Family Living

Top 10 Things to Do with Young Kids in Chicago

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Chicago is a city known around the world for its world-famous architecture, sports teams, cultural offerings, and food. But any young family knows it can also be a great place to raise children (especially our TGS families in the Chicago area). Whatever your family enjoys doing together, Chicago has something to offer. Additionally, because Chicago is a relatively easy city to navigate with kids, you’re only a short ride on the L away from your family’s next memorable experience.

To celebrate everything that Chicago has to offer, our team members at our Chicago-area schools pulled together a list of our favorite activities and attractions for families of all ages.  

Top 10 Things to Do with Kids in Chicago

Whether you’re a local, a first-time visitor, or soon-to-be resident, here are our 10 favorite things to do in Chicago for families and kids:

  1. Hunt for dinosaurs at The Field MuseumYour kids will have the opportunity to meet Sue, the largest, best-preserved T-Rex on the planet, at Chicago’s Field Museum. Additionally, the interactive learning center has dozens of activities for kids of all ages. 

  2. Spend a day with the real wild things at the Lincoln Park ZooThanks to the city of Chicago, you can see the animals for free at the Lincoln Park Zoo. One of the aims of this zoo is to promote conservation, which means not only encouraging the protection of the planet but also investing in the preservation of endangered animal species. 

  3. See the fish at Shedd Aquarium. With more than 32,500 animals representing 1,500 species, Shedd is the largest indoor aquarium in the world. Whether you’re searching for the tiniest seahorse to the largest whale, Shedd has sea creatures of all sizes to captivate your child’s imagination.

  4. Go stargazing at the Adler PlanetariumVoted one of the prettiest planetariums in the county, Adler Planetarium has been helping kids explore Chicago’s sky since it opened in 1930. The planetarium is also within walking distance of the aquarium which makes it the perfect spot for a day of exploring the depths of the oceans and the heights of the galaxies. 

  5. Ride the Ferris Wheel at Navy PierChicago’s iconic Navy Pier is a great place to take in the views of the city and the Ferris Wheel is its most iconic feature (for parents and children). At 200 feet high, the Centennial Wheel offers 360-degree views and enclosed gondolas, making it a child favorite no matter the season. 

  6. Spend a Day at Millennium ParkIn addition to being home to Chicago’s most popular attraction, the Bean, Millennium Park also boasts the gorgeous Lurie Garden, the Crown Fountain, and an outdoor concert pavilion. Exploring all 25-acres of the park is a great way to get out energy on a beautiful day. 

  7. Go climbing at Maggie Daley ParkLocated in the Loop, the kid-friendly Maggie Daley Park features Chicago’s only outdoor climbing park and a path-like “skating ribbon” in the winter. You’ll have to drag your kids off the imaginative equipment, including an enchanted forest, wave lawn, and an array of slides. 

  8. View timeless masterpieces at The Art InstituteDon’t be intimidated by the world-class art at the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue. Admission is free for kids, and there are picture book exhibitions and art-making activities for kids.

  9. See the entire city from the top of Willis Tower. Nothing will make your child’s jaw drop more than the view of Chicago from the top of Willis Tower. This truly iconic skyscraper was the world's tallest building for nearly 30 years. Older kids will like the Ledge, a glass box that extends 4.3 feet out from the building to provide a disorienting view of the street below. 

  10. Turn your little ones loose to learn at the Kohl's Children MuseumThis museum’s tagline is “The place where awesome lives,” and that can be attributed to its 17 permanent exhibits that will get your child’s imagination firing for children ages 1-8. You’ll also want to check their website often for special events, temporary exhibits, and interactive learning events and programs for kids.

Whatever activities your family enjoys doing together, Chicago has a variety of destinations you should visit. For families in the Chicago area, be sure to follow our Chicago-area schools on Facebook for other fun activities in your neighborhood:

● The Gardner School of Chicago—Lincoln Park

● The Gardner School of Chicago—West Loop

● The Gardner School of Chicago—Bucktown

● The Gardner School of Oak Brook

● The Gardner School of Naperville

The Gardner School of Glenview-Northbrook