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THE TOP 9 CHICAGO ACTIVITIES TO ENJOY WITH TEENS AND TWEENS RIGHT NOW

JUN 2022
28
THE TOP 9 CHICAGO ACTIVITIES TO ENJOY WITH TEENS AND TWEENS RIGHT NOW

Things to do in Chicago that will get a thumbs up from your kids!


Planning a family day out in Chicago, with your teens and tweens in tow?


Having been a parent myself, I know the perils of planning a day out with teens. They have very strong likes and dislikes, and WILL inflict the infamous eye roll on you if you aren't on board with their likes and dislikes.


That being said, Chicago is an amazing city, with tons of attractions and things to do that will appeal to children.

Here are 9 kinds of Chicago activities that your teens and tweens will love!

Having a ball at Chicago parks, gardens and more

As we never tire of saying, teens these days are on their phones all day…almost like they’ve forgotten all about reveling in the great outdoors.

As the City In A Garden, Chicago offers you the chance to do something about that.

Here are some of Chicago’s best outdoor spaces (parks, beaches, cycling trails) to take your teens for an awesome day out.

Grant Park

Described as Chicago’s front yard, Grant Park is over 300 acres of open spaces, paved paths and memorable landmarks in the Loop.

Among the various Grant Park attractions that you should take your teens to are:

  • Millennium Park, which hosts public events throughout the year.

  • The Museum Campus, housing the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium.

  • The Bean, always great for Instagram photos and…

  • Crown Fountain and Buckingham Fountain.


Parent tip: Wear comfortable shoes and go for long walks along the shoreline, through Grant Park.


Website: Visit its webpage on the Park District website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit the Park District contact page


Email: play@chicagoparkdistrict.com


Phone: (312) 742-3918

The Shedd Aquarium

Think an aquarium has only fish? Think again!

Our Shedd Aquarium has not only various species of fish, but also many kinds of amphibians and reptiles.

And they’re from different kinds of habitats - lakes, oceans, rainforests and even reefs - and they maintain all these kinds of habitats in the aquarium, which is itself a marvelous sight.

From touching starfish to gazing at belugas and dolphins, the Shedd Aquarium should be a hit with the entire family on your Chicago adventure!


You should know that they have Illinois Free Days and other kinds of offers that you can check out here


Parent tip: Plan a route through the aquarium ahead of time, and carry a map with you; otherwise you may end up walking through the same area over and over again.


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit the Park District contact page


Email: contactus@sheddaquarium.org


Phone: (312) 939-2438

Indiana Dunes National Park

Over 50 miles of trails through “rugged dunes, mysterious wetlands, sunny prairies, meandering rivers and peaceful forests”, the Indiana Dunes National Park promises quite a day’s adventure for the young ones.

While you’re there, you can challenge everyone in your group - including the kids - to complete the 3 dunes challenge, which is climbing up and down the 3 tallest dunes in the Park.

As you can expect with any outdoors attractions, the views, opportunities and even opening and closing times change with the seasons. To make the most out of your trip, plan your visit here.


Parent tip: You’ll be walking trails that are deep and dry sand, so expect a fairly taxing walk; in fact it should turn out to be quite an enjoyable workout!


Website: Visit its webpage on the National Parks Service website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit the Contact Us page


Phone: (219) 395-1882

North Avenue Beach

A wonderful place to experience sand and surf, and one of Chicago’s most popular beaches

One of the most prominent attractions is the beach house, a 22,000 square feet large building decked in blue and white, inspired by ocean liners.

If your children like sports, or if you’re looking to get them interested in sports, think about renting one of the volleyball courts on the beach (call (312) 742-3776 to rent).


Parent tip: Parking is rather limited and the beach gets crowded quite quickly on weekends. And if you’re looking for other things to do, Lincoln Park Zoo is a short walk away; via the Lakefront Trail. 


Website: Visit its webpage on the Parks District website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit the Park District contact page


Email: play@chicagoparkdistrict.com


Phone: (312) 742-7529 (for the Parks District)

Reveling at festivals and events

From food & music to art, culture & history, there’s a Chicago festival for everything!

Sundays on State

First announced as a one-off in 2021 by the Loop Alliance as a way to help the city reopen after the brutal COVID shutdown, the event has clearly struck a chord with Chicagoans as there were demands to organize it again, and we’re having a Sundays on State in 2022 too!

Visit with your family and revel in the vibes!


Website: Visit its webpage on the Loop Alliance website

Taste of Chicago

The world’s largest food festival, and also one of Chicago’s largest, if not THE largest festival in Chicago takes place in Grant Park every year in the month of July.


Website: Visit its webpage on the city government website

Chicago Summerdance

An entire festival dedicated to dancing and music, that takes place from June through to August. I’m no expert in teenage affairs, but dancing and music are pretty special to all teens (including yours).


Website: Visit its webpage on the city government website

Keep your eyes on Teens in the Park

Our annual teen talent showcase, connecting teenagers with resources, organizations and job opportunities.


Website: Visit its webpage on the park district website

Exploring different views of Chicago

There are different ways of enjoying the views of Chicago. A walking tour is the most obvious one.

Here are a few other ways of exploring different views in Chicago - from climbing to observation platforms hundreds of feet high to riding a huge Ferris wheel.

Skydeck Chicago

A slightly wobbly elevator ride to take you up 1353 feet to the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower (now of course it’s called Willis Tower), and be amazed at spectacular views (stretching 40-50 miles) of Chicago and beyond - on clear days you can see right through to four other states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.


Your kids will be thrilled to step onto the Ledge, a glass box that protrudes out from Skydeck, yielding fascinating views of the streets below. 


Fun fact: That slightly wobbly elevator ride I referred to takes place in a high-speed elevator that can attain a speed of up to 1600 feet a minute; one of the fastest in the world. And your ascent up 1353 feet takes less than a minute.


Parent tip: The City Pass will get you both expedited entry and a longer time in the actual deck.


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (312) 875-9447

360 Chicago

Situated on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building, this one takes you 1000 feet into the air for similarly stunning views, including of the four other states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin - on clear days.

Another attraction here is TILT, 360’s answer to the Ledge, maybe. An enclosed moving platform that literally tilts you over Michigan Avenue; it’s Chicago’s highest thrill ride.


Parent tip: Visit it in time for sunset - and ask your teens to take pictures of Lake Michigan. They’re gonna thank you for the amazing social media updates you helped them get!


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (888) 875-8439

Chicago River Architecture Tour

A great thing to do in Chicago with the entire family - cruise the Chicago River with special focus on the magnificent buildings on either side.

There are many options available but the one I’d go for is the River Cruise run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Climb aboard a boat from Chicago’s First Lady, and as you sail downriver, a docent volunteer from the Foundation will fascinate you with stories about how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the world's largest cities in less than a hundred years.

To learn more, visit the River Cruise page on the Chicago Architecture Foundation website.

Centennial Wheel

Located on Chicago’s historic Navy Pier, this iconic Ferris wheel has always been a magnet for young tweens.

Y'all are going to enjoy our city, 360-degrees, from aboard it.

Be prepared to go from 0 to 200 feet into the air, and enjoy thrilling and beautiful views!


Website: Visit its webpage on the Navy Pier website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Email: navypierinfo@navypier.org


Phone: (312) 595-7437

Going on an enlightening tour of our museums and institutes

Whether it’s STEM, history, astronomy, literature and writing…whatever your topic - there’s bound to be a museum or an institute in Chicago dedicated to that.

And with the kind of planning most of our museums put into planning their exhibits - making them as interactive and interesting as possible - visiting museums in Chicago is one of the best ways to kindle your teens’ interest in some of these topics.

The Museum of Illusions

An entire room that has furniture on the walls. Or a room with mirrors placed to create all kinds of weird reflections.

I’m pretty sure the kids are going to LOVE this one.

Plus, they’ll learn a thing or two about the science behind these illusions and tricks.

The Museum also has numerous smaller exhibits displaying holograms, optical tricks and many other kinds of illusions.

Wanna know more? Here’s our blog post covering the Museum of Illusions.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Email: chicago@museumofillusions.us


Phone: (312) 722-6780

The Adler Planetarium

Did you know that the Adler is America’s first planetarium?

Established in 1930, it’s a great Chicago destination for family days out and should be a hit with anyone that’s interested in astronomy.

Among the exhibits are Astronomy in Culture, Chicago’s Night Sky, and a Space Visualization Lab.

The Shedd Aquarium is a 10 minute walk away, via E. Solidarity Drive.


Parent tip: There’s a Divvy bike station nearby, if you’re thinking about doing at least part of your Chicago day out on bikeshare.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Email: guestservices@adlerplanetarium.org


Phone: (312) 922-7827

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)

Built in 1893 for the Chicago World Fair, the Museum of Science and Industry has thousands of interactive exhibits on topics ranging from history to the human body.

History buffs will love exploring the recreated 1910-era Chicago street, military enthusiasts will relish stepping inside the restored U-505 German submarine; some will go for the simulated coal mine, while those who love watching disaster films may like to explore the Tornado exhibit.

It’s a pretty awesome place in Chicago for you to visit with your family. You may well end up making a whole day trip out of it!


Parent tip: Take your teens to see the lego sculptures, and challenge them to try to recreate them at home.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (773) 684-1414

The Field Museum of Natural History

Which one do you think your teens will like better: SUE the T. Rex, or Máximo the Titanosaur?


Sure, the museum has 65,000 items on display spread out across 20 permanent exhibitions, with exhibits on various topics including North American wildlife, evolution, ancient cultures and geography, but c’mon…which one do you think the kids will be dying to see?

And it’s a part of the Museum Campus in Grant Park. 


Parent tip: Remember to carry your City Pass. It’ll get you into most if not all of the exhibits.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page

The American Writers’ Museum

Did know that this is the only museum of its kind in the world?

What makes this Museum so fascinating that not only do they feature poetry, prose (as in novels and short stories) and drama, they also feature selected song lyrics, journalism pieces, comic books, humor and more.

Even better, the Museum does its best to bring literary works to life - through sights, sounds, scents and touchscreen-based exhibits that provide multiple ways for visitors to engage with the exhibits.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (312) 374-8790

Checking out sports venues

Collecting baseball cards is one thing. Gaining an active interest in sports - in actually playing the games out on the fields in the sunshine - is a whole new ballgame altogether.

That kind of an interest can prove essential to your teens’ development. 

And what better way to stimulate that interest than by taking them to some of our premier sports venues?

Wrigley Field

Ground zero for Chicago baseball.

One of the oldest ballparks in the country, Wrigley Field is a great place in Chicago to take your kids to, whether it’s to see the Cubs in action, on a tour of the Field that you’ve booked or to one of the events and concerts that take place when the Cubs are touring. 


Website: Visit its webpage on the MLB website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Phone: (773) 404-2827

United Center

This is where you can catch the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks in action.

Treading the same halls that greats like Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman used to tread is an experience everyone would be excited about!

Off season? Check their website for concerts and events.


Website: Visit its website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (312) 455-4500

Guaranteed Rate Field

OK, so you’re a White Sox fan.

Great; so your family day out destination will be this ‘other’ baseball field in Chicago.

Constructed in 1991, this Field offers an experience that’s completely different from the one you’ll have to Wrigley!


Website: Visit its webpage on the MLB website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Phone: (312) 674-1000

Thrilling activities that really pump up the adrenalin

It’s no longer a Chicago tour or day out with your family, it’s your Chicago adventure with your family if you try out some of these…

iFLY Indoor Skydiving

Older kids that LOVED Bane “crashing this plane” in The Dark Knight Rises will be raring to have a go here!

Almost all of the thrill of skydiving, but little of the risk, as the entire experience takes place indoors in a wind tunnel with a lot of safety precautions.

And the actual dive will be preceded with a crash course in skydiving by trained professionals.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Email: info.lincolnPark@iFLYworld.com


Phone: (779) 368-4359

Fox in a Box escape room

If you’re looking for an exciting, family-friendly adventure, you should check out Chicago escape games

If you’ve never played an escape game before, it involves you and your group teaming up to fulfill a ‘mission’ in a gaming area that’s been set up (with decor, props and special effects) to simulate the mission environment.

You need to work as a team to spot clues, solve puzzles and accomplish tasks to find your way forward, and ultimately fulfill your mission before time runs out.

A great experience for kids as in addition to being heaps of fun, our escape games inculcate essential skills like teamwork, observation, quick and logical thinking, and so on.


Website: Visit the homepage


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Email: info@foxinaboxchicago.com


Phone: (312) 878-7899

Lucky Strike Bowling

18 bowling lanes, ping pong tables, billiard tables, and over a hundred arcade games - that’s what makes this bowling alley such an awesome place to be in Chicago with your teens.

If you’re looking for some indoor entertainment, here are the best indoor attractions in Chicago that you must absolutely check out!


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit the contact page


Phone: (312) 245-8331

Eating out!

I don’t think there’s a single teen that would say “No” to this particular activity. And it’s also your duty, as a Chicago parent, to expose your teens and tweens to the various kinds of foods that mark Chicago.


Parent tip: Be prepared to have to wait, when the food arrives, for them to snap pics to update their Instagram.

Malnati’s

Oodles of goodness stuffed into delicious depth, waiting to ooze out, casting forth mouthwatering aromas when you stick your knife into the pizza.

That’s what Chicago’s deep dish pizzas are all about.

And Malnati’s on S. State Street is one of the best places in Chicago to get yours from!


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps

Portillo’s

A beef hot dog sandwiched between two poppy seed buns, with yellow mustard, diced onions, tomato wedges, and some other fillings - that’s what a Chicago dog is all about.

And one of the best places to take your family for the quintessential Chicago dog experience is Portillo’s on Canal and Taylor.


Website: Visit their website (home page)


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page

Chinatown

Explore the best of Chinese cuisine without leaving the Windy City. Go for a walk through Chinatown, checking out the restaurants, or book a food tour with your family!


Website: Visit the Chicago Chinatown Community Foundation website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps

Garrett Popcorn Shops

Sweet caramel oozing through savory cheddar cheese kernels - that’s what Garrett Mix Popcorn is all about. No wonder it’s one of the best-known popcorn flavors in the world!

Popping into their shop on N. Michigan Avenue will give you and your kids something to chew on as you stroll down the Magnificent Mile.


Website: Visit the website


Contact: Visit the contact page


Find a shop: Visit their shop finder page 

Hannah’s Bretzels

THE place to take health-conscious teens for a sumptuous bite. This place makes organic filling and stuffings between slices of pretzel bread work marvelously!


Website: Visit the website


Location: Visit their store locations page

Revival Food Hall

Don’t want to limit your foodie experience to just one or two restaurants?

Then this food court is where you need to be!

Featuring 15 different stalls put up by various local restaurants, Revival is where you can have BBQ, burgers, ramen, sandwiches, seafood, and tacos…from different places all under one roof!


Website: Visit its website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Phone: (773) 999-9411

Shopping

Going shopping is a time-tested way of connecting with your teens, finding out what the latest trends which they worship are, and perhaps even prying out secrets that they otherwise wouldn’t share with you.


Parent tip: Remember that eye roll I talked about, earlier? You’re gonna face it if you describe the shopping experience as “hip” and/or “cool”. Apparently, “hip” is no longer hip and the use of “cool” is off-limits to us parents.

Water Tower Place

Looking to bond with your teens over shopping? This shopping mall in the Mag Mile is the best place to make a start!

It’s a short walk from 360 Chicago, via N Michigan Avenue.


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Phone: (312) 440-3165

Frankie’s on the Park

A Lincoln Park boutique with trendy options for pre-teen and teenage girls. Whether you’re looking for something fun or something comfy or something cute, Frankie’s is the place to get it!


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (773) 248-0400

Other aspects of Chicago you may want to get your kids excited about

These are the aspects of Chicago that may not find a place in most teens’ lists of places they want to visit, but they SHOULD visit all the same, to expand their horizons.

Union Station

Anyone coming to Chicago by train arrives at Union Station.

Designed by the famous Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and opened in 1925, this grand building was featured in the movie The Untouchables (a possible choice for your next at-home movie night with the family, including your teens).


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Contact: Visit their contact page

Chicago Big Bus

Hop on for a birds eye view of the city, its highlights and its neighborhoods. A good experience for making teenagers aware about Chicago.


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (773) 248-0400

Pullman National Monument

One of the very first company towns in America, Pullman is the only National Park Service site in Chicago.

You and your teens will learn about how train cars were made, and you’ll see how the town was built for everyone involved in the Pullman factory.


Website: Visit the webpage on the National Parks Service website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Phone: (773) 468-9310

Things to do in Chicago with teens and tweens - key takeaways

Chicago has tons of things to do that you enjoy with your teens and tweens.

Whether it’s a day out in the open you’re looking for, or an erudite tour through museums, or exploring aspects of the city itself - there are various options for you to choose from.

Which one will you go for?


Featured image by Chris Dickens on Unsplash.



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THE TOP 9 CHICAGO ACTIVITIES TO ENJOY WITH TEENS AND TWEENS RIGHT NOW

Things to do in Chicago that will get a thumbs up from your kids!


Planning a family day out in Chicago, with your teens and tweens in tow?


Having been a parent myself, I know the perils of planning a day out with teens. They have very strong likes and dislikes, and WILL inflict the infamous eye roll on you if you aren't on board with their likes and dislikes.


That being said, Chicago is an amazing city, with tons of attractions and things to do that will appeal to children.

Here are 9 kinds of Chicago activities that your teens and tweens will love!

Having a ball at Chicago parks, gardens and more

As we never tire of saying, teens these days are on their phones all day…almost like they’ve forgotten all about reveling in the great outdoors.

As the City In A Garden, Chicago offers you the chance to do something about that.

Here are some of Chicago’s best outdoor spaces (parks, beaches, cycling trails) to take your teens for an awesome day out.

Grant Park

Described as Chicago’s front yard, Grant Park is over 300 acres of open spaces, paved paths and memorable landmarks in the Loop.

Among the various Grant Park attractions that you should take your teens to are:

  • Millennium Park, which hosts public events throughout the year.

  • The Museum Campus, housing the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium.

  • The Bean, always great for Instagram photos and…

  • Crown Fountain and Buckingham Fountain.


Parent tip: Wear comfortable shoes and go for long walks along the shoreline, through Grant Park.


Website: Visit its webpage on the Park District website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit the Park District contact page


Email: play@chicagoparkdistrict.com


Phone: (312) 742-3918

The Shedd Aquarium

Think an aquarium has only fish? Think again!

Our Shedd Aquarium has not only various species of fish, but also many kinds of amphibians and reptiles.

And they’re from different kinds of habitats - lakes, oceans, rainforests and even reefs - and they maintain all these kinds of habitats in the aquarium, which is itself a marvelous sight.

From touching starfish to gazing at belugas and dolphins, the Shedd Aquarium should be a hit with the entire family on your Chicago adventure!


You should know that they have Illinois Free Days and other kinds of offers that you can check out here


Parent tip: Plan a route through the aquarium ahead of time, and carry a map with you; otherwise you may end up walking through the same area over and over again.


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit the Park District contact page


Email: contactus@sheddaquarium.org


Phone: (312) 939-2438

Indiana Dunes National Park

Over 50 miles of trails through “rugged dunes, mysterious wetlands, sunny prairies, meandering rivers and peaceful forests”, the Indiana Dunes National Park promises quite a day’s adventure for the young ones.

While you’re there, you can challenge everyone in your group - including the kids - to complete the 3 dunes challenge, which is climbing up and down the 3 tallest dunes in the Park.

As you can expect with any outdoors attractions, the views, opportunities and even opening and closing times change with the seasons. To make the most out of your trip, plan your visit here.


Parent tip: You’ll be walking trails that are deep and dry sand, so expect a fairly taxing walk; in fact it should turn out to be quite an enjoyable workout!


Website: Visit its webpage on the National Parks Service website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit the Contact Us page


Phone: (219) 395-1882

North Avenue Beach

A wonderful place to experience sand and surf, and one of Chicago’s most popular beaches

One of the most prominent attractions is the beach house, a 22,000 square feet large building decked in blue and white, inspired by ocean liners.

If your children like sports, or if you’re looking to get them interested in sports, think about renting one of the volleyball courts on the beach (call (312) 742-3776 to rent).


Parent tip: Parking is rather limited and the beach gets crowded quite quickly on weekends. And if you’re looking for other things to do, Lincoln Park Zoo is a short walk away; via the Lakefront Trail. 


Website: Visit its webpage on the Parks District website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit the Park District contact page


Email: play@chicagoparkdistrict.com


Phone: (312) 742-7529 (for the Parks District)

Reveling at festivals and events

From food & music to art, culture & history, there’s a Chicago festival for everything!

Sundays on State

First announced as a one-off in 2021 by the Loop Alliance as a way to help the city reopen after the brutal COVID shutdown, the event has clearly struck a chord with Chicagoans as there were demands to organize it again, and we’re having a Sundays on State in 2022 too!

Visit with your family and revel in the vibes!


Website: Visit its webpage on the Loop Alliance website

Taste of Chicago

The world’s largest food festival, and also one of Chicago’s largest, if not THE largest festival in Chicago takes place in Grant Park every year in the month of July.


Website: Visit its webpage on the city government website

Chicago Summerdance

An entire festival dedicated to dancing and music, that takes place from June through to August. I’m no expert in teenage affairs, but dancing and music are pretty special to all teens (including yours).


Website: Visit its webpage on the city government website

Keep your eyes on Teens in the Park

Our annual teen talent showcase, connecting teenagers with resources, organizations and job opportunities.


Website: Visit its webpage on the park district website

Exploring different views of Chicago

There are different ways of enjoying the views of Chicago. A walking tour is the most obvious one.

Here are a few other ways of exploring different views in Chicago - from climbing to observation platforms hundreds of feet high to riding a huge Ferris wheel.

Skydeck Chicago

A slightly wobbly elevator ride to take you up 1353 feet to the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower (now of course it’s called Willis Tower), and be amazed at spectacular views (stretching 40-50 miles) of Chicago and beyond - on clear days you can see right through to four other states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.


Your kids will be thrilled to step onto the Ledge, a glass box that protrudes out from Skydeck, yielding fascinating views of the streets below. 


Fun fact: That slightly wobbly elevator ride I referred to takes place in a high-speed elevator that can attain a speed of up to 1600 feet a minute; one of the fastest in the world. And your ascent up 1353 feet takes less than a minute.


Parent tip: The City Pass will get you both expedited entry and a longer time in the actual deck.


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (312) 875-9447

360 Chicago

Situated on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building, this one takes you 1000 feet into the air for similarly stunning views, including of the four other states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin - on clear days.

Another attraction here is TILT, 360’s answer to the Ledge, maybe. An enclosed moving platform that literally tilts you over Michigan Avenue; it’s Chicago’s highest thrill ride.


Parent tip: Visit it in time for sunset - and ask your teens to take pictures of Lake Michigan. They’re gonna thank you for the amazing social media updates you helped them get!


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (888) 875-8439

Chicago River Architecture Tour

A great thing to do in Chicago with the entire family - cruise the Chicago River with special focus on the magnificent buildings on either side.

There are many options available but the one I’d go for is the River Cruise run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Climb aboard a boat from Chicago’s First Lady, and as you sail downriver, a docent volunteer from the Foundation will fascinate you with stories about how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the world's largest cities in less than a hundred years.

To learn more, visit the River Cruise page on the Chicago Architecture Foundation website.

Centennial Wheel

Located on Chicago’s historic Navy Pier, this iconic Ferris wheel has always been a magnet for young tweens.

Y'all are going to enjoy our city, 360-degrees, from aboard it.

Be prepared to go from 0 to 200 feet into the air, and enjoy thrilling and beautiful views!


Website: Visit its webpage on the Navy Pier website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Email: navypierinfo@navypier.org


Phone: (312) 595-7437

Going on an enlightening tour of our museums and institutes

Whether it’s STEM, history, astronomy, literature and writing…whatever your topic - there’s bound to be a museum or an institute in Chicago dedicated to that.

And with the kind of planning most of our museums put into planning their exhibits - making them as interactive and interesting as possible - visiting museums in Chicago is one of the best ways to kindle your teens’ interest in some of these topics.

The Museum of Illusions

An entire room that has furniture on the walls. Or a room with mirrors placed to create all kinds of weird reflections.

I’m pretty sure the kids are going to LOVE this one.

Plus, they’ll learn a thing or two about the science behind these illusions and tricks.

The Museum also has numerous smaller exhibits displaying holograms, optical tricks and many other kinds of illusions.

Wanna know more? Here’s our blog post covering the Museum of Illusions.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Email: chicago@museumofillusions.us


Phone: (312) 722-6780

The Adler Planetarium

Did you know that the Adler is America’s first planetarium?

Established in 1930, it’s a great Chicago destination for family days out and should be a hit with anyone that’s interested in astronomy.

Among the exhibits are Astronomy in Culture, Chicago’s Night Sky, and a Space Visualization Lab.

The Shedd Aquarium is a 10 minute walk away, via E. Solidarity Drive.


Parent tip: There’s a Divvy bike station nearby, if you’re thinking about doing at least part of your Chicago day out on bikeshare.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Email: guestservices@adlerplanetarium.org


Phone: (312) 922-7827

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)

Built in 1893 for the Chicago World Fair, the Museum of Science and Industry has thousands of interactive exhibits on topics ranging from history to the human body.

History buffs will love exploring the recreated 1910-era Chicago street, military enthusiasts will relish stepping inside the restored U-505 German submarine; some will go for the simulated coal mine, while those who love watching disaster films may like to explore the Tornado exhibit.

It’s a pretty awesome place in Chicago for you to visit with your family. You may well end up making a whole day trip out of it!


Parent tip: Take your teens to see the lego sculptures, and challenge them to try to recreate them at home.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (773) 684-1414

The Field Museum of Natural History

Which one do you think your teens will like better: SUE the T. Rex, or Máximo the Titanosaur?


Sure, the museum has 65,000 items on display spread out across 20 permanent exhibitions, with exhibits on various topics including North American wildlife, evolution, ancient cultures and geography, but c’mon…which one do you think the kids will be dying to see?

And it’s a part of the Museum Campus in Grant Park. 


Parent tip: Remember to carry your City Pass. It’ll get you into most if not all of the exhibits.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page

The American Writers’ Museum

Did know that this is the only museum of its kind in the world?

What makes this Museum so fascinating that not only do they feature poetry, prose (as in novels and short stories) and drama, they also feature selected song lyrics, journalism pieces, comic books, humor and more.

Even better, the Museum does its best to bring literary works to life - through sights, sounds, scents and touchscreen-based exhibits that provide multiple ways for visitors to engage with the exhibits.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (312) 374-8790

Checking out sports venues

Collecting baseball cards is one thing. Gaining an active interest in sports - in actually playing the games out on the fields in the sunshine - is a whole new ballgame altogether.

That kind of an interest can prove essential to your teens’ development. 

And what better way to stimulate that interest than by taking them to some of our premier sports venues?

Wrigley Field

Ground zero for Chicago baseball.

One of the oldest ballparks in the country, Wrigley Field is a great place in Chicago to take your kids to, whether it’s to see the Cubs in action, on a tour of the Field that you’ve booked or to one of the events and concerts that take place when the Cubs are touring. 


Website: Visit its webpage on the MLB website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Phone: (773) 404-2827

United Center

This is where you can catch the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks in action.

Treading the same halls that greats like Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman used to tread is an experience everyone would be excited about!

Off season? Check their website for concerts and events.


Website: Visit its website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (312) 455-4500

Guaranteed Rate Field

OK, so you’re a White Sox fan.

Great; so your family day out destination will be this ‘other’ baseball field in Chicago.

Constructed in 1991, this Field offers an experience that’s completely different from the one you’ll have to Wrigley!


Website: Visit its webpage on the MLB website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Phone: (312) 674-1000

Thrilling activities that really pump up the adrenalin

It’s no longer a Chicago tour or day out with your family, it’s your Chicago adventure with your family if you try out some of these…

iFLY Indoor Skydiving

Older kids that LOVED Bane “crashing this plane” in The Dark Knight Rises will be raring to have a go here!

Almost all of the thrill of skydiving, but little of the risk, as the entire experience takes place indoors in a wind tunnel with a lot of safety precautions.

And the actual dive will be preceded with a crash course in skydiving by trained professionals.


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Email: info.lincolnPark@iFLYworld.com


Phone: (779) 368-4359

Fox in a Box escape room

If you’re looking for an exciting, family-friendly adventure, you should check out Chicago escape games

If you’ve never played an escape game before, it involves you and your group teaming up to fulfill a ‘mission’ in a gaming area that’s been set up (with decor, props and special effects) to simulate the mission environment.

You need to work as a team to spot clues, solve puzzles and accomplish tasks to find your way forward, and ultimately fulfill your mission before time runs out.

A great experience for kids as in addition to being heaps of fun, our escape games inculcate essential skills like teamwork, observation, quick and logical thinking, and so on.


Website: Visit the homepage


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Email: info@foxinaboxchicago.com


Phone: (312) 878-7899

Lucky Strike Bowling

18 bowling lanes, ping pong tables, billiard tables, and over a hundred arcade games - that’s what makes this bowling alley such an awesome place to be in Chicago with your teens.

If you’re looking for some indoor entertainment, here are the best indoor attractions in Chicago that you must absolutely check out!


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit the contact page


Phone: (312) 245-8331

Eating out!

I don’t think there’s a single teen that would say “No” to this particular activity. And it’s also your duty, as a Chicago parent, to expose your teens and tweens to the various kinds of foods that mark Chicago.


Parent tip: Be prepared to have to wait, when the food arrives, for them to snap pics to update their Instagram.

Malnati’s

Oodles of goodness stuffed into delicious depth, waiting to ooze out, casting forth mouthwatering aromas when you stick your knife into the pizza.

That’s what Chicago’s deep dish pizzas are all about.

And Malnati’s on S. State Street is one of the best places in Chicago to get yours from!


Website: Visit their website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps

Portillo’s

A beef hot dog sandwiched between two poppy seed buns, with yellow mustard, diced onions, tomato wedges, and some other fillings - that’s what a Chicago dog is all about.

And one of the best places to take your family for the quintessential Chicago dog experience is Portillo’s on Canal and Taylor.


Website: Visit their website (home page)


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page

Chinatown

Explore the best of Chinese cuisine without leaving the Windy City. Go for a walk through Chinatown, checking out the restaurants, or book a food tour with your family!


Website: Visit the Chicago Chinatown Community Foundation website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps

Garrett Popcorn Shops

Sweet caramel oozing through savory cheddar cheese kernels - that’s what Garrett Mix Popcorn is all about. No wonder it’s one of the best-known popcorn flavors in the world!

Popping into their shop on N. Michigan Avenue will give you and your kids something to chew on as you stroll down the Magnificent Mile.


Website: Visit the website


Contact: Visit the contact page


Find a shop: Visit their shop finder page 

Hannah’s Bretzels

THE place to take health-conscious teens for a sumptuous bite. This place makes organic filling and stuffings between slices of pretzel bread work marvelously!


Website: Visit the website


Location: Visit their store locations page

Revival Food Hall

Don’t want to limit your foodie experience to just one or two restaurants?

Then this food court is where you need to be!

Featuring 15 different stalls put up by various local restaurants, Revival is where you can have BBQ, burgers, ramen, sandwiches, seafood, and tacos…from different places all under one roof!


Website: Visit its website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Phone: (773) 999-9411

Shopping

Going shopping is a time-tested way of connecting with your teens, finding out what the latest trends which they worship are, and perhaps even prying out secrets that they otherwise wouldn’t share with you.


Parent tip: Remember that eye roll I talked about, earlier? You’re gonna face it if you describe the shopping experience as “hip” and/or “cool”. Apparently, “hip” is no longer hip and the use of “cool” is off-limits to us parents.

Water Tower Place

Looking to bond with your teens over shopping? This shopping mall in the Mag Mile is the best place to make a start!

It’s a short walk from 360 Chicago, via N Michigan Avenue.


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Phone: (312) 440-3165

Frankie’s on the Park

A Lincoln Park boutique with trendy options for pre-teen and teenage girls. Whether you’re looking for something fun or something comfy or something cute, Frankie’s is the place to get it!


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (773) 248-0400

Other aspects of Chicago you may want to get your kids excited about

These are the aspects of Chicago that may not find a place in most teens’ lists of places they want to visit, but they SHOULD visit all the same, to expand their horizons.

Union Station

Anyone coming to Chicago by train arrives at Union Station.

Designed by the famous Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and opened in 1925, this grand building was featured in the movie The Untouchables (a possible choice for your next at-home movie night with the family, including your teens).


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Contact: Visit their contact page

Chicago Big Bus

Hop on for a birds eye view of the city, its highlights and its neighborhoods. A good experience for making teenagers aware about Chicago.


Website: Visit the website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Enquiry form: Visit their contact page


Phone: (773) 248-0400

Pullman National Monument

One of the very first company towns in America, Pullman is the only National Park Service site in Chicago.

You and your teens will learn about how train cars were made, and you’ll see how the town was built for everyone involved in the Pullman factory.


Website: Visit the webpage on the National Parks Service website


Location: Check address/Plan route on Google Maps


Phone: (773) 468-9310

Things to do in Chicago with teens and tweens - key takeaways

Chicago has tons of things to do that you enjoy with your teens and tweens.

Whether it’s a day out in the open you’re looking for, or an erudite tour through museums, or exploring aspects of the city itself - there are various options for you to choose from.

Which one will you go for?


Featured image by Chris Dickens on Unsplash.



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