The winter months are a perfect time for discovery and learning indoors at one of the many Chicago area children’s museums. We’ve put together a list of the offerings in the city and suburbs including best features, unique exhibit information, and our age recommendations. Some are ideal to spend a day, while others are suited to a shorter afternoon visit. Either way, it’s a great avenue to spark little imaginations and explore in a fun environment!
700 E. Grand Avenue at Navy Pier
Features three floors of hands-on exploration and fun where kids can hide in a treehouse, build a skyscraper, ride a fire truck, dig for dinosaur bones, fish in a river, tinker with real tools, climb a gigantic structure, create beautiful art and more! For ages 5 and younger, Kids Town is the place to be. Here, little ones can shop in the grocery store, change a tire, wash the car, and drive a bus in a cityscape setting designed just for kids. Thursday evenings from 5pm-8pm are free for everyone. First Sunday of every month is free for 15 and under.
Recommended ages: Babies to age 10 (with certain areas geared specifically for 5 and under)
301 N. Washington Street
Spend a day checking out loads of interactive play and learning centers in one of the many “museum neighborhoods.” Kids can explore the sensory zone, roll a ball down a ramp, build in the construction house, explore the power of AWEsome Air and Water, blow enormous bubbles, explore mathematical notions, create a masterpiece and more! The Young Explorers neighborhood is a special area created specifically for children under the age of two.
Recommended ages: Babies to age 10 (with certain areas geared specifically for 2 and under)
2100 Patriot Boulevard
Find a wonderful array of inviting exhibits where children can create art using mixed tools and media, make unique music, role play as doctors/veterinarians, construct a house from the inside out, explore plants and nature, and so much more! Babies and crawlers can explore in one of several separate areas set aside just for them. And, the Cosi Cafe onsite makes it easy to grab a kid-friendly bite to eat any time your little explorers have worked up an appetite!
Recommended ages: Babies to age 8
6445 W. North Avenue
Oak Park, Illinois
Kids can enjoy one of five “experience zones” as well as an outdoor organic garden in the warmer months. Explore the artistic process, “harvest” fruit/vegetables, dress up for a performance, put on a puppet show, role play as construction workers/architects and more! Admission is only $7 a person. The smaller size of this museum makes it easier to keep an eye on multiple or quick moving children.
Recommended ages: Babies to age 6
5100 Museum Drive
Oak Lawn, Illinois
Notable features of this museum include a STEM learning area, theatrical masterpiece center, a tree-mendous treehouse, and opportunities to fly a kite or embark on a water adventure to Beachcomber Island. There’s also a special tummy time section for babies and toddlers.
Recommended ages: Babies to age 12 (with a special section for infants/toddlers)
9301 South Stony Island Avenue
The first and only African American children’s museum in the country. Unique exhibits expand young minds on the topics of healthy eating, African American inventors, a S.T.E.M. journey, and interesting Bronzeville landmarks. Admission is $5 per person.
Recommended ages: 3-9
11 White Street
Frankfort, IL 60423
Regular exhibits include a fire station, pinscreen, tot spot, giant game of “Operation,” dino dig, play market, and spots for art and music.
Looking for more indoor activities? Be sure to check out the Indoor Activities Page, full of ideas for fun in the near western suburbs!