Lakefront Parks

Lakefront parks - Millenium Park, Maggie Daley Park, Grant Park - are Chicago's “front yard,” with spectacular fountains, sculptures, play grounds, walking and bike paths along Lake Michigan. In summer, kids can stretch their legs and play in the fountains, in winter there's an ice skating rink and the Art Institute of Chicago. The parks are also the site of numerous festivals with ethnic food and free music, blues, country, gospel and jazz.

Millennium Park -
Crown Fountain - The Crown Fountain is a "must do" for kids in the summer months. This is a fountain to get in and get wet, splash and wade. Kids line up against two 50 ft rectangular towers, eagerly waiting, then suddenly a whole wall of water cascades down from the top, drenching everyone completely. At the very least, your family (parents included) will want to take off your shoes and cool your toes in the shallow water around the towers. In winter the fountain isn't running, but it's lit up at night in bright colors.
McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink - In winter, go ice skating outdoors (November to March), right in the heart of Chicago. Even if you don't skate, it's fun to watch all the skaters. Skates can be rented and there are lockers for your stuff. In summer, this area is a large restaurant and café.
Cloud Gate ("the Bean") sculpture - This sculpture looks like a giant silver jelly bean, reflecting the Chicago skyline. Kids can run underneath the arch, touch its mirrored surface and see themselves in the reflection, (they'll appear sort of upside down). This is a totally awesome sculpture, kids and the cityscape appear in infinite new perspectives.
Pritzker Pavilion - Attend free classical concerts in summer, flop down on the great lawn, bring a picnic.
Rent bikes - Rent bikes and go for a ride on the Lakefront Trail. The largely level trail goes for 9 miles along the lake.
Our favorite ride bike, go south on Lakefront Trail, stopping off to see the Buckingham Fountain. Continue down to Museum Campus, then bike back up to Navy Pier (it's fun biking on the bridge across the Chicago River). From there, bike as far north as the kids like, then return to Millenium Park, where you started.
Maggie Daley Park - Located just east of Millennium Park, open 6am - 11pm.
Play Garden - Imaginative play area with different sections for younger and older kids, water play, climb up a lighthouse and slide down, run across a suspension bridge, "nest swings," and forest maze.
Climbing wall - Pop on a helmet and try scaling the wall. At the top, slide back down on a rope. All climbing is supervised, and it's also fun to just watch.
Mini-golf - In summer, May to Sept., grab a colorful ball, and take a round of 18 holes mini golf.
Skating Ribbon - Late November to March, lovely ice skating on the "ice ribbon" around the Climbing Wall. Ice skates for rental available.
Art Institute of Chicago -
The Art Institute of Chicago is a world famous art museum, with collections from all over, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, African, Asian, Ancient America art works, and Impressionist paintings, including Seuratâ-€-™s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the La Grande Jatte, Renoirâ-€-™s adorable Two Sisters, van Gogh's The Bedroom, Monet, Cezanne, and more.
Arms and Armor collection is filled will crossbows inlaid with ivory, helmets, rapiers, pistols, flintlocks, full armor.
Modern Wing has galleries with Modern and American Art, and outdoor sculpture garden.
Read our blog post: Art Institute of Chicago: Modern and American Art
In the lower level, the miniature Thorne Rooms are tiny replicas of rooms from houses and palaces in Europe, America and Asia, such as a 16th century French bedroom, Pennsylvania kitchen, English great house, Boston dining room.
Tip: Kids under 14 are free, and for adults, admission is included in Chicago CityPass .
Buckingham Fountain - Buckingham Fountain, one of the biggest fountains in the world, is splashy. Four green seahorses at each corner represent the four states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin) that surround Lake Michigan. The fountain is lit up at night, and from spring to fall, there's a light and water show .