100 Best Family Attractions Around Chicago (2022)

Navy Pier in Chicago with a ferris wheel, boat tours, and more.
Navy Pier in Chicago is one of the most popular family attractions.

One of the best parts about living in Milwaukee is having easy access to the world-class popular attractions in Chicagoland (without the daily traffic!).

Whether you’re planning an easy day trip from Milwaukee, a full weekend of fun, or just wondering what to do while you visit relatives, here are the 100 best things to do with kids in the Chicago area.


Top Family Attractions in Chicago

1. Navy Pier

The whole family will love Navy Pier overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan. Its crown jewel is the ferris wheel called Centennial Wheel, and riding it is a great way to get a view of the city that you’ll never forget. It’s 200 feet tall and it operates year round. There are other amusement park rides at Pier Park, boat tours and cruises, an IMAX theatre, and the Chicago Children Museum (See #2).

Chicago children's museum and navy pier in the fall.
The Chicago Children’s Museum is located at Navy Pier in downtown Chicago.
Photo from Facebook, Navy Pier

2. Chicago Children’s Museum

The Chicago Children’s Museum is located at Navy Pier and features three floors that your kids will love to explore. Stop by the Tinkering Lab, Pritzker Playsace, the Kohler Family Climbing Schooner, a WaterWays playground, the Treehouse Trails enchanted forest, a recreation of a real Saharan expedition, and Art studio, and the new Cloud Buster – 37 climbable feet of structural steel, wood, fiberglass, and more. It’s a fun place for kids of all ages.

Be sure to stop by one of the museum’s permanent exhibits called Michael’s Museum: A Curious Collection of Tiny Treasures.

Check the museum’s calendar for upcoming kid-friendly events, and purchase your tickets ahead of time.

3. Field Museum of Natural History

Chicago is home to many world-renowned museums , and the Field Museum of Natural History is one of them.

The Field Museum is a must-visit for school-aged children, especially those who love dinosaurs. Get face-to-face with Máximo the Titanosaur, the largest creature to ever roam the Earth. Make sure to visit Sue, the famous T-Rex, plus mummies, fossils, rare gemstones, other historic treasures in the gorgeous galleries.

Inside Ancient Egypt and Rocks of Ages are also popular exhibits there. You can spend a whole day (or more!) exploring.

The field museum main gallery in chicago with dinosaur fossils.
The Field Museum is a must-visit stop for school aged kids and families.

You’ll be near the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium on the Museum Campus. (See #5 and #6.)

4. Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago may not be the first place you think of to visit with kids, but a stop to the Thorne Miniature Rooms, the displays of armor worn by Medieval knights, and the Elizabeth More Touch Gallery where kids are encouraged to touch art pieces are all sure hits for families. The Thorne Miniature Rooms include dozens of miniature room modes with intricately detailed interiors.

Don’t miss the contemporary section with pieces by Picasso, Dali, Pollock, Warhol, and Matisse. 

Kids under 14 get free admission. Check their website for family-friendly art-making activities, self-guided tours, and more. 

5. Shedd Aquarium

The epic Shedd Aquarium is home to more than 30,000 marine animals, and it’s a great place for kids of all ages. You’ll be guided through various marine habitats, and you can watch divers feed and train sea turtles, stingrays, sharks and tropical fish.

A child looks at jellyfish at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Don’t miss the Oceanarium where you’ll find playful dolphins and beluga whales – it’s a sure hit! 

The Polar Play Zone is great for little kids, where they can run around and engage in hands-on play and exploration.

6. Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium is the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, and is the first planetarium in the United States.

There are plenty of interactive exhibits for kids to explore, demonstrations, telescope viewing, plus immersive planetarium shows and special exhibits to inspire your future space explorers.

It is part of the Museum Campus, which also includes Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.

Adler’s historic Sky Theater recreates the night sky, and the StarRider Theater is a digital, virtual outer space environment with controls on the seat armrests.

Note: Adler is closed to the public until March, 2022.

7. Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868, and over the years has evolved into the only private managed, free zoo in the country. It’s open every day of the year and is a great family outing.

It’s home to 200 unique species from around the world, and the landscape is beautiful, home to over 1,200 plant species, plus native birds, frogs, fish, turtles, and more.

Within the Zoo, the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo provides interactive and tactile learning experience for kids.The most popular feature is the Treetop Canopy Climbing Adventure, which a 20 foot high tree with satay netting that kids can climb.

Pepper Family Wildlife Center at Lincoln Park Zoo
The Pepper Family Wildlife Center opened in 2021. Photo from Facebook, Lincoln Park Zoo

The Pepper Family Wildlife Center opened in 2021 and is a renovated home for lions and big cats. Zoo-goers can explore the natural behaviors of African lions, snow leopards, Canadian lynx, and red pandas, and learn about the conservation issues threatening them.

8. Millennium Park

Millennium Park is a great destination in the heart of downtown Chicago within Grant Park, with over 24 acres of fun things to do and see, like public art, gardens, monuments, playgrounds, and more.

Kids can splash around Crown Fountain in the Summer, ice skate and sip hot cocoa in the winter, visit the iconic Bean, and walk through beautiful Lurie Gardens. 

One of the best things to do here is visit Maggie Daley Park with one of the best playgrounds in the city (more on that below).

Check online before you visit to see if there are any special events or live music happening, especially in the summer. There is often live entertainment in the park during the warmer months.

People ice skate in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.
Millenium Park offers fun year-round. Photo from Facebook, Millennium Park.

9. Garfield Park Conservatory 

Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest botanical gardens in the nation, and it’s absolutey stunning. 

There are two play spaces, an outdoor Play and Grow garden and a Children’s Garden inside the conservatory. 

In the outdoor garden, kids can walk the tree stump obstacle course and play on a wooden xylophone. Indoors, there are more interactive exhibits for them.

10. Willis Tower

Willis Tower, formerly known in our childhood as the Sears Tower is one of the tallest buildings in the world. (It ranks 12th in the world, and 3rd in the Western Hemisphere, to be exact.)

The best way to experience the view is from the SkyDeck, where you can step out onto the ledge’s glass boxes which extends four feet out and 1,353 feet in the air. It’s exhilerating!

11. Maggie Daley Park

Don’t miss the three-acre Play Garden at beautiful Maggie Daley Park inside of Millennium Park. You’ll find six themed play areas, fun spiral slides, suspension bridges, an outdoor climbing wall park, scooters for rent, a miniature golf course, a custom-built ship, a play pyramid, a winding path for roller skating., great views of the city, and lots of snack and ice cream options. 

The play garden at Maggie Daley Park in downtown Chicago.
The play garden at a Maggie Daley Park blooms in Spring. Photo from Facebook, Maggie Daley Park.

12. Chicago Botanic Garden

The Chicago Botanic Garden is open every day of the year (hours vary), and offers a dozen beautiful themed gardens. You can enjoy them on foot, or with a Grand Tram Tour that runs daily through mid October and lasts about 40 minutes.

13. National Museum of Mexican Art

The National Museum of Mexican Art is a national treasure, home to one of the country’s largest Mexican art collections with more than 18,000 pieces from ancient Mexico to the present. Your kids will love exploring the vibrant and colorful exhibits here.

National Museum of Mexican Art
Photo from Facebook, National Museum of Mexican Art

14. American Girl Doll Store

For doll-lovers everywhere, the American Girl Doll Store on Michigan Avenue is a mecca. Kids will love exploring the historical narratives of each doll character, or finding the doll that looks just like them, no matter their hair or skin tone. You can even visit the doll hospital for repairs, or get their hair done at the salon on-site. There’s also a restaurant where families can dine with their little friends. It’s so much fun for the little ones!

15. Chicago Architecture Center

The Chicago Architecture Center opened tot he public in 2018 in the heart of the city on the Chicago River. Their space is filled with super-sized models of Chicago’s iconic skyscrapers, and exhibits that focus on Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, housing types, leading architects and future projects.

Kids of all ages will marvel at the Chicago City Model Experience in the Chicago Gallery, with more than 4000 miniature buildings and interactive elements. There are also number of family walking tours available with an education guide and content curated specifically for kids 8 and up.

16. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

A butterfly greets a visitor at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.
The butterflies say hello at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.
Photo from Facebook, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

This gem of a museum includes a special Tree Houses exhibit where kids can explore the forest canopy, natural artifacts, and more. There’s also a taxidermy laboratory, a gorgeous Butterfly Haven, and a Nature Trails activity that guides kids along the park’s North Pond.

You can pair a trip to Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum with a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lincoln Park Conservatory.

17. Cubs Game at Wrigley Field

We are forever Milwaukee Brewers fans, but a trip to Wrigley Field is a must on any midwesterner’s bucket list. 

Kids Run the Bases has returned on Kids Sundays in 2022. The first 1,000 kids 13-and-younger have the opportunity to run the bases postgame at Wrigley Field on Sunday day games. Kids must be able to run the bases on their own as only kids are allowed on the field.

18. Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere with more than 2,000 hand-on exhibits about everything science-related from outer space to robots.

Stand in a tornado, explore a German World World II submarine, catch a glimpse of Planet Earth in real time, find your way through a mirror maze, walk on the Zephyr (a world-famous train that once set a speed record), step into a coal mine, see the world’s largest pinball machine, check out the Giant Dome Theater, explore virtual reality with VR goggles, and check out the Art of the Brick LEGO exhibit.

19. Bronzeville Children’s Museum

Photo from Facebook, Bronzeville Children’s Museum

This Bronzeville Children’s Museum is the first African American children’s museum in the country, with a special guided tour format and plenty of hands-on play. Children of all ages can learn about African American Inventors like Garrett A. Morgan, who invented the traffic light, plus famous politicians, artists, musicians and athletes that lived in the Bronzeville neighborhood.

20. Chicago Sports Museum

The Chicago Sports Museum is located on the 7th floor of Water Tower Place, and offers immersive, interactive fun for sports-lovers. Kids can test their own athletic skills against Michael Jordan, learn about famous sports mysteries, ride in a race car at Chicagoland Speedway in a professional simulator, and more. 

21. American Writers Museum

The American Writers Museum is a great place to take your book-loving kids, particularly the Children’s Literature Gallery, with its beautiful mural dedicated to American children’s literature. Your kids will love checking out the vintage typewriters in the Mind of a Writer exhibit. 

22. Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration

The Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration is in the heart of Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood and it’s the first childrems’ museum dedicated to immigration. There are hands-on interactive exhibits that focus on the Swedish immigrant experience, including a replica of a century-old Swedish farmhouse, and a 20-foot immigrant steamship.

23. Busy Beaver Button Museum

The quirky and whimsical Busy Beaver Button Museum is the world’s only finback bottom museum, where you’ll find buttons from every ingle year since the finback was patented in 1896. You will also see historical artifacts like George Washington’s inauguration buttons and an Abraham Lincoln campaign pin. The museum will also build custom buttons for you using your kids’ innovative ideas!

24. Museum of Illusions

Museum of Illusions in Chicago
Photo from Facebook, Museum of Illusions.

Chicago’s Museum of Illusions will give your kids the opportunity to immerse themselves in a fascinating world of illusions, including holograms, stereograms, optical illusions and immersive rooms that will trick all of you!

25. WNDR Museum

The WNDR Museum is a permanent immersive art space with the only Infinity Mirror Room in Chicago. Other art installations include the light floor made of hundreds of motion-sensored LED panels that swirl and spin to your footsteps (kids love it!), a new selfie exhibit, and more.

Photo from Facebook, WNDR Museum.

26. Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum is free for all kids 12 and under. You can climb aboard the city’s oldest train car, ride a high-wheel bicycle, learn about the Great Chicago Fire, and explore the city with all of your senses in Sensing Chicago. The Facing Freedom in America exhibit is designed for grades 5 through 12 and spotlights moments like the Civil War and the 1963 Chicago School Boycott.

Younger kids who love hot dogs will get a kick out of climbing into a giant Chicago-style hot dog at this museum.

The museum is adjacent to Lincoln Park, making it the perfect day trip to pair with fun in the park. 

27. Sugar Factory – Chicago and Rosemont

What kid wouldn’t love a visit to the Sugar Factory? There are locations all over the world, and their blinged-out Couture Pops are a celebrity favorite.

You can order Banana Split Crepes, Rocky Road Fondue, candy-inspired milkshakes and a King Kong Sundae. They also have traditional favorites like pancakes, crepes, salads, burgers, and decadent adult beverages.

The giant location in Rosemont is extra fun for kids because you’re greeting by an ice cream shop and candy-themed photo opportunities.

28. 360 Chicago Observation Deck

The 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck offers breathtaking panoramic views of Chicago from 1,000 feet above the famed Magnificent Mile.

The observation deck is the also the home of TILT. Chicago highest thrill ride has families tilt outward in a glass box at the John Hancock building, with a downward facing view more than 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile and the city skyline. It holds up to 8 people at at time. All ages are welcome, and kids 3 and under are free.

29. Escape House Chicago (8+)

You have one hour to solve Chicago’s biggest mystery! Can your family work together to escape? At their River North location, your family will put your spy and investigative skills to the test. Search for clues, solve puzzles, and work together to get out before your time is up.

30. Indoor Skydiving. iFLY (3+)

Feel the rush of being carried by the wind as you fly in this state-of-the-art vertical wind tunnel at iFly’s Lincoln Park location. Kids 3 and up can defy gravity and experience body flight with experienced instructors. They also offer birthday parties.

31. Urban Adventure Quest (10+)

This scavenger hunt adventure starts along the river, taking you along a game route that will shows the rich history, public art and culture of Chicago. Points of interest include the Riverfront, the Tribune Building, the Bean, the Art Institute of chic go, and the Palmer House. It covers about 2 miles of walking and takes about two hours to complete. It’s a fun way to spend the day as a family, especially for pre-teens and older!

32. Blue Man Group Chicago (3+)

Blue Man Group is a lively performance art show put on by three men painted in blue who stay mute the entire time. The show is packed with music, rhythm, vibrant color, drumming, exploration, and surprises. It’s family-friendly and open to kids ages three and up. They perform regularly at the Briar Street Theater.

33. Comedy Sportz Chicago

The improv shows at Comedy Sportz Chicago are designed to be accessible to anyone, no matter their age. The show’s format is an improve competition where two teams battle in funny scenes with songs, games, and plenty of hilarity. They even do birthday parties!


Best Chicago Parks and Playgrounds

Chicago is home to over 500 parks, but some rise above the rest. If you’re looking to kill some time during your getaway, here is a list of the 24 best parks to visit with kids in the city of Chicago.

34. Walsh Park

1722 North Ashland Avenue

Walsh Park is located at the Ashland Avenue access point on the 606 trail, this public park is home to colorful play structures, a towering slide, splash pads, a nature play area and it offers a great view of the city. 

35. Indian Boundary Park

2500 W. Lunt Ave. Chicago, IL 60645

Your kids will love the shaded nature play area, all-wooden playground with swings, castle-themed climbing tower, duck pond, community gardens, woden train, and water sprays with dancing bear sculptures in Indian Boundary Park.

36. Independence Park

3945 N. Springfield Ave. Chicago, IL 60618

Check out the zipline swings, rope climbing web, slides, plus a nearby field house with bathroom and indoor swimming pool at Independence Park.

37. Gill Park

825 W Sheridan Rd. Chicago, IL 60613

This northern Lakeview park has colorful play beams, wavy slides, innovative play structures, climbing logs, and an adventure path. The nearby field house at Gill Park is air-conditioned and has a swimming pool.

38. Juniper Playlot Park

3652 N Greenview Ave. Chicago, IL 60613

This charming park near Wrigley Field has a spinning net climber, a large sand play area, a mini climbing hill, woodsy sensory paths made from natural materials, musical instruments, climbing logs and tunnels, a nature-themed playhouse, sprinklers, interactive water and sand tables, and more.

39. Oz Park

2021 N Burling St. Chicago, IL 60614

This Wizard of Oz-themed park features an all wooden playground with a castle-like feel, statues of characters like the Cowardly Lion and Toto. Sculptures of the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and Dorothy pay homage to L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books. The lush Emerald Gardens nearby provide the perfect spot for a quiet stroll.

Oz Park, Photo from Instagram, @mamarosie

40. Adam Playground Park

Adams Playground Park has a charming neighborhood feel, offers refreshing sprinklers and water features for hot summer days, a giant shaded sandbox, and it’s close to yummy ice cream options.

41. Supera Playground

This pirate-themed playground in Lincoln Park includes two climbing structures that look like masted ships with lookout towers, palm trees at the splash pad, a rowboat-shaped sandbox, rocking sea creatures, and more! 

42. Lucy Flower Park

2554 W Moffat St. Chicago, IL 60647

The small playground includes soft play surfaces, a sculptural flower water spray, swings, picnic tables, a sandbox, and flower gardens.

43. Union Park

1501 W Randolph St. Chicago, IL 60606

Union Park is ones of the largest green spaces in the area. The playground has a set of swings, play towers with satisfying slides, and a rocky water area with circular sprays.

44. Mary Bartelme Park

115 S Sangamon St. Chicago, IL 60607

Photo from Instagram, @will_liamhaley

This one-block park in the West Loop has a refreshing geometric archway fountain plaza where kids can cool off in the summer, a soft-surfaced children’s playground with multiple levels and unique climbing features, stepping stones, tube slides, and more. The views of the nearby downtown skyline are spectacular.

45. Prairie District Park

2051 S Prairie Ave. Chicago, IL 60616

Photo from site-design.com.

Near McCormick Place, this pocket park features a rocky, prairie-style water spay area, silver slides, climbing ropes, and colorful bright orange and green play houses. 

46. Edwin C. “Bill” Berry Playground

Photo from playlsi.com

3100 S Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60616

This colorful playground is located between the 31st Street Beach and the harbor. You’ll find huge whimsical play structures with climbing ropes, tubes, and a rubberized surface. Afterwards you can stroll through the nearby marina and take a peek at the boats there.

47. Jesse Owens Park 

8800 S Clyde Ave. Chicago, IL

This park is named after a local legend, the multiple gold medal winning Olympian Jesse Owens, and the playground area is shaped in a circle like an Olympic Medal. The park has a mock long jump pit, which was Owens’ favorite event.

48. Mt. Greenwood Park 

3721 W 111th St. Chicago, IL

The award-winning Mt. Greenwood Park is surrounded by beautiful mosaics and has plenty of structures to climb, swing, and make music on. There are also interactive art elements designed by local artists. 

It’s fully accessible for kids of all abilities and completely soft-surfaced. Separate play areas designed for older and younger kids are enclosed within a single gate.

49. Margaret Donahue Park Playground & Water Spray Features 

1230 W School St. Chicago, IL 

Even if you’re a Brewers fan, Margaret Donahue Park is a great playground to visit, though Cubs fans may feel more at home. It’s just a short walk from Wrigley Field and has team pride all over it. Kids will love the water spray area, play structures that look like the Hancock and Willis Towers, a mosaic art installation, and rubberized soft surfacing. 

50. Senn Playlet Park

5887 N Ridge Ave. Chicago, IL

Recent renovated Senn Park is now a neighborhood treasure with a separate area for younger and older kids. The smaller area has a climbing structure, quad seesaw, a clubhouse and swings. The big kid area has the massively tall structure, its own set of swings, a seated merry-go-round and rope climbing zone. There’s a also a water sprayer for all ages.

51. Berger Park

6205 N Sheridan Rd. Chicago, IL

Located in a picturesque spot along the lakefront in the Edgewater neighborhood, newly refurbished Berger Park has a play area shaped like a pirate ship with tall slides, tunnels, monkey bars and more.

52. Park No. 574

2540 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago

Climbers will love this West Side playground with a wire zip line, huge slides, and pommel horses. There are fitness stations and a walking path nearby for adults.

53. Seneca Playlot Park

220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago

This downtown playground is located just off the Magnificent Mile and was recently renovated. It’s the perfect place to take a quick shopping break.

54. Ward (A. Montgomery) Park

630 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago

This playground in River North is located along the river with beautiful views. Kids will love the rubber climbing structure, swings, slides, and splash pad.

55. Andersonville Playlot

5233 N Ashland Ave. Chicago, IL

This large play structure has something for all ages, with a large play structure, slides of various sizes, bridgets, stepping platforms, climbing bars, and more.

56. Welles Park Nature Place

Welles Park is the heart of the Linncoln Square neighborhood and boasts a a huge playground and natural play space with forts, bridges and climbing structures made from salvaged natural materials.

57. Julia de Burgos Park

Your kids may not live spiders in real life, but they’ll love the friendly giant spider created by local artists at the center of this huge turf spiderweb in Logan Square.


North Suburbs of Chicago

In the North Suburbs, Schaumburg takes the lead for the most family-friendly activities. One of the main attractions in this suburb is the Legoland Discovery Center, a must-visit for lego-lovers with giant lego displays, amusement park rides, a 4D theater, and kid-sized lego worlds to explore.

Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg Chicago
Photo from Facebook, Legoland Discovery Center

Nearby Bison’s Bluff is one of the area’s best nature playgrounds with a large bison, waterfall, multi-tiered tree house, art area, music area, climbing walls, indoor nature center, and slides leading to the base of the bluff.

Bison’s Bluff, Photo from parkfun.com

Also in Schaumburg is the free Challenge Course at Meineke Park, with an extensive ninja warrior course complete with ramps, vault wall, floating boards, ropes, and climbing walls. Digital timers even allow them to score their performance.

The Peppa Pig World of Play has 14 themed areas including Peppa Pig’s Treehouse, Miss Rabbit at the Supermarket, and George’s Fort.

For a giant hangout space with bowling alleys, ping-pong tables, and arcade games, head to the Enterrium at Woodfield Mall, formerly known as Pac-Man Entertainment.

Photo from Facebook, Enterrium.

Or, travel back in time where knights in shining armor battled for honor on their horses. Medieval Times is an immersive experience for the whole family.

For a restaurant that will delight your kids, check out Pilot Pete’s, an aviation themed eatery. It has airplanes hanging from the ceiling, and you can watch the real airplanes at the neighboring Schaumburg Flying Club from your table!

Further easy in Skokie, you’ll also want to visit the Exploritorium with its giant Lite Brite pegboard and hands-on exhibits. 

Nearby in Glenview is the highly interactive Kohl Children’s Museum named one of the country’s Ten Best Children’s Museums by Parents Magazine. You can also stop by Jackman Park in Glenview, a city-themed playground for ages 2-5 with a post office, sinema, train depot, and grocery store. It’s located right next to the Metro line, so you’ll probably spot a train while you’re there. 

Photo from Facebook, Kohl Children’s Museum

Traveling north to Highland Park, Sunset Woods Park offers a two-story treehouse, a rocket ship play structure, and an archaeological dig with a T-rex.

Jewett Park in nearby Deerfield has two large playgrounds with super-tall twisty slides, siwng, towers, a turning rope climbing structure, a skate park, outdoor ice skating, and the Treehouse, a well-knowns indoor playground.

Also nearby in Vernon Hills is the Kid’s Castle Playground, which looks like a multi-tower castle and the rubber mat flooring looks like grass and a castle moat! There’s a large climbing structure, a 50 foot zip line, a rope bridge, ADA accessible swing, a separate tot lot, and more.

The playground at Lake Arlington in Arlington Heights offers something for the entire family. There are two playgrounds, a sensory garden with large musical instruments, an outdoor workout station, a lake path, and a small beach.

If you’re near Waukegan, Bowen Park is a multi-level playground build right into a hillside with a double-decker spider web and one of the longest tunnel slides in the Chicago suburbs.  And way out west in Huntley, the completely gated Deicke Park is a must-visit destination for little kids with its miniature village, school themed Discovery Zone, a working railroad crossing signal and a fire truck.


South Suburbs of Chicago

In the south suburbs, you’ll find KidsWork Children’s Museum in Frankfort, which features exhibits offering interactive play opportunities like the Pet Vet, Imagination Theater, Art Works, and a Light Exhibit.

The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn offers play-based activity for young kids with exhibits like Water Adventure and Beachcomber Island, Safe Haven Animal Shelter, The Science of Small, and more.

Located a bit north of these in Orland Park is beautiful Centennial Park with two playgrounds (one is fenced in), walking paths, a skat park, an ice rinks, and more.

Leigh Creek South Park in New Lenox is home to an inclusive, playground with a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round, seating zipline, basketball hoops of different heights, and more

Harvester Park in Burr Ridge Tree of Life play area
Harvester Park in Burr Ridge Tree of Life play area

Finally, Harvester Park in Burr Ridge is over 30 acres with an impressive “Tree of Life” play area with a huge climbable tree, zip lines, music area, splash pad, treehouse, and sand area. There are also bathrooms nearby and a covered picnic area to sit while your little ones play.


West Suburbs of Chicago

Brookfield Zoo is also known as the Chicago Zoological Park. It sits on 216 acres and is home to over 400 species of animals. 

Wonder Works in Oak Park is a shoe-free children’s museum best for kids 0-8. Also in Oak Park is Rehm Park which has an ADA accessible playground with a wheelchair accessible merry-go-round, a cozy dome for kids who need a quiet space, a double pipe line, and a roller slide. The Randolph Tot Lot is great for the littlest kids who can pretend to be a conductor on the Randolph Zephyr.

The Sensory Garden Playground in Lisle is a well-designed horse-themed playground for kids of all abilities, including a fully-accessible treehouse, a Sound Garden, a Fragrance Garden, a barn, horses for riding and bouncing, and more. 

Naperville is packed with family-friendly things to do. The DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville offers hands-on exhibits that will keep little ones busy for hours. Also in Naperville is the 95th Street Community Plaza with a playground that has an adorable storybook theme and a fenced-in splash pad. Whimsical Knoch Park in Naperville is another must-visit with its colorful, Dr. Seuss-like equipment surrounding a net spider web. At the end of your adventurous day, stop by Jojo’s Shake Bar for magical milkshake creations.

Napervill's 95th Street Community Plaza
Napervill’s 95th Street Community Plaza

The blue and yellow Nordic ship at Veteran Memorial Park in Westmont will be fun for kids of all ages. Plus there’s a zip line, a jungle gym of logs, and a smaller structure for the little ones. Ty Warner Playground is another must-visit spot in Westmont with state of the art Galaxy Series play equipment, a splash pad, large sand area, beautiful walking paths, a concession stand, and plenty of shade.

The Maryknoll Park Adventure Playground in Glen Ellyn featured large boulders, a huge 75-foot zip line, a treehouse play structure, saucer swing, spinning net climber, and more. There’s a splash pad in the summer, and Maryknoll Cafe is located in the picnic pavilion when you get hungry.

Turtle Splash Water Park in West Chicago promises loads of water park fun in its 5 acre enclosed facility. There’s a 12 foot tortuga waterfall, zero-depth entry pool, bucket rop, corkscrew slide, body slide, and more. Parking is free, but admission fees apply.

The Sandlot universal playground at Oak Brook is fully fenced in and fully accessible with ramps from top to bottom, roller slides, graduated climbing elements, musical elements, and much more.

The Sandlot Universal Playground in Oak Brook
The Sandlot Universal Playground in Oak Brook

Lombard is home to the Enchanted Castle Restaurant, which is a family entertainment center with go karts, laser tag, bumper cars, rides, mini-bowling, inflatables, a tw-story playland, games & more,

If you drive a further west to St. Charles, Pottawatomie Park in the downtown area is located along the Fox River with playgrounds, a sand play area, paved walking trails, a historic pavilion, riverboat tours, a native plant demonstration garden, and more.

Festival Park Playground in Elgin has a giant rope web suspended a few feet off the ground, a trampoline in the middle of the web, musical equipment, and more, plus a splash pad in the summer!

And way out in Aurora is Blackberry Farm, an outdoor living history museum in Aurora, and the Adventure Playground there is a multi-level center of fun with rope tunnels, walkways, adorable playhouses, and more.

Red choo choo train at Blackberry Farm in Aurora, an outdoor living history museum.
Blackberry Farm in Aurora is an outdoor living history museum.

We hope you loved this list of the best activities and things to do with kids in the windy city and the greater Chicago area. We are always updating this, so please send your suggestions and ideas to hello@mkewithkids.com.

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