Fun Things to do in Chicago with Kids (Mostly Free!)

fun things to do in chicago with kids

Harlow has been soaking up the city life! We’ve been venturing down often to spice up our weeks and expose her to life outside the burbs. Since Kevin and I are both self employed, we do have flexibility in our hours which certainly helps! (Although self-employed life is not all roses, ha) A lot of people feel overwhelmed/intimidated by the city with kids, but there’s so much more to explore in Chicago. We feel so grateful to be within an hour drive to experience new adventures as a family! It’s a great way to keep things exciting with minimal effort. Since we spent a few days downtown, I thought this would be a great time to share what things to do in Chicago with kids. If you’re looking for a fun day drip, definitely keep these ideas in mind for littles! I will make sure to update as we try new things! 

Make sure to check-out the Field Museum’s newest exhibit (opened today!) || Fantastic Bug Encounters! 



Today starts a new exhibit at the Field MuseumFantastic Bug Encounters!

(we had a membership when we lived downtown, so it holds a special place in our heart) It was Harlow’s first time to the museum, and she had a blast! The Field Museum graciously hosted and let us experience the exhibit before it opened to the public TODAY! Partnerships like this mean everything to me — so grateful to them for partnering on this post!

About the exhibit: Hands on interactive experiences let visitors test their reflexes, perform bug surgery, fly their own origami butterflies (this was so fun!) and actually touch/learn about bugs through the ‘live bug zoo’. They have large-scale, colorful models with the coolest interactive chambers filled with knowledge. It’s perfect for all ages (literally think Kevin had the most fun out of everyone!) and it was such a fun experience for Harlow at 22 months. The slide was most definitely her favorite, and seeing the bugs close-up at the Live Bug Zoo. If your kids aren’t fond of bugs, that’s totally okay too! It isn’t uncomfortable, and more of a ‘bug playground’ if you will. Each chamber is mysterious, creative and exciting. Fun for non-bug-lovers alike! We will 100% be going back to visit soon! Make sure to see some images below to get an inside peak of what to expect. I’m also sharing on IG stories (will save this in a highlight). It’s one of those exhibits where you most definitely have to see it for yourself, because the images don’t even do it justice!

Make sure to check-out free Chicago admission days here (Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry). All great museums to take kids of all ages.

 things to do in chicago with kids, field museum bug exhibit

things to do in chicago with kids

things to do in chicago with kids

things to do in chicago with kids

things to do in chicago with kids

things to do in chicago with kids

Fun Things to do in Chicago with Kids | continued


The infamous Chicago faces. Harlow’s first time splashing around the fountains, and it certainly won’t be her last. Love that this activity can get her energy out, is 100% FREE, and a fun way  to meet new friends. The fountains consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. We just let her splash around in clothes, but definitely bring a swimsuit for those super hot days in the park! Shake Shack is across the street, and we almost always stop for lunch when we’re on the go.


Located in the loop (near Millennium Park) is the recently revamped park that features a skating ribbon in the winter, tennis courts and picnic spots. 3-acre play garden. Tons of slides, splash pads, swings, bridges, etc. To be completely blunt: It’s a bit nuts here! I try to avoid busy times (go early mornings if you’re able) and I’d say it’s geared toward bigger kids. Not to say we still don’t take her because she absolutely loves running around and splashing in the water fountains.


One of my favorite things to do in Chicago with a toddler. I think this may be the last FREE standing zoo in the country. Regardless, we almost always make a trip when we’re downtown because who doesn’t want to hang with animals with the beautiful city skyline behind you? They have a ride-on train which Harlow loves. She babbled about it for the rest of the day (cutest ever!) and they have so many fun indoor exhibits if you need to beat the heat from time to time! Check out everything going on here!


This Lincoln Park museum uses hands-on exhibits to explore IL natural history. You can check-out a butterfly greenhouse, splash in water tables to see an interactive model on how rivers work, and learn how the museum hatches and raises wetland animals like turtles. A great way for kids to learn while having FUN! Check out upcoming events here.


The Chicago Children’s Theatre is the city’s largest professional company devoted to kids and families. Love that they have life-size puppet shows to new plays that are actually written and produced by the staff. You can click here for a list of upcoming events (some include free parking).


We take Harlow to the library several times a week. They always hold free events, crafts, themed activities and more( have to take advantage of that tax money!) The Harold Washington Library actually boasts an entire second floor of children’s books, games, hands-on activities and multimedia that are perfect for all types of littles. Make sure to visit the 9th floor for a gorgeous garden and glass ceilings.

Thank you to the Field Museum for sponsoring this post

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