Visiting large cities, like Chicago, with kids can be such a wonderful way to spend the day.  Large cities offer many things for kids to do that you might not be able to do in your home town.   We like to take day trips to cities that are only a few hours away. You can get ideas from our Day Trips with Kids article and start planning your family weekend get aways.  This article is going to cover things for kids to do in Chicago for a day.   

Visiting the SkyDeck is our first thing for kids to do in Chicago  Chicago SkyDeck With Kids

Start your morning with a visit to the Skydeck, located on the 103rd floor of Willis Tower (that’s 1353 ft above the city).  On your ride up the elevator, there is a video that tells you about the different heights of iconic buildings around the world and how you are still going higher than those (Willis Tower is the 8th largest building in the world).  You finally arrive at the viewing floor and once you exit the elevator you are immediately in awe of the view of the city of Chicago.  The entire floor is nothing but windows.  The skydeck is the highlight of the visit but you can’t help stopping to take pictures of the city from all different angles on this level.   

Increase your Experience and Save Time at the Sky Deck

If you are making this a day trip, visit the skydeck website and print the free fun stuff for kids ( and let the kids build their excitement for the upcoming adventure by completing these activities in the car.  Bonus, it will keep them entertained for a portion of your drive.  Not a day trip, still print these items and let them partake in the activities the night before.  The more you can involve the kids early, the more likely their excitement will build, and the more enjoyable it will be for the whole family.  

Save time by purchasing tickets before you arrive.  The lines for securing tickets upon arrival can be long and take up hours of your morning waiting to just buy the tickets.  Skip-The-Line and purchase you tickets from GetYourGuide ahead of time.  We recommend the SkyDeck and Ledge Experience tickets.   Planning on doing more activities that require entrance into some of Chicago’s most iconic areas.  Save money by purchasing the City Explorer Pass and build your own experience with over 25 choices (SkyDeck is included in the Pass as well).   

Things to do in Chicago with a toddler as well as older kids – Visit Millennium Park Chicago Millennium Park With Kids

After the excitement of the Skydeck, head over to burn some energy at Millennium Park.  You can easily walk or drive to this location from the Skydeck.  I recommend walking as once I park my car in Chicago it stays until we are ready to leave.  Millennium Park has things to do with a toddler and with older kids.   This is the perfect place to stop when you are visiting Chicago with kids.  The park has some of the most beautiful public art in the world.  Check out these 5 free things for kids to do in Chicago.  

5 Free Things For Kids To Do In Chicago at Millennium Park

  1. Cloud Gate aka “The Bean”.  On your way into the Park, make a stop at the Cloud Gate “The Bean”.  This arch into the park is completely mirrors and your kids will enjoy getting to see their reflections distorted by the shape of the monumental structure.  This is a great place for selfies!
  2. Rock Climbing Wall.  These structures (2 of them) are great for the older kids and even adults.  If you are a beginner or an expert, you will have fun racing each other to the top or sitting back and enjoying the excitement the kids are having.  
  3. Play Garden.  Make a stop at the Play Garden.  This area of the park has acres of places for kids to explore and play.  They have everything from swings for the little ones all the way to rope course for the bigger kids.  Each area is marked with the appropriate age for kids to partake in the fun.  The park has done an excellent job of incorporating each play area into the beautiful scenery that surrounds it.  
  4. Lurie Garden and Boeing Galleries.  Take a stroll through the beautiful Lurie Garden on your way to the Boeing Galleries.  The paths throughout the park are well marked with signs and paved areas.  You can enjoy the beauty of the plants easily by creating your own strolling paths.  I recommend strolling through the garden until you reach the wildly decorated art figures that the kids will fall in love with at Boeing Galleries.  There are different exhibits up at different times of the year so make sure you take a stroll each time you visit Chicago.  
  5. Crown Fountain.  When visiting on a hot day, don’t miss a stop at the Crown Fountain.  This area has 2 images facing each other from across a large area of land.  The structures will both have cascading waterfalls on hot days that create a reflecting pool.  Visitors can wade through the water to cool off or even allow kids to run under the waterfall and really enjoy the adventure.  Tip: Don’t forget to bring a change of clothes.  

Visiting the Lakefront Trail is another of the Kid Friendly Chicago Activities we love 3 Things Kids Can Do In Chicago

The Chicago Lakefront Trail is 18.5 miles long and along the shores of Lake Michigan.  Many visitors are partaking in walking, jogging, and cycling.  A final stop for the day is a viewing of Lake Michigan from the lakefront trail.  If you are just looking to get your feet wet or take a picture this easily is accomplished by strolling along the lakefront trail for free on your own.  

Bobby’s Tike Hike: Kids Edition in Chicago

Looking for things to do in Chicago with a toddler that adds a bonus visit to the Lincoln Park Zoo?  Check out this kid friendly Chicago activities that is a 2 hour tour by Bobby’s Tike Hike: Kids Edition in Chicago.   The tour description is “Led by a fun and friendly guide, enjoy a bike tour designed exclusively for kids with emphasis on safty, fun, and sightseeing.  Pet the animals at Lincoln Park Zoo and cycle the lakefront trail on this 2-hour tour.”  This tour departs daily at 3:00pm when the sun times are low and will offer the most beauty of the sun starting its descent over the lakes.  The beauty of the Lake Michigan is not to be missed and is a great way to wrap up your day before getting back in the car to drive home or head back to your hotel.  

Wrap Up!

There are many things for kids to do in Chicago for a day that will provide you the opportunity to accomplish visiting Chicago with kids and gives you an opportunity to build up ideas for your next visit.  I like taking many day trips to big cities and find different things for kids to do in those cities.  It builds a fun experience for kids and has them excited to go back each time.  By using the above itinerary to build your things for kids to do in Chicago first day trip, you’ll discovered that kids are more excited to go back again and again.  All I continually hear is “Mommy, can we go to Chicago this weekend?”  While we haven’t ventured back yet, I know my boys will enjoy all of the new experiences we discover the next time we plan this location as our family adventure day trip.  

Are you planning on visiting Chicago with kids?  Do you have tips about things for kids to do in Chicago?  Tips for kid friendly Chicago Activities?  Ideas on things to do in Chicago with toddlers?  Recommend a place we should add to our must try list?  Leave it in the comments and help us plan our next adventure to share with all of you.

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