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10 Things to Do in Chicago with Kids

The ultimate family-friendly travel guide to Chicago, here are 10 things you must do with kids on your next visit to Chi Town! 

visiting chicago with kids

Traveling with young kids is not always a walk in the park but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 7 years as a mother it’s this: the more you travel with your kids, the better it gets!

Chicago Water Tower

After visiting Traverse City and Mackinac Island with our littles, we couldn’t wait to go back to one of our other favorite family-friendly destinations: Chicago!

Museum of Science Asher Thumbs Up

This time we had a really good excuse: my friends at the Museum of Science and Industry invited us to check out their latest exhibit, The Science Behind Pixar on display through January 6.

Summer Brain Games

In anticipation of our visit to the Museum of Science, we took advantage of Summer Brain Games, a collection of eight free and fun at-home science experiments with step-by-step instructions, using items found around the house or easily purchased. Studies show that kiddos lose around three months of learning during summer vacation so these free and fun science activities were perfect to do leading up to our trip to Chicago.

Jacob Eating Popcorn

Before I get to the exhibit, I want to kick off my list of 10 Things to Do in Chicago with Kids!

View of Chicago from Train

First up: ditch the car and take the train to Union Station! While I know this isn’t an option for everyone, if it is an option for you, I urge you to take advantage of the convenience that arriving by train offers. Not only can you sit back and relax while avoiding all the traffic, your kids can roam around a little, visit the cafe for a snack or use the restroom at any time. If you have little ones you get why this is so incredible.

Train Ride View of St Joseph

If you happen to live in West Michigan like I do, you’ll love the breathtaking views of Lake Michigan along the way. Regardless of where you’re coming from, nothing beats keeping the car at home and avoiding the traffic and pricey parking fees.

Rooftop Movies Palomar Kimpton

Second up: stay at a kid-friendly hotel! While there are plenty of options, we always find ourselves going back to the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Chicago. Lucky for us, Movies Under the Stars was going on during our visit in partnership with Pixar.

Movies on the Rooftop

I already love the movie Inside Out but it was even more fun to watch amongst the beautiful Chicago skyline.

Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

Must-Do #3: Check out the Science Behind Pixar Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. The exhibit is not only a ton of fun but it’s extremely informative as it gives you a unique perspective of how Pixar movies come to life.

Science of Pixar Exhibit Asher

Hands-on and highly interactive, we could have literally spent 8 hours at this exhibit alone! It’s truly incredible to see how science and technology come together to turn your favorite characters to life.

Science of Pixar Exhibit Asher Jacob

It’s a must see if you’re going to be in Chicago between now and January 2019. If your visit takes place after that, head to the Museum of Science and Industry website to see a list of upcoming exhibits.

Deep Dish Pizza Lou Malnatis

Of course, you can’t say Chicago with out talking about deep dish pizza! Which place offers the best slice of pie in town is hotly debated but I’ve been visiting Chicago for 37 years and Lou Malnati’s remains my top pick.

Magnificent Mile Chicago

Suggestion number 5 is to burn off that pizza with a stroll down Michigan Ave., also known as the Magnificent Mile. If you love shopping as much as I do, you’ll understand why it’s so magnificent.

Lego Store Asher

Don’t worry, there are shops for adults and kids of all ages which leads me to suggestion number 6: a visit to the LEGO® store! Located inside the Water Tower Place, this is a great option if it’s freezing cold or super hot outdoors.

Playground in Chicago

If you happen to be visiting when the weather is nice, be sure to check out one of the many outdoor playgrounds sprinkled throughout the city. Google map is a great way to search for playgrounds near you but we loved this gem located at the Roosevelt Collection outdoor shopping plaza a little south of the city.

Chinatown Dim Sum Chinese Food

The reason we were south of the city leads me to my 8th recommendation for things to do with kids in Chicago: eat dim sum in Chinatown! We tried out MingHin Cuisine for the first time and it did not disappoint!

Chinatown Chicago

There are so many benefits to introducing your kids to ethnic foods like dim sum but top of our list include the fact that there’s no such thing as a kid’s menu full of junk like chicken nuggets or hot dogs.

Chicago Architectural Boat Cruise

For a unique perspective on the city, be sure to take an architecture boat tour. Chicago’s architecture is known worldwide but nothing beats the view of seeing it from all different areas of the Chicago River. Plus, I always feel our kids are happiest outside.

Gordos Homemade Ice Cream Chicago

Last but not least, if you’re looking for a fun sweet treat, head to Gordo’s Ice Cream to try one of their homemade ice cream bars. The premise is simple: pick a flavor, dip the bar in a sauce of your choice then dip the bar in your favorite toppings. I went with peanut butter ice cream bar dipped in dark chocolate then covered in pretzel pieces. It was heaven.

Asher and Jacob Chicago Museum of Science

A huge thank you to the Museum of Science and Industry for inviting us to see their incredible exhibit! What are your favorite things to do in Chicago with kids? I’d love to hear from you.

Disclosure: The Museum of Science and Industry compensated me for my time to visit the exhibit and paid for our museum passes. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Lemon Bowl possible.

Want more fun family trip recommendations? Head over to my Pinterest board!

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Liz DellaCroce

Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families.

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