5 Best Places to Take Kids in Chicago
Chicago is rich in family-friendly attractions, from year-round festivals to world-class museums. In a city filled with endless activities and opportunities, which are worth the visit? To help you make the most of your family time, we’ve rounded up five hotspots for families in The Windy City.
Open 365 days a year — and with free admission — Chicago’s award-winning Lincoln Park Zoo boasts 35 acres and is among the oldest zoos in North America. No one can resist the zoo’s “new arrivals,” the tiniest of critters, from crowned lemurs to African penguins. Kids also love the Primate House and Farm-in-the-Zoo. The Nature Boardwalk features a new, natural ecosystem filled with native birds, frogs, fish and more. Got a group that enjoys selfies? A curvaceous wood pavilion offers a great photo opportunity since it showcases the city’s skyline as a backdrop. During the summer and early fall months, enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner at The Patio, an al fresco restaurant just south of the main zoo grounds (beside Café Brauer).
Did you know Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper? The Chicago Architecture Foundation hosts about 85 tours daily on foot, bus, trolley, L train, bike and boat, but the mesmerizing river cruise is one of its most popular, for good reason. Guests aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises learn the exciting history of Chicago and details about the dozens of buildings along the Chicago River during this 90-minute tour. Kids come away feeling savvy (and so will you). The river cruise is recommended for children ages 12 and older.
If you want several local food options in one place, head to Revival Food Hall, conveniently located in Chicago’s bustling Loop. This exciting marketplace packs more than a dozen fast-casual stalls featuring some of the city’s favorite neighborhood restaurants. Smaller kids can choose a meal from a Farmers Fridge vending machine — this clever contraption offers everything from lox and bagels to salads in a jar — while older kids might gravitate toward ribs at Smoque BBQ. The whole family can stretch their tastebuds at Black Dog Gelato; its rotating flavors have included Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel and Sesame Fig Chocolate Chip.
Your family will love exploring one of the largest and most beautiful conservatories in the country, the Garfield Park Conservatory. Almost a full two acres inside, it includes six multi-faceted greenhouses and two grand exhibition halls with thousands of plant species, including odd and fascinating finds. Each week, the Conservatory offers at least 15 hours of hands-on, nature-based family programming, making it a great place for kids to connect with nature year-round. Bonus: There’s free admission and free parking on-site.
This retail shop is decidedly off the beaten path but well worth the trek, because it’s equal parts hardware store and science museum, and 100% imagination-stirring. One example of its goods: a geodes kit with four genuine geodes ready to be cracked open and explored with a magnifier. Pick up some beakers, if you dare, and create your own science experiment. If you need project ideas, head to the Museum of Science and Industry.