Three floors of adventure await at the Chicago Children’s Museum, with hands-on learning and activities for children and their families. A life-size fire truck, water works tables, dinosaur dig, and so much more, means that your family can spend an entire day having a smarter kind of fun!
New and exciting experiences abound at the Children’s Museum. And it’s not just about passive entertainment. Set your kids free from screens, school tests, and the regular routine by allowing them to develop skills and learn in a new kind of way. The Chicago Children’s Museum has been providing safe and creative ways for children to develop actively for more than 30 years.
Not to Miss at the Chicago Children’s Museum
- Tinkering Lab allows children and adults to use real tools and materials to experiment with creativity, developing their own ideas and products.
- Kids Town is an early-learning exhibit that features real-life items such as a CTA bus, kid-sized cityscape, and mini grocery store.
- Skyline, funded by the National Science Foundation, explores the engineering, science, art, and technology that make Chicago’s skyscrapers functional.
- Zoom Room for girls and boys who love to be in the driver’s seat, this play place features hundreds of toy cars and over 40 tracks with loops, curves, dips and crash sites.
Chicago Children’s Museum Amenities
Some of the features that make Chicago Children’s Museum functional and accessible for visitors:
Outside food and drink (other than bottled water or coffee in thermal mugs) are not permitted. Small snack items may be consumed in the Snack Spots, located on Main levels 2 and 3.
To eat lunch, museum visitors must exit the museum and may choose to picnic in public spaces or purchase a meal at a restaurant. Navy Pier has various restaurants including:
- Giordano’s Pizza
- Big Bowl Chinese Express
- America’s Dog
- Lalo’s Mexican
- Greek Delight
For educational toys, puzzles, games, dolls, and more, the Chicago Children’s Museum Gift Shop is the place to go. Logo and exhibit-related merchandise make for unique gifts that can’t be found outside the museum. The gift shop has extended hours after the museum closes.
Strollers are allowed in the museum and may be left unattended in the coat room during the visit. Many exhibits have stroller parking outside.
Those with disabilities are welcomed to participate in the Children’s Museum activities. Some of the special accommodations include:
- Mobility, hearing, vision and cognitive/developmental accessibility
- Sensory explorations are used in the Pritzker Playspace
- Kraft Artabounds Studio maintains adjustable height tables
- A Storybook Guide with explanations of various exhibits is useful for children with developmental disabilities—available online or at the guest relations desk
Chicago Children’s Museum Nearby Attractions
The area surrounding Navy Pier is filled with interesting Chicago flair, including Polk Bros Park, Ohio Street Beach, The Crystal Gardens, and the Chicago Riverwalk. Plus, many tour companies call Navy Pier home, such as Seadog Chicago, Shoreline Sightseeing, Chicago Segway Tours, and Bobby’s Bike Hike.
Getting to the Chicago Children’s Museum
Located at Navy Pier, 700 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611-3428
Chicago Children’s Museum can be easily accessed by Lake Short Drive. Navy Pier has 1500 parking spots in its indoor garage. Alternate lots may offer discounted parking for guests with validation:
- Grand Plaza Park at 540 N State Street
- Ogden Plaza Self Park at 300 E North Water Street
- Millennium Park Garage at 5 S Columbus Drive
An accessible loading zone is available at the museum entrance. Designated accessible parking spaces are located in the onsite public parking garage at Navy Pier with access to elevators and ramps.
- CTA buses serving Navy Pier include #29 State Street, #65 Grand Avenue, #66 Chicago Avenue, #2 Hyde Park Express, and #124 Navy Pier Express.
- Metra, the regional commuter rail is convenient for access to Navy Pier, and provides discounts for children on weekends when traveling with an adult.
- During the warmer months, Shoreline Sightseeing offers access by water taxi from the Museum Campus to Navy Pier. Shoreline Shuttle Service provides service from the Loop and Navy Pier along the Chicago River.
When to Go to the Chicago Children’s Museum
Open Daily 10am-5pm with extended hours until 8pm on Thursdays. Visiting the Children’s Museum on weekday mornings is a less busy time. The museum offers various discounts and free days but these days will tend to be busier than most.
Play Late Thursdays are a great time to visit the Children’s Museum with school aged children who are busy on the weekends. The museum is open until 8pm on Thursdays and may offer discounted prices for those arriving later in the day.
Chicago Children’s Museum Insider Tips
The Children’s Museum provides discounts or free admission with certain qualifications so be sure to ask about these:
- Residents of Chicago may also be able to gain free or discounted access through passes picked up at local Chicago Public Libraries.
- Veterans and active military may receive discounts (or even free admission) with identification.
- Teachers, firefighters and police offers may also be eligible for discounts as a thank you for their contribution to the community.
- Illinois residents with EBT or WIC cards may receive significantly discounted admission prices.
- Play for All events invite children and families of with disabilities to experience the museum an hour early with pre-registration, and a certain number of visitors may receive free admission.
- If you are planning on visiting more than 1 tourist attraction during your visit to Chicago, check out the Go Chicago Card and Explorer Pass, both include the Chicago Children’s Museum.