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Family Friendly Attractions in Chicago

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The cosmopolitan capital of the Midwest is an adventure playground for families of all ages. Whether your little ones like making furry zoo friends, exploring new worlds in hands-on museums, or would prefer to splash about in the lakeside shallows, Chicago has plenty of fun-filled spots for entertaining kids.




A trip to the zoo’s a no-brainer for keeping kids happy. In Chicago you can choose to explore the creatures of the deep at the city’s popular aquarium, or head outdoors to leafy Lincoln Park for a purse-friendly trip to the free zoo. Yes, we did say free.


Shedd Aquarium


An oceanarium with splish-splashing white-sided dolphins and playful beluga whales, plus a fright-inducing Wild Reef exhibit with sharks and rays, make this one of the best family days out in Chicago.


1200 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago IL 60605. Tel: +1 312 939 2438


Shedd Aquarium website


Lincoln Park Zoo


Get up close to wallowing pygmy hippos, cheeky swinging chimps, and growling tigers at this free city zoo. Nestled among tree-swathed Lincoln Park in the shadows of downtown’s skyscrapers, it’s a favorite for local and visiting families.


2001 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614. Tel: +1 312 742 2000


Lincoln Park Zoo website




Say the word museum to little ones and you might hear mumbled groans, but Chicago’s best child-friendly museums offer up colorful interactive exhibits, where kids can get lost in awe while learning about science, the world, and nature.
Adler Planetarium


Budding astronauts can explore a galaxy of distractions at Adler Planetarium. Peek through telescopes to look at the stars, learn about the planets of our solar system in a 3D show, or discover pretend new worlds in the Planet Explorers play areas.


1300 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago IL 60605. Tel: +1 312 922 7827


Adler Planetarium website



Museum of Science and Industry


Your kids can descend into the coal mine to ride on the rickety rails, dream of little fairy friends at the model fairy castle, or jump aboard the sleek silver Pioneer Zephyr – one of America’s first diesel-electric streamlined passenger trains. Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is definitely not your average museum – it’s just too much fun.


5700 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago IL 60637. Tel: +1 773 684 1414


Museum of Science and Industry website


Outdoor attractions


Sun beating down? Chicago has a wealth of outdoorsy attractions where kids can frolic while parents can relax and take a load off their feet.


North Avenue Beach


Dip your toes into Lake Michigan’s cooling waters, rollerblade along the promenade, or get competitive with the locals in a beachside volleyball match – just a few of the things to do at Chicago’s best loved beach. This gloriously golden stretch of sand is a popular summertime haunt for families.


1600 N Lake Shore Drive, Chicago IL 60613. Tel: +1 312 742 5121


North Avenue Beach website


Family dining


The home of the deep dish pizza has got to be a winner with kids, right? From pasta places to steak houses and child-friendly chain restaurants, Chicago’s overflowing with family dining options.Pizzeria Uno


Supposedly the birthplace of Chicago-style deep dish pizza, this popular chain eatery will have tummies full of cheese and tomatoey goodness in no time.


29 E Ohio Street, Chicago IL 60611. Tel: +1 312 321 1000


Pizzeria Uno website



Billy Goat Tavern


With several locations across Chicago, including one on Navy Pier, Billy Goat’s been serving up cheezborgers and fries since 1934. Head to the kitschy original on Michigan Avenue where you can read newspaper-swathed walls before tucking into your burger.


430 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL 60611. Tel:+1 312 222 1525