Aside from the Art Institute and the Museum of Science and Industry, several of Chicago’s best museums are clustered together in what’s deemed Chicago’s Museum Campus. Take a water taxi or a hop on/hop off DIVY bike to the Museum Campus and spend a full day exploring one or two museums.
1. Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry is about a 10 minute cab ride from River North. It’s a great place to spend an entire day.
The Museum of Science and Industry has a cool theater for which to watch one of their nature movies currently running. It also has tons of interactive exhibits for kids and families or all ages.
There is a full-sized plane that kids will enjoy sitting in. There is an intact U-505 submarine for which kids can explore and learn about World War II, along with what marine life was like during that time period. Go to the Chick Hatchery and there is a good chance your kiddos will be able to see real-life chicks popping their way out of eggshells. It’s a very fun experience!
2. Art Institute
Chicago’s Art Institute is a great place for school-aged children to explore.
Depending on the age of the children, I like to get a map at the museum and let each one pick out one or two areas of art they’d like to explore. There are a couple kid-friendly cafes within the institute.
Note that you are not allowed to bring large bags into the museum, so leave those backpacks at the hotel or be prepared to check them while at the Art Institute. You are allowed to bring cameras and phones and take pictures, though!
3. Museum Campus
At Chicago’s Museum Campus take your pick between the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum, all clustered together right in front of the Chicago Bear’s Soldier Field.
The Field Museum is an awesome place for kids interested in pyramids and fossils. Kids can walk through a recreated pyramid. Another really cool exhibit for kids is the Underground Adventure exhibit, which gives visitors the feeling that they’ve shrunk down to 1/100 of their size. Visitors will see insect and underground creatures from their perspective and learn just what’s underneath the grass in their backyard!
The Shedd Aquarium has a huge fish tank that greets you when you walk in with sea creatures both big and small. Not only will kids love the sea turtles, sharks and other fish swimming about. There are jellyfish tanks that light up with life and colors. Those alone will mesmerize kids for hours.
The Doane Observatory at the Adler Planetarium is open periodically for viewing, so inquire when you check in, if it’s open that day. The observatory is the largest, public aperture telescope in Chicagoland. It gathers over 5,000 times more light than the unaided human eye, allowing visitors to see celestial objects that are trillions of miles away! For kids under 8, the Little Explorers area of the Planetarium is a fun, interactive playground area, which allows kids to climb, crawl and learn about space, the sky, rocket ships and more.