Lakefront. Culture. Sports. And a food scene that runs the gamut from hot dogs to haute Michelin starred cuisine. Whatever the season, the Windy City has no shortage of activities. On tap for winter? Ice skating at Millenium Park, trolley tours, museum visits and warming up with hot chocolate or high tea at many of the glamorous boites lining Michigan Avenue. When the sun comes out, visitors can take advantage of the legions of activities on or around the lakefront. Whatever the season, Chicago is a mecca for families.
Big cats? Check. Polar bears? Check. Zebras, reptiles and rare baby red kangaroo? Check. Check. Check. Housing some 1250 animals, Lincoln Park zoo is one of the finest in the country. Highlights include the Endangered Species Carousel, a petting zoo and the Regenstein African Journey, an interior exhibit that mirrors the sights and sounds of a safari experience complete with dwarf crocodiles and pygmy hippos. Adjacent to the animal habitats is an offshoot of the zoo, the Nature Boardwalk.Wooden pathways criss cross over a pond thriving with turtles, frogs and migratory birds, a true urban oasis for children to discover.
Free. Open 355 days a year,
2. Shedd Aquarium:
The Shedd (the most highly trafficked aquarium in the US) is nothing short of aquatically awesome. The choice of exhibits is vast: Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising, Polar Play Zone and Waters of the World where kids will delight in getting up close and personal with sea creatures that include the Shedd’s oldest resident, an Australian Lionfish that has called the aquarium home since 1933. Not to be missed? The dancing dolphins and Belugas at the aquatic show.
With so much to see, a guided trolley ride is a smart option. Stopping at 14 of Chicago’s most famous attractions (Millennium Park, the Art Institute, Field Museum, Navy Pier, etc) passengers can get on and off as they choose. Bonus? Tickets are usable for three days.
FACT: Kids are obsessed with the idea of soaring through the air like Peter Pan. While parents can’t promise flight, they can deliver a similar experience vis a vis a visit to America’s tallest building, Chicago’s Willis Tower. Standing on the glassed in skydeck at 1353 feet above the ground, one has both sweeping views and a unique aerial experience. On a clear day, it is possible to see 4 states: Il, IN WI, MI.
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5. Navy Pier
Imagine, if you will, a lakefront playground; 50 acres of indoor and outdoor parks culminating in an amusement park that projects out onto Lake Michigan. Welcome to Navy Pier, Chicago’s premier tourist hot spot. The Children’s Museum is a must. Kids will be in paradise climbing onto ships, hiding into tree houses and fashioning all types of inventions in the state of the art Tinkering Lab. The dinosaur exhibit lets kids play archaeologist digging up Dino Bones. If you are visiting during the spring/summer, head outside for the ferris wheel, carousel and 18 hole miniature golf course. Bike rentals and boat rides are also on offer during this season.
Fun filled days require energy. Some out-of-the-box places to get your sugar high on? Try a maple bacon long John or Crème brulee donut at GLAZED AND INFUSED DONUTS. Or a s’more treat at high class cupcakery MORE CUPCAKES. Chicago chocolatier VOSGES wows with an esoteric salty/sweet spin on truffles and bars