Near South Side
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Near South Side
In many ways, Chicago is a city made for kids. Parks and green spaces are everywhere, and the museums always seem to have plenty to offer the little ones. Adler Planetarium, right next to the Field Museum on the shores of Lake Michigan, is a prime example. Come here for a fun dose of cosmic escapism (adults will love it, too), where exhibits like “The Universe: A Walk Through Space” is akin to stepping into another world. You’ll wander through darkened rooms illuminated only by high resolution, twinkling recreations of the stars, galaxies, and planets.
Field Museum of Natural History
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Near South Side
One of the country’s great institutions, the Field Museum encompasses about sixty-five million years of natural history, give or take. Dinosaurs are almost brought to life with fully reconstructed skeletons, including the most complete T-Rex frame in the world, and dozens of animated videos and interactive displays create an engrossing narrative of evolution that’s easy for kids to digest. But grownups are just as enthralled. There’s also the Play Lab, an educational space for the youngest visitors to crawl into recreated dinosaur nests, play with toy fossils, and experiment with musical instruments from ancient cultures. The building itself is a neoclassical beauty inspired by the temples of Ancient Rome and Greece, and the location—right on Lake Michigan and adjacent to Grant Park—is perfect for outdoor picnics and running around after a visit.