Museum Campus
Field Museum - The Field Museum is a "must see" for your visit with kids to Chicago.
In the main hall is 67 million year old Sue, a humongous Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton (what big teeth you have) â-€-“ the African elephants next to her look shrimpy by comparison. Upstairs, watch people at work on real fossils in the fossil prep lab, and see dinosaurs, Ice Age animals, reconstruction of prehistoric "Magdalenian Girl" in Evolving Planet exhibit.
The cultural exhibits are also outstanding. "Inside Ancient Egypt," start upstairs in a reconstructed Egyptian tomb, lined with painted stone reliefs, follow the tunnels downstairs, to see mummies, a pharoah's wooden boat, re-created Egyptian village (and be sure to try out the Egyptian bed, not very comfortable).
In other galleries, explore the ancient Americas and Plains Indians (step inside a full size Pawnee earth lodge), peoples of Africa, and don't miss the incredible totem poles of the Northwest Coast.
Crown Family Play Lab - This section of the museum has younger children totally in mind (ages 2-6), where kids can dig up dinosaur bones and play with dino egg puppets, grind and cook corn meal, play musical instruments from all over the world, dress up in costumes of animals native to Illinois, and more hands on activities.
Tip: Use Chicago CityPass and no waiting in long ticket lines.
Children's Garden - Across from the Field Museum (south side E. McFetridge Dr.) is a play area for kids, with grass to run around, spiffy climbing structure, benches, globes to turn.
Shedd Aquarium - Our favorite marine mammals in the Shedd Aquarium are white beluga whales, playing underwater in the Oceanarium.
Little kids will have fun watching Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins, and playing on a slide in the Polar Play Area.
Wild Reef has colorful tropical fish and corals from the Philippines, and check out unusual Amazon creatures, anacondas, arapaima, piranhas in Amazon Rising.
May to October is an outdoor stingray touch pool. Check the schedule for daily dolphin and whale shows, and feeding of sharks, belugas, sea lions and penguins.
For a local experience, in At Home on the Great Lakes exhibit, don't miss the touch pool - kids can touch lake sturgeons!
Tip: Use Chicago CityPass and no waiting in long ticket lines.
West of the aquarium on the lake is a boat landing for the Shoreline water taxi . From here, it's fun to the water taxi up to Navy Pier in the summer months (an expensive ride on the lake).
Adler Planetarium - In the theater, there are shows that are out of this world (space, the stars and night skies), plus a Zulu Patrol show for younger kids. Star gazers will want to come at night (first Friday of the month) for telescope viewing of the night sky. And there's a wealth of exhibits, about galaxies and our solar system.
Outside the Planetarium, walk out by the water, and look back to the west. There are great views of the skyline, you can see how the Willis Tower is just so much taller than all the other skyscrapers.
12th Street Beach - To the south of the planetarium is a nice sandy beach, good for playing in the sand and wading in the warm weather.