Illinois
Family-friendly Activities

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Our most recommended Illinois Family-friendly Activities

Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

1. Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

Experience the views from the Centennial Wheel at the Historic Navy Pier in Chicago with this attraction ticket. Be suspended over Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River. Marvel at the Chicago skyline and gaze out over the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. Choose between two options: With the Regular Barcoded ticket, skip the ticket line and enter the line to board the wheel. The Fastpass Express ticket allows you to skip both lines, and gives you VIP access. Both tickets allow you to visit within 7 days of your scheduled ticket date. Enjoy the Centennial Wheel, which was built in 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Navy Pier opening. Featuring 42 gondolas, each holding 8 people, it operates year-round. They also feature LED lighting, padded seats, TV screens, and speakers, as well as panoramic windows on all 4 sides. A ride on the wheel gives you plenty of time to enjoy these panoramic views of Chicago as they unfold around you, and allows you to visit the top three times. Relax and take in the view, or get your camera out to snap pictures of the ever-changing Chicago landscape.

Chicago: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture River Cruise

2. Chicago: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture River Cruise

Admire Chicago’s impressive architecture from a unique perspective aboard a cruise sailing down the Chicago River, which features an indoor and outdoor deck, along with live commentary tailored to entertain the whole family. Treat yourself to a full-service cash bar at your own expense. Experience the best of the Chicago River from Lakeshore Drive to the Willis Tower, navigating along the South branch of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan. Be entertained by the fun and experienced tour guides as they explain the history behind Chicago’s buildings along the river and the exceptional architects who created this ever-changing skyline. Enjoy the most relaxing way to sightsee in Chicago, exploring the city free of traffic, noise, and congestion. Make sure to visit the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits. Explore the open-air decks that allow you to feel the cooling river breeze and see the city from many vantage points that provide perfect photo opportunities.

Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

3. Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

Enjoy an unrivaled view over the city of Chicago on a trip up the city's Willis Tower. This famous building, once known as the Sears Tower, is not only home to a Skydeck on the 103rd floor, but it also features The Ledge, a series of 4 glass-paneled boxes that extend out from the building's facade to give visitors a view straight down. As you wind through the ground levels of the Willis Tower, you will be surrounded by museum-quality exhibits highlighting the iconic tower. Learn about Chicago's rich history and culture through these informative visuals. Watch a video presentation, "Reaching for the Sky," where you will be briefed on the history of the building and of architecture in Chicago. Then step into your elevator and you will be amazed at how quickly it ascends. As you travel, your multimedia-equipped elevator will inform you about your vertical progress. Upon reaching the 103rd floor, step out onto the Skydeck, which offers views spanning over 50 miles and across 4 states. Then summon your courage to step out onto The Ledge, a glass balcony that hangs over the edge, for vertigo-inducing views 1,353 feet (about 412 meters) straight down to the city below! Download the Skydeck Mobile App for a free viewfinder which points out many of Chicago’s notable landmarks. Learn more about sights like Navy Pier, Wrigley Field, Grant Park, Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, and Field Museum of Natural History.

Chicago: 360 Chicago Observation Deck Skip-the-Line Ticket

4. Chicago: 360 Chicago Observation Deck Skip-the-Line Ticket

Marvel at the views from 1,000 feet over Chicago’s legendary Michigan Avenue with this ticket to the 360 CHICAGO observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center. Save time with skip-the-line access to this popular attraction. Head up to the 360 CHICAGO observation deck to take in breathtaking views of Chicago’s lakefront and view the city skyline from above. Take a peek at 4 neighboring states from this height. Feel the thrill of a 40-second ride in one of North America's fastest elevators to the observation deck to experience what 'Travel & Leisure Magazine' voted one of the best views in America. Get easy access to Chicago’s premier shopping and dining districts with 360 CHICAGO. Also, enjoy an interactive exhibit on the Ground Floor that highlights Chicago’s rich history and showcases 9 of the city’s culturally unique neighborhoods. Then, on the 94th floor, explore the history and architecture of the magnificent city stretched out before you with audio tours in 5 languages. If you wish, upgrade onsite to experience the Tilt. By purchasing this timed ticket, you get to skip the ticket desk and present your barcoded voucher to security to be scanned - you may have to wait in a short line at security, then head directly into the Ground Floor Exhibits, and then on to the Elevator Line.

Chicago: Lake Michigan Skyline Sightseeing Cruise

5. Chicago: Lake Michigan Skyline Sightseeing Cruise

Immerse yourself in the sights and learn about Chicago’s history and architecture during a cruise on Lake Michigan. Take advantage of skip-the-line entry privileges with a barcoded ticket that lets you proceed directly to the boarding line. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the city for the first time, taking in the spectacular views of Chicago's skyline from the lake makes for a perfect outing. You’ll see the city as never before while listening to commentary on Chicago's history and architectural gems. Simply hop on board, sit back, relax, and enjoy as you admire Chicago's most significant landmarks and striking buildings that make up the city's skyline that has appeared in so many movies and TV shows.

Chicago Lakefront: Seadog Speedboat Ride

6. Chicago Lakefront: Seadog Speedboat Ride

This half-hour Seadog Speedboat ride along Chicago’s lakefront is one of the best ways to view the city’s skyline while learning about the city. Combine an exciting speedboat ride with informative and amusing stories about the world-famous Windy City. As you depart Chicago's Navy Pier, your captain will tell you interesting facts about the pier and the lakefront as he cranks up the music and races to key lakefront landmarks. Stop near the picturesque lakefront park of the Chicago Museum campus, where you’ll learn about the architecture and history of Chicago. Admire views of the Magnificent Mile neighborhood, including the Buckingham Fountain, Sears Tower, Grant Park, and Chicago's largest shopping district. Listen to the thrilling sound of the turbo engines as you race around the Lake Michigan waterfront and back to the Navy Pier. Upgrade to the Extreme Thrill Ride Option and experience exhilarating speeds and full 360° spins. This jet-propelled ride blasts off to start and splashes down to stop. Experience full-throttle slalom runs, sharp twists and turns, and the raw power of Seadog Extreme's 1400 HP engines.

Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History Ticket or VIP Tour

7. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History Ticket or VIP Tour

Visit the Field Museum of Natural History, one of Chicago's great museums. With more than 35 world-renowned natural history exhibitions, there's something for everyone. Fuel your passion for discovery with dinosaurs, ancient artifacts, cultural insights, and groundbreaking science. Explore subterranean life in the Underground Adventure exhibit. Admire gemstones in the Hall of Gems and one of the largest collections of Chinese jade in North America in the Hall of Jades. Next, follow the stories of the Ice Age mammoth hunters and the temples of the Inca and Aztecs. Visit the Dinosaur Hall Evolving Planet exhibit to mingle with giant sloths, woolly mammoths, Sue, and Maximo. Upgrade to the All-Access Pass to see a 3-D movie and all 3 ticketed special exhibitions. Choose the Early Access VIP Tour option for a 1-hour VIP tour of the museum's dinosaurs before the museum opens to the general public. Take pictures with Sue or Maximo without the crowds. Then explore the rest of the museum with an all-access ticket including a 3D movie titled "Waking the T-Rex." If you want to see more, get a Discovery Pass to gain general admission to the museum as well as add one of their ticketed exhibitions or a 3D movie to your day. 

Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

8. Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

From your vantage point on the double-decker sightseeing bus, you'll enjoy panoramic views of Chicago’s finest skyscrapers, including the 875 N Michigan, the Willis Tower, and the Wrigley Building. Take in the city's impressive landmarks as your tour guide provides entertaining commentary and insight into Chicago's history. Enjoy exploring this dynamic city with the freedom to hop on and hop off as many times as you wish to visit attractions such as the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. You’ll travel down the famous Magnificent Mile, considered one of the great avenues of the world, and continue across the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River. The bridge connects the north and south sides of the city. This hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Chicago makes it easy for you to explore the city's sights at your own pace. There are 12 stops, where you can hop off to visit attractions and explore places of interest. The stops are conveniently located to make navigating your way around the city easy, and with a choice of 24- or 48-hour tickets, you can take your time discovering Chicago. With the 48-hour ticket, enjoy a non-stop panoramic sightseeing bus tour through Chicago at night too. Admire the illuminated skyline from the Museum Campus and see River North's vibrant nightlife scene. Take one loop from Michigan Avenue to the Magnificent Mile and the Cultural Mile. In addition, be sure to take advantage of admission to the Chicago Architecture Center, included if an appropriate option is selected, to dive deeper into the city that invented the skyscraper. So don't wait, just hop on an exciting journey through Chicago.

Chicago: Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise with Gourmet Meal

9. Chicago: Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise with Gourmet Meal

Discover Chicago's sparkling skyline from Lake Michigan on a sightseeing cruise. Savor a mouthwatering meal while listening to music played by a live DJ. Sip on unlimited coffee and tea while gazing out at sights like Navy Pier, Grant Park, and Willis Tower. Board the boat at Navy Pier and enjoy a personal greeting. Smile for the ship's photographer to capture the memory, then embark on an elegant dining cruise along the Chicago shoreline. After being seated at your private table, tuck into your gourmet brunch buffet or 3-course meal. Enjoy a creative meal prepared fresh by the onboard chef. Following your meal, dance to live music or relax on any of the 3 decks as you watch the skyscrapers of Chicago's distinctive skyline glide by.  Sample lunch and dinner menu: Starters (choice of one): Caesar Salad Lobster Bisque (dinner only) Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (dinner only, available for additional price) Seafood Tower (dinner only, available for additional price) 2.5oz 1/2 Lobster Tail (dinner only, available for additional price) Main course (choice of one): Jumbo Forest Mushroom Ravioli Oven-Baked Atlantic Salmon Filet Oven Roasted Frenched Chicken Breast with Rosemary and Thyme Braised Beef Short Rib Pan-Seared Fresh Pacific Cod (dinner only) 8 oz USDA Choice Filet Mignon (dinner only, available for additional price) 18 oz USDA Prime Striploin (dinner only, available for additional price) Two 5 oz Broiled Maine Lobster Tails (dinner only, available for additional price) Choice of dessert (choice of one): Eli's New York Style Cheesecake Duo of Sorbet Freshly Cut Fruit and Fresh Strawberries Triple Chocolate Mud Pie (dinner only) Odyssey Signature Warm Butter Cake (dinner only) French Macarons (dinner only, available for additional price) Champagne Chocolate Truffles (dinner only, available for additional price) Sample brunch buffet menu Early risers: Seasonal Fruit Breakfast Pastries Scottish Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs Breakfast Meats Breakfast Potatoes Build Your Own Belgian Waffle Station Late risers: Caesar Salad Shrimp and Farfalle Pasta Salad Potato Salad Roasted Cedar Plank Oregano Salmon Maple & Mustard Glazed Chicken Hand Carved Strip Loin, USDA Choice Desserts: Odyssey Signature Dessert Station Chocolate Fondue Menu items are subject to change.

Chicago: Gangsters and Ghosts 2-Hour Walking Tour

10. Chicago: Gangsters and Ghosts 2-Hour Walking Tour

See a different side of Chicago on a family-friendly guided tour and hear the tales of the ghosts that haunt the city. Explore the famous Chicago Loop district with interesting stories hidden behind each turn. Embark along the Chicago Loop, known as the vice district during the 1920s and 30s. See the places where gangsters such as Al Capone used to party, make deals, and carry out business. Visit haunted locations and old crime scenes led by historians. Stop at the Congress Hotel, Death Alley, and the Palmer House. Enjoy a refreshment along with way, with frequent stops and a restroom break.

Frequently asked questions about Illinois Family-friendly Activities

What are other things to do than Family-friendly Activities that are worth visiting in Illinois?

The other unmissable things to do in Illinois are:

Other Sightseeing Options in Illinois

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What people are saying about Illinois

The view is amazing. it wasn't too crowded but I didn't know the TILT wasn't included so I had to get it there, and I think we paid a lot more than it should be. Overall we had a great experience.

This pads not only saved us some $ but avoided the ticket line and got us to the front of the ride line in a fast track lane. Amazing. Highly recommend

Tour guide narrator was excellent. Extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. Duration of 45 minutes was perfect.

Once you have your pass, you can make the day your own. A nice variety of places to learn and explore.

Amazing. If you’re planning to see everything allow a full day. It is worth it.