Shout-out to all my fellow parents-of-preschoolers out there. From potty training to preschool, our little people have a lot going on! They’re growing, learning, and trying new things . . . and we’re just trying to keep up. Luckily for us and our preschool-age kids, the western suburbs are bursting with things to do with 3–5 year olds.
Things to Do with Preschoolers in the Western Suburbs
Indoor Activities for Three- to Five-Year-Olds
- Children’s museums are a big hit with this age range. In our area, we’ve got the DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville, the Wonder Works Children’s Museum in Oak Park, and the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn.
- Regular museums can be lots of fun, too (and there are even some great museum free days). The Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium are particular favorites for this age range.
- Indoor playgrounds and play spaces are so much fun for preschoolers! Check out our readers’ choices for the 10 best indoor playgrounds and play spaces, plus all of the indoor play areas in the west suburbs.
- A $1 summer kids movie is a great, low-stakes way to introduce kids to the movie theater experience. It’s a more relaxed environment, and if they don’t last the whole time, it’s no big.
- Head to a gymnastics open gym to tumble out those wiggles.
- Indoor pools offering family swim times let your family stop in for a splash. The Oak Brook Park District Family Aquatic Center in particular has a fun splash playground for this age range.
- Indoor water parks are tons of fun. Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort in Utica, IL and Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark in Lake Geneva both have great play areas for the preschool set.
- Around the holidays, the Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party at the Chicago Children’s Theatre is an adorable first live performance experience (with cookies!) for kids and is recommended for ages 2 to 6.
- Preschoolers are notorious for bouncing off the walls, so . . . let them bounce! Some locations, such as Sky Zone Elmhurst, have special “toddler times” for kids 6 and under. (If you’ve ever had a preteen perform an incredible back-flip right into your three-year-old, you know why that’s a good idea.)
Outdoor Activities for Preschoolers
- Nature centers are a great starting point for an outdoor adventure with preschoolers. You can get advice on kid-friendly trails and take a potty break before heading out! Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Bolingbrook is a great choice for preschoolers, with interactive exhibits inside and an outdoor play area.
- Even if you’re not a member, these outdoor pools with day passes let your family practice cannonballs all afternoon. Pro tip: the tot area at Cypress Cove opens early on weekdays for little ones to play in the splash pad at a discount.
- Minor league games are perfect for preschoolers with pre-game activities, cheap concessions, and more. The Kidlist team went to a Cougars game recently and had a blast. We love the Chicago Dogs Family Sundays, too!
- Splash pads and spray parks are great choices for kids who can’t swim solo just yet. Some are even fenced in (such as the splash park at Maryknoll Park in Glen Ellyn and the Ty Warner Park Spray Park in Westmont).
- We’ve got so many water parks and beaches in our area! Check out Meghan’s family trip to Glencoe Beach for inspiration.
- Explore the 10 best parks and playgrounds on Kidlist! The Sensory Garden Playground in Lisle, Harvester Park in Burr Ridge (pictured below), and Darien Community Playground are all crowd favorites for 3- to 5-year-olds.
- Farmers markets make for a great family outing with preschoolers. Go early to avoid the crowds and heat. My little one feels especially proud when he gets to help pick out a funny-looking new veggie or handle ordering the donuts!
- In the fall, a trip to pick apples or choose a prize from the pumpkin patch is a fun outing for preschoolers. Many spots have activities, too. They’re also less spooky than some of the other seasonal goings-on!
- The Morton Arboretum in Lisle has an amazing Children’s Garden. Bring water shoes and a change of clothes!
- Brookfield Zoo is a huge local attraction and offers tons of fun for kids. It’s definitely an outing! The Hamill Family Play Zoo offers a bit of a respite for younger visitors, and the extra admission is free from January through February and November through December (as of publish date).
- Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora is a little free zoo with a splash pad and playground! Check out Katie’s tips from her trip with her 2- and 4-year-old daughters.
- Cosley Zoo in Wheaton is another smaller zoo with Illinois wildlife. Kids are free; if you don’t live in Wheaton, you’ll pay $7 per adult. It’s my personal favorite for little kids; check out tips from my trip with my family.
- Kids learn best when they’re moving! Safety villages and safety towns give kids a chance to practice their street-safety smarts in pint-sized environs.
Local Preschools and Kids Day Out Programs
Of course, as parents of preschoolers, we’re also thinking about . . . preschool! Kidlist’s preschool and daycare guide is an amazing resource, and I’m not just saying that because it’s Kidlist — I used it just a couple months ago to help find a preschool for my oldest to start in the fall.
We also update our preschool open house guide every year to help simplify the search. Most open houses are held in November and January.
Not quite ready for preschool? Kids Day Out programs are a fantastic way to help kids test their independence, practice social skills, and get used to drop-off. KDO has been a life-saver for our family!
Classes for Preschoolers
We’ve got a whole guide to classes for little kids 5 and under! It’s full of great options for young kids, and each class option lists the starting age, too. Handy, right?
Your local park district is another great resource for classes. Often, park district classes give kids a taste of a new activity or sport for just the season — which is great for fickle preschoolers.
Events for Preschoolers
The Kidlist Events Calendar is updated all the time by our amazing event contributor, Andria, as well as local park districts and businesses that submit their goings-on. Bookmark it!
Need More Fun Ideas for Preschoolers?
You’ll want to sign up for our Kidlist email updates. You’ll get the latest activities, advice, resources, and more, all written by real, local parents (here are our faces!) and full of family fun.
Let’s keep the ideas rolling in the comments! Let us know your favorite spot for the preschool-age crowd below.
Looking for ideas for another age group?
We have a main page that has all of our articles about Activities by Age so you can find local places to go for every age range.