Fun Things to Do In Chicago with Kids: Best Free Activities

The city is packed with large public parks that are far more than just a playground. Whether it’s Grant Park or Millenium Park, kids will be happy to roam free and play. At Grant Park, they can enjoy the French city-styled park, and catch the fountain show after dark. At Millenium Park, kids of all ages will want to take in the wonder of The Bean and observe the videos displayed on the Crown Fountain.

On the first Sunday of every month, you can head over to the Navy Pier and gain free entrance to the Children’s Museum. While there, be sure to check out the rides and performers!

The Lincoln Park Zoo is free all 365 days of the year, which makes it a must-do for the whole family! Hosting events for kids of all ages, some activities include story-time, camps and “farm-in-the-zoo.”

Adler Planetarium often has free membership days for Illinois residents. Be sure to check their website to know which days each month will gain you free access to the stars!

The month of October sees no shortage of pumpkin patches, trick-or-treating and other fall festivals – all free – for the whole family to enjoy. Check out KidWinks for constant updates and additions to a fun-packed fall schedule!

Chicago Kids Activities: November Highlights

Don’t miss the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on November 17th. The family-friendly parade kicks off Chicago’s holiday season and includes a Mickey Mouse parade down Michigan Avenue. The parade concludes with a huge fireworks show over the Chicago River. Also make sure to check out the performances throughout the day and the deals along the Michigan Avenue route.

November also has a number of excellent offerings for Children’s Theater including A Wrinkle in Time, Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella. You can also enjoy interactive comedy at Second City’s Improv Extravaganza Explosion, which is great for kids 5 and up.

In the middle of the month, head to Navy Pier for the annual Chicago Fine Chocolate Show. After checking out pastry exhibitions, stock up on Christmas gifts. Adults can also enjoy fine wine and craft-beer tastings. Don’t miss this event which runs from November 16th to the 18th.

Kids in Chicago Activities: Christmas Must-Sees

There are an abundance of family-friendly events and happenings all around Chicago, but here is an easy must-see list that you can check off this holiday season.

  • Winter Wonderland, John Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL, November 1 – December 31, 2012
    Celebrate the 40th year of festivities at the John Hancock Center, keeping classics like the Winter Wonderland Holiday Train intact. It’s open every day, with Santa on the weekends from 12-4pm.
  • Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier, Navy Pier, Chicago, Il, November 30, 2012 – January 6, 2013
    The annual Winter WonderFest has an earlier start this year, and means that you and your family can enjoy 170,000 square-feet of winter wonderland playground, with indoor ice skating, inflatable slides, rides, and so much more!
    Winter WonderFest is open Sunday through Thursday from 10am – 5pm and Friday and Saturday from 10am – 10pm! Special holiday hours include Christmas Eve from 10am – 5pm, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day from 10am – 8pm, but unfortunately Winter WonderFest will be closed on Christmas Day!
  • Macy’s Great Tree Lighting & Holiday Windows, Macy’s State Street, 111 N. State Street, Chicago, November 18, 2012 – March 11, 2013 (weather permitting)
    From the outside, passersby will be amazed by the window display. Upstairs on the 7th floor, Macy’s will kick off the holiday season at noon on the seventh floor in the Walnut Room with the annual Great Tree Lighting ceremony that includes a special guest performance by Chris Mann. Immediately following the Tree Lighting, the kid’s department on level 5 five at 1:00 p.m. will have holiday family fun, including face painting, balloon twisting, fun from Radio Disney and much more.
  • Millennium Park Ice Skating, Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, Chicago, November 17 – January 8, 2013
    The Millenium Park Ice Rink is open to the public every day of the week and skating is free. However, for those without their own pair, skates are available for rent. The rink is located on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets.
  • Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light, Museum of Science & Industry, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Nov. 25 -Dec. 20
    The Museum transforms for the holiday season with singers and dancers and dozens of decorated trees.ThemMuseum’s grand tree takes center stage in the Rotunda, while more than 50 trees beautifully decorated by members of Chicago’s ethnic communities to represent global cultures adorn the main level. Stroll through the trees, enjoy intermittent falling “snow” and relish the performances of various dance and choral groups on the Holiday Stage.
  • Drury Lane Children’s Theatre – A Christmas Carol, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL,November 2 – December 22, 2012
    The timeless classic, A Christmas Carol, has entertained children and families for centuries now. The popular holiday tradition is back once again this Christmas season at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace. In addition to a performance from a cast of top Chicago actors, Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace offers families the special opportunity to have breakfast or dinner with Santa Claus on select performance dates.