Chicago Traveler Blog

Chicago Traveler Blog

25 Fun Things to do in Chicago With Your Kids Before They Grow Up

7/7/14 | by

Kids grow up so fast, don't they?

Many Chicago travelers come with their families and get to enjoy all the top attractions, and every parent loves introducing their kids to Chicago while they're young.
Every kid deserves to attend Chicago's biggest events, try all the food, explore the exhibits in the museums and sit in the stands while they cheer on any of Chicago's professional sports teams.

If you're looking for the best things to do in Chicago with your kids for your next trip, take along the list and check things off as you do it all.

1. They need to learn to love America's favorite pastime, right? What better place for them to attend their first baseball game than in Chicago? You've got two teams to choose from - The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox, and neither is a bad choice. The Cubs may be the more popular of the team, and everyone loves to historic Wrigley Field, but kids also love posing for pictures with Southpaw, the White Sox (green) mascot.

Chicago Skyline and Buckingham Fountain

Chicago Skyline and Buckingham Fountain

2. Rent bikes to ride along Lake Shore Drive. The beautiful Chicago Lakefront consists of over 18 miles of car-free bike paths, so it's easy and safe for families to ride along the stunning waters of Lake Michigan, magnificent architecture and end up at any of the best attractions in Chicago, from the Lincoln Park Zoo to Millennium Park or Museum Campus. Bike Tours are also a great way to see the city, but day or night!

3. Mist yourselves at the Buckingham Fountain when it's hot out. Come during the evening and enjoy the water and lights show!

4. Treat them to a day at American Girl Place. Every girl can pick out her own doll, find matching outfits and watch one of the hair stylists give her American Girl a new hairstyle. Afterwards, post for pictures together, have a meal at the cafe and check out any of their current special events. Many Chicago hotels offer special deals for girls who know the American Girl Place is a must!

5. Grab a bag of the cheese and caramel popcorn from Garrett’s Popcorn, or any of their other signature flavors. The line is usually out the door as you wait, but the tastes never disappoint once you have a bag in hand.

6. The Air & Water Show is a thrilling annual August event in Chicago. There are tons of places to watch the show along the beaches, in the high buildings, or on the boat tours. Everyone gathers round to see this show each year.

7. The Chicago Blues Festival is fun for the whole family too, and every June more than 500,000 people come to see the free performances in Grant Park.

8. Head to Portillos or Hot Doug's and do your dog up Chicago-style. These places also have tons of other toppings, from the plain to the extraordinary, so there's always a hot dog every kid will like.

9. Visit Sue the T-Rex at the Field Museum. Of course while you're here you're not going to want to miss all of the other exhibits either, but there are a lot, so plan your visit wisely! Kids love the hands on Play Lab, which is filled with educational and fun activities for growing minds.

10. Explore the coal mine, attend the live science experiments and hop aboard the Silver Streak at the Museum of Science and Industry.

11. Watch a show and check out all the facinating exhibits at the Adler Planetarium - they're really out there!

12. Get hands on at the Chicago Children's Museum. Go diggin in the Dinousaur Expedition, Splash around in the WaterWays and even design your own building at the Skyline exhibit. Who knows, you may have the architect for the next Chicago skyscraper on your hands!

Dolphin Show at the Shedd Aquarium

Dolphin Show at the Shedd Aquarium

13. Wander around the largest indoor aquarium in the world at Shedd Aquarium. Don't miss the dolphin shows!

You're probably going to want to check out moer than one of these Chicago museums on your trip. Check out the Chicago museum discounts when you're planning your visit so that you can do more for less!

14. Go out on a ledge and enjoy the views from the Skydeck at the Willis (Sears) Tower. Scared of heights? Hopefully not, you're not going to want to miss these views! These glass boxes extend out 4.3 feet from the building so that you can see out, up and down - from 1,353 feet in the air!

15. Go ice skating at the John Hancock Center. They have the highest ice rink, and these views are some of the finest! If you come with the kids in winter, definitely consider this ice rink, (but also take a spin at the Millennium Park ice rink). If you're here in the summer - don't miss the chance to see the beaches and skyline from the John Hancock Observatory. No matter what season, you and your kids will love this attraction.

16. Take a ride on one of the Chicago boat tours! Kids love the thrill that the Seadog Speedboat tours offer, and all the fun variations that Tall Ship Windy has, like the pirate tours! If you're just in it for the sites, check out the Shoreline Sightseeing cruises or the water taxis.

17. Frank Lloyd Wright has made quite a name for himself. Have fun exploring all of his architectural masterpieces in the Oak Park area on a guided tour.

18. Spend an afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo. What kid doesn't love a good zoo? And what parent doesn't love the free pricetag on a great attraction?

19. Grab a pie. Of course, the hardest part is not trying to finish the mass of toppings, flaky crust and gooey cheese in front of you. The hardest part is finding your favorite pizza place. Some of the most popular choices are Piece Brewery and Pizzeria, Pequod's, Lou Lamnati's and Giordano's. Kids love crowded joints like these, and nobody minds when they make a little extra noise out of excitement, but when they're hungry and in "Need to eat right now" mode, check out some of the low-key pizza places. All pizza in Chicago is good, and there's every kind to try from deep dish to thin crust. Don't know which one's your favorite? Chicago Food Tours are a great way to sample a few of the best in one afternoon.

Chicago's Navy Pier

Chicago's Navy Pier

20. Navy Pier has enough rides, restaurants and activities to fill an entire Saturday. Try them all! Kids love Navy Pier even more than many adults do, so this is a perfect time to bring them out. You can even hop on most of the boat tours from here!

21. Millennium Park is a popular destination every season. Check out your reflection in the Bean, splash around in Crown Fountain, see a show at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and more!

22. Watch fireworks with the kids during the summer. Sit anywhere between Shedd Aquarium and the Chicago Yacht Club at Monroe Street, hop on a boat (Shoreline Sightseeing as a great fireworks cruise) or see them from Navy Pier.

23. Taste of Chicago is a must for foodies of all ages! This family frienldy event is free to attend, although eating will cost you, but there's tons of entertainment and it's a great experience for all.

24. Take the family to see the Chicago Bears, Bulls or Blackhawks. Kids love baseball, but of course many of them also love football, basketball and hockey, so there's a game to see every season in this city. Besides, what parent doesn't love dressing their kid in fan gear? Bears onsies look good on every baby! Find Chicago sports tickets for every game!

25. Spend the day at Six Flags. Every kid dreams of amusement parks like this one, and on your Chicago vacation, you can make their dreams come true with thrilling rollar coasters, entertainment, water rides and more!

Chicago is a destination for all ages, but it's a different experience seeing something as a kid than it is when you're grown up. Treat your kids to all the best things that Chicago has to offer! What's on your list to do with the kids before they grow up?