101 Things to do with your Chicago Kid

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I am reposting this entry from March 1, 2010 because I came across it in my archives and it really is a pretty darn good list if I do say so myself. I’ve got to really focus if I want to get to all of these things before my kids head off to college. Time flies, huh? 

Would love to hear what you would add to the list of “must dos” for Chicago kids. 

—–Growing up in Chicago is pretty amazing. I should know. I grew up here and now I am watching my kids have a blast doing the same things that I did plus a whole lot more.

That is basically why I started writing this blog. I wanted to focus on all of the incredible opportunities for families in Chicago that just don’t exist elsewhere.

I know that we are all busy and it is easy to get stuck in a rut. So I thought that it might be helpful to have a list of some of the absolute must-do activities for your Chicago kid.

This list could be called “1001 Things to do with your Chicago Kid.” I know that I haven’t listed every great event or activity. So chime in and let me know what we should add to this list-in-progress.

1.  Eat deep dish pizza.
2.  Go to a Bears game.
3.  Go to a Blackhawks game.
4.  Go to a Bulls game.
5.  Go to a Cubs game . . .
6.  And then go to a White Sox game and let your child choose which team HE prefers.
7.  Go to the Adler Planetarium.
8.  Visit the Shedd Aquarium.
9.  Listen to the blues.
10.  Make lots and lots of visits to the Museum of Science and Industry to see all of the same exhibits that were there when you were a kid (the baby chicks, the trains) and all of the ever-changing temporary exhibits.
11.  Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo.
12.  And the Brookfield Zoo.
13.  Go for a walk in the forest preserves.
14.  Sled down Cricket Hill.
15.  Go to the top of the Sears Tower.
16.  And check out the Hancock Observatory too.
17.  Visit the Field Museum.
18.  Take a boat ride on Lake Michigan.
19.  Do all of the “touristy” activities at Navy Pier (i.e. ride that ferris wheel!).
20.  Visit the Chicago Children’s Museum.
21.  And check out the Kohl’s Children’s Museum in Glenview for a change of pace.
22.  Visit the Garfield Park Conservatory.
23.  Check out the orchids at the Lincoln Park Conservatory.
24.  Spend a day at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.
25.  Take in a concert at Ravinia.
26.  Behold the beauty of the Morton Arboretum.
27.  Enjoy an outdoor concert at Millennium Park.
28.  Check out the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.
29.  Ice Skate in Millennium Park (don’t forget about the obligatory hot chocolate post-skate!).
30.  Splash in the lake.
31.  Have a picnic on the lakefront.
32.  Cruise up and down the lakefront bike path.
33.  Eat a Chicago hot dog.
34.  Take a boat ride on the Chicago River.
35.  Eat in Greek Town.
36.  Eat in China Town.
37.  Have a delicious meal in Little Italy.
38.  Shop the Magnificent Mile.
39.  Splash in the fountain at Millennium Park.
40.  Dig out of the snow together (and save your parking spot with a piece of patio furniture!).
41.  Take a taxi ride.
42.  Check out the treasures at the Art Institute.
43.  Ride the “l” train.
44.  Attend an event at the United Center.
45.  Check out the many, many playgrounds and parks all over town.
46.  Take advantage of a free Chicago Park District event.
47.  Attend a performance at the Joffrey Ballet.
48.  Expand your horizons at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
49.  Listen to a symphony.
50.  See an opera.
51.  Eat an “Italian beef.”
52.  Spend a summer morning at the Green City Market.
53.  Go to the Harold Washington Library for story time.
54.  Visit the Chicago History Museum.
55.  Take in a production by one of the city’s many excellent children’s theater companies.
56.  Learn more about Illinois’ favorite son — Abe Lincoln.
57.  Learn about the Great Chicago Fire.
58.  See the city by trolley.
59.  Visit the Chicago Water Tower.
60.  Check out the campuses of Chicago’s colleges and universities (University of Chicago, DePaul, Loyola, Northwestern, etc.).
61.  Take advantage of the small, family-owned ethnic grocery shops around town.
62.  Watch the start of the Macinaw Sailboat Race.
63.  Spot a local celebrity (“Look, Oprah!).
64.  Check out City Hall.
65.  Watch the lighting of the City’s Christmas Tree.
66.  Ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
67.  Attend the Taste of Chicago (burp).
68.  Fly a kite.
69.  Make a drive up to Lake Geneva and see what is going on in Wisconsin.
70.  Drive across the Sky Way Bridge to Indiana.
71.  Check out Buckingham Fountain.
72.  Introduce yourselves to the lions at the Art Institute (ideally when they are wearing their holiday wreaths).
73.  Have tea at the Drake Hotel.
74.  Drive up and down Lake Shore Drive on a beautiful sunny day.
75.  Watch The Blues Brothers movie.
76.  Fly out of both Midway and O’Hare airports.
77.  Learn about lake effect snow.
78.  Visit the rose garden in Grant Park.
79.  Sit on the beach and look at the skyline.
80.  Take the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour.
81.  Go on the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour in Oak Park.
82.  Go to Great America.
83.  Get dirty at the Edible Garden in the Farm in the Zoo.
84.  Take a class or hear a concert at the Old Town School of Music.
85.  Watch the Air and Water Show.
86.  Play beach volleyball at North Avenue Beach.
87.  Check out the Christmas displays in the windows at Macy’s (it is not the same as Marshall Fields, I know)
88.  Ride a CTA bus.
89.  Check out the various famous statues around town (and figure out
why Grant is in Lincoln Park and Lincoln is in Grant Park).
90.  Catch a game at Wrigley from a rooftop.
91.  See a show at the Chicago Theater.
92.  Visit the state capitol (and prepare yourself for one boring drive).
93.  Catch a local collegiate sports team in action (“Go Blue Demons!”).
94.  See a musical.
95.  Visit the DuSable Museum of African American History
96.  See your reflections in “The Bean” at Millennium Park.
97.  Volunteer to help someone in your Chicago neighborhood who needs a hand.
98.  See the city by double decker bus!
99. Visit the National Museum of Mexican Art.
100. Teach your child to have pride in all of the things that are great about Chicago.
101. Talk to your child about all of the things that we can do to
improve the quality of life for the next generation of Chicagoans.

So how did I do?  Tell me what you would add to this list.

Filed under: Adler Planetarium, Air and Water Show, appreciating art, Art Institute of Chicago, baseball, Blogapalooza, Boats, Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago Children's Museum, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Children's theater, Christmas, Concerts, Edible Garden, Field Museum, Fourth of July celebrations, Garfield Park Conservatory, Green City Market, horse-drawn carriage rides, Ice skating, kid's music, Kohl's Children's Museum, Lake Michigan, Lincoln Park Zoo, MIchigan Avenue, Millennium Park, Morton Arboretum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Science and Industry, Navy Pier, Peggy Notebaert Natuer Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Taste of Chicago, The Best Kind of Fun is Free, Wrigley Field

Tags: a boat ride on Lake Michigan, Abe Lincoln, Adler Planetarium, an outdoor concert at Millennium Park, Brookfield Zoo, Buckingham Fountain, catch a game at Wrigley from a rooftop, Chicago Botanic Gardens, Chicago Children's Museum, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Park District, Chicago Theater, Chicago Water Tower, China Town, Cricket Hill, DePaul, eat a Chicago hot dog, Field Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour in Oak Park, Garfield Park Conservatory, Get dirty at the Edible Garden in the Farm in the Zoo, Go to Great American, Grant Park, Greek Town, Green City Market, Harold Washington Library, Ice Skate in Millennium Park, Joffrey Ballet, Kohl's Children's Museum, l, Lake Shore Drive, Lincoln Park Conservatory, Lincoln Park Zoo, Little Italy, Loyola, Macinaw Sailboat Race, Midway and O'Hare airports, Millennium Park, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Science and Industry, Navy Pier, Northwestern, Old Town School of Music, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Play beach volleyball at North Avenue Beach, Ravinia, Ride a CTA bus, Sears Tower, Take the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour, Taste of Chicago, tea at the Drake Hotel, The Art Institute, The Bean, The Blues Brothers movie, The Chicago River, the Great Chicago Fire, the Hancock Observatory, the lions at the Art Institute, The Magnificent Mile, The Morton Arboretum, the Shedd Aquarium, the United Center, University of Chicago, Watch the Air and Water Show


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  • What a great list! It's something to have handy when people ask us when we're moving to the suburbs.

    I like that you included food stuff. I'm excited to raise my kid eating hummus all over albany park, vegan food from the korean place on n. milwaukee ave, and burritos just about everywhere.

    I'd also add the maple syrup festival at North Park Village!

  • I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Maple Syrup event! I have the calendar marked. We will be there. An excellent addition! Thanks Shylo.

  • Even as an adult, the Museum of Science & Industry is one of my favorite places to visit in Chicago!

  • Wow! How long did that take?

  • In reply to MarcusLeshock:

    Hi Marcus,

    The post didn't take all that long. Notice lack of what would be incredibly time-consuming links though. Just didn't have that in me!

  • In reply to MarcusLeshock:

    #93: Go Blue Devils? Last time I checked the Blue Devils played in North Carolina. DePaul's nickname is the Blue Demons. Are you sure you grew up in Chicago, or are you really a suburban kid who claims Chicago as her own.

  • In reply to MarcusLeshock:

    My mistake. Thanks for pointing it out.

    For the record, I grew up in Oak Park and have lived in Chicago full-time for the past 11 years. Am I able to "claim Chicago as my own" based on those credentials?

  • In reply to caitlingiles:

    I'll let it slide, at least it butts up to us. It's not as bad as somebody from Hoffman Estates or LaGrange, etc. telling people that they're a Chicagoan. Pretty decent list by the way, although you left off the Chicago street festivals. Finally, I wholeheartedly disagree with no. 6...I will decide which baseball team my son roots for. I would seriously become violently ill if he were to walk into the house wearing a Sox cap and quoting annoying Hawk-isms.

  • In reply to cubnut:

    Chicago Street Festivals are a great addition to the list.

    Totally not going to get into it with you over the Cubs/Sox thing.

  • In reply to cubnut:

    -Wagner Farm in Glenview
    -Freedom Museum
    -sculptures and public art--both downtown and other places, like the Sculpture Park along McCormick north of Devon
    -get involved with a neighborhood garden project
    -and you forgot to include a Chicago Fire game!

  • In reply to noholzbarred:

    Thanks for the additions. I thought that the Freedom Museum shut its actual doors and just offered online content now. Am I wrong about this?

    I've never been to a Chicago Fire game myself so that is on my own list of things to do.

  • In reply to noholzbarred:

    Yay on Lake Geneva! My mother-in-law runs a Bed & Breakfast there (quick plug: Maria's Bed And Breakfast :) so we're up there at least once a month. SOOOO pretty!

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