Busy Kids Daytrip: Chicago – Downtown & Suburbs

Busy Kids Daytrip - Chicago

There are so many interesting and beautiful places to explore that are just a short drive from Washington County. In our Busy Kids Daytrip series, we’ll highlight some of the fun events and activities for kids at these destinations.

Pack a bag and head 2 hours south to visit the beautiful and historic Windy City! There are so many fun activities for kids in downtown Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. In this post, we’ve highlighted some of the most memorable places to eat, play and make memories. Late Spring, Summer, and early Fall in Chicago are bustling with a variety of festivals and fun activities — start planning your trip today!


Chicago Children’s Museum
Navy Pier – Chicago, IL

This giant children’s museum features three vibrant floors of exhibits and sensory activities for you and your little ones! Kids will enjoy interactive exhibits, including a dinosaur excavation, a waterways pulleys and pump exhibit, kids town, and more!

Admission: Children & Adults $14 | Seniors $13
*The museum offers free admission to all children 15 & under on the first Sunday of each month

Field Museum
Lakefront – Chicago, IL

Travel around the world, go back in time, and discover things you never knew at The Field Museum! The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago is one of the largest of it’s type in the world. You can definitely spend an entire day getting lost in the amazing collections at this museum.

Admission: Starting at Adult $22 | Children $15 | Seniors & Students $19

Museum of Science and Industry
Hyde Park / Lakefront – Chicago, IL

One of the largest science museums in the world—home to more than 400,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits designed to spark scientific inquiry and creativity.

Admission: Adult $18 | Child (ages 3-11) $11
*Save $2/person if you book your tickets online

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Lakefront – Chicago, IL

One of Chicago’s most family-friendly science museums. This museum offers a wide variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits that bring nature and science alive to both young and old.

Admission: Adults $9 | Students & Seniors $7 | Ages 3 – 12 $6 | Under 3 FREE

SciTech Hands On Museum
Aurora, IL

Come and explore over 200 interactive STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) exhibits. Experience a day full of fun that will inspire education and imagination in your children!

Admission: Children & Adults $8 | Military & Seniors 60+ $6 | 3 & Under FREE


Navy Pier 
Lakefront – Chicago, IL

Chicago’s lakefront treasure, offering access to extraordinary views of the lake, land and city skyline. Shop, play, eat, or take a cruise – there’s so much to do and see at Navy Pier. It’s a great summertime excursion!

Admission: Varies per attraction

Willis Tower / Chicago Skydeck
Downtown – Chicago, IL

This is a tourist “must-do” while visiting Chicago. Visitors can step out onto a glass box that extends 4.3 feet out from the skydeck of Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. At 1,353 feet in the air, the Ledge offers fantastic views of the city and unforgettable photo opportunities!

Admission: Adult $23 | Youth $15


Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze
Navy Pier – Chicago, IL

Chicago’s only self-paced, full sensory maze experience where you navigate your way through 4,000 square feet of tunnels, mazes and fun.

Admission: Starting at Children & Adults $10 | 4 & Under FREE

Skokie, IL

A place where children and adults can come and explore together through interactive play. Make-believe in the costumed dress-up area; run your fingers through the water play area; make music, climb a wall, play with trains, experience new heights in the two-and-a half-story tubes and tunnels, and much more. Named Chicagoland’s “Best Rainy Day Activity Site” by Chicago Magazine.

Admission: Non Resident $5 | Kids under 1 FREE

Schaumburg, IL

A firehouse experience for kids, providing an imaginatively fun look into the world of firefighting. The FireZone provides a safe, clean, fun, and engaging environment for children to play in and explore

Admission: Children (Ages 1-9) $10 | Under 1 FREE | Adult FREE (w/ paid child)

Schaumburg, IL

A Lego-lover’s Dreamland with 2 rides, 10 LEGO build & play zones, a 4D cinema, lego build outs of popular Chicago landmarks & much more!

Admission: Starting at $16.15 per person

Santa’s Village Azoosment Park
East Dundee, IL

Santa’s Village Azoosment Park is Chicagoland’s best place for families to have fun! Plan your adventure with rides for kids and families, a petting zoo loaded with animals, and “edu-tainment” with featured shows about animals, exploration, and more!

Admission: Children & Adults $24.95 | Seniors (65+) $16.75 | 2 and under FREE

Six Flags Great America
Gurnee, IL

Find endless adventures for the entire family at this popular theme park with 14 heart-pounding roller coasters, a 20-acre water park, spectacular shows, and four children’s themed areas with more than 30 rides.
Admission: Purchase in advance online – Starting at $46.99/person | 2 and under FREE


Lincoln Park Zoo
Lakefront – Chicago, IL

A totally free, family-oriented wildlife experience in the heart of Chicago. You’ll find all of your favorite animals within this 35 acre oasis. Check the Zoo’s event calendar before you go – there are lots of fun activities planned throughout the year.

Admission: FREE!

Shedd Aquarium
Lakeshore – Chicago, IL

Shedd Aquarium offers you connections to the whole aquatic world. With 32,000 animals to meet (and dozens to touch!), award-winning exhibits to explore and in-depth, hands-on activities to try, the possibilities are almost endless.

Admission: Starting at Adult $30.95 | Child $21.95


American Girl Place
Downtown – Chicago, IL

Filled with fun activities for girls and their dolls, this place is a dreamland for American Girl doll lovers! Pamper your doll at the hair salon, design your own doll outfits, enjoy brunch or afternoon tea, or treat your little one to a very memorable birthday celebration! There are lots of fun weekly activities, so be sure to check the event calendar before planning your visit!

Gurnee Mills Mall
Gurnee, IL

The largest outlet and value shopping destination in Illinois with over 200 stores, entertainment venues, and popular restaurants.

Admission: FREE

Schaumburg, IL

Although Wisconsin will be getting it’s own Ikea store very soon (Oak Creek – Summer 2018), visiting Ikea is an experience within itself. Have lunch in the cafe, dream up some new re-decorating ideas, and find new furnishings for your kids’ rooms. The maze-like structure of the Ikea shopping aisles will be amazement and wonder to kids of all ages.

Admission: FREE (Although don’t be surprised if you leave the place with $100+ in new merchandise!)


Gino’s East 
10 locations throughout Downtown and Suburban Chicago

Gino’s East is Chicago’s legendary deep dish pizza spot – serving visitors from all over the world since 1966. They’re world-famous for the tradition of letting all of customers leave their mark on our restaurant. Stop by, enjoy great pizza, and leave a special note on the wall!

Rainforest Cafe
Chicago, Schaumburg, & Gurnee, IL

Part adventure, part restaurant and wholly entertaining for the whole family, the Rainforest Cafe re-creates a tropical rainforest with waterfalls, lush vegetation, and indigenous creatures. This is a dining experience your kids won’t soon forget!

Pilot Pete’s 
Schaumburg, IL

This restaurant is an aviator lovers dream, with fun decor, great food, and a fantastic view! Two glass walls offer a beautiful panoramic view of the Schaumburg Airport runway where you will see all types of private and corporate aircraft departing and landing, helicopters, and even some old military aircraft!

Spending a few days in downtown Chicago? Consider purchasing a CityPASS.
CityPASS includes admission to Chicago’s top attractions, hand-picked and packaged into one convenient booklet.

1 – Shedd Aquarium
2 – Skydeck Chicago
3 – The Field Museum
4 – Museum of Science and Industry
      or 360 CHICAGO
5 – Adler Planetarium
      or Art Institute of Chicago

Cost:  Adult $99.75 | Child $84.75

Take the train!

If you’re heading to downtown Chicago, consider making it a travel experience and take the Amtrak Hiawatha from Milwaukee to Chicago. It’s a 90 minute ride from Milwaukee’s Intermodel Station to Union Station in Chicago. Amtrak runs 7 round trips a day (6 on Sunday), and it’s sure to be a memorable experience for your little ones. Learn more here.


Consider driving to Kenosha and boarding the Metra into Chicago. You can purchase a weekend pass for $8, which allows unlimited rides on both Saturday and Sunday. Learn more here.

What are your favorite things to do in the greater Chicago area? Let us know in the comments below!

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