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Free Kid Friendly Things To Do In Chicago

Storybrook Trail In Little Bear Garden At Gallery Park

10 BEST Things To Do In Chicago | What To Do In Chicago

Perfect for preschoolers, Storybrook Trail shares a heartwarming story on different plaques in the park. Kids will eagerly run from one page to the next, eager to find out how the story evolves. Theres an onsite playground and plenty of space to run around, too.

Price: Free

Play At Maggie Daley Park

Over the magnificent BP Bridge from Millennium Park, youll find one of the best playgrounds a kid could ever imagine. The 3-acre Play Garden at Maggie Daley Park features numerous areas to run, slide, climb and activate imaginations in a colorful, creative setting. Theres also a Skating Ribbon, which is free to enjoy if you bring your own ice skates.

Things To Do In Chicago With Kids

15 Things to Do in Chicago with Kids

Also called the Windy City, Chicago promises the best adventures for your whole family. From riding a giant Ferris wheels to loitering at the foot of giant dinosaurs and playing with penguins and seals, Chicago is one that never fails to make a child say Wow!

Chicago is one of the most popular cities in the United States because of its famous skyscrapers, skyline, architecture, and cultural centers. What parents still need to discover is the citys love for children, hence, the collection of numerous kid-friendly activities to make a childs day most memorable. So if you are a tourist, an expat, or a local in Chicago trying to rummage for loads of fun for your precious munchkins, this article is for you. We compiled the best things to do in Chicago with your kids in the list below.

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Navy Pier Centennial Wheel And Rides

Navy Pier and its surrounding attractions are full of fun activities for kids and adults alike . Take a stroll around the pier, sample some classic boardwalk eats, and take a spin on the iconic Ferris wheel for unbeatable views of the city. Use your Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass to get a 4-Ride pass for Navy Pier attractions, including the ever-popular Centennial Wheel. Getting In: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel & Ride tickets are included with the Go Chicago Card.

Things To Do With Kids In Chicago City Fun

5 Free Family Activities To Do In Chicago

1. Pack a picnic and explore Maggie Daley Park play garden.

2. Take photos at The Bean and play in the water at Crown Fountain.

3. Enjoy the music at one of the many free concerts at Millennium Park.

4. Walk, bike ride, skate along the 18 mile Lakefront Trail.

5. See the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo .

6. Go to the beach and play for the day. Chicago has 26 miles of beachfront to explore!

7. Visit Garfield Park Conservatory with its beautiful gardens and goats that visit once a week during the summer!

8. Walk, skate, or bike the 606 trail.

9. Head to Buckingham Fountain and watch the evening water show that begins every 20 minutes starting at dusk .

10. See the Navy Pier fireworks over Lake Michigan, every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer.

11. Use Chicago free museum days to explore a variety of museums around the city.

12. Sign up for a Chicago Greeter neighborhood tour. Always free!

13. Walk along the Chicago Riverwalk and see the Chicago River Museum .

14. Visit the rotating art exhibits at the Historic Water Tower.

15. Check out Chicago Public Libraries. Many have free childrens programming year round

16. Admire the Victorian gardens at the Lincoln Park Conservatory.

17. Tour . She was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

18. Visit the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen where admission is always free.

20. Visit the Chicago Cultural center and take a free guided architecture tour.

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The Doughnut Vault Chicago Illinois

The Doughnut Vault is one of Chicago’s hottest hidden-gem bakeries, operated by owner and chef Brendan Sodikoff. The shop, which has been acclaimed by international publications suhc as the Huffington Post, opens up daily at 8:30am and only sells until daily stock runs out, which can produce long lines and mean that the restaurant closes up shop as early as 10:00am. A small menu of simple, exquisite doughnuts is worth the wait, however. Three varieties of doughnuts are offered, including glazed, buttermilk old-fashioned, and gingerbread doughnuts, which are offered in chocolate, vanilla, and chestnut-flavored variants. Visitors should note that no seats or counter space are offered at the restaurant, only take-out doughnut service.

401 N Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60654, Phone: 312-285-2830

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Tour Chicago Neighborhoods With A Chicago Greeter

Learn from a local! Take one of the free neighborhood walking tours from Chicago Greeter, which has 24 different tours in 10 languages. The tours will let you sample ethnic foods in Chinatown, see the party atmosphere around Wrigley Field or just learn about cool stuff in downtown Chicago. You MUST register 10 days in advance for these tours, and you are expected to give the guide a tip.

The free tours most popular with families are Millennium Park and The Loop, the nature preserve in North Park and the Navy Pier and Chicago Childrens Museum tour.

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Best Museums & Attractions For Kids In Chicago

Most of Chicago’s biggest museums and attractions are geared towards families so it won’t be hard to find a number of things to do with kids.

Many of the sections above cover some of our favorite museums for kids.

Read on for more information about museums, best sightseeing tours for kids and family friendly restaurants, and things to do with teenagers.

Catch A Free Concert At The Chicago Cultural Center

Family Attractions in Chicago

See the largest Tiffany stained-glass dome in the world inside the historic Chicago Cultural Center. Take a free architecture tour around the ornate building, or enjoy a mid-day music fix. Free classical music concerts are offered every Wednesday of the year, and complimentary chamber concerts are played on the fourth Monday of the month.

Toddlers will get a kick out of the Juicebox concerts, where music from around the world is performed in a playgroup setting and dancing is definitely encouraged.

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Stand Above The City At The Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago

Cost: $17 to $25

You are probably waiting for this to come up on our list, and here it is. The Willis Tower, a skyscraper and an identifiable symbol in Chicago, offers your whole family a chance to walk on air on a glass balcony. Located on the 103rd floor, the Skydeck Chicago is more than 1,300 feet high. It has a glass balcony and glass windows which offer a breathtaking view of Chicago. Children and adults alike will surely hold their breath while looking around the place. Your whole family can walk around the building so as to experience the view of Chicago from all angles. Older kids and parents can also treat themselves for a rather disorienting view of the street at the Ledge, which consists of a glass box extending 4.3 feet out of the Willis Tower.

Dusable Museum Of African American History

Chicago is home to a wealth of cultural attractions, and the DuSable Museum of African American History is a great place to take kids. Founded in 1961, the museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history and culture of African Americans.

The museums Permanent Collection features a wide range of artifacts, from slave shackles to paintings by contemporary artists. In addition, the museum offers a variety of programs and events for families.

The Childrens Gallery offers interactive exhibits on topics such as slavery and the Underground Railroad, while the Education Department provides classes on African American history and culture.

The DuSable Museum is a great way for kids to learn about the significant contributions of African Americans to our countrys history.

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Take A Tour With Tall Ship Windy

Alvov | Shutterstock

Entry Ticket: Starting at $17.00

Address: 600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

  • Book in advance
  • Allow 2 hours

Tall Ship Windy offers sailing tours near and around Chicago, with several options for themed, educational, and classic sailing tours.

If you want to view the spectacular skyline of Chicago from the water, you have the option to take a leisurely sail along Lake Michigan, where you can learn about the architecture as you enjoy the water and sunshine.

For a nighttime excursion, you cant go wrong with the fireworks cruise, where you can sip on a cocktail and enjoy fantastic fireworks as you glide by the city.

In the mood for some pirate-style drinking?

With the Pirates Pub Sail you will have a fun-filled time sampling beer and singing traditional pirate songs, all while floating across Lake Michigan.

A unique and special experience awaits you with Tall Ship Windy and their exceptional sailing tours.

Let The Kids Go Crazy In Chi

Favorite Free Things to Do in Chicago with Kids

Before you head to any of the indoor play places listed below, make sure your kids are wearing socks theyre almost always required. Chicago children are adventurous and always on the lookout for something that causes an adrenaline rush. Family events at such prime locations are enough to elevate your entire experience.

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Lincoln Park Zoo & Rides

This smaller urban zoo is nestled in the heart of one of Chicagos most popular parks, and its accessibility makes it a popular attraction for local families. Popular creatures at the Lincoln Park Zoo include the darling Red Pandas at the Kovler Lion House, the playful snow monkeys, the young snow leopard Taza, and many more. They also offer fun attractions that kids will especially enjoy, including the marvelous Endangered Species Carousel, lovingly painted and crafted, and the Lionel Train Adventure, which all the little ones will love. Getting In: Lincoln Park Zoo admission is free your Go Chicago Card provides tickets to the Endangered Species Carousel and the Lionel Train Adventure.

Splash Play And Explore At The Millennium Park

Cost: Free

Almost every local in Chicago knows of the Millennium Park a 25-acre park where the famous The Bean, a three-story steel sculpture which is actually named Cloud Gate, can be found. The Cloud Gate is sure to amaze everyone with the reflection of the perfect Chicago skyline. Unsurprisingly, the Millennium Park is one of Chicagos most popular attractions. It houses a 3.5-acre Lurie Garden, which boasts of a nature hunt scavenger experience with birds, worms, and bees, as well as a Crown Fountain, where kids can soak and splash around. At this park, kids can also listen to live music or watch movies in an outdoor concert pavilion, which is designed by Frank Gehry.

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Royal Oak Farm Orchard

Kids of all ages can have a great time at this Christian farm, where apple and pumpkin picking are the main attractions, but the free entertainment area comes in a close second. They close for a few months every year, but in summer and fall, this place is packed. The onsite restaurant serves delicious, fresh-from-the-farm food, and the farmers markets almost always offer delicious fare to take home.

Price: Free-$$

Face masks and social distancing are likely to be required again for the 2021 season.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center

FAMILY FRIENDLY HOTEL CHICAGO || LOEWS CHICAGO || Chicago With Kids || Family Friendly Chicago

From archeology to geothermal heating to natural habitats, Hidden Oaks Nature Center offers children of all ages the chance to explore the natural world around them. Inside, the exhibits offer a look at some of the areas birds and animals. The center also places a focus on restoring the local ecology.

Price: Free

The nature center is closed until further notice. However, the trails and other outdoor spaces are open to the public. Visitors are expected to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

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Field Museum Of Natural History

We walked to the Field Museum from the RV park we were staying at and had a couple of hours to explore. We love how the museum pass gives us the opportunity to do this! Since we get in for free. There were a lot of really cool things to look at, but out of all the museums it was our least favorite.

It seemed like the kids felt the same way. We kind of quickly walked through all of the displays which did take a while since there are so many and it is a big museum.

If you want to check it out the Go Chicago Explorer Pass is the recommended way to go for the best price. Or if you want some upgrade options, check out the VIP Tour tickets here!

Free Chicago Outdoor Attractions

Photo by: Bigstock/Yaro

Get Wild at the Lincoln Park Zoo

See lions, tigers, bears, and a gorilla in the heart of Chicago at the Lincoln Park Zoo. As one of the nations last remaining free zoos, the Lincoln Park Zoo always offers free activities daily and free events. For farm animal lovers, stop by the Farm-in-the-Zoo. If you still have energy left, walk over to the Nature Boardwalk for awesome views of the Chicago skyline.

Escape the City at Nature Centers and Farms

Head to the outlying suburbs for some farm fun! Kline Creek Farm, Primrose Farm, and Wagner Farm are free and always have something fun scheduled. Kids can be one with nature at the North Park Nature Village Centerwhere their feet will take them through a forest, prairie, wetlands and savannas.

Waterworks at Buckingham Fountain

Both kids and adults will love the iconic Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world. Dont miss the 20 minute water show every hour on the hour where the center jet sprays 150 feet into the air. Starting at dusk there is a major multi-colored light and music show.ir0cko

Visit a Chicagoland Park

Get your Toes in the Sand

Beachcombers will be delighted at the 16 miles of sandy beach that is open to the public for free. Dont miss the family-friendly beaches of Foster Avenue Beach, Oak Street Beach, and Montrose Beach. Kids can go splash crazy at the 63rd street Beach with their interactive sprayground.

Tour the City with Chicago Greeter

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Spend The Day At One Of Chicagos Public Beaches Or Pools

Dont ever say that Chicago isnt a beach town. Pack up a cooler and head to one of the many public beaches along the Lake Michigan coastline.

Pro tip: Avoid the overcrowded options like North Avenue Beach and find some prime beach towel real estate at one of the lesser-frequented spots like Montrose Beach , Hollywood Beach , and 12th Street Beach . If you dont feel like going all the way east, Humboldt Parks recently reopened man-made beach is an adorable destination for soaking up the sun in the middle of the city.

Many of Chicagos public parks also come complete with swimming pools. Hamlin Park , Pulaski Park , and Union Park offer some of the biggest and best watering holes. Some, like Eckhert Park and Kosciuszko Park , even have indoor pools for year-round water aerobics.

Chicagos two most popular free bike paths the Chicago Lakefront Trail and the 606 offer stunningly scenic views of the city and are accessible to both bikers young and old.

The Lakefront Trail runs north to south and is sandwiched between Lake Shore Drive and the coast of Lake Michigan, meaning youll whiz past sand and seagulls while you ride. Some of Chicagos most famous skyscrapers, like the Hancock Building and the Drake Hotel, make up your view to the south.

Riders be warned: The Lakefront Trails beautiful surroundings attract a lot of runners and bike riders, so peak times like Saturday afternoons can be quite congested.

Visit The Skydeck Chicago At Willis Tower


Sonja Weiss | Shutterstock

Entry Ticket: Adults: $34.50, Children: $26.50, Ages 2 and Under: Free

Address: 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

  • Open daily
  • Recommend booking tickets in advance
  • VIP dinner: $100.00 per person, limit of 2

The Willis Tower, previously known as the famous Sears Tower, is the third tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, making the Skydeck Chicago experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

If you are daring enough , you will have the thrill of seeing Chicago from 1,353 feet in the air as you stand on a glass ledge that extends approximately 4 feet out from the building.

View the breathtaking city as it sweeps out beneath you, with sparkling buildings, winding rivers, and bustling city streets.

For a date night that is unforgettable, you may want to purchase a VIP dinner for two, in which you and your date can dine on classic Chicago pizza as you enjoy the incredible nighttime view of the city from the glass ledge.

Among the most exciting things to do in Chicago, you wont want to miss out on the rare opportunity offered by Skydeck Chicago.

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