10 Things to Do With Kids in Chicago, IL

There’s more than just wind to see and experience in the ‘Windy City’ of Chicago, especially with kids. With Chicago’s trains you can work your way around the city and see great sights like Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.   From the tower Skydeck to beautiful Lake Michigan, there are tons of fun things to do with the entire family in Chicago, Illinois.

  1. Hancock Observatory (Chicago, IL 60611).  Head to the 94th floor in the fastest elevator in the country.  The trip will only take a minute or so and when you look out you will have a 360 degree view of Chicago.  The lines tend to be short or non-existent and it only costs $15 for the trip.  You get an audio tour that will point out special sights so this is a great place to start your trip.  You can spend the rest of your trip finding those places you saw from up above.  While the Willis Tower is more famous, tourists typically prefer to go to the Hancock Observatory instead. 
  2. Willis Tower Skydeck (Chicago, IL 60603).  The Willis Tower skydeck is located on the 103rd floor and you will have the opportunity to stand out in a glass box, which is suspended on the side of the building, and look straight down.  An audio tour is available at no extra cost and will point out points of interest around the city that you can see from the skydeck.  There are shops and exhibits inside the Willis Tower explaining how the building came to be.  This tall building used to be known as the Sears Tower and is a must see if Chicago.  Tickets are required to take the trip to the top. 
  3. The Bean (Chicago, IL 60601).  Technically the name of this sculpture is Cloud Gateway, but in Chicago it’s known as the bean.  Once you see it you will understand why.  The sculpture is shaped like a bean and is mirrored.  This landmark is one of the most visited places in Chicago.  The Bean was even featured in the movie Source Code. Kids and adults alike will enjoy looking at the Bean and how the skyline bends as you walk around the sculpture.  Make sure you go under it as well.
  4. Chicago Greeter (Chicago, IL 60602).  An interesting concept, the Chicago Greeter pairs up savvy Chicagoans with tourists to help them enjoy the city.  The service is completely free!  This tour is 2 to 4 hours long and you will get an ‘insiders’ view of the city.  You need to register at least 10 business days in advance of your visit.
  5. Navy Pier (Chicago, IL 60611).  Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Navy Pier and let the kids have some fun riding on the Ferris wheel.  The shops are kid friendly with everything from toys to souvenirs for sale.  If you are looking for something to eat there are several restaurants on the pier as well.  Time it right and you might see one of the large ships that docks at the port.
  6. Grant Park (Chicago, IL 60601).  An urban oasis, Grant Park is 319 acres of fun in the sun right in the city.  Grant Park is in ‘the loop’ area of downtown Chicago and is near other attractions such as Millennium Park’s Bean sculpture, Buckingham Fountain and the Art Institute of Chicago.  Running along the entire east side of the park is Lake Michigan.  Several large events are held in Grant Park each year.  
  7. The Elevated Train (varies).  The elevated train will take you around the city to various attractions, but the train itself is entertaining to ride too, especially if your kids don’t have much experience riding a train.  Public transportation will lesson your stress with finding suitable parking and is an economical choice.
  8. LEGOLAND Discovery Center (Schaumburg, IL 60173).  If your kids love Legos they will love LEGOLAND!  The center is set up with a Lego factory, a 4D movie theater, test areas and many areas to build with Legos.  Things are always changing so you will have to see it to believe it.
  9. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, IL 60605).  Home to more than 25,000 fish, dolphins, seals and beluga whales, the Shedd Aquarium has a lot to offer for family entertainment.  The aquarium features tons of interactive exhibits throughout the complex.  There are shows that feature the seals and dolphins that will thrill the kids.  If you have time you can even see a 4D movie.
  10. Chicago Ghost Investigations (Chicago, IL 60610).  Looking for something a little different to do with the family?  Why not go on one of the two daily investigations in downtown Chicago.  Tours leave from the old water tower on Michigan Avenue.  You are accompanied by a seasoned paranormal investigator who will teach you how to use special ghost detecting equipment and teach you a psychic technique that will allow you to communicate with the spirits.
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