Chicago Family Attractions

Air & Water Show over Oak Street Beach, Chicago

Chicago Family Attractions

Navy Pier
DESCRIPTION: The pier is home to the Chicago Children’s Museum, IMAX Theater, Shakespeare Theatre, Crystal Gardens indoor botanical park, a 15-story Ferris wheel, a musical carousel, a museum of stained glass windows, themed restaurants and gift shops. No wonder it attracts over 8 million annual visitors. A landmark since 1916, the fully restored venue also hosts a 1,500-seat, open-air theater with a Teflon-coated roof for concerts, plays, and other events. Many cruise and sightseeing ships depart from here. As if it lacked attractions, Navy Pier boasts a Big Bounce trampoline, and an 18-hole miniature golf course, and Amazing Chicago, a 15-minute virtual reality ride and maze, and even more rides.
DAYS & HOURS: daily, some attractions stay open late
ADMISSION: varies by attraction
ADDRESS: 600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: enclosed on-Navy Pier parking available
RAPID TRANSIT: free trolleys run between Navy Pier, North Michigan Ave and State Street
PHONE: 312-595-5100

Chicago Children’s Museum
DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1982, it is designed for children up through the fifth grade to have innovative and engaging learning experiences. In 1995, the museum expanded into a 57,000 square foot facility as the anchor tenant on Navy Pier. It features three floors containing 15 educational exhibits, numerous public programs and events.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Sat 10a-8p, Sun 10a-7p; Free Family Night Thursday 5p-8p
ADMISSION: Children and Adults $7, Seniors $6, Children under Age 1 Free
ADDRESS: 700 East Grand Avenue in Navy Pier, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: enclosed on-Navy Pier parking available
RAPID TRANSIT: free trolleys run between Navy Pier, North Michigan Ave and State Street
PHONE: 312-527-1000

Museum Campus
DESCRIPTION: The campus is a 57-acre lakefront park with terraced gardens and broad walkways was enhanced from 1995-98. When 5 lanes of Lake Shore Drive were rerouted inland, it created a pedestrian-friendly environment for Soldier Field Football Stadium, Adler Planetarium, Field Museum of Natural History, Shedd Aquarium and a Soldiers Monument. The monument sits between Soldiers Field and the Field Museum. This massive campus attracts 4 million visitors a year. We strongly recommend purchasing a City Pass for entry into these and 3 more world class venues around town.
DAYS & HOURS: Daily, except Christmas and New Years
ADMISSION: Adult pass to all museums costs $49, Ages 3-11 cost $38
PARKING: $12 per day; parking nearby
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra 18th Street Station and Metra Roosevelt Road Station
ADDRESS: Lake Shore Drive at East 18th Drive, Chicago, IL MAP

Adler Planetarium
DESCRIPTION: The first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere since 1930, Adler offers the opportunity to learn about the history of astronomy and consider the future of space exploration. All visitors should first experience Sky Theater, Adler’s first planetarium theater, which has delighted audiences since it opened. Kids will love StarRider Theater with its state of the art digital theater and operating controls located in the seat armrest. Touch a 1,000 pound meteorite that fell to the Earth 50,000 years ago. Visit the Universe, Solar System and Milky Way Galaxy interactive galleries.
DAYS & HOURS: daily 9:30a-4:30p with extended summer hours
ADMISSION: Adults $10 or $19 to include audio tour & show; Ages 4-17 $6 or $15 to include audio tour and show; Age 65+ $8 or $17 to include audio tour and show
ADDRESS: 300 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: $12 per day nearby, some meter parking
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra Roosevelt Road Station
PHONE: 312-922-7827

Shedd Aquarium
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 1930, it has displayed Australian lungfish, turtles, penguins, octopus, sharks, electric eels, dolphins and even whales. This animal friendly-facility is built and managed with the highest standards in exhibitry, animal management and education programs. Check out these exhibits: Amazon Rising and Wild Reef to spark the imagination of your family.
DAYS & HOURS: daily 9a-5p, summer extends hours to 6p and 10p on Thursday
ADMISSION: Adults $25, Age 65+ and Ages 3-11 $18; premium package also available
ADDRESS: 1200 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: $12 per day parking nearby, some meter parking
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra Roosevelt Road Station
PHONE: 312-939-2438

Field Museum of Natural History
DESCRIPTION: Its seems that every exhibit is remarkable and many are astounding in one of the world’s great science museums. The dinosaur exhibit, home to the world’s most famous intact dinosaur skeleton “Sue”, draws thousands of visitors. Check out the Africa exhibit and the Ancient Egypt featuring the tomb of Pharaoh Inis-ankh brought to Chicago in 1908. Bring a little money to shop in the attractive gift shop.
DAYS & HOURS: daily 9a-5p
ADMISSION: Adults $33, Ages 4-11 $17, Age 65+ and students with ID $30
ADDRESS: 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: $12 per day parking nearby, some meter parking
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra Roosevelt Road Station
PHONE: 312-922-9410

Museum of Science and Industry
DESCRIPTION: Exhibits, Exhibits and more Exhibits. Don’t miss Sweet Home Chicago: Big City Blues exhibit. How’s this for a sample roster of exhibits: All Aboard the Silver Streak, The Coal Mine; Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Exhibition of the Nobel Prize; AIDS: The War Within; Animated Industrial Gears, Apollo 8 Command Module, The Chick Hatchery, The Farm, Flight 727, Genetics, The Great Train Story, Human Body Slices, The Idea Factory, The Lunar Module, Mercury Space Capsule, NetWorld, Omnimax Theater, Petroleum Planet, Prenatal Development, Reusable City, Ships Through the Ages, Toymaker 3000, The Transportation Zone, U-505 Submarine, Walk-Through Heart, Whispering Gallery, and Yesterday’s Main Street. The model train exhibit bis jaw-dropping. This “must visit” museum for families is worth every penny.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Sat 9a-5:30p, Sun 11a-5:30p
ADMISSION: Adults $13, Ages 3-11 $9, Age 65+ $12; premium pages with Omnimax also available; free days are listed on their website
ADDRESS: East 57th Street at Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: $14 per day in garage under the museum
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra 55th-56th-57th Street Station
PHONE: 773-684-1414

Rainforest Café
DESCRIPTION: A theme restaurant that surrounds you with the sights and sounds of tropical rainforest jungle with lush foliage hanging from the ceiling and tropical fish darting around in floor-to-ceiling aquarium tanks. The drinks have fancy themes. Making it a good choice for family entertainment and dining.
ADMISSION: free entry with $10-20 entrees
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Thu 11a-9:30p, Fri 11a-10:30p, Sat 11a-9p
ADDRESS: 605 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: paid lots nearby
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Grand-Red Station
PHONE: 312-787-1501

Lincoln Park Zoo
DESCRIPTION: Fully accredited and popular with locals this museum has many exhibits and a great lakeside location. Corporate and private philanthropy enable the zoo to present these diverse exhibits: Regenstein African Journey, McCormick Bear Habitat, McCormick Bird House, Regenstein Birds of Prey Exhibit, Kovler Penguin and Seabird House, Helen Brach Primate House, Kovler Lion House, Kovler Sea Lion Pool, Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo, Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House, Hope B. McCormick Swan Pond, and Regenstein Center for African Apes. The zoo has a mandate for animal conservation and scientific study.
DAYS & HOURS: 10a-5p, summer hours extend to 7p
ADMISSION: FREE, so there’s more to spend at their restaurants & gift shops
ADDRESS: 2001 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: per day parking onsite
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA bus from Art Institute of Chicago in the Loop
PHONE: 312-742-2000

Burnham Park
DESCRIPTION: Adjacent to the southern part of Grant Park, it features wonderful lakefront views, bike and jogging trails and it widely used by locals and visitors alike; Burnham Park’s claim to fame is that it hosts the Museum Campus of the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Soldier Field football stadium and America’s largest convention complex, McCormick Place.
ADDRESS: South of Grant Park, Chicago, IL MAP

Washington Park
DESCRIPTION: A large square park which enjoyed primarily by Sisters and Brothers. When you hear of a large Afrocentric festival, 9 times out of 10 its held here or Grant Park. And for good reason. Du Sable Museum of African American History and the Bronzeville Academy & Military Museum (featuring black soldiers) are both located here just of Cottage Grove. Also a wonderful park for family reunions, picnics and sports of all types.
ADDRESS: Bounded by Cottage Grove, 51st Street, MLK Drive & 60th Street, Chicago, IL MAP

Jackson Park
DESCRIPTION: This park was originally developed as the site of the World Colombian exposition of 1893. Booker T. Washington was one of the prominent African-Americans allowed to make presentation at the expo. Although this park has a commendably large share of flora & fauna, playfields, lagoons, jogging and biking trails, it is most famous for hosting the Museum of Science & Industry, which is Chicago’s single largest tourist attraction. The museum was renovated and expanded couple times. Its an excellent family outing.
ADDRESS: bounded by 56th Street, Stoney Island, 67th Street & Lake Michigan, Chicago, IL MAP

Brookfield Zoo
DESCRIPTION: Managed by the Chicago Zoological Society and considered on the nation’s top 3 zoos. In 1919, Edith Rockefeller McCormick donated 83 acres of land for the zoo and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The added property brought the total to 200 acres. Due to a series of mishaps and bad timing the zoo did not open until 1934. It was the first to have a largely “barless” zoo, designed with moats and other natural barriers. In the 1980s, it became a center for various types of conservation, population genetics, animal nutrition, behavioral studies, and ecological restoration. Check their website for animal feeding times. They even have a field guide on their website which is useful for children’s studies.
DAYS & HOURS: daily 10a-5p
ADMISSION: fees depend on time of entry but is categorized as follows Adults (12-64), Children (3-11), Seniors (65+), Children 2 and under Free
ADDRESS: 8401 31st Street at Golf Road, Brookfield, IL MAP
PARKING: per day parking onsite
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra Hollywood Station
PHONE: 708-485-2200

LEGOland Discovery Center Chicago
DESCRIPTION: An indoor family attraction that features over 3 million LEGO bricks in models and attractions inspired by the LEGO building toys. LEGOland Discovery Centers are smaller versions of the LEGOland theme parks located around the world. It also features activity workshops with a Master Model Builder. Allow 2-3 hours per visit.
DAYS & HOURS: daily 10a-7p but some hours are seasonal; check website
ADMISSION: $15, Children 2 and under enter Free
ADDRESS: 601 North Martingale Road, Schaumburg, IL MAP
PARKING: on site and on street
PHONE: 866-823-9546

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