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Anytime you travel with kids, you have to find activities that will appeal to them. When you have small kids, one of the best things to do in any destination is visit the local children’s museum. And Chicago has one of the best children’s museums I’ve ever seen. Here is everything you need to know about visiting the Chicago Children’s Museum with your kids!
The Chicago Children’s Museum occupies 3 floors with multiple exhibits dedicated to teaching children through play. It 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.
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.
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.
Tinkering Lab is exactly what it sounds like: a place for kids of all ages to tinker around with tools.
Skyline allows kids to construct their own skyscrapers in an effort to learn about construction and engineering.
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.
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.
The Logistics of Visiting the Chicago Children’s Museum
Chicago Children’s Museum is located on the famous Navy Pier.
If you drive there, you can park in one of the Navy Pier garages. You can also reach the museum by using public transportation.
The museum 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. They are close on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
Admission to the museum is $19 per person.
During our visit to the museum, my son, who was 4 years old at the time, first visited the winter weather exhibit. Both he and my husband 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.
While the museum has something for all ages, I feel like the perfect age for visiting the Chicago Children’s Museum is from 3 to 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. They 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.
Everything appeared clean, safe, and well-maintained.
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 with small children who will be in the Chicago area. You won’t be disappointed. It is so much fun!
Tips for Visiting the Chicago Children’s Museum
- While anytime is a great time to visit, this is an amazing thing to do during the winter when it is cold outside in Chicago.
- Get there as early in the day as possible to give your kids the most time to explore and play.
- Check out the website prior to your visit to see what exhibits will be there during your visit.
- Let your kids lead the way during your time at the museum. Depending on their interests, they may love one area more than others.
- Tap into your inner child and play with your kids while there. It will definitely enhance your time here!
I hope your kids love the Chicago Children’s Museum as much as my son did. It was definitely one of the best things we did during our trip to Chicago. And it is one of the best children’s museums in the country!
If you are looking for an awesome place to eat in Chicago, see my review of Brickhouse Tavern.
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.
P.S. Need help finding the best places to go on your family vacations? My Ultimate USA Bucket List for Families will instantly give you 60 of the best vacation destinations for families in the United States! Get it for FREE in the box below and start planning your next trip today! Plus, as a bonus, you will receive my weekly email newsletter full of family trip tips and inspiration!
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