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Chicago is a great destination for families. But, let’s be real: it gets COLD in the winter! So, during winter trips to Chicago, you need some indoor places to get out of the cold and still have fun with your kids. That’s where the Chicago Children’t Museum comes in. This museum is an awesome place to spend some time with your children when it’s cold outside. Here’s everything you need to know about the Chicago Children’s Museum.
The Where, When, and What of Chicago Children’s Museum
Chicago Children’s Museum is located on the famous Navy Pier. It is open 7 days a week. Most days, it opens at 10 am, but check their website for specific hours on the day you are planning on visiting. Admission to the museum is less than $15 per person. The museum occupies 3 floors with multiple exhibits dedicated to teaching children through play. Their mission is to connect playing and learning in such a way that it improves the lives of children. It is the second most visited children’s museum in the country!
Chicago Children’s Museum has exhibits geared to children of all ages. It is especially wonderful for children under the age of 7. The creators designed several exhibits with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers in mind. These include Kids Town and Treehouse Trails. For older children, the museum offers exhibits such as the Tinkering Lab and Skyline. Some of the most popular exhibits are WaterWays and Dinosaur Expedition. Some of the exhibits are permanent. Others are temporary. For instance, when we were there, they had an exhibit dedicated to snow and winter weather. In the areas in between the exhibits, you will find lots of fun things to play with such as giant checkerboard sets and bowling lanes.
Kids Town is an area showcasing the everyday environments of the city. It includes a miniature city bus that kids can pretend to drive, a mechanic’s shop where kids can work on a car, and a grocery store and kitchen where kids can play with plastic food. Treehouse Trails focuses on nature and how people interact with it. It emphasizes things like camping, trails, and canoeing. Waterways is a clever exhibit that allows kids to don a raincoat and play in the water with a variety of pulleys, pipes, and funnels.
The Dinosaur Expedition is a simulated dinosaur dig site. Children can use brushes and other dig tools to uncover fossils. Skyline allows kids to construct their own skyscrapers in an effort to learn about construction and engineering. Tinkering Lab is exactly what it sounds like: a place for kids of all ages to tinker around with tools.
During our visit to the museum, my son first visited the winter weather exhibit. Both he and my husband, Chris, had fun throwing snowballs made out of yarn at each other. My son also spent some time building with ice blocks.
We then visited the Play It Safe exhibit. This section focuses on fire safety. My son loved it! He sprayed the fire hoses, slid down the firefighter’s pole, and set up orange cones. We had to drag him away from the fire safety exhibit.
In Kids Town, he drove the city bus, changed a tire, filled up the car with gas, and bought some groceries. He also spent some time cooking up the food he bought. This was a very fun area. It was one of my favorites! Kids Town is such a great way for kids to learn about the world they see and live in daily. It also allows them to do the things that they see mom and dad do all the time.
Our family enjoyed WaterWays too. My husband and son both loved playing with all of the tubes and waterwheels. They were amazed to see how these things would affect the water’s flow. My son played for a few minutes in the Dinosaur Expedition too. It was a fascinating area for some of the kids we saw, but it did not interest him as much as some of the other areas.
My son also loved Michael’s Museum: A Curious Collection of Tiny Treasures. It is a permanent part of Chicago’s Children’s Museum that features collections of tiny things from trinkets and toys to pom poms and marbles. He enjoyed looking at all of the items that were stored in shadow box tables in this area. He also spent time placing pom poms into a display case.
Our final opinions
My son was 4 years old when we visited the Chicago Children’s Museum. While the museum has something for all ages, I feel like it was the perfect age to get the most out of the museum is 3-7. We spent about three hours in this museum, but my son would have spent all day if we would have let him. The collection of exhibits impressed us all. Everything appeared clean, safe, and well-maintained. The exhibits are all well thought out. From everything we saw and experienced, it is clear that children are the focus of this place, which is exactly the way it should be.
We have visited several children’s museums across the country. We have never seen one as good as the Chicago Children’s Museum. I wish we lived closer so we could visit it more often! I highly recommend it to anyone who has children and will be in Chicago. You won’t be disappointed. It is so much fun!
I hope this review of the Chicago Children’s Museum helps you decide whether it is a must-do for your family. For more tips on traveling with kids, see how to avoid child meltdowns, why you should include your children in trip planning, reasons to travel with your kids, tips for flying with kids, the best airplane snacks for kids, and the best road trip snacks for kids. Happy travels!