6 Kid-Friendly Neighborhoods in Chicago
Chicago is known for plenty of things: jazz, foodie-centric restaurants, all the bars you could want for your nightlife. None of these activities are particularly kid-friendly, but that doesn’t mean the city is best left to the adults. Whether you are new to town or looking for a break in your regular routine, these six Chicago neighborhoods have plenty of options for your family.
Of all the things to do in Chicago with kids, its museums are the best place to start. For STEM-minded kids, or kids who just want to get their hands on what they are looking at, the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park can easily fill an entire day.
This museum is stuffed with interactive exhibits that encourage kids to ask questions and learn about the world around them. They can experience the physics of storms up close, watch baby chicks hatch, and play with the principles of science in the Idea Factory.
The beautiful brownstones so common in Lincoln Park may make it seem more like an adult’s real estate dream, but the neighborhood is easily at the top of the city’s list of kid-friendly communities.
Lincoln Park Zoo is free (keep in mind there is a fee for parking) and home to animals from around the world. One any given day, kids can see mammals, birds, reptiles, and more. Plus, the zoo frequently puts on events geared toward kids (family Zoo Lights nights in the winter and an Easter egg hunt). After wandering through the zoo’s exhibits, you can get some more walking in on the zoo’s nature boardwalk.
In addition to the zoo, you’ll also find the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which has its own collection of live critters. Peggy Notebaert hosts events like family yoga, hands-on animal experiences, and story time.
For kids who need somewhere to run off that seemingly boundless energy, North Avenue Beach is the perfect summer day outing spot. The neighborhood also has Oz Park, complete with Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man, and a playground.
The Loop, easily accessible for a day trip for families located in the suburbs, is one of Chicago’s most recognizable neighborhoods. The epicenter of the city’s collection of skyscrapers and the Bean are both here.
Even if you’ve lived in the city for years, some of the more touristy things can seem fun again through the eyes of your kids. Go up to the Willis Tower Skydeck. Take silly photos in front of the Bean. Beyond the Bean, your kids can see the rest of Millennium Park, which has an ice rink in the winter and live performances in the warmer months. Right next door, Maggie Daley Park has its own spot for ice skating, a climbing wall, tennis courts, and mini golf.
For slightly older kids, the Art Institute, right next door to Millennium Park, is a wonderful introduction to the beauty of art.
The South Loop is a downtown neighborhood, but it has a character distinct from its sister community the Loop. Kids can run wild at the parks of the Loop, but in the South Loop, they will find pure amazement at the institutions of Museum Campus.
The Field Museum is a dream come true for any child who has fallen in love with dinosaurs or ancient Egypt. For kids who fantasize about space, the Adler Planetarium is a window into the skies above. Over at the Shedd Aquarium, youngsters imaging a career in marine biology can come face to face with dolphins, beluga whales, and thousands of different fish.
Of course, all of that learning, works up an appetite. The South Loop has a Giordano’s location for classic deep dish pizza, and at Eleven City Diner kids will love the deli menu and an old school soda fountain.
Streeterville is a kids’ favorite with Navy Pier (the Ferris wheel!) and the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier, which has exhibits for babies and toddlers, kids ages four to eight, and kids nine and up. The pier, naturally, has plenty of food kids will love (think hot dogs and cotton candy).
Wrigleyville may have the reputation of a college party town, but families with kids can find plenty to enjoy in this popular Chicago neighborhood. Wrigley Field is, of course, the perfect spot for young baseball fans. If you are worried about rowdy crowds, try out Kids Sundays. Sunday afternoon games cater to kids with free swag, and some lucky kids even get to run the bases out on the field.
Baseball may be dormant during the winter, but Wrigley Field’s neighbor Gallagher Way comes alive as a winter wonderland. Go ice skating and browse the booths at Christkindlmarket during the holiday season.
Whether it is baseball season or not, Dutch and Doc’s is a good spot to eat with the kids. This restaurant has a kids’ menu, coloring supplies, and the Clean Plate Club for kids under the age of 12.