Top Chicago Attractions for Families with Kids

Jocelyn Murray August 30, 2012 No Comments


Tots and Travel Recommended

Home to “Da Bears” and “Da Bulls,” Chicago Illinois is an exciting destination for families with kids. From museums and aquariums, to parks and zoos, there is something for everyone in the family. The following places are listed alphabetically and perfect for kids of all ages.


Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium is one of the fantastic attractions in Chicago’s lakefront park area knows as Museum Campus (courtesy of Adler Planetarium)

Whether you are interested in star gazing, the evolution of the universe, the amazing planets in our solar system, deep space exploration, the Milky Way Galaxy, or our moon, the Adler Planetarium has all this and more to sate your curiosity about the cosmos. Its exhibitions are inspiring as they are informative, and engage all ages in learning through hands-on interactive experiences. It also features shows in three full-size theaters that immerse viewers in a variety of thrilling space adventures. Daily activities include tours, telescopes, talks and activity carts for exploring, an observatory and more. Adler Planetarium is located at 1300 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago,


Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago Children's Museum

The Chicago Children’s Museum is located at the historic Navy Pier (courtesy of Chicago Children’s Museum)

The Chicago Children’s Museum has three floors filled with engaging activities that provide hands-on interactive learning fun. Kids can dig for dinosaurs in an excavation pit, climb through the ship rigging of a schooner and see live tropical fish at the bottom, explore firefighting paraphernalia with real gear, a sliding pole and truck, build structures with wooden struts, play in a tree house, splash around in Waterways with pulleys, pipes and wheels, and so much more. There are also arts and crafts galore, an urban “garden” to explore, and lots of creative exploration play opportunities that introduce children to our amazing world. Kids of all ages will love this museum, and there are many activities to stimulate even the youngest babies and toddlers. The Chicago Children’s Museum is located at 700 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, Illinois


Field Museum of Natural History

Sue the T. Rex Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History

Come face-to-face with Sue the T. Rex at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History (courtesy of Field Museum of Natural History)

Where can you learn about prehistoric dinosaurs, ancient mummies, our planet’s evolution, the underground world of plants and critters, and so much more all in one place? Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. Located on the beautiful shoreline of Lake Michigan by the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History is home to Sue the T. Rex: the world’s biggest, most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever discovered. It also has one of the largest mummy collections in the USA with exquisite dioramas of ancient Egypt that recreate marketplaces with ceramics, jewelry and artifacts, to burial workshops that prepared the deceased for the afterlife.  The museum’s Underground Adventure exhibit gives guests a bug’s-eye perspective on the hidden world beneath the soil with larger-than-life worm holes, soil chambers, and creepy-crawlies. This fantastic museum also offers family tours, hands-on activity stations, and a play lab for children to explore. The Field Museum of Natural History is located at 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois –


Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo Amur Tigers

The Amur tigers combine beauty and brawn, playfulness and power and they bound through their outdoor yard (photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)

Established in 1868, the Lincoln Park Zoo is among the oldest zoos in the country. It is open 365 days a year and boasts FREE admission. This 35-acre zoo is a top Chicago attraction for the whole family, featuring exciting animal exhibits including a bear habitat, monkeys, lions, tigers, gorillas, birds, amphibians, reptiles and more. It also has a children’s zoo and farm with a petting area, vegetable gardens, and lots of fun interactive learning opportunities.  For a nominal fee, guests can also enjoy the carousel and mini train ride. Lincoln Park Zoo is located at 2001 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois


Navy Pier Chicago

Chicago Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

The Ferris Wheel is one of the many attractions at the Navy Pier

Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier is a historic landmark on the stunning banks of Lake Michigan that originally opened to the public in 1916. There are lots of things to do on this 3,300-foot lakefront playground including dining and shopping, boats and cruises, gardens and promenades, an IMAX 3-D theater, and rides and attractions. It features a 150-foot high Ferris wheel, a musical carousel with beautifully hand-painted horses and chariots, an exhilarating wave swinger ride that whisks people close to 40 feet above a pond, an 18-hole miniature golf course, remote control boats, and a light tower ride. Navy Pier also has live entertainment with concerts ranging from classical to jazz, blues, rock, pop and reggae, along with acrobatic and comedy shows, and a Shakespeare Theater. The Chicago Children’s Museum is found here as well. Navy Pier is located at 600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, Illinois


Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium Jellyfish

There is something so soothing and hypnotic about watching these ethereal creatures pulsate and glide through their liquid world

Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has been voted one of the top 10 aquariums in the USA time and again. It is also one of the most visited aquariums in the country. Its five permanent exhibits are home to fascinating creatures from around the world including beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters, sea lions, sharks, penguins, rays, turtles, jellies, fish galore and countless more. The Shedd also boasts a 4-D theater, guided behind-the-scenes tours, and animal encounters for an up close and personal experience. Children will love to explore the Polar Play Zone with its games, interactive elements and touch pools. The amphitheater also features exciting marine mammal presentations including dolphins and belugas to top off a memorable visit to this premier aquarium.

Shedd Aquarium was also featured in our 10 Best Aquariums in the USA article. It is located at 1200 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL


Related Articles:

5 Top Chicago Museums for Families

Chicago Family Attractions and Dining

Chicago Family Visit – John Hancock Center and the Navy Pier

avatarAbout the Author:

Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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