5 Fun Chicago Vacation Activities for Families

The Windy City is an absolute treasure trove of activities, from the easy access to a bevy of blues clubs to the 15 miles of public beaches that front Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan
Image: flickr.com/photos/lapstrake

And while Chicago has a long and storied past that includes a great fire and a lot of meat packing, visitors to The City of Broad Shoulders will find a truly modern and accommodating vacation destination when they choose to pack up the family and head to this major metropolitan area in Illinois. Here are just a few activities that are likely to appeal to adults and tykes alike.

  • North Avenue Beach. The summers in this region can get hot and humid, and there’s no better way to beat the heat than with a dip into perennially cool Lake Michigan. There are many family-friendly beaches to choose from, including the 63rd Street Beach with its fountain and beach house for kids to play in, as well as the Montrose beach, which features concessions, a picnic area, and a beach walk that’s suitable for strollers. But North Avenue Beach is one of the most popular for a reason. It could be the proximity to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is within walking distance. Or maybe it’s the inclusion of Castaways, a bar and grill with kid-friendly options on the menu. Perhaps it’s the white sand and the view of the city. More likely you’ll enjoy all of these features equally.
  • Grant Park. With 319 acres that include parkland, museums, and famous fountains with light and music shows, you’ll find no end of entertainment when you visit “Chicago’s front yard”. This massive park in the Loop (Chicago’s central business district) contains Millennium Park, a massive tribute to the millennium; the Art Institute of Chicago, featuring impressionist masterpieces by Monet, Seurat, and Edward Hopper, amongst other famous artists; and of course, the Buckingham Fountain, a must-see in the evening, when water shows are held throughout the summer months. And don’t forget to check out events happening in the park, including the Grant Park Music Festival.

Adler Planetarium
Image: flickr.com/photos/cjsmithphotography

  • Adler Planetarium. With exhibits, lectures, and sky shows offered in three full-size theaters, Adler Planetarium is your family’s gateway to the stars. And if your kids are into science they’ll find the experience fun and immersive. Plus, when you purchase a Citypass you can also gain VIP access to the Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, and the exhilarating Skydeck Chicago.
  • Shedd Aquarium. Famous for being the largest indoor aquarium in the world, this facility features 8,000 aquatic creatures. And in addition to touring the vast labyrinth of tanks, you’ll find a fun way to explore in the Teen Learning Lab, as well as the opportunity to enjoy the singular experience of spending the night in an aquarium, thanks to the overnight program for kids.
  • Lincoln Park Zoo. If you search for Chicago travel tips, you’re sure to learn that a visit to this historic zoo should be on your must list. Built in 1868 on 35 acres of land, this is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. And it’s also one of the few that is still free to the public, so if you’re looking for some free entertainment you should definitely take the kids to see the 200 species and 1,100 animals in this zoo, including primates, large cats, and polar bears, amongst other interesting animals. You can even get there via Chicago Segway Tours, which highlight the zoo as one of the many great sights to see in the city.

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