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Family Fun in Illinois

Abel Arciniega, Courtesy of the Illinois Office of Tourism

Things to do with kids with Illinois, including rollercoasters, waterslides, and all the tasty treats your picky eater could ask for.

Family Fun in Illinois

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Things to do with kids with Illinois, including rollercoasters, waterslides, and all the tasty treats your picky eater could ask for.

Are You Up for Amusing?

Amusement and Water Parks

Kick off your Illinois family adventure with the wind in your hair and water in your shoes.

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Six Flags Great America (Gurnee)

Wanna get your kids moving in the morning? Mention those six beautiful flags. That should do the trick. Plan a day at Six Flags Great America & Hurricane Harbor to get the blood flowing with classic rollercoasters like Superman, Batman and the Joker, or catch some age-appropriate entertainment at one of the many shows throughout the day.

Oh, and did we mention their world-record-holding wooden coaster? When it opened in 2014, Goliath officially staked its claim as the tallest, fastest, and steepest wooden rollercoaster ever built. But let’s be honest—the real thrill is seeing the terrified look on a loved one’s face when Goliath makes its 180-foot drop at 72 mph.

Cool Off at These Water Parks

If you find yourself in Illinois during our warm-weather months, venture a trip to one of two very wet water parks (or stick around Six Flags and visit the Hurricane Harbor water park). In northern Illinois, check out Raging Waves. Illinois’ largest outdoor water park, Raging Waves offers up an Aussie-themed experience, with more than 40 acres of family fun, including 19 water slides, a separate kiddie pool for the youngins, and all the quintessential water park delights. 

If you’re in the state’s sultry south, don’t miss Raging Rivers. Situated in Grafton along the Mississippi River, the water park has plenty of cool, cascading attractions—including the Swirlpool, a slick ride through a swirling vortex affectionately nicknamed the Toilet Bowl.

Too Cool for School

Science and Wild Encounters

Take the kiddos somewhere their imaginations – and hands – can run free.

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Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)

Holy mitosis. Science has never been cooler than it is at the Museum of Science and Industry, the largest science center in the western hemisphere. “Don’t touch that” are words you won’t hear often at this Chicago fave. 

From planes and locomotives to a 24,000-square-foot exhibit dedicated to storm science, the Museum of Science and Industry is packed with mesmerizing interactive exhibits and dramatic displays. If you want your kiddos to get excited about science, this is certainly a great place to start. 

The Wild Life

Love animals? Of course you do. If you find yourself in the north, get your furry fix at the Brookfield Zoo. With more than 200 acres of picturesque zoological landscaping and exhibits, your kids won’t be tempted to watch a single cat video. 

If the words Midwestern safari tickle your fancy, head to the center of Illinois for the Wildlife Prairie Park. Explore more than 2,000 acres of natural habitat by train, or hike winding trails that overlook prairie and wetlands dotted with 150 animals native to Illinois, from elk and otters to wolves. Need a place for your own pack to crash? Book a night in one of the Sante Fe Train Cabooses, located in the park.

Kid-Friendly Fare

Family Dinners Done Right

The original corndog on a stick, ice cream, and so much more.

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Cozy Dog Drive In (Springfield)

Everything’s more fun when it’s the first. Corndogs are a marvel of the western world, and Cozy was the first one to stick ‘em on a stick. Besides being an old-fashioned drive-in, the restaurant is also partly a Route 66 museum, letting you learn a little about the Mother Road while ingesting some deep-fried golden goodness. 

Lagomarcino’s (Moline)

Lagomarcino’s is a Moline institution. This timeless soda parlor/candy confectionary/ice-cream compound has been delivering delicious treats for more than 100 years. Snag a classic banana split or the original Quad-City Special. Do it for yourself. Say it’s for the kids.

American Girl Cafe (Chicago)

For all the American Girl super-fans, this is a must-do. With doll-friendly accommodations and gourmet dishes, you’ll satisfy all members of your family—inanimate and otherwise.