Best Places to Take Kids in Chicago

November 11, 2020
Food & Drink
jason wolfe
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Chicago is a town known for fantastic restaurants, exciting sporting events, art, culture, and nightlife. It's also a city of families. We call it the city of neighborhoods because each section of Chicago is unique, with its own culture and style. Every type of family or individual can find the right fit for their personality and lifestyle. So it's no surprise that Chicago has a lot of fantastic things to do with the kids.

Whether you live in the Chicagoland area or are taking the family on vacation, there's plenty to do and see here that's not only kid-friendly but made for kids. There are Children's museums and shops that cater just to the kids. We also have gorgeous parks, a lot of fun outdoor events, and so many possibilities for amazing learning experiences. You can take your children out for an excursion in one of the many museums, our world-class zoos, or performances that are made for the younger audience.

If you're ready to take your family on a kid adventure Chicago style, grab a GiftYa card and check out one of the amazing places on our list.

Lincoln Park Zoo

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Lincoln Park Zoo has a mission of connecting people with wildlife. This city zoo has been around for more than 150 years! While it's a wonderful place for people of all ages, they do pay special attention to the youngest citizens. Some attractions your kids will enjoy include the beautiful carousel, and the Lionel Train Adventure. If you have a train lover, they'll enjoy the trip around the park and back into the station on this trackless train.

Another favorite is the Farm in the Zoo. Just right for kids, they get to see farm animals up close, hear all about these lovely creatures and how life works on a real farm. This is a fun way to educate kids, especially city kids who don't usually get to see these animals up close.

Chicago Children's Museum

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Right in Navy Pier, the Chicago Children's Museum might be the most fun your kids ever have learning. Other museums are built to showcase art and history and you can view their treasures from several feet away. The Children's Museum is completely different. Your kids get to dive in to touch and play with the exhibits. They can climb, run, explore, and build. 

There are different exhibits organized by age, so there's something fun and exciting for kids who are as young as toddlers. There are places to create art, make stories, learn architecture, and more. Any adventure your child can dream up has an exhibit that will fit their wildest imagination.

Shedd Aquarium

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Visitors come from all over the world to visit the Shedd Aquarium. School children come here on field trips and visitors of all ages marvel at the large collection of aquatic animals. The beluga whales are an impressive attraction that many people adore. Visitors also love the Caribbean Reef exhibit. 

This aquarium houses species from all over the world with stunning shows and fantastic chances for budding marine biologists to learn all about these majestic animals. The aquarium is located right near Adler Planetarium and the Art Museum in a beautiful part of the city. Visitors marvel at the stunning architecture and take some time to enjoy this amazing part of Chicago.

Chicago History Museum

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The Chicago History Museum is an entire museum devoted to the history of Chicago. And what an amazing history it is. You can explore permanent exhibits, like Chicago: Crossroads of America. This one is a favorite because you get to step into the first-ever El car and experience Chicago through its history. They have a number of exhibits devoted to Abraham Lincoln (did you know Chicago was his political headquarters?) 

For kids growing up in the Chicago area, this museum brings the history that came before them to life in an exciting way. They can see paintings and pictures of familiar landmarks and see how much they've changed. Another fantastic thing about this museum is that there's a research center where students can find source material for their projects. Professional writers and journalists use these same sources, making the process even more impressive for budding historians.

Art Institute of Chicago

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The Art Institute of Chicago houses one of the most impressive collections of art in the world. But that's not necessarily something that will wow most kids. If you want to enjoy the beautiful masterpieces, you can rest assured that you'll still find plenty of things the kids will adore on your trip.

The miniature exhibit is a childhood favorite for many Chicagoans. This exhibit houses nearly 70 scenes in miniature throughout history, giving kids a great glimpse at history with beautiful (and tiny) detail. The museum also houses impressive arms and armor collection that showcases real suits of armor and weaponry. For the kids who are artists in their own right, the Ryan Art Center here hosts classes you can drop into where kids can create their own masterpieces to bring home.

Museum of Science and Industry

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The Museum of Science and Industry is a one-of-a-kind museum. Kids can learn about new developments in science and technology but they can also travel back in time to see a real submarine or how locomotives really work. Each exhibit houses its own marvelous adventure. Kids can learn about their own biology, animals, and technology. 

There are long-standing exhibits, like Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle, which has been here since the 1940s. There are newer exhibits such as the "We Can Beat the Pandemic. Together". The museum also hosts holiday exhibits every year that are truly breathtaking.

Legoland Discover Center

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Legoland Discovery Center is located in Schaumberg, outside the city. But it's definitely worth the drive. This two-story adventure park features rides, games, activities, and even interactive movies. Kids can explore the Miniland, battle trolls, and meet lego characters. It's an indoor amusement park that's perfect for any kid who enjoys playing with legos. There are themed attractions and plenty of opportunities for kids to learn how to build better with legos.

American Girl Place

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American Girl Place is a growing up tradition for many girls in Chicago. This is more than a store to buy American Girl dolls and accessories, though you can certainly do that, too. You can plan your child's birthday party here, schedule a beauty appointment for your child and her doll, have lunch, and explore the many displays. They also host regular events which are fun for individual kids and groups.

The American Girl dolls line is more than just dolls. Each doll has its own series of books and they each come from a different time period in American history. It's a great way to bring the past to life for kids and this place offers a full experience for kids and parents.

Naper Settlement 

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Naper Settlement offers a chance for kids to go back in time and experience the area the way that settlers did. This is a live-action museum, with actors who take on the role of people from their perspective time period. Where else will you get to see a blacksmith work his magic in real life? It's not located in one building, instead, you have the entire grounds to explore. It includes 27 individual buildings that include a print shop, stone carvers shop, windmill, schoolhouse, church, and mansion. 

There are different buildings and exhibits, so kids can learn how things were done in the past. Volunteers lead you through the daily life of the time. They also host numerous events throughout the year that include holiday fests and musical concerts. 

Chicago Children's Theatre

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Do you have a budding actor in your house? Maybe you just have kids who enjoy the theatre or who you'd like to introduce to the theatre. Well, Chicago Children's Theatre is an amazing way to develop an appreciation for acting and performance art. Not only do they offer productions especially for children of all ages, they also have workshops and classes for kids to get involved in theatre.

It's a fantastic program with many adventures for kids to try. Whether you want to enroll in classes or host a party here, it's something your kids will never forget. Another interesting thing that the Chicago Children's Theatre offers is the Red Kite Program. This programming was designed for kids on the autism spectrum and it's been a resounding success, giving access to kids who hadn't been catered to through performance before. They've also expanded their programming to include developmental, hearing, and visual impairments.

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