Chicago for Kids: The Ultimate Parent’s Guide

March 2, 2017

Make sure to these kid-friendly attractions while vacationing in Chicago with your family.

When deciding where to go for a family vacation, Chicago might not be the first place that comes to mind. However, once you learn about all of the wonderful attractions and activities available in Chicago for kids, I guarantee you’ll start planning your trip right away.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Build Area with Kids - Chicago, Illinois, USA

1. LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago

Is your child a creative and curious builder? The LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is perfect for kids who love to construct masterpieces using LEGO® blocks and their imagination. This attraction provides far more for families than a few rooms filled with LEGO® blocks. Inside the attraction, kids and adults can enjoy:

  • MINILAND Chicago
  • Jungle Expedition
  • LEGO Factory Tour
  • LEGO 4D Cinema
  • Kingdom Quest Laser Ride
  • LEGO Master Builder Academy
  • LEGO Racers: Build & Test
  • Merlin's Apprentice Ride
  • Pirate Adventure Island
  • DUPLO Village
  • Onsite Café
  • LEGO Shop

Children and adults alike rave about the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center. When planning a vacation in Chicago for kids, you must have this one-of-a-kind attraction first on your itinerary.

wide view of navy pier with the skyline in the background in Chicago, Illinois, USA

2. Navy Pier

As one of the most popular destinations in Chicago, it should come as no surprise that Navy Pier offers a variety of kid-friendly attractions. For more than 100 years, Navy Pier has entertained visitors and residents with attractions, restaurants, events, and more. With so much to do and experience, it’s easy to see why it’s known as one of the best attractions in Chicago for kids. Highlights of Navy Pier (for children) include:

  • Centennial Wheel
  • Chicago Children’s Museum
  • Navy Pier IMAX® Theatre
  • Amazing Chicago Mazes
  • Polk Bros Park

Don’t bypass Navy Pier during your family trip to Chicago. You don’t want to miss out on one of the biggest landmarks in Chicago for kids.

3. Field Museum

Your children will love visiting Chicago, especially if you visit the Field Museum. From dinosaurs to 3D movies, this museum is jam packed with fun. Your family will have such a great time exploring the museum that you’ll completely forget you’re learning something new!

Families traveling with younger children should explore the interactive Crown Family PlayLab exhibit. In this exhibit, young children have the opportunity to investigate, innovate, and stretch their imagination all while learning about science, history, and our planet, too.

The Field Museum is included in the Chicago CityPASS as well. This pass provides admission to several popular attractions in Chicago for kids, for one price. Saving money on a vacation sounds like a good deal to me!

small toddler playing with log toys in front of aquarium in Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, USA

4. Lincoln Park Zoo

No family vacation would be complete without a trip to the zoo. At the Lincoln Park Zoo, families can see all of their favorite animals, from lizards to lions and everything in between. The zoo provides a full day of fun, learning, and excitement for everyone in the family. Plus, children can come nose-to-nose with some of their favorite North American animals in the interactive Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo exhibit.

There’s no doubt that the zoo is one of the best attractions in Chicago for kids. With so many exhibits, animals, and more, it’s easy to spend an entire day in Chicago at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

5. Millennium Park

Looking for a free attraction in Chicago for kids? Millennium Park is your answer. Home to the famous outdoor art installation, Cloud Gate, (aka “The Bean”), Millennium Park boasts all sorts of free activities including:

  • Concerts and Events
  • Art Installations
  • Architectural Pieces
  • Jay Pritzker Pavilion
  • Lurie Garden
  • And More

If you get hungry while visiting the park, there are plenty of food trucks and restaurants around. Buy a meal from one of the many food trucks, pack a blanket, and enjoy a family picnic right in Millennium Park!

Plus, several popular Chicago hotels are located conveniently near Millennium Park, so you won’t have to worry about transportation costs. The park is within walking distance!

6. Shedd Aquarium

The animal fun continues when you visit Shedd Aquarium. Considered one of the leading activities in Chicago for kids, the aquarium is home to a whole world of aquatic animals, life, and plants. The aquarium exhibits feature aquatic creatures from all over the world, including the Caribbean, the North American Great Lakes, and the Amazon.

The Shedd Aquarium is also included in the Chicago CityPASS. Plan accordingly and maximize your Chicago vacation budget using this pass. Seriously, it includes so many top Chicago attractions!

people sitting in the Adler Planetarium watching Cosmic Wonder in Chicago, Illinois, USA

7. Adler Planetarium

Have a stargazer in your family? Take them to Adler Planetarium! Your family will blast off into outer space while journeying through exhibits such as:

  • Mission Moon
  • Planet Explorers
  • Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass
  • The Universe: A Walk Through Time and Space

Plus, the planetarium offers a variety of shows, hands-on activities, and interactive opportunities for the whole family. The planetarium also offers a cafe and gift shop onsite for visitors to enjoy.

8. Skydeck at Willis Tower

Does your family want to see the Chicago skyline? Bring them to the Skydeck at Willis Tower for jaw-dropping views of the city. Located on the 103rd floor of the tower, guests can peer out into the cityscape and step out onto “The Ledge”, if they dare. The Skydeck at Willis Tower is ideal for all ages but certainly not those with a fear of heights!

sky view of downtown chicago

The view from 360 Chicago

9. 360 Chicago Observation Deck

Continuing the trend of extremely tall attractions in Chicago for kids...

The 360 Chicago Observation Deck, located on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building, offers a complete 360° view of the city. If you and your children dare, try TILT! This part of the attraction angles guests 30° over the side of the building for unparalleled views. Visitors who can stomach looking down at the city from more than 1,000 feet high will have a memorable experience at the 360 Chicago Observation Deck.

inside wrigley field baseball field in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Legendary Wrigley Field is a must for Cubs fans.

10. Go to a Game

With an incredible sports history, Chicago is the place to go for little athletes and sports fans. Kids will love cheering on one of the many Chicago sports teams. From cheering on the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field to watching a football game at Soldier Field, there’s something for every sports fan in the Windy City.

Get Ready for a Spectacular Vacation in Chicago for Kids

Now that you know all there is to do in Chicago for kids, it’s time to start booking your trip. Don’t forget to make your hotel, show, and attraction reservations on Tripster Chicago for discounts and a stress-free vacation.

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