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Fun Things to do in Chicago with Kids

  Chicago is one of the most exciting, family friendly cities in the entire world. The amount of activities available that suit a variety of ages is endless. The old adage is true, you can actually find something for everyone in Chicagoland, from the youngest of your little ones to older choosey teens who just want to stare at their smartphones, all will have a good time there on any family vacation adventure. Stay downtown in one of the classic grand old hotels like The Drake or the Palmer House Hilton which has been around for over 140 years. So a bit of history can be discovered at these grand properties that have been renovated to cater to a modern family's needs. Most have free WIFI, and special programs for kids to enjoy. By being downtown you’ll have access to all the best family fun attractions in Chicago. Here are some can’t miss spots that should be on your to-do list for your next family trip.

Willis Tower

Willis Tower - Sears Tower This 108 story tall Chicago landmark used to be called the Sears Tower, until it was purchased by the Willis Group in 2008. Don’t worry though, this massive skyscraper is still just as impressive as it was when it was built back in 1970. Featured in the 80’s movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” when Ferris and his friends skipped school, rode to the top floor, and stood right up against the thick glass window to look down at the whole city. Pretty thrilling if you want to reenact this with your kids, if you dare! They will get a big kick out of it.



The Field Museum

Chicago Field Museum One of the greatest museums in the world, The Field Museum located at 1400 South Lakeshore Drive, obviously right along the Great Lake Michigan, is a must see while in Chicago. It’s open seven days a week, so there is plenty of time to catch all the interesting exhibits including some on China, Ancient Egypt, and Science themed ones too. Kids who loved “Jurassic World” will especially go crazy to see “Sue”, the largest T Rex set of bones ever found by archaeologist. She’s set up ready to roar at you in the Dinosaur Hall part of the museum. When the kids get hungry, as all kids eventually do, stop by the Field Bistro or the Explorer Cafe for a bite to eat. This historical venue was opened over 123 years ago in 1893, so you are truly a part of interesting Americana walking through this vast and interesting place.

Wrigley Field

 Every family needs to go to at least a few baseball stadiums while their children are still young enough to want to bring a mitt and catch a foul ball. Baseball is part of America’s greatest pastime, so take the family to a stadium that truly embodies what the sport is all about. Wrigley Field, home of the long suffering Chicago Cubs is a fantastic old stadium where you will be in the presence of some of the most intense, die hard fans in the world. They don’t even care if their team wins, it’s just “root, root, root for the Cubbies!” Last season’s remodel brought some much needed changes to the 102 year old stadium, including a brand new bleachers section. Make sure to walk around the outside of the park to look at all the statues of Cubs greats like Ernie Banks, and Ron Santo. Don’t forget to wear your Cubs shirts!

Uno’s Pizzeria

 This is a family treat in deep dish pizza that is unlike anything you’ll have at home. True deep dish is a Chicago original, and no one does it better than Uno’s. This is the real true Uno’s and not one of their franchise outposts. This place has been serving up deep dish pizza to millions of people over the years since 1943, when Ike Sewell opened his family joint. His concept was to make pizza a true dining experience. He was right. Order a couple of larges with one of them being the “Numero Uno” which is their famous sauce, layers of cheese, sausage, pepperoni, and green pepper. Located on 29 East Ohio Avenue, you’ll want to get their early since this place fills up quickly each night.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier As one of the most popular attractions in Chicago, Navy Pier is a vast expanse of shops, galleries, restaurants, exhibits, and even a giant ferris wheel that has just been renovated to open aging in the spring. It will be able to withstand up to 115 miles per hour. That’s a fast ferris wheel! Kids, and kids at heart will want to ride this mammoth attractions. Don’t miss the Children’s Museum that offers many cool, interactive exhibits for children to enjoy that caters directly to them. Parents are going to want to see the famous stained glass exhibit that is there year round in the Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass. The majesty and beauty of these pieces will amaze you. Built in 1914, the Navy Pier actually has a 3300 foot pier that allows you to walk into the lake to see views that are gorgeous of the entire city. Spending the day here is a worthwhile adventure.

The Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium With over 32,000 species of fish and aquatic life, the Shedd Aquarium is the place to go to experience this beautiful type of nature. The aquatic show with dolphins, whales and sea otters goes on during the warmer months. Even in the winter there are plenty of exhibits to enjoy inside the museum. The seasonal stingray exhibit is also a treat for the little ones, since they can actually touch the animals if they would like to. Other exhibits to look for are Amazon Rising, Caribbean Reef, and Polar Play Zone which has a kids sized submarine for them to explore. When they get hungry stop by the Soundlings Cafe for fresh salads, and sandwiches. The gift shop should be your last stop to pick up a souvenir to take home. Since the museum operates as a non-profit, anything you purchase in the gift shop will directly benefit the animals at the museum.

Lincoln Park Zoo:

Chicago Lincoln Park Zoo This is a fantastically run zoo that is open 365 days a year. It’s also free of charge for families, so it’s one of the few affordable activities in the Chicago area. Make sure you bring some funds though, for the Park Place Cafe to feed the whole family a variety of sandwich and salad options. The animal exhibits are top notch with just about everything you can imagine in the animal kingdom on display for you to enjoy. Don’t miss the “Meet An Animal” sessions at the small reptile house to get up close and personal to some adorable, and not-so-adorable little creatures aka the snakes! Kids will get a kick out of how interactive this experience truly will be. For other softer, sweeter fare check out the brand new Red Panda Exhibit, Amur Tiger, or Sea Lion house. Well, all those aren’t exactly sweeter, but that new  8-year-old Tiger, “Pavel” is the gem of the zoo with a whole area all to himself. The entire zoo will be an activity that can take you all day to go through. Depending on the time of year you go, the zoo hours vary, so check the website before you plan your trip.

Beaches:

Chicago Best Beaches, Beach  You wouldn’t think of Chicago as a beach town, but with the 28 miles of man made beachy shores along Lake Michigan, you can certainly have a beach day with your family during the warmer summer months. Some of the most popular beaches are on the North side of Chicago, downtown so grab your pails and shovels to make sand castles and check out some of these pristine beaches. The Illinois Beach State Park is a popular one that is camping, and hiking since there are a ton of natural trails throughout the park. Pratt Boulevard Beach is a little smaller with a long pier running through it. This one is popular with the locals so people watching is always a blast here. For deep water swimming you are going to want to go to Oak Street Beach which is a mile and a half long, has an outdoor cafe during the summer, and is one of the most popular beaches downtown.


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