The Chicago Field Museum of Natural History is one of the best Chicago musuems to explore with kids. Whether you are a Chicago resident or a tourist, your family will love exploring all the cool Field Museum Exhibits.
This iconic Chicago attraction is an amazing place that combines the allure of Dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, and the history and culture of Africa, Asia and Ancient Americans into a fun learning experience for all ages. Plus they now have a new exhibit for their famous Sue T rex and a brand new huge Dinosaur called Maximo.
Before you go use this guide to be prepared with the best field museum parking, ticket prices and hours. I’ll also give you the field museum free days available for Illinois residents. After reading this you’ll be ready for a great day out at the Chicago Field Museum with kids.
Chicago Field Museum with Kids
The Field Museum has been in Chicago since 1893 and was originally created for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The museum’s current building was built in 1921 and is huge with 480,000 square feet and a staggering number of exhibits to see.
The exhibits range from walking through the history of the earth in Evolving Planet which leads to the kid favorite Dinosaur Hall, to walking through Ancient Egypt, a Pawnee Earth Lodge, the Crown Family Playlab, and so much more. Your kids will be amazed at how much there is to see and do.
The Field Museum is located on the Museum Campus right on the beautiful Chicago Lakefront. You will also find the Shedd Aquarium and Planetarium here. Although all three museums are close with so much to do in each museum, I would stick to exploring one museum a day. Make sure to find time before or after the museum to take a stroll along the lakefront for great views of the city and Lake Michigan.
Field Museum Parking
All parking areas are paid at the museum campus. You will find three parking areas and a few metered spots available. Each of these lots also is parking for the Bears Games, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium.
- Field Museum Parking – There is a small lot located just east of the museum which is very convenient but fills up fast.
- Solider Field North Garage – You will also find a large parking garage located across the street at Soldier Field. This is nice because it has indoor parking and it’s a quick walk to the south entrance door.
- Adler Planetarium Parking – There is also a small lot located closer to the Planetarium which is in walking distance.
- Metered Parking – There is very limited metered parking along Solidarity Drive between the Field Museum and Planetarium
Tip: During Bears Games, free days at the museums and special events in the area it will be much harder to find parking in this area. Make sure to go early to get a parking spot.
If you do not want to deal with the Chicago traffic, I would suggest taking public transportation. You can take the Metra train from the Suburbs or the L train in the city. Then hop on a bus or cab to take you to the Museum. Here is a link to find directions to the Chicago Field Museum.
Field Museum Address
Use this address to located the Field Musuem with your GPS.
Address: 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
Field Museum Hours
The museum is open 364 days a year and are only closed on Christmas Day. Field Museum Hours are from 9 am to 5 pm and last admission is 4:00 pm.
There are three ways to enter the museum. The south side entrance is most convenient for public transportation or if you park in the Solider Field lot. There is also an entrance on the North side of the building if you are walking to the museum. Both of these require you to climb a lot of stairs.
If you have a stroller or need better accessibility, take the entrance located on the east side of the building. There is also a passenger drop off area at this location.
Tip: I find that the lines tend to be shorter at the East entrance on busy days.
Field Museum Tickets & Membership
The musuems offers three levels of field museum tickets to visitors. Rates are based on the age and residency of individuals. The tickets are cheaper for Illinois Residents and seniors & kids.
Here are the types of admission
- Basic Admission – Includes all general Admission exhibits (there are a lot and if it’s your first time it can take you all day to just see these exhibits) – $26 – $17
- Discovery Pass – Includes all general admission exhibits & 1 ticketed exhibit or one 3D movie. $34-$23 per person
- All Access Pass – All general admission exhibits, all ticketed exhibits and one 3D movie – $40 – $27 per person
Check to see current ticket prices.
The question of whether to get a membership depends on how often you plan to visit this museum. If you plan to go multiple times a year, it might be worth purchasing a membership. If not, then just a day ticket would work.
With the memberhship you will get free or discounted tickets to 3D movies and ticketed exhibitions. Learn more about membership.
Field Museum Free Days
Are you an Illinois resident? Then you are eligible for free entrance on the Field Museum Free Days. This is a great way to explore the basic exhibits at the Field Museum for free. You can also pay to add on some of the fee-based exhibits.
Our family usually goes on a free day once a year and have found that there is enough to do for free that we do not need to add on anything extra.
However, seeing you aren’t paying for admission, it’s not a bad deal to add on an extra exhibit. We have also found that although there might be a line to get in on a free day, once you are inside, the museum it is so large that it doesn’t seem over crowded.
Tips for Your Visit
Get a Map
The museum is huge and you will need a map to navigate around. Before you start the day, I would suggest you take a minute to review the map and see which exhibits you don’t want to miss and then devise a plan of how you will walk around. Many of the exhibit spaces are very large and can take a while to walk though.
The bathrooms are pretty spaced out and tend to have long lines so make sure to stop with the little ones when you come across them. There is a family bathroom located on the ground floor near the Siragusa Center (picnic area).
Where to Eat
The Field Bistro – Located on the main level is a small café with breakfast and lunch items. It’s also a great place to stop in for a snack when the kids need an energy boost.
Explorer Café – Located on the ground level is a larger family friendly cafeteria. It can get pretty crowded on busy days so try going at off times for meals.
The Siragusa Center – Want to save some money and bring your own lunch? Head down to the ground level to find a large open picnic table area to eat. They also have several vending machines and it is near family bathrooms.
More Chicago Travel Ideas – Chicago Shedd Aquarium Family Tips and Things to Do
It is a large museum so being able to push the kids in the stroller when they get tired and hold your stuff will be a big bonus. The down side is the museum has only a few elevators and there tends to be long lines for them.
Field Museum Exhibits
Newest Dinosaurs at the Museum – Maximo
The Field Museum has recently put on display Maximo the Titanosaur. Maximo is the largest Dinosaur ever discovered and is pretty impressive to see. The display is a 122 foot long cast of the plant-eating titanosaur taking up half of the main level.
There are 5 of the actually bones set off to the side to view. Kids can walk all around the dinosaur and under him which is pretty cool. Make sure to head to the upper level to get a better view of his head.
Sue the T rex
Sue the T rex has got a new home at the Field Museum. You can find the new exhibit in the Evolving Planet Hall just after the Dinosaur Hall.
Inside you will find Sue’s head on display which is used by scientist all over the world for research. Then enter into the mail hall where the life size Sue sits impressively in front of you.
What makes this area special are the two special effects. First is what I’ll call a show or explanatory video. The lights dim and you hear a recording telling you all about Sue.
They then use lights to highlight the different parts of the body they are talking about. See picture above. This made it really easy for kids to follow along plus we learned a lot about Sue.
Next are separate panels showing animated video of how Sue lived at the time among other dinosaurs. You see Sue walking, eating, fighting a triceratops and drinking water. What’s cool is the dinosaurs move between panels for a really neat effect. All the kids and parents are mesmerized!
This exhibit alone is a great reason to visit the Field Museum.
The Dinosaur Hall
The Dinosaur Hall is always a huge hit with kids. To get to the Dinosaur Hall you enter though the Evolving Planet exhibit. On your way in and out of the hall, you will find all the lifeforms that came before and after the dinosaurs, too.
It is a long walk through the exhibit before you get to the dinosaurs so smaller children might get a little anxious to see the dinosaurs.
Inside Ancient Egypt
This is a really cool exhibit that make you feel like you are exploring an Egyptian pyramid. You will find mummies to look at and some hands-on exhibits about how ancient Egyptians lived. The downside to this exhibit is it is on two floors with a narrow steep stairway connecting the exhibit.
As this doesn’t work well with strollers, you can either park the stroller on the main level and come back for it or you can access the exhibit from the ground level and just skip the upper level exhibit. The majority of the exhibit is located on the stroller friendly ground level.
Tip: If it’s near lunch time, enter this exhibit though the Main level entrance and when you finish, you will be let out on the ground level right across from the Siragusa Center and down the hall from the Explorer Café. You will be right where you need to be for lunch and bathroom breaks.
Crown Family PlayLab
This is a great area for younger children to be able to touch and explore science. It is recommended for ages 2-6 years old but there are some interesting science areas my 9-year-old enjoys, too.
Your kids will love digging for dinosaur bones, playing music, growing corn, and so much more. It’s a perfect area to let the little ones’ roam and explore. They also have family friendly restrooms and a stroller parking area.
Pawnee Earth Lodge
A really cool exhibit for kids is the Pawnee Earth Lodge where you can see what it was like to live as a Pawnee Indian. There is usually a docent in this area to answer all the kid questions.
The Dinosaur Hall
The Dinosaur Hall is always a huge hit with kids. To get to the Dinosaur Hall you enter though the Evolving Planet exhibit. On your way in and out of the hall, you will find all the lifeforms that came before and after the dinosaurs, too. It is a long walk through the exhibit before you get to the dinosaurs so smaller children might get a little anxious to see the dinosaurs.
Hall of Gems
A room you might not think of is the Hall of Gems. If your child loves Minecraft, they will enjoy seeing all the gems and minerals.
There are so many more exhibits than I can mention. Take a minute when you get to the museum to look over the exhibit list and find what your family is most interested in learning about while you’re here.
More Chicago Travel Ideas – 14 Tips for Visiting the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry with Kids
How to Save on Your Ticket Fees
If you are visiting the city and plan to go to several Chicago attractions look into purchasing a CityPASS. The CityPASS bundles together the price to visit 5 Chicago attractions over a 9-day period and saves you up to 50% on admission fees.
Plus you’re a VIP and get to skip the lines in many of the museums. It’s a great deal for tourists.
Find out if it’s right for you in my City Pass Review.
More Chicago Attractions to Visit with Kids
Use our guides to experience more Chicago Attractions for a great family vacation or Chicago Staycation. They’ll tell you everything you need to know before you go!
- Chicago Museum of Science & Industry
- Adler Planetarium – Located on Museum Campus
- Shedd Aquarium – Located on Museum
- Best Museums in Chicago for Kids – Including Cool Children’s Museums
- Top Things to Do in Chicago with Kids – What your family can’t miss in Chicago!
- Everything to do in Chicagoland with Kids – All the fun in the City and Suburbs
I hope these tips will help you have a fun filled family day at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History. It is one of the great Chicago Attractions and you will be so glad your family visited.
Do you have any questions or tips of your own? Please share with us in the comments.
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