fun things to do with kids in chicago - family travel   Travel for Kids
united states
  | illinois


Chicago, the "Windy City," is also called the “Wild Onion” (the name Chicago comes from the Native American word shikaakwa), or “Second City,” the city rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1871. In Chicago, kids can go up Willis Tower, the tallest skyscraper in North America, check out dinosaurs and Impressionist paintings in the museums, soar on a giant ferris wheel or ride the elevated train in the Loop.
Chicago Photo Album
    Lakefront Parks - Art Institute of Chicago
    Navy Pier
    Magnificent Mile
    Lincoln Park
    The Loop
    Museum Campus - Field Museum
    Hyde Park
    On our blog "Tips for Chicago" – before you go and while you're there – best water play areas, museum-going, taking trains and buses, avoid long ticket lines for attractions in summer, and more.
    Ride the free trolleys – Chicago has four different free trolleys, with stops at places you’ll want to explore. The red, yellow and green trolleys go from the Willis Tower to the Field Museum, Water Tower and Navy Pier, daily in summer, weekends the rest of the year. The blue trolley goes in a loop from N. Michigan Ave. to Navy Pier, daily year round.
chicago model
  Chicago model – See the world's largest 3-D model of Chicago. Created from a very accurate digital map, all the buildings are constructed with a 3-D printer. It's easy to spot Willis Tower, towering over the other skyscrapers in downtown Chicago.
    The model is free, enter through the Chicago Architecture Foundation shop (224 S. Michigan Ave., across from the Art Institute of Chicago) into the atrium of the Railway Exchange Building.
    Street performers on Michigan Ave. – Just stroll up and down Michigan Ave., and there are all kinds of musicians - drummers drumming on yellow buckets, saxophone, tuba players, impromptu blues singers, and vendors making colorful balloon hats.
    Go to a baseball gameWrigley Field, an old-fashioned open air ball park, is a wonderful place to see a baseball game. Built in 1914 and the second oldest in America, the field hosts the Chicago Cubs baseball team. April through September, there are beind the scenes tours of this historic ball park.

Fun food


Chicago style hot dogs - load up your hot dogs with all the toppings, mustard, onion, relish, pickle, celery salt, sport pickle (ketchup is a special request). Chicago is also famous for its deep dish pizza, so sample pizza around the city. Caramel popcorn was practically invented in Chicago, kids will enjoy a bag full. For a dessert, there's Eli’s cheesecake.


Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) department store on State St. is a long standing family destination for lunch (chicken pot pie and desserts) in the Walnut Room. The Tiffany ceiling, chandeliers and dark wood paneling are a glimpse into a previous century, and in December, the Christmas tree.

family hotels chicago

Travel for Kids has so many fun things to do with kids in Chicago, but you'll need a fun place to stay.

Here's our own Travel for Kids hand-picked list of family hotels in Chicago, all styles and price ranges, in neighborhoods that are comfortable for families, and near to places you'll want to explore:

Chicago family hotels
travel tools chicago

Visiting the museums in Chicago? This pass has great discounts on the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Art Institute of Chicago or Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry or 360 Chicago, plus SkyDeck. Savings for the whole family, and no waiting in ticket lines:

Chicago CityPass

Go City Chicago offers 1, 2, 3, or 5 day pass for discounts on Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Art Institute of Chicago, SkyDeck, bike rentals, lake cruises, and more. Also, customize the pass to select which attractions to see:

Go City Chicago
kids books chicago
Larry Gets Lost in Chicago childrens books  
Larry Gets Lost in Chicago
John Skewes, Michael Mullin

Take a trip around Chicago with Pete and his dog Larry. When Larry gets lost, he hops on the L train to Wrigely Field, goes to the top of the Willis Tower, meets a monster named Sue at the Field Museum, runs through Millenium Park, where he finds Pete, and they both get a soaking surprise. (Picture book)

Also fun board book for little ones: Larry Loves Chicago.


Michelle Obama
(Little People, Big Dreams)
Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Mia Saine

Michelle Obama was born in Chicago, and grew up on the South Side, surrounded by large extended family. A a child she put her stuffed animals to bed, telling them “Study hard, and be great.” She went to elementary school in her neighborhood, later attended a public high school for top achievers. After college and law school, Michelle returned to Chicago to work, where she met Barack Obama. She was a powerful and popular First Lady, is and activist and author today. (Picture book)


michelle obama
what was the great chicago fire  

The Great Fire started in a wooden barn, but spread rapidly in strong winds, creating a firestorm, iron bridges melted, even the ground and river burned! Read about the devastating events of October 8, 1871, plus history of firefighting and historic photos. (Chapter book)


The Great Chicago Fire
Kate Hannigan, Alex Graudins

When flames engulf Chicago, two kids, J.P and his sister Franny, are separated from their parents. They race through the city, trying to find a safe place, trying to help staying one step ahead of the inferno. Was the fire started by Mrs. O'Leary and her cow (Irish were blamed) and how did Chicago rebuild from the catastrophe? (Graphic novel)


the great chicago fire
Finding Langston  
Finding Langston
Lesa Cline-Ransome

It's 1946, eleven year old Langston and his dad move from rural Alabama to Chicago. Amidst big city noise and loneliness, Langston takes refuge in the Chicago public library, open to everyone, and discovers his namesake, the famous black poet Langston Hughes. This is a gem! (Chapter book)


The Wrigley Riddle (Ballpark Mysteries)
David A. Kelly, Mark Meyers

At historic Wrigley Field, ivy on the outfield wall is famous, but the ivy is disappearing. And what about the Wrigley Field treasure? Cousins Mike and Kate are trail to solve the mystery. (Easy reader)


the wrifley riddle
The Wright 3 kids books chicago  
The Wright 3
Blue Balliett, Brett Helquist

The Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright is about to be torn down, but there’s strange goings on in the house. Three friends search for ghosts, discover a glass man, and fight to save the house. A super Chicago mystery adventure! (Chapter book)


The Sixty-Eight Rooms
Marianne Malone, Greg Call

While visiting the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, Ruthie and Jack discover a magic talisman that allows them to shrink, small enough to step into all the miniature rooms. (Chapter book)

And don't miss their next adventures in the miniature rooms: Stealing Magic and The Pirate's Coin.


kids adventure chicago The Sixty Eight Rooms
mr ferris and his wheel  
Mr. Ferris and His Wheel
Kathryn Gibbs Davis, Gilbert Ford

For the World's Fair in Chicago 1893, Mr. George Ferris wanted to do something that would dazzle – he would build a gigantic wheel made of steel, powered by a steam engine, lit with eletric lights, spinning round and round. (Picture book)

Also, chapter book, fabulous and fun read: Fair Weather


When Sue Found Sue
Toni Buzzeo, Diana Sudyka

Before you see Sue, a gigantic Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur, at the Field Museum, read about Sue Henrickson was curious about everything, and good at finding things. One day on a dinosaur dig in South Dakota, Sue was curious about a tall rock cliff, and discovered a T. rex. skeleton! (Picture book)


when sue found sue
good night chicago  
Good Night Chicago
Adam Gamble, Joe Veno

Good Night Chicago by Adam Gamble, Joe Veno. Good morning Lake Michigan, greetings Navy Pier, hello fantastic fountains, good afternoon sharks at the aquarium, look at the dinosaur bones at the Field Museum, good night Chicago. (Board book)


Chicago Monsters
Carine Laforest, Lucile Danis Drouot

Visit Chicago's famous landmarks – Cloud Gate, Navy Pier, Crown Fountain, Lincoln Park Zoo, Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, and find little monsters hiding on each page. Fun for younger kids. (Picture book)


chicago monsters
c is for chicago  
C is for Chicago
Maria Kernahan, Michael Schafbuch

Delightful look at Chicago, with colorful vibrant collages, from art and parks to sports teams, food, museums, buildings, holidays and music. (Picture book)


facebooktwitterinstgramvimeo travelforkidspinterest