Kids-Friendly Museums, Parks, Zoos and Outdoor Activities To Explore In Illinois (2024)
The heart of the Midwest, Illinois, is a fun state to be in. Its splendid collection of attractions is absolutely family-friendly, especially if you have kids along. The State of Illinois has history, adventure, and excitement displayed either through silent attractions or loud adventure parks. Travelers or residents who opt to step out with kids can explore several notable places in various parts of Illinois. Be it the extraordinary Zoos, dedicated Children’s museums, outdoor parks, and other recreation, you can never go out of options here.
Parents looking to get kids off screens and enjoy outside in Nature, we have some great recommendations for you. Not only will your kids love the fun, but they will also appreciate the exterior world, which often is overlooked these days. Our list of Kids-friendly attractions in Illinois includes destinations that welcome adults as well. So, without any further ado, let’s get started with the list. Have a look:
4 Kids-Friendly Museums To Explore When In Illinois:
1. Bronzeville Children’s Museum
Located in Chicago, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum is the first and only African American children’s Museum in America. Ideal for kids aged 5 to 15, the Museum educated and exposed African-Americans about their contributions and culture. It takes the guest through hands-on exhibits aimed at kids aged 3 to 9 years, ensuring maximum learning. Kids can explore through microscopes, shop for miniature jewelry, and try several warm and fuzzy activities. The Museum is open all days from 10 am to 2 pm with a minimal entry fee of $5.
2. Chicago Children’s Museum
Another museum stops for kids in Chicago; the Chicago Children’s Museum is a must-visit. The Museum is located in the Navy Pier, has multiple stories, all of which are dedicated towards kids of/ under eight years. Their interactive exhibits allow kids to run, crawl, stretch out and use all their senses to have absolute fun. There’s a car and house area, absolutely hit amongst kids. Your younger ones can set their own house, situations and enjoyably learn several aspects of life. While the Museum closes at 5 pm, the Navy pier has other fun things to engage the guest afterward. Parents who are looking for fun things to do with kids in Illinois should surely visit the Chicago Children’s Museum.
3. Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium is a must-visit, a museum where you can discover the wonderful world of aquatic animals. Located in Chicago, it consists of over 5 million gallons of water and over 32,000 animals. While the regular walkover is always the basic exploration option, you can try a lot more adventures with kids. From behind-the-scenes tours to extraordinary animal encounters and museum sleepovers, there are a lot of fun ways to choose from. Guests can also become a trainer for a day, join the experts for shark feeding activities or interact with the marines.
4. Adler Planetarium
When done with the Shedd Aquarium, consider visiting the Adler Planetarium right next door. It is the first planetarium in America, founded back in the year 1930. Kids here can explore interactive exhibits; planetarium shows and learn about the world of astronomy and science. Parents can plan the trip as per sky show schedules and deliver the most enjoyable, fun adventure for their kids. Or consider visiting during the Astro Overnights and spend your night under the star-studded sky with your family. Apart from that they also have special summer camps designed for kids aged 5 to 14 years.
Kids-Friendly Parks and Zoos To Explore When In Illinois
1. Morton Arboretum
One of the most popular places to visit in Illinois, the Morton Arboretum is ideal for both kids and adults. While talking about kids specifically, Morton is home to a beautiful and fun Children’s Garden. It is a 4 acres area with ten themed sections. Here kids can walk across the ropes, take a dip into springs, and climb the big yet safe trees. From Springs through Fall, the children’s garden hosts free toddler Storytime in the amphitheater every Friday. Whereas summer Thursdays are all about live kids’ music and snacks.
Further, one acre of the garden is dedicated to a life-size maze that lets kids solve the twist and turns clues. The ones who have lost their way can climb up to a 12-foot-high look out and see where others are.
2. Jeremy “Boo” Rochman Memorial Park
Located in Southern Illinois, the Boo Castle Park is a fun place to explore with kids. No matter your kid’s age, it is one of the friendliest places to be at. What makes the park special amongst kids is its ‘theme’. From beautiful castles to dragon sculptures, animal monuments, and whatnot. While the entire park has a medieval theme, there are several hiding spots, passages, pavilion areas, and towers. Everything you see in the park has a secret hidden inside, even the bridges and trees. Unlike your typical children’s park, Boo has no swings, slides, or other usual attractions. As it is located in the corner of Carbondale, it is one of Illinois’s best-kept-secret.
3. Santa’s Village Azoosment & Water Park
Do not forget to visit the Santa’s Village Azoosment & Water Park for typical kids and family entertainment. Located in the East Dundee, visiting the park is fun with kids in Illinois. Adults can ideally take kids of 4 and above and enjoy power-packed entertainment. From unlimited heart-racing thrills to pony rides and live shows, options are endless to choose from. When done with the rides, guests can head towards the in-house zoo and get up close to the animals. There’s also a waterpark which offers fun like never before. To ensure you get an extra package of fun, take out a good 4 to 5 hours of your day.
4. Peoria Zoo — Peoria
Located in Glen Oak Park, the Peoria Zoo is ideal for visiting with family in Illinois. The zoo is home to over 100 global species, some of which are even endangered. The main attraction here includes the majestic Africa Lion, adult female Amur (Siberian) tiger, Aldabra giant tortoise, and Taveta golden weavers. It is open year-round except on National holidays (religious and State festivals). There’s also an educational department that hosts programs for kids of 2 years and above. Everything is phenomenal, from the Zoo Teens volunteer program to Zoo Tots, summer Zoo Camp, Jungle Jamboree. However, the biggest draw for kids here is the Easter Egg Hunt and Howl-Zoo-Ween. Despite being a small zoo, being here is a marvelous experience.
5. Brookfield Zoo
If you are looking forward to some kids involved in Illinois, then look no further than Brookfield Zoo. It is a world-renowned zoo home to 450 species of animals that includes 2000 plus wild residents. While the regular zoo excursion is a thing, you can have fun with several other options as well. Consider attending events like Holiday magic zoo lights, Brookfield Zoo summer nights, and more. Also, do take up a show at the Seven Seas and enjoy observing dolphins like never before.
Kid-Friendly Outdoor Activities In Illinois
1. American Girl Place
Located in the Water tower place on the Magnificent Mile, the American girl place is a dream come true. It is basically an upscale shop for specialty dolls & accessories, the first one-of-its-kind store in the United States. Take your little girls along and browse through barbie dolls, outfits, accessories, and books. While your little ones can play and shop, you can also plan birthday parties here. It is also home to a lovely café where you can get your dolls here done, get spa and whatnot. Even though it is on an expensive little side, it is definitely a fun place to explore for those who are ready to spend.
2. Escape Rooms
Lately, Escape rooms have been growing profoundly in America, and everyone absolutely loves them. In Illinois as well, escape rooms and games are pretty popular, and they have special packages for kids. Some of the great kids-friendly options include Mobile Room Escape at 4838 W. Patterson Ave. #1, Chicago and EscapeHouse at 54 E. Ontario St., Chicago. Both of the options are open for kids up to 7 and kids above eight, respectively. For more younger kids (from 4 to 9), Vault Escape Room at 3234 Harlem Ave., Riverside, is one great option. Also, if you happen to be around Northbrook, visit the Noggin Builders Kid Escape Room at 1515 Lake Cook Road.