Chicago Itinerary Ideas: 101 Fun Things to Do with Kids

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The Windy City is a terrific place and there are so many things to do with kids. Read this list of fun ideas for spending a family-friendly weekend in the city.

Drawing from our experiences with our daughter, I’m sharing my personally curated list of things to do with kids in Chicago, ensuring that your itinerary is packed with fun-filled adventures that will leave your little ones beaming with joy.

This list covers over 100 fun activities to do in Chicago with kids.

Things to Do with Kids

  1. Touch stingrays, sturgeons, and starfish at the Shedd Aquarium
  2. Start a Christmas tradition with lunch and photos at the Great Tree in Macy’s Christmas Walnut Room
  3. Listen to the traditional German oom-pah-pah music and eat potato pancakes at the Christkindlemart in Daley Plaza
  4. Splash around barefoot at the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park
  5. Make a Mold-a-Rama of an animal at the Brookfield Zoo
  6. Glide into the sky for an aerial view of Chicago on the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier
  7. Make a stuffed animal at Build-a-Bear
  8. Ride the Polar Express at Union Station
  9. Watch the summer fireworks at Navy Pier
  10. Say hello to the Lions at the Art Institute of Chicago
  11. See the Buckingham Fountain
  12. Go biking on the 606 Trail
  13. See a concert, play, or dance performance at Skylight Stage, Navy Pier
  14. Spend the day at a Chicago beach
  15. Learn how the Great Chicago Fire started at the Chicago History Museum
  16. Tour the Chicago River Museum and see how the moveable bridges work
  17. Marvel at the dinosaur collection at the Field Museum of Natural History
  18. Munch a Chicago-style hotdog at The Weiner’s Circle
  19. Explore the gardens and exhibits at the Chicago Conservatory
  20. Go apple picking at a nearby orchard
kid on merry go-round
  1. Ride a 1920’s inspired carousel at Navy Pier
  2. See the parade of floats on Lake Michigan at Venetian Nights
  3. Spend the night at the Field Museum of Natural History
  4. Climb the schooner nets at the Chicago Children’s Museum
  5. Experience the first flight butterfly release (free-flying butterflies in the Peggy Notebaert greenhouse)
  6. Visit the Nation’s Oldest Independent African American Museum
  7. Get lost for a minute in a fully mirrored room that endlessly reflects you at the WNDR Museum
  8. Walk through time and space and see constellations at the Adler Planetarium
  9. Smile and wave to the camera at a local TV station on State St., (maybe you will be on the news)
  10. Take in the views of Chicago’s most famous buildings on an architecture cruise
  11. Take a tour of Chicago’s Wrigley Field and sit in the dugout
  12. Take a virtual cooking class at The Kid’s Table
  13. Sip a bubble tea in Chinatown
  14. Go bowling at 10pin in Marina City
  15. Create a scavenger hunt to find outdoor sculptures
  16. Ride an endangered species carousel at Lincoln Park Zoo
  17. Zoom around in a go-kart with Whirlyball
  18. Go to a drive-in movie
  19. Play mini-golf at Maggie Daley Park
  20. Have your food delivered by train at The Junction
kid sitting on lion
  1. Make glazed ceramic arts at Glazed Expressions
  2. Sail the Tall Ships on Lake Michigan
  3. Try your skills in an Escape Room
  4. Ascend the artistic walls at Climbzone
  5. Experience a virtual reality arcade at Dave & Busters
  6. Lift your pinkies up at an afternoon tea party
  7. Eat a donut the size of your head at Dat Donut
  8. Take an acting class at the Chicago Children’s Theater
  9. Check out The Catcade, a Cat Cafe & Rescue center with feline-themed beverages in a laid-back setting with arcade games
  10. Lick an Original Rainbow cone from top to bottom
  11. Ride the Sea Dog at Navy Pier
  12. Take an art class at The Paintbrush
  13. Ride an electric boat at the Chicago Riverwalk
  14. Play laser tag at Whirlyball
  15. Go for a hike in LaBagh Woods
  16. Visit one of several Chicago Farmer’s Markets
  17. Go roller skating on the Lakefront Trail
  18. See spectacular views spanning up to four states from the Skydeck
  19. Splash around at the Adams Playground (water park)
  20. See a live sporting event with your young fan(s)
kid in beach wave
  1. Attend a Chicago neighborhood festival
  2. Celebrate the Chinese New Year in Chinatown
  3. Visit Dorothy and Scarecrow at Oz Park  
  4. Fly a kite on Cricket Hill
  5. Join a flashlight Easter Egg-Stravaganza at Lincoln Park Zoo 
  6. Watch the Chicago River turn Green for St. Patrick’s Day
  7. Spend the afternoon on the lake in large Swan Boats at Humboldt Park
  8. Learn how to make puppets or attend a puppet festival
  9. Cover the cultural and heritage history of African Americans at the DuSable Museum
  10. Attend Chicago Playworks for Families & Young Audiences at Merle Reskin Theatre of performing arts 
  11. Learn about money and see $1,000,000 in cash at the Federal Reserve Bank
  12. See the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
  13. Have a wild encounter at the Hamil Family Play Zoo where kids are welcome to touch and play with zoo animals.  
  14. Feel the zoom of the Blue Angels soaring through the sky at the Chicago Air and Water Show
  15. Have a snowball fight in Grant Park
  16. Have some classic Chicago eats like deep-dish pizza and Garrett’s Popcorn
  17. Visit Cloudgate at Millenium Park
  18. Ride a water taxi to Chinatown
  19. Go birdwatching at the South Shore Nature Sanctuary
  20. Try indoor skydiving at iFLY
kid at conservatory
  1. Engage with interactive walls and see selected artwork and videos at the Chicago Cultural Center
  2. Join the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Celebration at Maxwell Street Market
  3. Immerse yourself in incredible food, music, and activities at The Taste of Chicago
  4. See the light displays at Art on theMart
  5. Sip hot chocolate with pastries at Mindy’s Bakery
  6. Dine alfresco in Grant Park
  7. See the Jessie White Tumblers at the annual Budd Billiken Parade
  8. Opa! Enjoy plenty of music and entertainment including Greek bands and games for both kids and families in Greektown
  9. Pick pumpkins from an impressive patch at Jack’s Popup
  10. See the Medieval horses and fun floats at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
  11. Build a sandcastle at Oak Street Beach
  12. Collect rocks and paint kind messages on them, then leave them for others to find
  13. Watch the sunset over the Chicago skyline
  14. Make a time capsule of things you find in Chicago
  15. Experience Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns at the Chicago Botanic Garden
  16. Learn the Mexican culture at the National Museum of Mexican Art
  17. Find the perfect holiday tree at a popup tree farm
  18. Go for a walk and collect colorful tree leaves, press them into a book, and then display them in a frame
  19. See the holiday lights at the zoo
  20. Take a magical journey on the Clara’s Christmas Eve dream at The Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker
  21. Stop by Santa’s Presidential Pad at the Swissotel Santa Suite
  22. Lick an Italian ice on Taylor Street

Final Thoughts on Things to Do with Kids

mom and daughter hugging

One of the greatest joys (and pains) in life is being a parent. Speaking from experience, the years fly by and the next thing you know, your mini person is gaining independence, confidence, and a sense of self.

Single tear.

With this list of things to do with kids, you’ll never run out of ideas, especially when visiting Chicago. My husband and I have done absolutely everything on this list with our daughter and if time allowed, we’d do it again.

You’ll find that getting around Chicago is super easy when you plan activities for kids. Most transportation systems offer deep discounts or free rides for the little ones. 

Have fun while they are still young!

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