Things to do in Chicago with Kids
Thankfully, Chicago has no end of activities for kids that their parents will also love. From a world-class aquarium to plenty of parks and beaches, natural history and art museums, you will want to plan multiple trips to start to scratch the surface of all you can do.
But where should you start first? That’s easy- the Shedd Aquarium. My 4-year-old son Grey is still in shock that there were Beluga at this Chicago aquarium. Let your curiosity run wild and step back into your childhood while engaging with all the amazing animal interactions throughout the day, including the beluga show, stingray feeding, and starfish, stingray and sturgeon touch pools. If you have a true animal lover in the family, you can book an enhanced behind-the-scenes experience to get up close with sea otters, penguins or belugas. You can even be part of a shark feeding tour!
The critter fun doesn’t have to stop at the Shedd Aquarium either. Step back in time at the Field Museum, one of the country’s premier natural history museums. We spent hours upon hours walking around in this amazing space. To be honest, I have yet to discover a museum that keeps my son’s attention like the Field Museum. He was in awe of everything they had to offer. We shut the place down, staying until the very last minute before closing time, and we still felt like we could go back to see new things the next day. Thankfully, Maggie Daley Park, filled with a Play Garden and Enchanted Forest, was north of the museum, so we were able to let the kids run off any leftover energy. On the way, we popped into Millennium Park to check out Cloud Gate (better known as the “The Bean”), which is always a hit with kids who love to make silly faces at their reflection.
Keeping with our animal theme, we headed to Lincoln Park, the largest park in the city and the home of Lincoln Park Zoo. In addition to the free zoo, families can take a leisurely stroll around the pond, learn all about butterflies at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, enjoy an amazing view of Chicago’s skyscrapers or simply relax with a little downtime at the playground.
After so many animals, it was time to get sky high. If you are looking for breathtaking panoramic views of Chicago, 360 CHICAGO gives you the sickest views of the city from 1,000+ feet above the famed Magnificent Mile. While up on the observation deck you must check out TILT – Chicago’s highest thrill ride. You literally stand in a window and with a click of a button, you are tilted out over Chicago. Don’t worry though, you can always step back from the breathtaking views looking down into the streets below if you get freaked out.
Speaking of crazy views, when you head to Navy Pier, you can walk 3,000 feet out over Lake Michigan, giving you an incredible view of the skyline from the water. For even more views from the water, hop on the Shoreline Sightseeing: Skyline Tour. This 40-minute sailing adventure leaves right from Navy Pier, providing a family-friendly adventure everyone can enjoy. Back on the pier, you will find more shops and snacks than you could check out in one visit. Kids will love the Centennial Wheel and our little ones never wanted to leave the Chicago Children's Museum, located right on the pier.