No matter what time of year it is, Chicago is one of the best cities to take kids of any age. Easily accessible via public transit, most areas are just a train or bus stop away. Additionally, many locations are indoors, which is a definite plus during those bitterly cold winter days. From the Shedd Aquarium to the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago has no shortage of amazing attractions and events.
So, before you plan your trip, here ‘s our list of 5 things to do in Chicago with kids.
The well-renowned Shedd Aquarium is an attraction not to be missed. The aquarium’s exhibits represent a diverse range of marine-based ecosystems that span the Amazon River Basin, Caribbean Coral Reefs, and the nearby Great Lakes. Kids will enjoy seeing the Beluga whales, penguins, and hundreds of species of fish. The aquarium opens daily at 9 a.m, and closing times vary throughout the week with some days offering late hours.
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of a handful of museums that consistently appears on the top-10 list of world museums. Kids and their parents can marvel at artwork from ancient and modern times. By viewing different forms of art from a wide range of time periods and locations, kids will unknowingly enhance their understanding of history and cultures. The museum’s Vitale Family Room is a great place for parents and kids to engage with art-themed puzzles and games, with energetic volunteers at hand. Don’t forget to check out the Art Institute of Chicago website for more info on family activities. This museum is about a mile south of the John Hancock Center. And, best of all, kids under 14 years old don’t have to pay an admission fee.
The Museum of Science and Industry
While the Shedd Aquarium can take an entire day to explore, the Museum of Science and Industry can take two or more. Situated on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Hyde Park, this is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Besides the dozens of hands-on exhibits within the museum’s floors, kids can tour a complete German submarine from World War II, visit a coal mine below the museum, and walk through an example of a city street during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair. Most days, the museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with exceptions for holidays and scheduled late closings.
Chicago Children’s Theater
Nestled between Little Italy and Greektown is the Chicago Children’s Theater, which does more than produce innovative plays for a variety of ages. It also has classes and programs that allow children to participate. In fact, if parents haven’t decided on which things to do in Chicago with kids during a longer stay, registration for some of these classes is recommended. Hours at the Chicago Children’s Theater vary depending on class and play schedules. Since these performances tend to be popular with Chicagoland residents and visitors, it’s best to check out the theater’s schedule before you book your flights to Chicago.
Out of all the grassy areas in Downtown Chicago, Grant Park is the largest. There are tons of photo ops with the city skyline, Lake Michigan, and the iconic and reflective “Bean” sculpture in the background. And, in the summer, your kids can splash around in the park’s two reflecting pools. The park opens at dawn and normally closes around 8 or 9 p.m. Hours for the various park attractions vary per season, and may be longer during the summer. Therefore, it’s best to check ahead of time.
Do you have a favorite family-friendly Chicago attraction? Tell us in the comments section below.