Are you wondering what to do in Chicago this weekend with kids? There are so many great downtown Chicago attractions for your family to see whether you’re visiting the city or just looking for a stay-cation. Chicago offers world class museums, a fabulous zoo and the best children’s playground we have ever been to. You will love exploring this great city and finding all the fun kids’ activities it has to offer.
I have put together a list of my favorite things to do in Chicago with kids to make it easier for you. Bonus there are even a couple of free things to do in Chicago with kids.
7 Can’t Miss Things to Do in Chicago with Kids
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If your kids love fish, dolphins and penguins this is a stop you will want to make. With 32,000 animals from the worlds’ aquatic environment there is something for everyone. The Shedd Aquarium is located on the Museum Campus on Lake Michigan. Which gives you a great view while watching the dolphin show or eating lunch at their cafeteria. Kids can also experience a 4D movie and pet sting rays while visiting. There are three levels of fun so I would give yourself the good part of the day to explore this aquarium.
Click here for insider tips to exploring the Shedd Aquarium – Shedd Aquarium Chicago
Chicago Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum is also located on the Museum Campus in Chicago. Here your kids are able to explore the history of people from around the world. Several of the exhibits immerse you into the lives of these people. Visit a pyramid and mummies in Ancient Egypt or Native Americans’ life in a Pawnee Earth Lodge from the 1800s. Kids will love playing in the Crown Family Play lab where they can explore science through growing plants at a Pueblo home, playing music from around the world and uncovering dinosaur bones. But the most popular exhibit for kids is the amazing dinosaurs located in the Evolving Planet exhibit. Your kids will be in awe looking at the huge creatures that used to roam the earth.
Click here for insider tips to exploring this museum Chicago Field Museum With Kids| Tips to Know Before You Go
Chicago Science and Industry Museum
Chicago is lucky to have one of the largest science museums in the world. This huge museum originally built for the World’s Fair has over 400,000 square feet of exhibit space. The Science and Industry has done a great job of offering ways to learn about science at any age. Little kids will love the farm, baby chicks, miniature trains and the hands on Idea Factory. Older kids will enjoy the Coal Mine, Uboat, Imax movies and Science Storms Hall. Holiday time is a great time to visit as the Christmas trees from around the world are on display. Don’t forget to check out the science exhibit carts spaced throughout the museum for the kids to do quick science experiments.
Click here for insider tips to exploring the Science and Industry Museum 14 Tips for Visiting the Museum of Science and Industry
Are your kids interested in astronauts, stars and space? Then they will enjoy learning at this small Planetarium located on Museum Campus. Kids can drive a mock rover over the moon, do experiments in the community design lab, learn what a planet is and explore the stars. What I love about this museum is their general admission rate is only $8 for kids and $12 for adults which is a steal compared to the other museums. It is small enough you could add this stop onto the Field Museum or Shedd Aquarium also located on the Museum Campus. All three share the same parking lots and are in a short walking distance.
Learn more tips for your visit at Adler Planetarium All You Need to Know Before You Go
Free Things to Do in Chicago with Kids
Ready to learn about some free activities in Chicago for kids? Let’s be honest, the Museums are amazing but can get pretty expensive. So, I try to add in a few free activities to balance out the visit. Here are two free places in Chicago my kids absolutely love going to!
This downtown Chicago attraction is located right in the heart of the city. It also is one of the most photographed areas of the city. Here you will find the famous Cloud Gate or Bean as Chicagoans call it. A huge silver art piece that reflects the buildings in the city. Your kids will love running around it and finding their image. Kids will also enjoy the Crown Fountain featuring two huge glass towers with images of Chicagoans faces that squirt water for the kids to play. Want some entertainment? Head over to the Jay Pritzker Pavillion which host concerts and summer movie nights. Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy a concert in the park. Don’t forget to stroll through the beautiful Lurie Gardens located on the south end of the park. If your heading over in the wintertime, rent some ice skates and skate around the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink while watching the city buildings go by. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon in the city.
Click here for more insider tips to Millennium Park- Millennium Park Chicago | 8 Things to Do with Kids
Maggie Daley Park
Ready to see the best playground in the city? Then head over to Maggie Daley Park! It’s connected to Millennium Park by a silver ribbon walkway called the BP Pedestrian Bridge. Once you walk over you will see the towering slides, bridges and ladders in the 3 acre Play Gardens. I have never seen any playground like this with six sections of fun. In the park you will also find a huge skating ribbon for ice skates in the winter and roller blades in the summer. Bonus no charge if you bring your own skates! Don’t forget to check out the huge climbing walls and miniature golf course created with Iconic Chicago buildings. The kids will be amazed at all the cool places to climb and run in this park!
Click here for more insider tips to Maggie Daley Park – Maggie Daley Park Chicago | Best Things to Do with Kids
Tips on how to save money visiting Chicago Attractions
- If you are visiting the city and plan to go to several of these 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 51% on admission fees. Plus you’re a VIP and get to skip the lines in many of the museums. It’s a great deal. Learn more by clicking Save 51% on Chicago’s 5 best attractions with CityPASS. Shop Now!
- Pack a lunch and snacks for the kids. All the museum and parks have areas to picnic both inside and outside. Take advantage of these and bring your own food.
- If there is a museum you think your family will want to return to consider buying a family membership pass for the year. Usually you only have to go 2 or 3 times to pay for the membership fee. Bonus: Science and Industry Museum Membership includes underground parking with your pass. Great for visiting in the winter months.
- Save money on parking by taking public transportation. The kids will love taking a ride on a train or bus and you will save on parking fees.
Wondering Where to Stay in the City
There are tons of hotels in the City of Chicago. I would suggest staying in the loop area, off Michigan Avenue or Lincoln Park to be close to all the attractions. However if you go further west you will probably find better pricing. Get some ideas by looking at one of our favorite travel sites Booking.com. You’ll find tons of hotel options to choose for with helpful reviews.
I hope this list of Things to do in Chicago with Kids got you excited about exploring Chicago Attractions. It’s a great city for family adventures and I hope your family will enjoy it as much as mine! Do you have any great Chicago tips to share? Please let me know in the comments or any questions you may have.