Things to Do in Chicago For Teens: 11 Exciting Activities

If you’re eager to organize the family trip of a lifetime, we recommend making sure your teen experiences these 11 things to do in Chicago.

It should come as no shock to parents that teenagers are hard to please. (What a concept, right?) With that in mind, planning the perfect family vacation can be tricky. After all, right now you’re searching online for things to do in Chicago with teenagers before your trip to Chicago, aren’t you?

1. Chicago Observation Decks

Let your teen capture a prime Instagram shot from the observatory decks at the top of Chicago’s tallest buildings. Skydeck Chicago is located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower.

In addition to experiencing unreal views of the city, teens can test their bravery and step outside of the building—almost. Step out onto The Ledge, a glass box that extends about 4.3 feet out of the building. Don’t worry, parents, it’s completely safe.

At 360 Chicago in the John Hancock Center or John Hancock Building located in the beautiful neighborhood of Magnificent Mile, your teen can put their bravery to the test on TILT.

Hold on tight and get ready to tilt out over the Chicago streets from 94 floors above the ground. It’s quite the rush, and the views are unbeatable!

kids taking selfie at 360 chicago

2. Chicago Helicopter Tours

If Chicago’s observation decks aren’t high enough for your teen, head to the skies on a Chicago Helicopter Tour. Choose between a daytime or nighttime ride for a bird’s eye view of the cityscape below.

Along the way, you and your teen will learn more about Chicago’s landmarks, history, and notable buildings. You do not want to forget your camera for this tour!

3. iFly Lincoln Park

No more asking what to do with teens in Chicago! If your teenager is a real daredevil, they may want to hop out of the helicopter and skydive into the city below.

While that’s probably not on your travel agenda, your teen can replicate the feeling of skydiving at iFly Lincoln Park, located at 800 W Scott St, Chicago, IL 60610.

At iFly, your teen will soar through the air in an indoor wind tunnel while a pro skydiver guides them through the motions of skydiving. They’ll feel like they’re flying through the air, without all the safety risks and jumping out of a plane part. It’s not hard to see why indoor skydiving is one of the best things to do in Chicago with teenagers!

4. Navy Pier

Exploring Navy Pier is a Chicago must for all ages, from appreciating 360-degree views of Lake Michigan to exploring new kinds of local food and brews. The pier is home to a number of restaurants, stores, and attractions, including the iconic Centennial Wheel.

Related Post: Nightlife in Chicago – 13 Unexpected Things to Do After Dark

In addition to the rides and games, your family can book a cruise departing from the pier, see an IMAX movie, or attend one of the festivals happening year-round.

Teens love the variety of things to do and see while roaming the pier. And, if they’re a shopaholic, there are plenty of places for them to spend their allowance or paycheck!

Entrance to Field Museum - Chicago, Illinois, USA

5. Museum Campus

Museum Campus in Chicago is home to three awesome museums for teens: Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium.

Shedd Aquarium allows guests to immerse themselves in an underwater world filled with tropical fish, marine mammals, birds, and more. Teenagers especially enjoy animal encounters and 4D movies, one of the most fun things to do in Chicago for teens with a love for marine creatures.

At the Field Museum, your teen will come face-to-face with Sue, the largest and most well-preserved T. rex ever discovered. Plus, they’ll learn more about the world’s history through fascinating exhibits filled with more than 25 million artifacts.

Over at Adler Planetarium, your family can blast off to space (okay, not really) while discovering more about our solar system and planet. Take advantage of the planetarium shows and interactive exhibits while there.

Related Post: Adler Planetarium Chicago – Discount Tickets & Reviews

There are more museums to explore depending on your teen’s interests, from all the modern to classic art at the Art Institute of Chicago to the exhibits showcasing generations of innovations at the Museum of Science and Industry.

6. Millennium Park

Wondering what to do in Chicago with teens?

It wouldn’t be a list of things to do in Chicago with teenagers if we didn’t mention Millennium Park. Home to the legendary “Bean” art installation (formally known as Cloud Gate), Millennium Park houses a variety of activities for teens to enjoy.

While at the park, teens can roam the various gardens, discover art installations and exhibits, and ride bikes around the park. Or, pack a picnic and take advantage of the beautiful green space and captivating city views for an afternoon escape. You won’t run out of fun things for teens in Chicago at the Millenium Park.

Tourists taking photos during autumn at The Bean Chicago - Chicago, Illinois, USA

7. Maggie Daley Park

Another popular Chicago park among teens is Maggie Daley Park. Located at 337 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601, this new, massive park offers an abundance of teen-approved activities and attractions. It hosts some of the best things to do for teens in Chicago.

Related Post: Skydeck vs 360 Chicago – Which Chicago Observation Deck Should You Visit?

Test your skills on the climbing wall or challenge each other to a round of mini golf. Explore the public art installations or rent a bike, scooter, or rollerblade and discover the entire grounds.

If you visit during the wintertime, you have to check out the ice skating ribbon. Ice skates are also available for rent or you can bring your own!

8. Chicago Riverwalk

Along the Chicago River, you’ll find a 1.25-mile strip of shops, restaurants, and activities known as the Chicago Riverwalk. Bring your family here for fun things to do in Chicago with teenagers including kayaking, river tours, sightseeing, and art installations.

If you plan to embark on one of the many Chicago River tours, it is best to make reservations in advance. The last thing you want to deal with is waiting in a long ticket line with a grumpy teenager (and grumpy adults, too!)

Looking down at the Wolf Point fork in the Chicago river with the city around it in Chicago, Illinois, USA
photo credit: Wolf Point West via Facebook

9. Blue Man Group

With all the hijinx and hilarity the Blue Man Group pulls, what teen wouldn’t love this over-the-top musical performance? The Blue Man Group combines comedy, music, and technology for a show that’s guaranteed to blow your mind, and also guaranteed to be one of the best things to do in Chicago with teens who love bopping music and entertainment.

Your teens will rave about this one-of-a-kind rock show for the rest of your Chicago vacation! If you’re visiting with younger children, too, bringing earplugs may be a good idea. It gets loud!

10. Chicago Sports Teams

Looking for exciting things for teens to do in Chicago? If your Chicago teens are into sports, attending a game should be on your list of things to do with teens in Chicago.

Chicago is home to a myriad of professional sports teams, including the Chicago Cubs (MLB), Chicago White Sox (MLB), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago Bears (NFL), and the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL).

Related Post: Wrigley Field Chicago – Tips and Things to Do for First-Time Visitors

Since tickets can be hard to come by, taking a tour of iconic venues such as Wrigley Field is just as exciting.

Then for fun things to do in Chicago for 18-year-olds, take them to a sports bar afterward to celebrate the winning team! Murphy’s Bleachers is one of the most popular sports bars in the area and is the place to be to celebrate big wins.

Wide shot of a large crowd watching a soccer game at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA
photo credit: Soldier Field via Facebook

11. Sugar Factory

What teen doesn’t have a sweet tooth that needs satisfying? In Chicago, there’s only one place up for the task: Sugar Factory.

At Sugar Factory, your teen will love indulging in sweet treats including everything from French toast and crepes to insane milkshakes topped with candy and cookies.

Of course, the restaurant also has salads, entrees, and more. For the parents, Sugar Factory also offers a wide assortment of cocktails, ranging from old-fashioned classics to sweet concoctions. Driving to Sugar Factory? Pin this location or open in Maps: 55 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611.

Chicago Teen-Friendly Activity FAQs

Chicago has several museums that cater to teen interests. The Museum of Science and Industry offers engaging hands-on exhibits, while the Field Museum is perfect for exploring natural history and ancient cultures. The Shedd Aquarium allows them to get up close with fascinating marine life.

Chicago offers tons of outdoor activities perfect for teens. They can bike or stroll the Lakefront Trail for scenic city views, explore the free Lincoln Park Zoo, kayak the Chicago River for a different perspective, or try activities like paddleboarding or beach volleyball along Lake Michigan.

There’s No Shortage of Things to Do in Chicago with Teenagers

With everything to do in Chicago, your family will have no problem entertaining teenagers of any age. For the ultimate convenience, book a hotel close to the attractions you plan to visit.

Have another activity or destination teens should check out while in Chicago? Share it with us below!

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Written by Nicole King

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely...

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