It can be quite a challenge to keep an entire family busy and having fun. Luckily, Lincoln Park and Chicago are home to countless attractions, historical sites, festivals, and events. Here, there’s no shortage of enjoyable and educational outings for children and families. Whether you are toting a toddler or guiding a pack of preteens across the city, check out our list of the very best kid-friendly attractions around Lincoln Park and Chicago.  

Lincoln Park Zoo

Of course, we had to start with Lincoln Park Zoo. This wildlife experience, enjoyed by generations of families, is conveniently located in Lincoln Park. Since 1866, the zoo has offered the young (and the young-at-heart) the opportunity to get up-close to some of their favorite animals. Nearly 200 unique species call this zoo home, from lions and tigers to penguins and rattlesnakes. In addition to animals, you can find more than 1,200 different plant species inside and around the zoo. It truly is an urban oasis.

Lincoln Park Zoo is open 365 days a year. The paid parking lot is located at 2400 N. Cannon Drive, but you can also access the zoo via the Brown, Purple, and Red train lines, which all stop about one mile west of the zoo. If you have a family of animal fans, students in grades PreK through 8 can sign up for seasonal camps, while the youngest explorers are welcome to join “Learn, Explore, and Play” morning programs. There’s always something happening at Lincoln Park Zoo!

Navy Pier 

The ferris wheel around Chicago, IL.

Image via Flickr by nancyesmith

For fun on the shore of Lake Michigan, there’s no better place to go than Navy Pier. This 3,300-foot-long pier is a hub of restaurants, attractions, shopping, rides, and events. Get out on the water and explore Chicago with a family-friendly sightseeing cruise, or rent a four-person cruiser bike and pedal your way around the pier. Kids will love the Ferris wheel, botanical garden, IMAX theater, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. 

No trip to Navy Pier is complete without stopping by the Chicago Children’s Museum. Since 1982, the museum has provided a wide variety of hands-on activities for all ages and stages. Kids can get creative with art, play pretend in a kid-sized town, dig for dinosaur bones, explore STEM in the lab, and climb to their heart’s content. The museum is located at 700 E. Grand Avenue on Navy Pier.

Museum of Science and Industry 

Chicago’s Museum Campus is full of institutions built to educate, delight, and inspire. When you have a home full of little ones, we suggest making a beeline for the Museum of Science and Industry. Located at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, the museum is housed in the only remaining building from the 1893 World’s Fair. Inside, you’ll find hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math-focused exhibits for the whole family.

Shedd Aquarium 

A beluga whale and trainer at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL.

Image via Flickr by mdanys

With over 32,000 animal residents, the Shedd Aquarium is your home for undersea animal exploration, right in the middle of the city. Head to 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive to discover this state-of-the-art aquarium, take in exciting animal shows, and get an up-close look at aquatic animals from around the world. Be on the lookout for touch experiences that bring you even closer to stingrays, sea stars, and sturgeons.

Adler Planetarium 

Founded in 1930, Adler Planetarium is often called “America’s first planetarium.” Over the last 90 years, the planetarium has developed an array of exhibits that will delight and inspire young space explorers. The building is located at 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, but once you’re inside, you’re transported deep into outer space. In addition to shows on the planetarium’s huge screen, families can check out exhibits about the history of astronomy, the science of space travel, and so much more. 

Maggie Daley Park 

A play space with several slides in Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, IL.

Image via Flickr by colecamp

The latest and greatest addition to Chicago’s catalog of public parks is Maggie Daley Park, located in the heart of the Loop. This breathtaking green space, open all year round, offers countless options for play over 20 gorgeous acres. In the winter, the ice-skating ribbon gives families ample room to work on their skating skills. In warmer weather, tennis courts, two climbing walls, miniature golf, and picnic groves are all fan favorites.

Bring kids under 12 to Maggie Daley Park, and they are sure to fall in love with the park’s centerpiece, the Play Garden. This unique series of interconnected spaces gives children room to climb, imagine, explore, and discover. Highlights include a water spray area, an enchanted forest, spiral slides, and a massive suspension bridge. Each visit to this park offers something new to discover, so kids will ask to come back again and again. You’ve been warned!

Chicago Children’s Theater 

In Chicago, theater, comedy, and music have long been center-stage. Now there’s a community-focused theater offering plays and acting classes, especially for children! Whether your child is curious about a career in performing arts or just appreciates a good show, they will find plenty to enjoy at Chicago Children’s Theater. The company’s facility, which opened in 2017, includes a theater and multiple classrooms for camps and workshops. You can visit the theater at 100 Racine Ave. in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.  

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

For a breath of fresh air in the big city, head over to Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The museum has been connecting kids to nature for over 160 years. Located at 2430 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago, the museum is filled to the brim with fascinating exhibits. Kids will marvel at the tropical butterfly haven, learn about wetlands, splash in a toddler-friendly play space, meet turtles, walk trails, explore art, and so much more. The immersive exhibits and hands-on experiences are a big hit with children of all ages.

For families in Lincoln Park, the fun starts right at home. The city offers countless attractions and events. This list includes just a few of our favorites! We hope you enjoy some of these family-friendly ideas. If you want to share your experiences or offer some recommendations for Crème de la Crème in Lincoln Park families, we’d love to hear about them! We are looking forward to learning more about the fun our students, parents, and team members are having around Lincoln Park and Chicago.