10 Fun and Interactive Things to Do With Kids in Chicago

Chicago is home to so many places for children to explore and many of them are free.

Bring their bathing suit or a change of clothes and let them run around Crown Fountain, an interactive work of public art within Millennium Park. Just south is Lurie Garden where kids can enjoy a beautiful garden within the city. The Garfield Park Conservatory just west of downtown Chicago is an urban oasis worth the trip. For more nature love, the Morton Arboretum is not to be missed.

Millenium Park features an ice rink during the winter but how about ice skating in the middle of summer? It’s possible at McFetridge Sports Center. Museums like the Museum of Science of Industry and zoos like the Lincoln Park Zoo are always a hit with kids and adults. If theater is more their speed, check out the performances by the Emerald City Theater Company.

Often overlooked but just as much fun is a trip to the Green City Market. Club Sprouts allows children to taste a different market item every time they visit while the Edible Garden provides opportunities for anyone to learn more about the gardening process through free hands-on gardening workshops each month. The Market moves indoors during the winter months.

Lincoln Park


Green City Market, Chicago's only sustainable market, has an extensive selection of conscientiously raised produce and other products. While milling around the park-turned-market, you'll have plenty of opportunity to snack on fresh crepes, visit...  Read More



Located just a short distance from Chicago, this fabulous "Tree Museum" features 3,000 varieties of trees, shrubs, and vines. Its 1,700 acres include Illinois Tree Trails, sugar maples, a Crabtree orchard, a delightful prairie that blooms in...  Read More



McFetridge Sports Center (MSC) is owned by the Chicago Park District and it's one of the busiest because it has a host of family-friendly activities. It has the Park District's only indoor ice rink and six tournament-quality indoor tennis courts...  Read More



Millennium Park is Chicago's crown jewel. With the change of seasons, the park attracts thousands every day. Summertime means a stellar line-up of concerts at Jay Pritzker Pavilion (during the day, on most Tuesdays through Fridays, the Grant...  Read More



Interactive museums are multiplying like rabbits, but this complex is considered one of the first and best. You'll find more than 2,000 hands-on exhibits including the Zephyr (a famous train that once set a land-speed record) and the Idea...  Read More

North Park Village Nature Center
Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes


It's not often you get to enjoy oak savanna, a forest, wetland and prairie all in one area but you can at North Park Village Nature Center. There are three trails from which to choose and explore: main loop, wetland and woodland and while you...  Read More



There is something magical that happens when children are exposed to age-appropriate theater at a young age. Emerald City Theater aims to inspire early learners through play and has been delighting audiences since 1996 with performances. As one...  Read More



A serene, tranquil setting is the trademark of one of the world's largest indoor gardens but it's also a great place for kids of all ages, too. The Elizabeth Morse Genius Children's Garden is open during normal hours. As kids enter the garden...  Read More



An ape house, a birdhouse and a working model of a five-acre Midwestern farm are just a few examples of what makes this zoo special. Founded in 1868 and known as America's oldest free public zoo, the Lincoln Park Zoo still manages to charge no...  Read More



Located within Navy Pier, the Chicago Children's Museum serves children from toddlers to fifth grade and features 14 permanent exhibits, many of which are interactive. The Kovler Family Climbing Schnooer is especially fun and unless your kid is...  Read More


Meet Megy Karydes

Megy Karydes has spent more than 20 years as a professional writer and most of her life in Chicago. While she’s traveled extensively internationally, visiting each of the 50 states is on her...  More About Megy