21+ Best Things To Do In Chicago With Kids Today

Chicago is one of the most exciting cities in the world. There are tons of activities for adults but the city isn’t necessarily known for its activities for kids. It’s not always an option to leave the kids at home and with that in mind, we scoured the town to find the best activities for children of all ages.  Here are 21+ things you can do in Chicago with your kids this weekend.

Take them on a tour.

If you have a child who loves watching nature shows or likes history or travel, a tour is a great way to help them dip their toe into each of those areas. A tour is an easy way to expand a child’s horizons and expose them to new things without the expense of a bigger trip. Go on a food tour with your future foodie or a segway or kayak tour for your aspiring nature buff. 

1. Best in Chow Food Tour

Giordanos at Navy Pier

Photo Source: Chicago Food Planet

Try the Best in Chow Food Tour and taste 5 Chicago iconic recipes while getting a history lesson on famous landmarks in the River North and Streeterville areas near Michigan Avenue.  Choices include plenty of Chicago classics and kid favorites including the Chicago-style hot dog and popcorn,  deep dish pizza, Italian beef sandwich and the brownie (yes- it was invented in Chicago!) and they’ll get to learn how these foods became Chicago classics.  

2. Segway Tour

Chicago Segway Tours

Photo Source: Chicago Segway Tours

How about exploring the town on wheels?  With kids ages 12 and up, you can check out the parks and the Chicago Skyline while riding around on segways.  Segways are a two-wheeled transportation vehicle that’s easy to ride and a ton of fun. Even the most uncoordinated member of your family will appreciate this ride because it does all of the balancing for you!  And bonus? It makes even the shortest person stand a little bit taller while enjoying the sights. 

3. Chicago Architecture Kayak Tour

Chicago Kayak tour

Photo Source: Chicago Tribune

Architecture tour via kayak?  Sign us up! The Chicago Architecture Kayak Tour is a 2.5 hour kayak opportunity that guides you down the Chicago River as it flows through downtown.  Kayaking is a fun way to get kids on the water. An architecture tour is a great experience for kids because there are many stops along the way along with stories about Chicago, its architecture, and the river.   To make the best of the experience, be sure to bring along snacks and drinks.

Insider Tip: If your family falls in love with tours on the water,  there’s more where that came from. Check out our favorite Chicago boat tours.

Spend a day at Navy Pier.

Navy Pier is packed with things to do and we’ve included some of our favorite family-friendly activities.  If you are looking for more options, we give you our best tips and activities in this guide to Navy Pier.

4. Chicago Children’s Museum

Navy Pier Kid Activities

Photo Source: Chicago Food Planet

There are a variety of spots to hang with the kids at Navy Pier.  The Chicago Children’s Museum may be one of the first sights you see and is a mix of play and learning.  From playing with tools to exercise their creative skills in an art studio, this is a great place for kids under 10. There are hands-on exhibits like the newer Sound Playground which is full of different sound makers.  The kids will learn how to create sounds and tell stories using them. The Dinosaur Expedition gives young scientists an opportunity to dig for bones and analyze bones from a life-sized dinosaur skeleton.  

Insider Tip: You can easily spend a few hours in the Children’s Museum.  Take a lunch break and join us for the Signature Food Tour at Navy Pier.  The kids can sample some new foods, including a delicious caramel dessert and enjoy a nice walk along  the lake while learning about the history of this iconic Chicago landmark.  

5. Centennial Wheel

Navy Pier Centennial Wheel

Photo Source: Navy Pier

You can take a ride on the 200 foot high Centennial Wheel and get amazing views of Chicago.  The Centennial Wheel offers a premium VIP gondola experience. It includes admission to up to four guests, plush seating, a trademark glass bottom and other perks that you’ll have to see to believe—or ride to describe.  Also, you can enjoy this ride in any season because of the air conditioning and heating systems.

6. Navy Pier Signature Food Tour

Chicago with kids

Photo Source: Chicago Food Planet

This guided experience will educate and entertain kids and adults alike as they explore the sights of Chicago, learn about Navy Pier’s extraordinary history, taste some of Chicago’s best foods and enjoy the iconic venue’s beloved cultural attractions.  Not only will the kids get their fill of great foods, they’ll learn about the transformation of this iconic location over the years.  

Let them run and play.

Looking for the best way to get your child to take a nap and just chill? Get their heart rate going with physical activities.  Here is a list of activities that will tire your kids out that practically guarantee you’ll get a good night’s sleep. 

7. Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park Chicago

Photo Source: Maggie Daley Park

Want to climb, skate or play tennis?  Wait! You don’t have to choose because you can do all three at Maggie Daley Park.  It features Chicago’s only outdoor climbing park.  There are beginner and advanced places to climb with instruction from the park staff.  The climbing rock sits at the center of a skating ribbon which is great for ice skating in winter and rollerblading in the warmer months.  Other fun options include tennis courts and an 18-hole miniature golf course. You can also bring your picnic basket and have lunch in the park or in one of the four Picnic Groves.

8. LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago

Legoland chicago

Photo Source: Lego

If you need a break from stepping on the LEGO® in your living room, take kids to the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago, a 30,000 square-foot space dedicated to the iconic plastic building toys. With the Kingdom Quest interactive laser ride, 4-D movie theater, daily building workshops and the ever-popular Miniland featuring Chicago landmarks, you can easily spend half a day here.

9. Altitude Trampoline Park

Altitude Trampoline Chicago

Photo Source: Altitude Trampoline Park

If you can’t stop the kids from jumping on the bed all the time, Altitude Trampoline Park may be the answer.  Take them to this 33,000 square feet space of indoor trampolines and other fun attractions, including monkey bars and foam pits.   Kids will be able to jump and flip to their heart’s content and you are free to join in on the fun or just relax and watch. If you have younger kids, take advantage of Toddler Time on weekday mornings. 

10. Lincoln Park Zoo

Chicago Lincoln Park Zoo

Photo Source: Facebook

Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos founded in 1868.  It is also one of the few free admission zoos in the United States. This top Chicago attraction that boasts over 200 species of animals including big cats, primates, reptiles and birds.  Head to the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo and your kids can have a blast making mudpies and climbing log towers.  Or have them channel their inner Tarzan and enjoy a treetop climbing adventure. 

11. Goldfish Swimming Lessons

Chicago kid swimming lessons

Photo Source: Facebook

Get your tot swimming as early as four months old with Goldfish.  They have heated pools and small classes in order to provide.  Once you step inside, you enter a “tropical oasis” with vibrant colored walls,  designed to be a fun and enhanced learning experience for kids and parents. You can also plan your little one’s next birthday party here or get the whole gang together and have family swim time.  

12. Chicago Beaches

Chicago beaches with kids

Photo Source: WTTW

Sometimes you can’t beat the simple lure of sand, water, and sunlight.  Popular options include Oak Street Beach which has chair rentals, Loyola Beach which has a playground and walking trail, or 31st Street Harbor known for its jets, slides and climbing walls.  If you need help planning a trip to the beach or curious about which one to choose and its amenities, you can visit the Chicago Park District’s Beaches page.  

Insider Tip: For more recommendations on beaches, especially if your kids are of the four-legged fur variety, you’ll appreciate the Beaches section (#12) of our Awesome Things to Do in Chicago guide.

Help them learn a thing or three.

Looking for opportunities to play with a little learning thrown in the mix? These experiences combine the best worlds of fun and curiosity.  Kids of all ages can interact with museum exhibits, use their knowledge to solve puzzles and learn a new language.  

13. Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory

Photo Source: Facebook

At the Garfield Park Conservatory, kids will enjoy the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden where they can experience plant life including the Sensitive Plant that cringes when touched and the Play and Grow Garden with its options to make mud pies, walk through an obstacle course and experiment with pebbles.  There is also weekly programming that includes story-time and planting projects

14. Shedd Aquarium

Chicago Shedd Aquarium

Photo Source: Mommy Nearest

Interested in whales, dolphins and sea otters?  Grab the whole family and come to the Shedd, the world’s largest indoor aquarium that has tons of activities for kids and adults alike. With over 32,000 animals, there is plenty to see. And if your children are between the  ages of 5-12, you can even arrange an overnight adventure filled with animal encounters, activities and a scavenger hunt.  

15. Adler Planetarium

Chicago Adler Planetarium

Photo Source: Facebook

Grab your young aspiring astronaut and visit the Planetarium.  Children ages 3-8 can become a “space explorer” and take a two-story rocket to outer space. In the Community Design Lab,  there are hands-on projects that let you turn your iPhone into a telescope for example and the Space Visualization Lab provides an opportunity for kids to chat with scientists.  

16. Harold Washington Children’s Library

Harold Washington Library

Photo Source: Chicago Public Library

The Thomas Hughes Children’s Library has a variety of programs for kids of all ages.  The Early Learner Neighborhood has a puppet stage and story nook for kids under five. You can check out the Library’s calendar for events that focus on crafts and sharing stories.  Tweens can learn in the digital media space which includes some virtual reality tools.  

17. Codeverse

Codeverse

Photo Source: Facebook

Codeverse is making coding approachable and fun for kids aged 6-13 with their proprietary KidScript language, state-of-the-art technology, and flexible learning spaces.  You could have them try a class (first class is free!) or sign them up for a longer camp experience. 

18. Learn Spanish

Chicago spanish lessons for kids

Photo Source: Instituto Cervantes

Hablas español? Children have a natural ability to learn another language and lessons will help them learn how to communicate in both Spanish and English.  Popular options include the CervantesKids program at  The Instituto Cervantes and Spanish Horizons . Both have year-round Spanish programs for kids and youth. For children aged 3-5, you can enroll them in the Tiny Talkers program through the Chicago Park District.

19. Escape Game

Chicago espace rooms

Photo Source: Facebook

If you are looking for an experience for the whole family, try one of the escape games.  Solve clues and try to get out of a locked room within 60 minutes.  Whether you make it out or not, it’s a great time and tests everyone’s knowledge muscles.  For most escape rooms, kids eight and older can participate. There are some locations that can adjust their games for younger kids.  

20. Emerald City Theatre

Emerald City Theatre

Photo Source: Facebook

In the mood for a little theatre?  Try Emerald City Theatre’s family-friendly plays.  The shows are often based on beloved book series including Corduroy, Ivy + Bean, and the Name Jar.  Or you can enroll the kids in a theatre class where they can join the ensemble or learn critical soft skills like confidence and team building.

21. Museum of Science and Industry

Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

Photo Source: Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry is home to a variety of fun, interactive exhibits for children of all ages. The Idea Factory Exhibit is a research facility for “young scientists” age 10 and under.  This gives them an opportunity to test their own theories of light, construction and more.  You can even plan a museum sleepover spending the day building and creating, completing a scavenger hunt and then snuggle into your sleeping bags for the night.

Connect Kids & Chicago Food In Unexpected Ways


Enjoy the Navy Pier Signature Food Tour on TripAdvisor’s #1 Rated Activity.

A true family adventure while eating all the iconic Chicago-style dishes!

Offered Daily; Includes Chicago-style hot dog, popcorn and deep-dish pizza. 


$50 Adult | $35 Youth (12 & Under)
2 Hours; All Food Included

LEARN MORE