The Best Museums in Chicago for Families

Parents appreciate the fact that most of Chicago's world-renowned museums offer family-specific tours, activities and interactive events that engage young minds yet are just as enjoyable for adults.

While the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier and the Kohl Children's Museum might be best for tots, the older ones should appreciate the museums on The Museum Campus, a 57-acre museum park near Lake Michigan, just south of the Loop, and home to the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum of Natural History and John G. Shedd Aquarium.

The world-famous Art Institute of Chicago is in the heart of downtown and a few miles west you'll find the engaging, colorful and free National Museum of Mexican Art, a popular choice in autumn for its expansive Day of the Dead celebrations. Even a museum-phobic kid will go for the brand new U.S. Pizza Museum (as long as you promise some after the visit). You can pair a morning at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum with an afternoon at Lincoln Park Zoo.

A great way to keep costs down and save time on ticket lines is to buy the Chicago CityPass which offers discount admission up to five popular attractions: the Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium or the Art Institute of Chicago. Or, check each museum’s website for free days of the week. Several offer free admission for children ages 12 and younger.



The museum in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood is filled with compelling exhibits about the city's history and it's free for ALL kids 12 and under and free for Illinois residents 18 and younger. Chicago: Crossroads of America, the...  Read More



Vermont has a museum dedicated to maple syrup and the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, WI has it followers so why not a pizza museum - in Chicago where we have New York, Detroit, New Haven, Quad Cities, Naples and Chicago style covered in a...  Read More



A highlight of any trip to Chicago, this museum is home to one of the best and most diverse art collections in the world. But there's plenty here that will interest kids, including the Thorne Miniature Rooms, displays of armor worn by Medieval...  Read More



Kohl Children's Museum was recently named one of the country's Ten Best Children's Museums by Parents Magazine and it's one of a handful in the country that focuses on early childhood from birth to age eight. Indoors, families explore 17...  Read More

Field Museum of Natural History
Photo courtesy of Field Museum of Natural History


Mummies, fossils and dinosaurs, kid favorites, are some of the historic treasures inside the Field Museum. Massive columns and striking galleries filled with natural light help kids feel the history and you're immediately greeted by two massive...  Read More



As buildings continually go up, nature gets pinched, so a visit to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is an ideal respite from the concrete landscape. Explore the region's only year-round butterfly sanctuary where as many as 40 species of native...  Read More



Even rocket scientists have a hard time envisioning the size and composition of the ever-expanding universe, so imagine the task for kids who get space info from Pixar. The Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, the nation's very first...  Read More



This large aquarium with 32,000 animals guides visitors through the world's many marine habitats, from the entertaining colony of penguins to the mysterious Amazon. Watch divers as they feed sea turtles, stingrays, sharks and tropical fish in...  Read More

Museum of Science and Industry


This massive museum, one of the first and best in the country, features more than 2,000 hands-on exhibits about everything from outer space to robots. Some of its most famous exhibits are the re-created coal mine ride, walking on the Zephyr (a...  Read More



Located within Navy Pier, the Chicago Children's Museum is geared to children from toddlers to fifth graders. Its interactive exhibits are spread across three floors, including a Tinkering Lab (great for older kids) and Pritzker Playspace, CCM's...  Read More


Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky