This past summer, we enjoyed a full two weeks in the Midwest. We both grew up in Iowa, but with three little kids and family all over the United States, we don’t get to make it back to the Midwest as often as we would like! For our first week traveling, we stayed at grandma and grandpa’s house in Iowa before we headed east to Chicago. Then, we spent our first weekend in the Chicago suburbs with family celebrating my brother-in-law getting married! Since we were so close, we decided to extend our stay for a couple days and head to downtown Chicago. We had another stop planned later in the week, so we decided to make the most out of a jam-packed 48 hours in Chicago. Today, I am going to some of the highlights of our trip to Chicago. All of these activities are kid-friendly & highly recommended. When we were planning our trip to Chicago, we knew there was no way that we could see everything that the city has to offer in such a short time. To help get our planning organized, we decided to pick one special stop for each kid while we were in Chicago based on their interests. This helped us narrow down what we were going to do and make sure everyone would have their “special” moment during our time there. We also added in a few stops that we knew we wanted to check out as a family & that’s how we planned our agenda. Below, I am sharing eight of our favorite things to do in Chicago with kids on vacation!
Favorite Things to Do In Chicago with Kids
1. Chicago Cubs Baseball Game: My husband is a die-hard Cubs fan. Literally, he watches a Cubs baseball game every single night so my kids have quickly become little Cubbies fans through osmosis. This past year, my two older boys have become baseball fanatics so we knew this was a must-have family adventure. We booked our tickets, in advance, for an early afternoon game while we were visiting. We made sure to get seats under the awning, so therefore we were protected from the hot sun and/or rain which was a good idea since it definitely rained for a short bit of the game and there were no complaints from our little ones. The kids had a blast! They loved everything about the Cubs game from watching the ball players, taking in the stadium, & soaking in the atmosphere. It was definitely not just a highlight of our Chicago trip, but a highlight of the summer!
2. Wrigley Field Stadium Tour: I said it before, but my boys have baseball fever this year. They have been to several Washington Nationals games with their dad, but when I saw that you could take a behind the scenes tour of Wrigley Field, I knew this was the perfect adventure for them. We decided to take an afternoon tour, which was perfect because we had enough time after we got off the Chicago Metra to stop and grab a few appetizers and drinks before heading to the tour so nobody was hungry or thirsty while we were walking around. I’m not sure who was more impressed, my husband or the boys, but to say that they enjoyed the tour was an understatement. We got to sit in the press box, take a view in from the bleachers, and even sit in the dugout and stand on the field all while learning everything you need to know about the Cubs. It was definitely a hit and I recommend for any little baseball fans!
3. Shedd Aquarium: This was our very first stop in Chicago. My middle son is a huge fan of sharks, so we knew that the Shedd Aquarium would be the highlight of his trip. Shedd Aquarium did not disappoint. We got to see dolphins, penguins, jellyfish, and so much more but of course the highlight for my kids was the shark tank! There are some other great stops right near the Shedd Aquarium, such as the Field Museum and the Adler Planetiurim, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit this year!
4. The Bean at Millennium Park: If there is one thing you see in all tourist pictures of Chicago, it’s the iconic Bean. Of course, we knew that we had to take a quick trip in that direction because not only is there the Bean, but lots of other great things to see. We headed over to Millennium Park after breakfast on our first full day there & the kids had a blast. They thought it was so fun to walk around the Bean & see themselves reflecting over and over again.
5. Crown Fountain at Millennium Park: I think their favorite part of Millennium Park was the Crown Fountain where they had a blast running around in the fountains on a hot summer day. Every few minutes, the mouth on the fountain would spit out water. They got such a kick out of the spitting face & just splashing around in general. Some families had swimsuits packed and ready, but we weren’t quite as prepared, but the kids seemed to have fun and since it was so hot, they seemed to dry pretty quickly!
6. Maggie Daley Park: From Millennium Park, we walked on over to Maggie Daley Park. Several people had told me about this must-see park, so I figured with three little kids, it would be the perfect stop. Maggie Daley Park fills twenty seven acres with climbing walls, play gardens, & so much more. The kids had a blast & it really is an awesome park and a great place for kids to run and play in the middle of the city!
7. Navy Pier: Our hotel was super close to Navy Pier, so we decided to make an evening out of it and head over there for an evening walk together. The kids had fun seeing all the tall buildings and the view is wonderful from the pier. The kids loved watching all of the boats & there are several places to stop and get ice cream or another sweet treat!
8. Lincoln Park Zoo: Our last stop in Chicago was the Lincoln Park Zoo. We drove there early our second day before we headed out, which was perfect because it’s not as convenient to get to as the other things we did while in Chicago. We parked the car & headed on into the zoo. Now, I have to say that I have been to several zoos in the country and I was super impressed with this zoo. It was super clean & super scenic, especially for being in the heart of the city. And best of all, it was free. I knew this would be Abby’s favorite thing with all the animals & she couldn’t have been happier to see lions, giraffes, and more.
I wish that we would have had more time to spend in Chicago, but I would have to say that we jam-packed our Chicago adventure with as much fun as we could have in forty eight hours!