Chicago With The Kids!

Chicago

Wrigley Field, Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile, Lincoln Park Zoo, fabulous restaurants – come and see what the “Windy City” has to offer.

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Outdoors


Free and open year-round, Millennium Park should be your first stop (check out the gargoyles and Cloud Gate). Then on to Lurie Gardens for a nature scavenger hunt (pick up a free sheet). Stop at Navy Pier with an iconic Ferris wheel and vintage carousel, fireworks, sightseeing cruises and great food opportunities. Lincoln Park Zoo (free) and Brookfield Zoo are open year-round with special holiday light shows.

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Indoors


More than 40 museums will keep you busy. The Museum Campus has the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium as well as the largest science museum in the US, the Museum of Science and Industry. The Art Institute of Chicago (free for kids under 14) has special interactive family programs in its Ryan Education Center (free). And the Chicago Children’s Museum with Treehouse Trails, WaterWays and BIG Backyard (dig for dinosaur bones) was tailor made for curious kids.

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Go Up


The Skydeck Chicago (in the Willis Tower) offers amazing views at 1,000 feet above ground. And 360 Chicago (94 floors up) will give you views of four states.

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Get Fit


Try a kayak tour with Wateriders on Lake Michigan or a bike tour on the Lakefront Trail, 22 miles long. Go for a swim at 23 beaches of the Chicago Park District (all free and open to the public from Memorial Day until Labor Day). Window-shop on Michigan Avenue along the Magnificent Mile (every store imaginable) for a fun “hike”.

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Focus On The Kids


Chicago is pizza paradise so go for it! Nearby Schaumburg has LEGOLAND Discovery Center, a giant indoor playground. The Lego Store in Water Tower Place has hands-on displays. Catch a Bears or Bulls game. Visit Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs. The first American Girl Place has a café (brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner; reservations recommended).

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Celebrate Something


Check out local festivals and special events on line before you go. Chicago hosts the Air and Water Show, a fabulous Thanksgiving parade, and a Christkindlmarket. And they even dye the river green on St. Patrick’s Day!

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Highlight For All


The Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank (free; weekdays from 8:30 to 5) where you can take your picture with $1,000,000, create your own currency, take a guided tour (45 minutes at 1 pm only). There are many interactive activities for all ages and at the end visitors go home with $300 in cash – shredded, of course.

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7 comments

  • Marie-Louise

    The Chicago Children’s Museum is free the first Sunday of the month for kids under 15, and free for everyone on Thursdays between 5 and 8 pm. Teachers, firefighters and police pay only $5 admission always. Kids will love the dinosaurs, Water Ways (interactive fun with pulleys, etc.), Kids Town, and Play It Safe (realistic fire truck and fire house).

  • “Free Tours by Foot” – ask for Mike (tour guide). Takes 2 hours or less. The Ghost Tour of Chicago is not for kids. Check website for info and reservations.

  • Make time for a visit to the Navy Pier, a destination here since 1916. Many restaurants, an IMAX theater and the Chicago Children’s Museum, + great decorations during the Christmas season. Street performers all around during the summer.

    • This year it’s the 100th anniversary so come and see some special events. The outdoor restaurants are great now that the weather is warming up and there is a food court if you’re in a rush or want something light.

  • Kids eat free at the following spots where the food is reasonable and good: Barn & Company (free Tues. & Wed. nt.), foodlife (kids make their own free pizza betw. 5 & 7 pm), Hollywood Grill (free 2-10 pm Mon. – Wed.), Riverview Tavern (kids free Mon. – Thurs. betw. 4:30 & 6 pm). Must be with an adult who buys a meal. All are fun places.

  • Make time for the Museum of Science and Industry, the largest of its type in the Western Hemisphere. Avoid long waits and buy tix on line ($1.50 charge per ticket). Photos and strollers are permitted (or rent a stroller for $2 for the day). Cafeteria has LOTS of kid-friendly choices as well as gluten-free, nut -free.

  • Don’t miss the Lincoln Park Zoo, especially during the holidays. Between Thanksgiving and Jan. 6th they put up 2 million lights all around. It’s magical!

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