If you are spending more than a day or two in Chicago, two of my favorite excursions for kids, require a car rental or a taxi ride.
Ravinia (418 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park, Illinois) is an outdoor and pavilion concert arena that has seating in its pavilion, but also loads of green space for visitors to picnic while listening to the performers.
In the summer, Ravinia has some kids’ concerts scheduled during the daytime and weekdays and it’s a really fun way to spend an afternoon. Check the schedule and see if any of the kids’ concerts coincide with your visit. Alternatively, for those without a car, you can hop on a train from downtown Chicago that goes straight to Ravinia.
2. Chicago Botanic Gardens
Less than a half hour outside the city, the Chicago Botanic Gardens has 385 acres of beautiful gardens and land. If you take a cab, you’ll get in for free. Admission is free, but there is a parking fee per car.
Aside from the train exhibit, vegetable and fruit gardens, koi ponds, and numerous flower and plant gardens throughout the gardens, there is a newer section called the Regenstein Learning Campus which is a whole lot of fun for babies through younger school-age children.
They have rolling hills covered in grass that were designed for children to roll and free play. They have small little rivers where children can take off their shoes and cool off. They also have little natural play areas with logs to climb on and more.
At this part of the gardens, they also often host children’s cooking and nature classes. If you want to plan ahead and it coincides with your trip, book a class on their website before visiting. We did a family cooking class for all ages, which was great fun and a great way to spend some family time.
There is also a really, fun exhibit outdoors of model trains placed throughout carefully designed displays of different locations throughout the U.S. (This exhibit requires an inexpensive ticket to enter, but it’s worth it for any kid or adult fascinated with trains.