Family Attractions in Chicago

Chicago is one of those hidden secrets as it’s a great big city with a lot of heart and loads of things to do but somehow it always seems to get overlooked. If you’re looking for a place to take the family for a weekend give Chicago a try, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Shedd Aquarium

One of the best aquariums in the country (if you ask me) is the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. At the Shedd Aquarium you can explore the Wild Reef and get up close with some ferocious sharks, watch the Amazon Rising and spot giant turtles, poisonous frogs and a variety of fish, travel the Waters of the World in 90 different aquatic habitats, see a Caribbean Reef and watch a diving feed sharks, rays and a sea turtle. Or the highlight of the trip, Oceanarium Reimagined where you can see some of the aquarium’s largest animals in a performance or view the world’s most charming character, the beluga whale.

Metropolis Performing Arts Centre

The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre offers a slew of theatre excursions for you and your family and is ranked as one of the top 10 largest professional theaters in the Chicago area. The slate of performances changes often and includes a wide variety of programs. There is certain to be something that appeals to your family. Remember that some of the best actors around (Harrison Ford, Joan & John Cusack, Kim Novak, John Belushi, Bill Murray and many more) came from the Chicago area.

Adler Planetarium

Within walking distance of the Shedd Aquarium is the Adler Planetarium, if you’re not worn out the two together make a great day of learning and discovery. At the Definiti Space Theater you’ll experience a virtual trip into the outer reaches of space, the Sky Theater is a traditional planetarium experience held in the historic Zeiss planetarium, the Universe Theater is holding a special 400th anniversary of the Galileo telescope event with a 3-D production with symphonic accompaniment. At the Doane Observatory you can use Chicago’s largest public telescope to actually view space with your own eyes. In addition, the planetarium features many temporary and permanent exhibits that give you a greater understanding of the universe around us and leave many with an unshakeable sense of awe.

Adventure Stage Chicago

If you have smaller children and want a theater experience that is geared toward their sensibilities then the Adventure Stage Chicago might be a better place to catch a performance. The Adventure Stage Chicago seeks to create dynamic performances that are specifically designed for children and that encourage imaginative thought. Shows are selected and performed with an audience of 8 to 14 year olds in mind. If your child is particularly interested in the theater check out the classes and camps schedule.

The Field Museum

The Field Museum is another interesting experience for both kids and adults. This museum is part of the lakefront Museum Campus along with the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. The Field Museum’s collections include many artifacts from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 which are the core of the museum’s collection. There is a public learning center which is great for children as it provides an outreach program that brings artifacts and specimens to children. The Field Museum is still a working scientific research facility and serves as an international leader in evolutionary biology and paleontology, and archaeology and ethnography. But the two things that will probably thrill little ones the most is their current traveling exhibit Real Pirates which features more than 200 artifacts from the slave ship turned pirate ship, Whydah. The other hit with children is Sue, the world’s largest, most complete and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Museum of Science and Industry

The actual Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is a bit dated and although they’re doing their best to update some of the really old exhibits there are still things which feel a bit dated and remedial for our computer aged world. But the traveling exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry is reason enough to come to the city. The best portable exhibits in the world typically make a stop at this museum. Currently Harry Potter: The Exhibition is being featured but past hits have included Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds, Titanic: The Exhibition, Leonardo Da Vinci: Man, Inventor, Genius, CSI: The Experience, Robots Like Us, City of the Future, Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination and many others. And don’t get me wrong, some of the permanent displays are really wonderful as well

Navy Pier

If you’re lucky enough to hit a day with good weather then the Navy Pier is a must. There is simply no lack of entertainment at the pier, from rides to restaurants, exhibitions to entertainment, shopping to dining cruises and tour boats all packed into 50 acres of Navy Pier. There is a 15 story Ferris wheel which gives you some of the best views of the city, a children’s museum that can occupy hours of time, and roving entertainers and the Pepsi Skyline Stage. And if all of that seems to hectic for you, take a walk along the promenade and enjoy the area gardens while your kids are enjoying something more frenetic.

CoCo Key West Water Resort

If you’re trying to find a place to stay with your family then CoCo Key West Water Resort might be just the ticket. This indoor water park is currently the largest in Illinois at 65,000 square feet of watery fun. With this as your overnight destination you may find that you don’t even want to explore the city around or you can skip the overnight and simply buy a day ticket for the water park. No matter which route you take, your kids will be very happy you decided to spend some time at CoCo Key West.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to family attractions and activities in Chicago. It’s easy to find that your time has just slipped by and you’ve missed out on the boat tours of the city, a lesson in the great architecture and the World’s Fair, shopping along the Magnificent Mile, a ton of incredible parks and recreation activities not to mention all of the festivals which always seem to be happening.
Creative Commons License Photo credit: JOE M500