Getting out the door with a baby or toddler in tow is not always an easy task. But it feels good to venture out and explore new places, interact with other parents and have fun as a family. This is a round-up of spots that are fun for babies or toddlers and parents alike—and are either free or worth the price. Hours vary, so be sure to call or look on websites for most current information.
This post is sponsored by Bright Horizons. Bright Horizons is a leading provider of high-quality early education and preschool. Their programs empower children from infancy on to become confident, successful learners and secure, caring people. The staff at Bright Horizons strives to grow young readers, scientists, artists, and explorers who are engaged and curious. Their programs invite children to approach school and academics with skills, confidence and a drive to succeed. Locations include Western Springs, Oak Brook, Downers Grove, Lisle, Naperville, Rosemont, Wheaton, and beyond.
Places to Go with a Baby or Toddler
Indoor Play Spaces for Babies and Toddlers
Indoor play spaces are amazing for letting kids explore freely. Check out our full list of indoor play places or our readers’ picks for the 10 best indoor play places in the Western Suburbs. The ones below are especially good for the younger crowd.
Kidstreet Play Center at Grounds for Hope
2701 Maple Ave
Lisle, IL 60532
Kidstreet is an excellent destination for babies and toddlers. As soon as your baby is interested in playing with toys, they’ll enjoy the under-two Wonder Room. There are other rooms for older toddlers, as well as a big indoor playground great for a wide age range. ($5/kid for a daily pass or $45 for a six-month pass.)
Forest the Fox’s Playbox at Westchester Park District
10835 Wakefield St
Westchester, IL 60154
Forest the Fox’s Playbox is great for toddlers as soon as they’re interested in climbing on indoor playground equipment. The baby space is minimal and seems geared towards a younger sibling along for the ride. ($3/child.)
233 63rd St
Westmont, IL 60559
Westmont Yard has plenty of baby and toddler toys to keep these ages amused. Younger toddlers will love the Playroom, and there are tons of inflatables and play structures for older kids, too. ($7/child or $30 for a three-visit punch card.)
1607 Legacy Cir
Naperville, IL 60563
The inflatables field at Naperville Yard has toys for younger children, too. It does seem a bit more geared towards older kids than the Westmont Yard. ($8/child.)
Kids Town Play and Party Wheaton
1217 E Butterfield Rd
Wheaton, IL 60189
Kids Town is tons of fun for older toddlers. There’s a dedicated space for toddlers, too, but our reviewer warns that older kids may still run through this space. ($12 unlimited play time for kids over one, $6 for kids under one, or $7 for the first hour and $5 for additional time.)
4995 Varsity Dr
Lisle, IL 60532
Pump It Up is a good fit for kids two and older, when they start to enjoy the smaller inflatables. Check out our review of Pump it Up Elmhurst.
Jumps ‘N Giggles Indoor Playplace and Pavilion Carousel in Elk Grove Village
Jack A. Claes Pavilion Center
1000 Wellington Ave
Elk Grove Village, IL
Jumps ‘N Giggles has an big playground that older tots will love, as well as smaller play equipment for younger toddlers. There’s a beautiful carousel that includes benches for parents and kids to ride together, too. ($4 for resident and $5 non-resident for kids one and older; free for kids under one.)
CubHouse Indoor Playground
Oak Park Park District’s Stevenson Center
49 Lake St.
Oak Park, IL 60302
The “CubHouse” is designed for kids 8 months to 5 years old, which makes it amazing for younger kids. There’s a special infant area in addition to the bigger play space, which has plenty of padding to keep active kiddos safe. They also offer daily crafts and a story time! ($5/visit or $50 for a season pass.)
864 S Rt 59
Naperville, IL 60540
The Ball Factory has a whole area just for toddlers! Older toddlers might also be interested in some of the bigger-kid areas, which are really cool but potentially overwhelming, so the dedicated space is nice. There are a few things for babies to play with, but the price may not be worth it for non-walkers—unless they’re visiting with a sibling, in which case they’re free! ($11/child Monday–Friday, $15/child Saturday and Sunday; 6 mo. and under free, non-walkers free with sibling). First kid to arrive gets in free everyday!
7007 W. North Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60302
The Peekaboo Playroom is a really cute indoor playroom designed for ages 0 to 6. The toys are really focused on imaginative play here. There’s no huge play structure, which actually makes it ideal for the younger kids. (Prices vary but start at $6 for a one-hour visit, with non-crawlers free; check out their full price list here).
4314 E New York Street
Aurora, IL 60504
In addition to Kiddy Club’s indoor sandbox and big ball pits with slides, it’s also got a separate infant and toddler area with age-appropriate toys and soft climbable structures. ($12/child Tuesday–Thursday, $14/child Friday–Sunday; siblings get a $2 discount every day. See pricing page for passes and other discounts.) First child to arrive for the day gets in free if you mention the discount!
The Chick-fil-A playgrounds are great for toddlers. There are dedicated toddler spaces for even the wobbliest walkers, but kids two and older will love climbing on the playground. (Free!)
Mall Play Areas for Babies and Toddlers
PLAY at Yorktown Center
203 Yorktown Center
Lombard, IL 60148
PLAY (right by the Nestle Toll House Café) is awesome for toddlers! There are tons of sensory play options at very low heights. Even crawlers will have fun, but know that this is an open play area with everyone wearing shoes. Older toddlers will love the playground equipment and touchscreens, too. Don’t forget to ride the mall’s train while you are there!
Yu Kids Island
5 Woodfield Mall
Schaumberg, IL 60173
This is an all-ages space with toddler-friendly attractions like a pint-sized “waterfall slide” (with real water trapped inside the clear slide), as well as partitioned-off baby areas (HOORAY for baby gates!). Prices vary.
Playgroups for Babies and Toddlers
Even before your baby is old enough to do much “playing,” you still need to connect with other parents. If you haven’t found a playgroup yet, check out these ideas
- Kohl’s Children’s Museum in Glenview has a free Baby & Me group for parents of kids up to 12 months old.
- Hospitals sometimes offer parents’ groups for babies delivered there. I know many moms who found great new friends and support through these groups, which are generally for parents of kids up to one year old.
- Places of worship often have playgroups that are either held there or organized through them. I’ve never heard of one where you needed to attend the church (or be religious) to join in on the fun. For example, St. Mary of Gostyn Church in Downers Grove has a “Young Families” Group that meets regularly for local playdates.
- We have also gathered up a great list of playgroups, mom groups, and newcomers groups in the western suburbs!
Children’s Museums for Babies and Toddlers
Children’s museums can make great places to go with babies and toddlers, but I’ve found that it can be hit or miss whether they’re worth the ticket price for really little ones. But at about two and older, kids will likely have a blast at all the museums. Make sure to check out the Kidlist events calendar before you plan your visit. There are plenty of events like concerts, story times, and crafts (often at no additional cost) if you go at the right time.
DuPage Children’s Museum
301 N. Washington Street
Naperville, IL 60540
This museum has dedicated areas for crawlers and younger toddlers, and they are a lot of fun—but for kids who aren’t able to interact with the bigger exhibits, the ticket price is a bit steep. At about 18 months, kids really start enjoying the museum in full.
Kohl’s Children’s Museum
2100 Patriot Boulevard
Glenview, IL 60026
Kohl’s Children’s Museum infant areas blocked off by a cushy bench, so babies and crawlers can still see all the fun going on around them. The museum is free for kids 12 months and younger, but you’ll still have to pay the $12 admission price for yourself.
The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn
5100 Museum Drive
Oak Lawn, Illinois 60453
Here you will find a Tummy Time space just for babies and toddlers. Admission is a little less expensive than the other children’s museum ($9 for kids and adults, with kids free up to 12 months), so it may be more worthwhile even before kids really start engaging with the bigger exhibits.
6445 West North Park
Oak Park, IL 60302
Wonder Works in Oak Park is a shoe-free museum, which makes it great for crawlers, too! It’s also on the more budget-friendly side with $7 admission (free for kids up to 12 months).
The Art Institute
We know it’s not a conventional idea, but toddlers can also enjoy The Art Institute! The featured image from this page is Annie’s son drawing in their Family Room and you can read more about taking a toddler to the art museum here: True Toddler Life: I Took a Toddler to The Art institute in Chicago. It gives great tips for what toddlers can enjoy and how to plan for the trip.
Open Gyms for Babies and Toddlers
Open gyms allow kids to let loose and test what their bodies can do in a safe, cushy space!
- My Gym has locations in Wheaton, River Forest, and Aurora (right by the Fox Valley Mall). There are classes for kids as young as six weeks, so it’s definitely great for even the youngest kids. Practice & Play sessions are their drop-in open-play time. (Membership prices vary and can be found on their website).
- Flying High in Countryside has a Little Tykes Time open gym specifically for children in kindergarten and younger—plus, the price is reduced from the normal $12 to just $5. Check out the scheduled times here.
- Check out local park districts for baby and toddler open gym schedules.
Libraries to Visit with Babies and Toddlers
There are some incredible libraries nearby and most have great spaces for kids to play and learn. We asked our readers and rounded up the Best Libraries in the Western Suburbs. You should not be afraid to work the library circuit—you don’t need to live in a town to visit its library (or even check out books with your own library card). Certain libraries are better suited to younger kids than others. Westmont, the 95th St. Naperville branch, and La Grange are all great for little ones.
Parks Good for Babies and Toddlers
To find a great park to visit with your crawler or toddler, check out our Mud-Free Playgrounds list. These playgrounds all feature a soft, rubbery surface instead of muddy woodchips, so they’re great even for crawlers. It also features photos of almost every park, so you can scan and see whether the equipment looks appropriate for your little one. Fenced-In Parks for Toddlers is also a great one if you have a runner!
Going to the Zoo with Babies and Toddlers
Tots may know that lions say “Roar!”, but seeing a real lion roar takes it to a whole different level. The zoo can be a fun trip year-round, too!
1356 N Gary Ave
Wheaton, IL 60187
Cosley Zoo is amazing for this age group. It’s much smaller than Brookfield or Lincoln Park, and you can get really close to the animals. There’s a pond filled with dozens of ducks, a stable with animals like cows and horses, and exhibits with bobcats, deer, and more. A remodeled train car filled with toys and activities is perfect as soon as kids can pull to stand. (Kids and Wheaton residents free; non-resident adults $7).
8400 31st Street (1st Avenue and 31st Street)
Brookfield, IL 60513
Brookfield is the biggest zoo in the area. As soon as kids start to become interested in the animals, this zoo can’t be topped! ($15.95 for kids 3–11; $21.95 for adults).
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
LP Zoo in Chicago also has a great variety of animals, but it’s smaller than Brookfield, which can make it more manageable for a day out with younger kids. It’s also surrounded by lots of great places to eat and things to do in the city. (Free!)
Train Restaurants for Babies and Toddlers
Most toddlers love, love, love train restaurants! A train restaurant is a perfect destination for train lovers, with food arriving on train cars as well as other train attractions and decorations. Check out our full list of train restaurants in the Western Suburbs.
At-Home Play for Babies and Toddlers
It’s nice to get out with a baby, but there’s plenty of time for fun at home, too! Bright Horizons recently featured a fun list of 10 baby games on their blog. Here’s a preview of some of the fun ideas you will find there:
Blast music throughout the house for an impromptu dance party, especially during tough transition times during the day.
Make treasure baskets with every day colorful and tactile objects. Your baby or toddler can explore the items or organize them by color or shape by placing them into different baskets.
Have fun with pots and pans! Create a classic kitchen band by using pots, pans, plastic containers, spoons… whatever you have on hand so your child can make some music.
Check out our indoor activities page for more fun ideas! Did we miss anything? Comment below if you have a favorite place for you and your baby or toddler. Also share if your babies are grown, but you remember a favorite destination.