-person classes, and exhibitions. Online classes available.

Lake County Discovery Museum

The Lake County Discovery Museum is loaded with history, art, and adventure. Exhibits range from hands-on and interactive experiences for younger kids to the Vortex Roller Coaster Theater and world’s largest public collection of postcards. Outside, there are hiking, biking, and horse trails, as well as playgrounds, picnic shelters, and fishing ponds.

Price: $-$$

Advanced ticket purchase required. Face masks and social distancing required. Virtual events available.

Tip: Get a discount on admission when you buy your tickets on the museum’s website.

Mitchell Museum of the American Indian

This museum is home to a massive collection of pottery and artifacts from Native American and paleo-Indian cultures across the United States. A fun place for the whole family, kids can explore inside a real wigwam, make-and-take craft activities, and activity tables. Most of the fun takes place early in the day, so get there as early as possible. Ages 4 and up will love it.

Price: $

Currently closed with virtual experiences available.

Skokie Heritage Museum

Ever been to a log cabin? You can bring the kids to visit one here. Built in 1847, it’s opened on visitor request and offers a unique peek into Skokie heritage. The nearby historic engine house is where most of the museum’s activities take place today, and offers an equally impressive view into the past. Preschoolers and teens might find it too boring, but younger grade-schoolers will enjoy playing with toys from the past and learning about local history.

Price: Free

This facility is currently open for registered participants and appointments only.

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Get Curious About Food on Local Chicago Farms and Orchards

Chapter 6: kids friendly Local Food Farms in Chicago

In the area surrounding Chicago, there are plenty of local farms and orchards to explore. Help your kids learn about where their food comes from wile picking pumpkins, apples, corn, and other produce, and enjoying a lots of fun activities. From hayrides to a World War 2 museum, there’s more to area farms than you might expect!

For insurance reasons, the majority of Chicago area farms won’t let you bring your pets along. Leave your four-footed companions at home to avoid making a long trip home instead of spending a fun day on the farm.

Wagner Farm

Perfect for all ages, the Wagner Farm is a working farm with an onsite museum, as well as pigs, chickens, horses, cows, and more. Pick pumpkins, choose farm-ripened apples to take home, or engage in any number of interactive activities with the kids.

Price: $-$$

The Heritage Center Museum and Main Exhibits are closed at this time, except for registered programming. The gift shop and restrooms inside the Heritage Center are open Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm

Only open for a few months each year, Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm is the perfect fall attraction. There are rides, pumpkins to take home and carve, a play village, and dozens of other fun activities that make getting ready for Halloween and Thanksgiving a lot of fun.

Price: $-$$

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season.

Didier Farms

Petting zoo, hay rides, corn maze, pony rides, pumpkin patch…if it’s a kid-friendly farm activity, you’re likely to find it on Didier Farms. While the kids go wild and have fun, the adults can take advantage of the great farmer’s market prices on fresh produce. When everyone’s worn out, grab a few of the apple donuts. Rumor says they’re delicious.

Price: $-$$

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season. Birthday parties and field trips are currently suspended.

Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm

In 1927, Jim Goebbert opened this iconic area farm, down the road from the original Goebbert family farm. Today, he and his wife have retired and their sons run the operations here and at the newer South Barrington location. They offer a mix of more than 19 activities for all ages, as well as you-pick produce, a farmer’s market, and a petting zoo with a giraffe. The Fall Festival here is an unbeatable event, but it’s a great place to visit year-round, too.

Price: $$

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season.

Tip: Weekdays are usually a little cheaper and less crowded.

Heinz Orchard

Located 37 miles from downtown Chicago, Heinz Orchard is the closest orchard to the city. It’s a no-frills experience, but a real farm one. Bring strollers, wagons, and plenty of space for apples – you’ll be picking your own when this orchard is open, and bringing them home by the bushel.

Price: Free-$ (there’s no admission fee, but the orchard does charge for the amount of apples you pick to take home)

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season.

Homestead Orchard

Apples, honey, homemade herbal teas – Homestead Orchard is a feast for the senses. The farm is starting to graft several heirloom varieties of apples, too. Some even date from the colonial period. Onsite, you’ll find an unexpected surprise, as well; there’s a room dedicated to World War 2 history.

Price: Free-$ (no admission fee, but you will pay for what you pick or consume at the orchard)

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season.

Kroll’s Farm

This all-ages farm offers seasonal items, from a corn maze and pumpkins in autumn to Christmas trees in winter. The pumpkin patch and hayrides are a hit in fall. The farm isn’t fancy, but it is fun.

Price: $-$$

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season.

Odyssey Fun Farm

The Odyssey Fun Farm offers a mix of wild and fun farm activities for kids of all ages, from inflatable play structures to corn cannons and corn and hay mazes. You can easily spend a full day here, and the only consequence will be tired kids. The only downside? This farm is only open for a few months each year.

Price: $-$$

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season.

Kuipers Family Farm

It’s an apple orchard, a pumpkin patch, a Christmas tree farm….and a whole lot of fall and winter fun. There are plenty of homemade goodies, like apple donuts and sweet popcorn, and in the warmer seasons there are tea parties, chili cook-offs, and biking events, among other reasons to come to the farm. A vintage feel, giant slides, and homemade honey make it an area must-see for fun on the farm.

Price: $-$$

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season.

Royal Oak Farm Orchard

Kids of all ages can have a great time at this Christian farm, where apple and pumpkin picking are the main attractions, but the free entertainment area comes in a close second. They close for a few months every year, but in summer and fall, this place is packed. The onsite restaurant serves delicious, fresh-from-the-farm food, and the farmer’s markets almost always offer delicious fare to take home.

Price: Free-$$ (pay for what you do, eat, or pick)

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season.

Kline Creek Farm

Part of the DuPage Forest Preserve District, Kline Creek Farm recreates the feel of a farm in the 1890s. Daily activities include canning, baking, sheep-shearing, and more. The Farmhands program caters to children ages 7-12, and gives them a chance to attend a camp that feels like a real farm and teaches the chores that children would have completed in the 1890s in a fun and exciting way. Every day from 10-4, there’s a lot going on at the farm for all ages, and there’s always something new for the Chicago children to learn.

Price: Free for daily activities, $$-$$$ (camps and educational programs)

The grounds of the farm and the surrounding Timber Ridge Forest Preserve are open. The visitor center and buildings on the farm remain closed due to COVID-19. Visitors should refrain from touching the animals.

City Farm Chicago

Up for a trek the farm, but don’t feel like leaving the city? Check out the tours at City Farm. If your kids REALLY love digging in the dirt, they can get involved as volunteers on these urban farms, too. Perfect for ages 5 and up.

Price: $ for tours, free to volunteer

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season.

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Enjoy Outdoors Kid-friendly, Family Activities in Chicago

Chapter 7: Parks and Sightseeing for kids in Chicago

Chicago has more to do outdoors than you might realize. From snowshoeing and kayaking to sledding and hanging out on Navy Pier, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great time with the kids outside in the Windy City. The kayak tour can be a highly exhilarating experience for you to step out of your monotonous routine.

Naperville Beach Park & River Walk

The crown jewel of Naperville, the Beach Park and River Walk offer outdoor activities, great views, and a lot of fun for all ages. 1.75 miles of beautiful scenery, fountains, bridges, and outdoor art are here for your enjoyment, free of charge.

Naperville Beach Park River Walk

Price: Free

Face masks nad social distancing required.

Navy Pier

Located at 800 E Grand Ave Chicago, IL 60611 is one of the most popular places in Chi-Town for residents and visitors, chances are high that you’ve been to Navy Pier a few times. Don’t discard it when you’re looking for ways to keep the Chicago children active. There’s plenty to do here, and as often as you may visit, there’s always something new to see.

Navy Pier

Price: Free-$$$, depending on what you choose to do while here.

Expected to open Spring 2021, though no date has been announced.

Millennium Park

One of the most famous public parks in the United States, Millenium Park offers a range of activities and sights. The Millenium Park landscape design is stunningly beautiful, even in winter. Activities change by the season, so check out the events calendar before heading to the park. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy ice staking in the winter. Millenium Park has set the standard high for the recreation industry in the United States. While you’re there, be sure to take a look at all of the art installations, including Cloud Gate.

Millennium Park

Price: Free-$$, based on what you choose to do.

The park is open daily, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., for groups of 10 persons or fewer who practice physical distancing and wear face coverings.

Grant Park

Sprawling over 319 acres in the Loop, Grant Park is one of downtown Chicago’s largest inner city parks and is home to Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, and the the Art Institute of Chicago, among other attractions. It’s a place you could visit daily forever and never run out of attractions to see or new activities to do.

Grant Park

Price: Free-$$

The park is open daily, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., for groups of 10 persons or fewer who practice physical distancing and wear face coverings.

Wicker Park

This artsy neighborhood is a fun place to walk with the family, and offers plenty of boutiques and unique shops to catch the attention of even the most difficult-to-please teens or preteens. The hipster vibe is unmistakable, and there are also a few small parks in the area. People-watching is fun here, too.

The outdoor gardens and bathrooms are open every day. The buildings are closed, and drinking fountains are not available.

Price: Free

360 Chicago (John Hancock Observatory Deck)

Located on the Magnificent Mile right along Lake Michigan, 360 Chicago offers a unique view of Chicago skyline – from 94 stories high. Sunset is the perfect time to watch the city change as the sunlight fades and the city lights begin to shine. A perfect outing for budding artists and photographers, it’s also a fun, awe-inspiring experience for little kids. This place is located on Michigan Avenue, next to Water Tower Place mall.

360 Chicago John Hancock Observatory Deck

Price: $$-$$$

Advanced purchase required, along with face masks and adherence to social distancing guidelines.

Bobby’s Bike Hike

If your kids can bike, they can go on this fun tour of our city. Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the stops on the route, and kids can win prizes for answering trivia questions along the bike ride. It’s a two-hour ride, trip, so make sure you bring a snack or two along for the ride.

Bobby’s Bike Hike

Price: $$

Call ahead to confirm.

Tip: Buy your tickets online to nab a discount off the in-person purchase price.

Maggie Daley Park

Set in the heart of downtown Chicago, Maggie Daley Park is newly-renovated and full of adventure. From climbing facilities to a massive skating ribbon, there are so many fun things to try. The park is beautifully landscaped, too. It’s great for all ages, and while you can hang out here for free, it’s also a good idea to bring spending cash with you.

Maggie Daley Park

Price: Free-$$

The park is open Monday – Thursday from 6:00am to 9:00pm and Friday – Sunday 6:00 am – 10:00 pm. Masks are required in the park.

Palmisano Park

27 acres of wetlands and urban fishing make Palmisano Park a fun place to visit. The park also offers a phenomenal view of Chicago. In winter, it’s a great place to go sledding. Summer offers fishing in the pond and the chance to just lounge and enjoy the sights. Great for all ages – just add outdoor sports equipment, and you’re set for fun.

Price: Free

​Masks and social distancing required.

Skokie Lagoons Kayaking

The Skokie Lagoons are one of the area’s most popular water-based attractions. They offer excellent boating and fishing opportunities, and when you combine the peaceful scenery with the fun of kayaking, you’ve got the perfect recipe for an outing with teens and preteens. Several private companies provide kayak rentals in the area.

Skokie Lagoons Kayaking

Price: $$

Masks and social distancing required.

Storybrook Trail in Little Bear Garden at Gallery Park

Perfect for preschoolers, Storybrook Trail shares a heartwarming story on different plaques in the park. Kids will eagerly run from one ‘page’ to the next, eager to find out how the story evolves. There’s an onsite playground and plenty of space to run around, too.

Price: Free

Face coverings and social distancing required.

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Put Their Creativity to the Test with Chi-Town Art Activities for Kids

Chicagoland has plenty of artists, and plenty of places to help your little ones practice their own art skills. From throwing pottery to painting on canvas, making jewelry, or scrapbooking, you’re sure to find a place they’ll love on the list below.

Clay Monet (Creative Fun Activity for Kids)

Ages 4 and up can learn to sculpt or throw pottery on the wheel. Keep an eye on the studio’s calendar for open days and special bargains, too. There aren’t drop in sessions every day, and when the studio is open, it fills up fast.

Price: $$

Masks required. No reservations required to come paint or to pick up to-go- items. Delivery available for an additional fee, for orders within a 10 mile radius.

Tip: Canvas painting days are new here. Don’t miss them.

Color Me Mine

This national chain of paint-your-own ceramics and pottery is a fun place for any kid old enough to not break their craft. You’ll find a wide selection of ceramic figures to choose from, including seasonal items and the occasional licensed character (think Mickey Mouse). Each location is a little different, so call in advance.

Price: $-$$

Shop online and paint at home.

Tip: If your kids love Color Me Mine, look into loyalty programs and join their email list – not every location will offer these, but the ones that do have some great offers.

The Painted Penguin

If you’re in the mood to paint, but you aren’t sure what, head to The Painted Penguin. Children and adults can express their creativity on canvas or ceramic at this fun and entertaining spot. Got a dinosaur lover in your group? Check out the archeological and paleontological digs. Grab a cool drink and a snack in the Cooler Café while you’re at it. For jewelry lovers, you can you’re your own jewelry on site, too. Perfect for artists of any age or interest.

Price: $-$$

By appointment only.

Thrown Elements Pottery

Thrown Elements is open to all ages and skill levels. This clay studio offers classes, but also hosts drop-in sessions so you can paint a piece of pottery or work with clay to get a feel for what it’s all about.

Price: $$

Call ahead. 

That wraps up our list of things to do in Chicago with your kids. With so many family activities you can do with your kids on offer, you are in for one of the best things that this city has to offer. From the Navy Pier (located at 800 E Grand Ave Chicago, IL 60611), Shedd aquarium, children’s theatre (on Racine Ave Chicago) to the beautiful city skyline.

Chicago children are lucky in the way that they can experience a holistic array of experiences from the Museum of Science, Art Institute of Chicago, Millenium Park,  Lincoln Park Zoo, Maggie Daley Park, Chicago Architecture Center (located along Chicago river), Chicago Public Library, National Museum of Mexican Art, Crown Fountain, Emerald City Theatre, Lincoln Park Museum, Adler Planetarium to some of the most pristine Chicago architecture. The kayak tour is no less of an attraction when it comes to leaving the tourist awe-inspired. Science and industry have their own salient features to mesmerize anyone visiting Chicago with kids. Don’t forget to grab Chicago style hot dogs or some Chicago-style deep-dish pizza to round out your day of fun.

If you’re traveling to Chicago for the first time, or perhaps even consider moving to Chicagoland permanently, here are the top 40 family-friendly Chicago suburbs to live in or read about different cuisine experiences with our list of 50 most delicious Chicago food blogs while you at it.

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