Best Chicago Museums for Kids

Chicago is filled with great museums. There is something new to learn around every corner. My kids love exploring and learning new things, so they were very excited to visit the Chicago museums on our recent trip. Here are my top choices for museums for kids in Chicago.

Field Museum of Natural History
If you have dinosaur lovers in your family, the Field Museum is a must see museum. Sue, the largest Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever recovered is here. Another fantastic exhibit is the Evolving Planet. This exhibit takes you through four billion years of how the Earth has evolved and explanations of mass extinctions. The exhibit will take you through Dinosaur Hall and on a journey of how we got to where we are today.

My daughter’s favorite exhibit was Inside Ancient Egypt where a large collection of mummies and artifacts are housed. The last exhibit that my kids enjoyed was Underground Adventure. The exhibit “shrinks” you down to bug size and you explore underground with a bug’s eye view. The museum is large, but can be done in a half-day.

Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry will engage any child. This enormous science center has hands-on activities for all ages of kids. The first thing we saw was the amazing model train display and the full size trains, cars and airplanes.

Science Storms was a hit with my family. We learned about the causes of tornadoes, avalanches, tsunamis and lighting thought interactive displays.

My kids’ favorite exhibit was Toymaker 3000. This display takes you step by step thorough the manufacturing process of a gravitron toy top. For $5, you get to watch robots assemble and then then package the toy for you to take home. My kids both claimed it was the coolest souvenir ever. This museum is about 15 minutes south of downtown. I suggest allowing a full day to see all of the exhibits.

Museum of Science and Industry
Planes, trains and automobiles at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Shedd Aquarium
My kids are self-proclaimed aquarium experts. We have been to aquariums all around the county and they are tough critics. The Shedd Aquarium is now at the top of their list! The tanks house species from all around the world in this beautiful building. We liked that there were sea lions, otters, beluga whales and dolphins here as well.

The aquatic show will give you an up close and personal view of the animals, but don’t expect a Sea World style production. The show focuses more on how the animals are trained and what they are capable of learning. This is another museum that can be seen in a half-day. We walked along the lake and through Grant Park to Buckingham Fountain after the museum and still had energy to spare.

Shedd Aquarium
The tanks were amazing at Shedd Aquarium.

We were fortunate to visit Chicago in late September so the crowds were low at all of these museums. If you are visiting at a busier time, be there when the museums open and purchase the Chicago CityPass. There are separate lines for CityPass holders that will bypass the main line and save you time. (Also see this article on how to save money with CityPass and other memberships.)

We stayed at the historic Hilton Chicago and were able to walk through Grant Park to get to the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. The Art Institute of Chicago is also just across the street. Hilton Chicago is the perfect location for museum lovers!

More Inspiration:

Know Before You Go

  • Chicago’s nickname is “The Windy City.”
  • Make sure to visit Millennium Park so that you can see the world-famous Bean!
  • Avoid visiting in the winter if you aren’t a fan of cold weather! The weather warms up around May.

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Tricia P. Are you interested in traveling to Chicago? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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