Family Friendly Things to do in Chicago

What do you want to know?

Search our articles, reviews and guides on different family vacation spots.

The Cloud Gate also known as the Bean in Chicago, IL.

Family Friendly Things to do in Chicago

Gofamgo participates in affiliate programs. We earn fees by linking to our advertisers at no extra cost to you. We would appreciate it if you use our links to buy these recommended products! Gofamgo is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Thanks for your support!

Whether you’re into historical tours, architectural tours, restaurant hopping, museums, parks and zoos, Chicago is filled with loads of reasons for you to visit and enjoy. While some known attractions and spots need admission fees, you can still enjoy Chicago with the kids while not spending too much. Here are some great ideas to to do with your family in Chicago to get you started.

1. Splash Around in Millennium Park

Millennium Park is where you find the famous Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”. You can view the city in different angles as well as maybe some distorted images of your faces. Taking photos at this famous landmark is definitely a must-do when you’re in Chicago.

The Cloud Gate also known as the Bean in Chicago, IL.

The Cloud Gate, also known as the Bean in Chicago, IL.

Another eye-catching public art here is the Crown Fountain, which features two interactive video towers with digital faces that spout water on the surrounding splash pool. The park is also host to several free events such as music concerts and film screenings in the summer. The winter season is just as enticing as the McCormick Tribune Plaza becomes a free ice skating rink for those who bring their skates.

The Crown Fountain in Chicago, IL.

The Crown Fountain in Chicago, IL.

2. Have a local show you around the city

Chicago Greeters

The Chicago Greeter program pairs you with volunteer residents to show you around the city. They can show you around Chicago through personalized guided tours based on your family’s preferences from architecture to food to public art and more. You can either book ahead for a 2-hour tour or do a walk-in for an hour tour with an Instagreeter.

Here’s a 2-day itinerary shared by a Chicago local too if you are looking to spend the weekend in Chicago.

3. Bring the kids and kids-at-heart to Maggie Daley Park

This bridge designed by Frank Gehry connects Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, IL.

This bridge designed by Frank Gehry connects Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, IL.

Just across the BP Pedestrian Bridge from Millennium Park is a stainless-steel winding walkway designed by Architect Frank Gehry. This beautifully redesigned 20-acre park is an amazing space for a number of family-friendly events throughout the year. The Play Garden in Maggie Daley Park  offers 3 acres of fun for children under 12 years of age to explore. For those with older children, other amenities are available such as the climbing wall, skating park, mini golf, and tennis courts. Rental equipment for these activities are available.

Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, IL.

Plenty of slides to choose from in Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, IL.

4. Free tour of a Money Museum

If you ever wondered what a million dollars look like, you are in luck. The Federal Reserve Bank Money Museum offers a free guided tour of their facility. While wishing that this money is in your bank account instead, there are plenty of information here about the history of the United States dollar. You can play simulation games as well like saving the economy. The Money Museum is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, except on bank holidays. You should plan about 45 minutes for a self-guided visit.

No picture for you. You have to go see what a million dollars look like!

No picture for you. You have to go see what a million dollars look like!

5. See Sue

Sue is the largest and most complete T-rex fossil in the world. Other than that, the Field Museum in Chicago houses several other interesting exhibits and artifacts that will sure be awesome for the family to see. Dinosaurs not enough? How about mummies from Egypt and Peru?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Gofamgo 👪 Family Travel Blog (@gofamgoblog) on

6. Spark creativity with Science

The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest science museum in the world. 400,000 square feet of interactive fun exists in this facility in Chicago. From aviation to tornadoes and flight simulators, people of all ages will find their day filled with curiosity and joy. You can even tour a real submarine!

Next to the submarine at Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Next to the submarine at Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

7. Explore and eat at Navy Pier

Navy Pier is full of reasons to justify it being one of Midwest USA’s top destinations. Admission and some attractions are free while some features such as the Centennial Wheel requires a fee to enjoy. With heaps of shops, appetizing restaurants, amusing public events, and exciting boat tours to choose from, Navy Pier is also host to the Chicago Children Museum. The museum usually charges an admission fee but are open to all during Thursday evenings.

Get 360-degree views of Chicago and Lake Michigan aboard the Centennial Wheel located in Pier Park.

Get 360-degree views of Chicago and Lake Michigan aboard the Centennial Wheel located in Pier Park.

8. Hello, Fishies

The Shedd Aquarium showcases the diverse species of marine animals from across the world. From small to large fishes and even penguins, the family will enjoy learning about these animals from different forms of habitat.

It is also more than a destination as Shedd Aquarium has been in partnership with several alliances to help preserve, rescue and rehabilitate of animals, not just marine life.

Saying Hi to a Big Fish at Shedd Aquarium, Chicago.

Saying Hi to a Big Fish at Shedd Aquarium, Chicago.

9. You can never go wrong with a zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States and one of the few that are still free for 365 days a year. Meet several animals from diverse climates with the family. They do not charge admission, you can show support by donating to one of the largest zoo-based animal and wildlife conservation and science programs in the USA.

Free and open every day of the year, Lincoln Park Zoo welcomes 3 million visitors through its gates annually. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo.

Free and open every day of the year, Lincoln Park Zoo welcomes 3 million visitors through its gates annually. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo.

10. See Chicago from Way Up

For the daring family, get a great view of the city at Skydeck Chicago  or the 360 Chicago Observation Deck.

Skydeck Chicago is located in Willis Tower, Chicago’s tallest tower. It has the infamous ledge or glass box that lets you stand and look down from the 103rd floor of the building.

360 Chicago is located in the iconic John Hancock Building. They have added a thrilling experience called Tilt for those who dare to stand on a moving platform which “tilts” you face down to the street from the 94th floor.

Willis Tower Chicago

Willis Tower Chicago

 

 

Final thoughts

Chicago is a beautiful city to explore with several things to do even if they are for free. You can also see more of Chicago’s non-free attractions with discounts and VIP privileges with CityPASS or with Viator.

If you are looking for a place to stay, we recommend the Intercontinental Chicago in Magnificent Mile, the Westin Chicago River North or the Swissotel Chicago.

What are your favorite things to do in Chicago? Comment below.

Pin Me 10 Top Free Things to do in Chicago

Pin Me 10 Top Free Things to do in Chicago

yamkins

yamkins

Yamkins founded Gofamgo in 2017. She enjoys new places to explore and discover new grubs with her husband and their son. When she is not traveling, she loves watching movies, TV shows and predicting who gets to sit on the Iron Throne. She is also a freelance designer and registered nurse.

8 Comments

  • Melinda

    I’ve never been to Chicago, but my hubby went a couple years ago and wasn’t impressed because it was rainy and he couldn’t really find anything to do. I’m so happy to see all these free and fun things that we can do as a whole family! Thanks for the recommendations!

    February 25, 2018 at 2:26 am
  • Unta

    I really like that museums of contemporary photography and designs are free, my favourite kinds of museums. 🙂 Chicago looks like a fun city to explore, full of art.

    February 25, 2018 at 12:11 pm
  • Tyler

    I’ve always wondered Amor going to Chicago and if there wad much to do there and you show that there obviously is. So maybe it’s time to start planning. Thank you very much!

    February 25, 2018 at 1:45 pm
  • Katie

    Some great ideas – I’ve done the bean and beer, now I need to go back to see the rest!

    February 25, 2018 at 2:19 pm
LEAVE A COMMENT

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.