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5 Family Friendly Things to do in Chicago

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This post was written by guest blogger, Ashley Kyles. Ashley is an up and coming beauty influencer, and the co-founder of SzTa Connection and Green Book Today.

Ashley Kyles, Born & raised in Chicago.

Living in Chicago all my life I didn’t realize how much there was to do here until I got older. Even though I don’t have children myself, I know people with children and finding family-friendly things to do is often a deal breaker. My mom would take me to so many different places and experience many different things. This helps me helps others when trying to find those places for their kids and families to experience as well. When traveling and going places as a family, the adults don’t want to forget about because they should enjoy themselves too! The places here in Chicago have fun that everyone from the children to the adults can all love.

1. Navy Pier

Navy Pier is located on the shoreline of beautiful Lake Michigan. It was built back in 1916 and now houses more than 50 acres of restaurants, attractions, shops, & more. Being one of the most visited attractions in the Midwest, the Pier has fun the whole family can enjoy. The Pier is open and operated year-round, however during the Fall & Winter months the hours are subject to change. Admission into Navy Pier is free but the different events and attractions charge admissions at their own individual ticket booths across the pier. 

Some of the attractions at Navy Pier include:

They also have seasonal events that take places such as the Winter Wonderfest which brings the holiday season and all the things that are fun about Winter indoors. The Navy Pier fireworks which occur every Wednesday and Saturday in the summer, in which they blast fireworks over Lake Michigan in the night sky. Then they have the Daily Cruises, where they have small boats that leave from the Pier’s docks on Lake Michigan to set sail on the water. While on the short cruise, passengers get to see the Chicago skyline and an amazing view.

These are only but a few things that I mentioned that Navy Pier has in store for a family trip. It’s so much to explore at the Pier and what makes it family friendly is that even the parents and older children can enjoy things there. The food is amazing, the gift shops are amazing, and it has more than enough things to indulge in so everyone will have something that they like.

2. Museums

Growing up my mom always took me to the museums here in Chicago. It’s one of the many places where I have a lot of my childhood memories. What make our museums so enjoyable is that they are diverse and exploratory. The main museums I recommend for families to visit are my favorite museums that I’ve been to. The Museums of Science & Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Field Museum.

The Museum of Science and Industry is not only one of the largest science museums in the world. It’s an interactive learning playground that the adults and children can all enjoy. Think of the Shedd Aquarium as an aqua museum. It has an array of different ocean life and many things to learn and enjoy while you catch another view of Lake Michigan. The Adler Planetarium is a wonderful space museum where the family can get lost in intergalactic knowledge all around them. It also has a huge dome theater where everyone can get an almost 3d space experience. At the Field Museum, it almost feels like times in history are frozen in time right before your very eyes. They have everything from history across the world, fossils, and even ancient Egypt. Last but certainly not least, the Museum of Contemporary Art is also an interactive playground of new age art. Not all the old art you would find at a regular art museum, it has different art styles from more current artists and plenty to see and do.

There’s plenty of things that make Chicago museums a family friendly place to be. Here’s the thing I love the most about our museums. Even though the admission price to enter each museum varies from place to place, if you go online you can find that our museums have free days throughout the year. Yes, you heard correctly, FREE DAYS, where you can enter the museum free of charge and you only must pay for concession and exhibit tickets. That way you can plan a family trip to several of the museums and not have to break the bank

3. Millennium Park / Maggie Daley Park

What once used to be an industrial wasteland, has turned into a beautiful 24.5-acre park in the heart of downtown Chicago. From the 1850s to 1997 the area was controlled by the Illinois Central Railroad. With time, Millennium Park/Maggie Daley Park has grown and become a world-renown area for Chicagoans and tourists alike to enjoy themselves.

Now, I had to add in Maggie Daley Park because the entire area was Millennium Park, but once they did more renovations, it was split up. After the upgrades, the other half of the park was dedicated to Maggie Daley former first lady of Chicago; she passed of Breast Cancer in 2002. Millennium Park is also where our world-famous Bean is located, right in the middle.

Admission into the park is free and they also host a lot of activities in the park that are free as well. They host a plethora of free activities throughout the year. During the winter they have an ice-skating rink that is open to the public, if you don’t have shoes, the only thing you pay for is shoe rental. They also host a tree lighting ceremony during the holidays to make the park more festive. In the spring and summer is where the real fun begins. In the spring and summer months, they hold free music festivals such as the House Music Festival, Blues Festival, and Jazz Fest. They also hold movies at the orchestra hall twice a week at dusk, again, free admission. Just bring the family, some food/snacks, and your blankets for a cozy movie setting. The Maggie Daley side of the park has Mini Golf, as well as rock climbing, both of which require admission costs, and huge playgrounds for the children to enjoy.

One of multiple playgrounds

As you can see there’s plenty of things that the family can enjoy from sun up to sundown here at Millennium/Maggie Daley Park. ‘Nuff said.

4. Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo is located on the near North Side of Chicago. This zoo has been around for years and is a pinnacle of our city since I was a kid. My mom took me here and I’ve visited the zoo multiple times on school trips and summer camp trips as well. Like any zoo, they have a variety of animals such as birds, monkeys, reptiles, insects, and more. The zoo accepts donations from visitors and private donors so they can keep their admission free of charge to the public. The only thing that needs to be paid for are the special events that are held at the zoo. Lincoln Park Zoo also has wonderful animal exhibits so you can know exactly what animals you want to go see.

Lincoln Park Zoo Entrance

Their many animal exhibits include swan pond, farm-in-the-zoo, lion house, and more.

The events that you pay admission for at the zoo are seasonal/holiday events such as Zoo Lights, Breakfast with the Animals, Murder Mystery Dinner, Easter Egg-Stravaganza, and more!

5. Whirlyball Chicago

This is the only thing on this list that I haven’t done in Chicago but I’ve heard so many great things about it. Whirlyball is a hybrid game of basketball and world-renown. Which makes for a fun competitive game for kids and adults. Now at this fun place, isn’t the only thing that takes place, they also have bowling, lasertag, and a bar/grill eating area. The entire family can go play games, eat, and leave with 24.5-acre experience.

At Whirlyball Chicago, everyone can have their fun! The adults can lounge at the bar while the kids play the games. The adults and kids can also play the games together, so no one feels left out. 

I hope everyone who lives in Chicago has been to these places and if not, I hope that you all go check them out soon! Now if you’re traveling to Chicago, I love that all of these places make it easy to have fun with your family but not take a toll on your bank account in the process. You’re getting Class A fun and experiences for an affordable price. Whether you have a family or you’re traveling with some friends these places to visit in Chicago are well worth it and you won’t regret it. Thanks for reading and happy travels!

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