Places to Go with a Baby or Toddler: Activities for Kids 0–2

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Babies and toddlers love to explore the world, but they have different needs than bigger kids. For babies who aren’t walking yet, it’s all about finding places where they can see, touch, and (let’s face it) taste safely. Toddlers need spots where they can stretch their legs and explore! If you’re wondering where to go for fun with your little one, this list has you covered.

Places to Go with a Baby or Toddler in Chicago’s West Suburbs

Parks Good for Babies and Toddlers

First of all, check out our 2022 list of the 10 Best Playgrounds for Toddlers! It goes deep into tot-friendly playgrounds with details on what to expect at each location.

Use our list of Mud-Free Playgrounds to let your toddler or crawler roam around without the worry of what will end up in their mouth. At these parks, you’ll find a rubbery surface that’s good for little hands and knees.

Worried about your runner? Fenced-In Parks keep your toddler contained so you can both enjoy an afternoon at the park! It has a whole section dedicated to ‘tot lots’: little parks made specifically with the youngest children in mind.

Additionally, our list of Parks with Paved Paths is great for finding new destinations for a stroll. It’s nice to get out in the fresh air, even if you have an infant who is too small to play at the park.

Classes for Babies and Toddlers

We recently updated our list of Classes for Little Kids 0-5 Years Old! Check it out for tons of ideas designed specifically for young children. Ages are noted throughout so you can find the right class for your child’s age.

Parent-child classes are a gentle way to introduce young children to a structured class environment. Our list of local parent-child classes includes music, dance, swimming, preschool programs, and more.

Going to the Zoo with Babies and Toddlers

If your children are anything like mine, they were saying animals noises as soon as they were saying. Stop by these zoos to have their favorite nursery-rhyme animals come to life!

Cosley Zoo
1356 N Gary Avenue
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 665-5534

Cosley Zoo is much smaller than Brookfield or Lincoln Park, and you can get much closer to the animals. It’s also quite stroller-friendly.

There’s a pond filled with ducks, a stable with farm animals like goats, pigs, and horses, and larger exhibits with bobcats, deer, and more. Check out our article on Cosley Zoo ahead of time for tips. Pre-purchased, timed-entry tickets are required for all guests; kids and Wheaton residents (with proof of residency) are free.

Phillips Park Zoo
1000 Ray Moses Drive
Aurora, IL 60505
(630) 256-3860

Stop at the reptile house, visit the bald eagles and new turtle exhibits. The zoo also shares its grounds with some amazing playgrounds, including Mastodon Island Peninsula Playground, so it’s a great destination for the younger crowd.

Brookfield Zoo
8400 31st Street (1st Avenue and 31st Street)
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 688-8000

Brookfield is the biggest zoo in the area. With more and more exhibits reopening, your child will love seeing all their favorite animals. The Hamill Family Play Zoo is also an awesome destination for young kids and provides a welcome break for families with little ones!

Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-2000

Lincoln Park Zoo has all the variety of Brookfield Zoo, but has a smaller layout and the best price (free!), which makes for the perfect day trip into the city.

Randall Oaks Zoo
1180 N. Randall Road
West Dundee, IL 60118
(847) 551-4312

A visit to Randall Oaks Zoo is full of excitement for toddlers. Feed the animals, many of which come right to stroller level at the fences.

Children’s Museums for Babies and Toddlers

Children’s museums have countless opportunities for hands-on play with your baby or toddler. While toddlers will definitely keep busy, some of these places may be a bit too much for non-walkers, especially given the fact that many charge admission prices for parents and children 12 months and up. To get more for your money, check 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.

If it works within your budget, consider a membership to your local children’s museum. The three children’s museums listed below, along with the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn, Kidswork Children’s Museum in Frankfort, and Discovery Children’s Museum in Rockford have reciprocal admissions agreements for members as part of their CLIMB network. You’ll have access to six great spaces for the price of one membership, which often pays for itself after only a few visits.

DuPage Children’s Museum
301 N. Washington Street
Naperville, IL 60540
(630)637-8000

This museum has dedicated areas for crawlers and younger toddlers, which are a lot of fun. Combine these with some of the other exhibits, like the water play area or bubbles, and you’ll have plenty to do during your visit. DuPage Children’s Museum is currently requiring online reservations for both members and non-members.

Kohl Children’s Museum
2100 Patriot Boulevard
Glenview, IL 60026
(847) 832-6600

With a grocery store, water play room, nursery, veterinary clinic, and so much more, your day will be full of fun for toddlers. Their infant areas are sectioned off with foam padding on the floors and benches next to the main exhibits. The museum is free for kids 12 months and younger, but you’ll have to pay the $15 admission price for yourself.

Wonder Works
6445 West North Park
Oak Park, IL 60302
(708) 383-4815

Wonder Works in Oak Park is a shoe-free museum, so you won’t have to worry about little hands on the ground. Please note, this is a peanut-free space. This hands-on space has six permanent exhibits that will give your child plenty to explore.

Open Gyms for Babies and Toddlers

Open gyms allow kids to run free and test what their bodies can do in a safe, cushy space!

  • My Gym has locations in Wheaton, River Forest, and Aurora. You don’t need to have a walker to enjoy this time. There are classes for kids as young as six weeks. Practice & Play sessions are their open-play time. (Membership prices vary, but your first class is free!)
  • Flying High in Countryside has a Little Tykes Time open gym during the week specifically for children in kindergarten and younger.
  • Local park districts may have open gym times available for little ones. Help your child learn to climb, run, and jump in the comfort of a padded space.

Indoor Play Spaces for Babies and Toddlers

Indoor play spaces are the perfect opportunity for letting kids explore safely. Check out our full list of indoor play places. The ones below are especially good for the younger crowd. Don’t forget to bring socks for you and your children!

Kiddy Club
4314 E New York Street
Aurora, IL 60504
‭(630) 229-6247‬

Kiddy Club has sand, ball pits, slides and on soft, climbable play structures. See pricing page for passes and other discounts. First child to arrive for the day gets in free if you mention the discount.

Sky Zone Aurora and Sky Zone Elmhurst
87 Executive Drive, Aurora: (331) 207-4759
325 W Lake Street, Suite A, Elmhurst: (630) 478-8339

While you may usually think of trampoline parks as being meant for older children, Sky Zone in Aurora has designated toddler time on Saturday mornings, while the Elmhurst location is open for toddler time on Friday and Sunday mornings. The price is slightly reduced from their usual rates, and their weekend times may even have a character visit.

Kids Town Play and Party
212 Stratford Square Drive
Bloomingdale, IL 60108
(630) 980-3000

Kids Town is tons of fun for older toddlers, as they have separated themed areas, including inflatables and an indoor play structure. (Prices vary depending on age of child and length of stay. Hourly or unlimited time can be purchased.)

Jumps ‘N Giggles Indoor Playplace and Pavilion Carousel in Elk Grove Village
Jack A. Claes Pavilion Center
1000 Wellington Avenue
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
(847) 437-9494

Jumps ‘N Giggles has an big playground that older tots will love, and a smaller play structure and toys for younger toddlers. Unlimited rides on their beautiful carousel are also included in admission prices. 10-visit passes can also be purchased for a discounted rate.

Waterlemon
25 South La Grange Road, Unit A
La Grange, IL 60525
(708) 286-6747

A train table, designated baby area, play house, and countless other toys will be perfect for a visit with your littlest ones.

Playroom Cafe Two
2075 Calamos Court
Naperville, IL 60563
(630) 946-6879

Playroom Cafe Two is simply gorgeous. Beautifully decorated, it’s full of a toy store, ride-on toys, ball-pit slide, and designated baby area, this place is a must see.

Ball Factory
864 S Route 59
Naperville, IL 60540
(630) 640-2020

Ball Factory is a big place, but there is the separate area just for toddlers and babies. There is usually a staff member standing at the entrance to ensure bigger children stay out of this space. Older toddlers might also be interested in some of the bigger-kid areas. They often run Groupons, too; if you buy through this link you’ll help support Kidlist and save money at the same time!

CubHouse Indoor Playground
Oak Park Park District’s Stevenson Center
49 Lake Street
Oak Park, IL 60302
(708) 725-2108

CubHouse is planning to reopen in October 2022. Check with the Park District for details!

Forest the Fox’s Playbox at Westchester Park District
10835 Wakefield Street
Westchester, IL 60154
(708) 562-6410

Open play time is available daily to residents and non-residents. ($2/child)

Restaurants
The Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s playgrounds are great for toddlers. Many have re-opened, though some still remain closed. There are usually smaller slides or activities for toddlers around 2 years old. Stop in for an ice cream cone, cup of coffee, or a full meal.

Mall Play Areas for Babies and Toddlers

Play Space at Fox Valley Mall
195 Fox Valley Center
Aurora, IL 60504
(630) 851-7200

The Family Play Space at Fox Valley Mall is a free spot for kiddos to roam. It’s full of low, climbable structures and soft, padded surfaces. Fox Valley also has a Family Lounge in the restroom area of the food court, complete with areas for nursing, children’s shows on TV, and toys.

Fox Valley tends to rotate in other kid-friendly spots regularly, too. Last time I visited, they had a Storybook Nook set up with little chairs and books, as well as an Imagination Playground with soft blocks for building in an empty storefront. (The carousel in the food court is a local favorite, but the size and price make it a better choice for preschoolers and up.)

PLAY at Yorktown Center
203 Yorktown Center
Lombard, IL 60148
(630) 629-7330

PLAY (located on the Lower Level in Center Court) is perfect for toddlers! There are tons of sensory play options low to the ground that fits the height of any toddler or crawler. Because this is an open space, there is no size/age restriction of other children, so keep an extra close eye on tiny hands and feet. With a children’s train, kiddie rides, and children’s dining area, you can make a whole day out of your visit to Yorktown Center Mall.

Peppa Pig World of Play
5 Woodfield Mall
Schaumburg, IL 60173

Check out Katie’s review of Peppa Pig World of Play in Schaumburg.

Yu Kids Island
5 Woodfield Mall
Schaumburg, IL 60173
(847) 969-9000

A pillow pool, waterfall slide, and fenced in play-areas are perfect for your tiny visitor. Punchcards can be purchased, and discounted rates are offered on special days during the week. Check website for details.

Libraries to Visit with Babies and Toddlers

The libraries in the western suburbs are incredible for small children, and not just for the abundance of books. Puzzles, toys, puppet shows, and story time can fill your morning with literacy fun. Many libraries are bringing these items back out for families, so you may want to call ahead to see what’s available.

We asked our readers and rounded up the Best Libraries in the Western Suburbs. The best part is that you don’t need to be a resident to visit any of these libraries. Don’t forget your library card, as you may even be able to check out books from a neighboring library. Our favorites are the Downers Grove and Nichols Library Naperville branch.

Playgroups for Babies and Toddlers

Playgroups aren’t just for the kids. Check out these ideas for great ways that you can connect with other parents while your baby is learning to play.

  • Kohl’s Children’s Museum in Glenview has previously offered a Baby & Me group on Monday mornings for parents of kids up to 12 months old. Check their website for information about upcoming classes.
  • Hospitals sometimes offer parents’ groups for babies delivered there. Cradle Talk, for new parents who delivered at Edward Hospital in Naperville, is a great way for families to connect during the early stages of parenthood. Check your hospital, or ask your OBGYN, for a similar recommendation.
  • Places of worship often have playgroups for young families that are either held there or organized through them. Our list of churches with childcare during weekend services is the perfect starting point, as these churches already have the space and facilities to host young families.
  • We have also gathered up a great list of playgroups, mom groups, MOPs programs, and newcomers groups in the western suburbs!

Looking for ideas for older kids too?

Check out our Activities by Age page so you can find local places to go for preschoolers through kindergarteners, elementary school-aged kids, and tweens/teens!

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!

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  • Kidsworks in Frankfort has a dedicated section for toddlers, my grandchildren love the place, plenty of options for fantasy play

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