see why Chicago's a favorite for every generation

No kid (or grown-up) can ever get bored in Chicago. There’s too much fun to be had. Like conquering your fear of heights at the top of a skyscraper. Or playing with a beluga. Or meeting a gigantosaurus. Or riding a submarine. There’s so much to do in the city of big adventures.

Make sure to check with attractions ahead of time for up-to-date operating hours, travel policies and health and safety information.

  • Day 1

see the sights

Chicago is a fantastic city the whole family will enjoy. There’s something for everyone and so many ways to spend the day. Start out by setting the scene and taking in the full scale of the city on a one-of-a-kind architecture boat tour. If you want some exercise, take in the architectural sights with a kayak tour or a stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, dig into some classic Chicago fare. The hard decision? Deep dish pizza or hot dogs. Lou Malnati’s and Portillo’s are both must-visit establishments during your time in the city. So our best recommendation is don’t choose  try them both!  

Now that everyone’s refueled, burn off some energy with a stroll north on the Magnificent Mile. There’s fascinating architecture and a vast array of shopping for all tastes. For a coffee stop that the kids (and adults) will enjoy, head to the 5-story Starbucks Reserve Chicago Roastery. Also on the way is local favorite and Illinois Made maker Garrett Popcorn, the perfect snack to sustain the walk. Now, time to head up! Way up. 360 Chicago will give you a whole new perspective on the Chicago skyline. For those wanting a thrill, visitors can also TILT out over the city. If that’s not a big enough dose of high-flying fun, Skydeck Chicago offers incredible views extending to four states. Once you’ve worked up an appetite again, Beatrix is a great option with multiple Chicago locations. 

Book a room at Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown, which offers spacious suites perfectly suited for families.

  • Day 2

expand your mind

There’s nothing like world-class museums and attractions to start your morning. In Chicago, you have plenty of options. The Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum are great places to start. For all those future engineers and chemistry-curious, the Museum of Science and Industry is sure to please. If you’re planning on seeing a few museums during your time in the city, a Chicago CityPASS is a great way to save some money. For lunch, swing over to Grand Lux Café for a unique dining experience overlooking Michigan Ave.

There’s still so much to explore! Stroll through Millenium Park and Maggie Daley Park to make the most of some of the best open spaces in the city.

  • Day 3

head to the zoo

If you’d like to get out of downtown for a while, explore some of the city’s neighborhoods, like Lincoln Park. Here you'll find one of the oldest, free zoos in America! After you’ve finished at Lincoln Park Zoo, RJ Grunts is a great option for lunch -- or try the historic Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder, a pizza experience like no other. For dessert, grab a donut from Do-Rite Donuts, or visit the cupcake ATM at Sprinkles Cupcakes. Finish up your time in the city with an afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago, and when you’re there, don’t miss the Thorne Miniature Rooms. 

Have more time? Take a quick trip 30 minutes outside the city to the Oak Park area, a place where there is so much for the family to see and do. If you didn't make it to Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo is another fantastic option for a dose of wildlife action. Sail through the trees at nearby Go Ape Adventures and discover all kinds of family-friendly restaurants and shops.