Chicago with Kids: Top Attractions and Activities for Your Family Adventure
Day Two: Millennium Park, Architectural Boat Tour, Adler Planetarium & Rainbow Cone
Welcome to day two of our family adventure in Chicago! If you’re planning a family trip to the Windy City, you won’t want to miss out on these top kid-friendly attractions. Today’s itinerary includes visits to picturesque Millennium Park, a fascinating architecture boat tour, and a journey through space at the Adler Planetarium. With so much to see and do, your kids are sure to love exploring all that Chicago has to offer. So, let’s dive into day two of our adventure and discover some more family-friendly attractions in the city!
Our kids are notoriously up early so we walked down to Millennium Park so the kids could check out the shiny sculpture they peeked at on Day One in Chicago. The Bean, also known as Cloud Gate, is a popular public sculpture located in Millennium Park that has become an iconic symbol of Chicago. The Bean’s unique reflective surface and stunning skyline views make it a must-visit attraction and photo spot.
We continued our walk down to the Chicago River for our Architecture Boat Tour. This is a much do activity when in Chicago. There are a bunch of options for architectural river tours, we booked through the Chicago CityPass on Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour. This was perfect for the four of us. (Though if you are looking for a more serious tour check out the Chicago Architecture Center’s river cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady which is incredible, but not great for younger kids.) Make sure you pack sunscreen, a hat, water, and plenty of snacks. Whatever tour you decide to take make sure to book in advance as the more desirable times do book up.
The Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour is an exciting and informative way to see the stunning architecture of Chicago with kids. On the tour, you’ll cruise along the Chicago River while a knowledgeable guide points out and provides a history of the city’s famous landmarks, including the Willis Tower and the Wrigley Building. (Our guide was also full of fun puns the kids loved.) Your kids will love seeing the city from a different perspective and learning about the unique design and construction of each building. This tour is a great way to take in the beauty of the city.
Exploring Chicago’s architecture is not only a fun and exciting way to spend time with your kids, but it is also a great way to teach them about the importance of design and construction. Learning about the different architectural styles, such as Art Deco and Modernism, and the famous architects who designed the city’s buildings, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, can be fascinating for kids of all ages. With so many iconic buildings to see and learn about, exploring Chicago’s architecture is an unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression on your children. The tour drops you off back where you started and there are plenty of nearby places to grab lunch.
After the architecture tour, we grabbed lunch on the Chicago riverwalk. The Chicago Riverwalk is a must-visit destination for families with kids visiting the city. This picturesque promenade offers stunning views of the city’s architecture and a wide variety of family-friendly activities and attractions including some great playgrounds. A stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk is a great way for families to experience the charm and character of downtown Chicago. We walked from the boat tour back toward Millennial Park.
Families with kids visiting Chicago must go to Millennium Park Playground! Located in the heart of downtown, this expansive play area features a variety of equipment, including slides, swings, and incredible climbing structures. With plenty of seating for adults, the Millennium Park Playground is the perfect spot for families to relax and enjoy the city’s vibrant atmosphere while the kids burn off some energy. We couldn’t get over this incredible park. You will want to make sure to bring water and a sun hat. There is also a splash pad here, so make sure you are prepared for kids to get wet on hot days.
Walking from the Millennium Park Playground to the Adler Planetarium is a scenic and enjoyable way to see Chicago’s lakefront. Unless you are taking three tired kids with you. We most certainly should have hopped into an Uber for part of the walk. The walk takes you along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, offering stunning views of the water and skyline. Along the way, you’ll pass through parks, beaches, and green spaces, providing plenty of opportunities to stop and rest or take in the sights.
Once you reach the Adler Planetarium, you’ll be rewarded with amazing exhibits and interactive displays about space and astronomy, making it a perfect destination for families with kids. The Adler Planetarium is included in the Chicago CityPass and ASTC Travel Passport. You’ll want to make advanced reservations for one of the shows. Sky Live is one of the popular shows at Adler Planetarium in Chicago and the one we chose to see. This live presentation takes visitors on a tour of the night sky, showcasing celestial objects like planets, stars, and galaxies. The show is presented by the planetarium’s experts who use advanced technology to project the night sky on a domed theater screen, creating an immersive experience for the audience. Sky Live is an excellent way for kids to learn about astronomy and space science while having fun at the same time. (Wahoo for homeschooling on vacation!)
After the planetarium, we ran into the Rainbow Cone food truck and had to give it a try. Rainbow Cone is a famous food truck in Chicago that serves up delicious ice cream cones with multiple flavors, including chocolate, pistachio, Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), strawberry, and of course, rainbow. They have been serving their signature treats since 1926, and are a must-try for anyone visiting the city.
Day two in Chicago was an amazing adventure that left us all with unforgettable memories. From the stunning views of the city’s skyline and architecture on the architecture boat tour to the fun-filled playground at Millennium Park, and the exciting sky shows at the Adler Planetarium, there was never a dull moment. Topping it all off with the delicious treats from the Rainbow Cone food truck. Everyone slept well and we are eager to see what day three has in store for us in the Windy City!