Let the kids explore all the city's offerings at these kid-friendly downtown attractions.
For those tiny future astronauts, the Adler Planetarium is the perfect place to visit. America's first planetarium has one of the world's greatest collections of antique astronomical instruments. It has state-of-the-art exhibits like interactive computers in the CyberSpace Gallery and virtual reality experiences in the Definiti Space Theater.
Located on the Magnificant Mile, the American Girl Place offers more than just a shopping experience. Visitors can take their dolls along with them to the American Girl Cafe where they eat brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. A photo studio, doll hair salon and doll hospital are also at the location.
This multicultural kids' haven at Navy Pier is filled with blocks, mechanical waterfalls, foam-rubber flying machines, paints, clay and more.
Kids will love visiting the museum's most popular resident, Sue, the world's larfest and most complete T. rex dinosaur skeleton. The Field Museum educates and entertains visitors with exhibits about nature and culture, prehistoric to present. Visitors can take a trip back in time in the western hemisphere including the Ice Age, Aztec empire and more in the 19,000 square-foot "Ancient Americas" exhibit. Then travel around the world with exhibits of Egypt, Asia, Africa and China. Learn about animals like the man-eating lion of Africa and the giant pandas of Asia.
Chocolate lovers unite! The chocolate paradise sells candy and treats of all sorts, as well as one-of-a-kind gifts, Chicago-themed gifts and personalized photo candy wrappers. Visit the bake shop for cookies, cupcakes and entertainment from the bakery's singing baker.
Millennium Park is great for afternoon picnics and sun bathing. Kids can also take pictures by the "Cloud Gate" sculpture (known locally as "The Bean") or splash around in the fountain.
Visitors can see a variety of science-related exhibits. "Science Storms" teaches visitors about lightning, tornados, tsunamis and other natural occurances, while "Animal Inside Out" shows visitors the inner workings of some of "the world's most impressive animals."
Navy Pier's signature landmark, the 150-foot-high Ferris wheel, signifies the grand scale of this family entertainment center. Visitors can stroll, bike and rollerblade along the pier, watch free performances, and take a break to shop and eat. Weekly fireworks illuminate the sky and water each Wednesday and Saturday nights during summer.
The centrally located food court offers the standard fare: hot dogs, sandwiches, Chinese food, popcorn, fast food, gyros, burritos and more.
Kids can also leave the pier with their very own Build-A-Bear, which they can stuff and clothe at the store.
Grab your swimsuit, towel and sunscreen! This is Chicago's most famous beach, making it popular with suburbanites, tourists and locals. The rather large beach is in the shadow of the John Hancock Building and is a busy place, with a constant stream of bikers, skaters and joggers -- watch out when you cross the bike path!
This theme restaurant surrounds visitors with the sights and sounds of tropical jungles--vine-wrapped trees, water-dripping ledges laced with bright flora and lush foliage hanging from the ceiling. Your kids can enjoy delicious dishess from their kids' menu such as chicken fingers, pizza, mini burgers and ice cream sandwiches all while listening to the thunder and watching tropical fish dart about in floor-to-ceiling aquarium tanks.
The world's largest indoor aquarium features an elaborate recreation of a Pacific Northwest marine environment with dolphins, harbor seals, sea otters, penguins and beluga whales. Exhibits include the kid-friendly, interactive Polar Play Zone, and the Grainger Beluga Encounter Habitat which brings spectators up close to whales. Did we mention they have a new baby penguin?
Kid-friendly downtown restaurants
American Girl Cafe
Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's
Portillo's Hot Dogs
Want to explore beyond downtown?
These other locations aren't downtown but they're still great places to visit with kids. All you need to do is take the CTA!