Families will find plenty to see and do in Chicago. Start by checking into one of the city’s family friendly hotels. One of the best is the centrally-located downtown Swisshotel, with a separate check-in desk for kids, value packages, and themed Kid’s Suites. The spacious suites, overlooking Lake Michigan, are loaded with kid gear and toys. Added bonus: kids eat free, too, at the hotel restaurant, check more details here.
Now, head for one (or all!) of these top 10 attractions, including Chicago’s world-class museums.
Museum of Science & Industry
One of the largest science museums in the world spreads across 14 acres, and includes top exhibits like the U-505 Submarine (take a tour inside the refurbished, real U-submarine boat), Toymaker 3000 (where kids can make their own toys), the Baby Chick Hatchery, and the new You! The Experience exhibit, with a high-tech, giant beating heart.
It’s Chicago’s number one paid attraction for good reason. Watch beluga whales, dolphins, penguins sea lions and otters in the newly-renovated Oceanarium. Take a trip to the Amazon to see piranhas, and crocodiles, and watch sea turtles, sharks and eels swim in the giant 90,000-gallon circular aquarium.
Kids and adults alike love bustling Navy Pier, featuring 50 acres of parks, boardwalks, gardens, shops and restaurants. Take a ride on the 15-story Ferris wheel, catch an IMAX movie, or catch a show at the Pepsi Skyline Stage.
Cool architecture, sculptures, fountains, street performers, and a slew of activities and events, make this a popular go-to spot in the city.
Lincoln Park Zoo
It’s free, it’s open 365 days a year, and it’s home to more than 1,200 animals. Visit the African Apes, Bear Habitat, Bird House, Penguin and Seabird House and the Lion House. There’s also a small petting zoo for younger kids.
Stroll among Africa’s mammals, from aardvarks to zebras, meet a gorilla, and check out the dazzling collection of jewels and rare gemstones in the recently-renovated Grainger Hall of Gems.
Art Institute of Chicago
They roll out a big welcome mat to families, with special tours, games, hands-on galleries, and kid-centric exhibits. Visit the Ryan Education Center where families can create their own art.
Who wouldn’t want to stand on top of the tallest building in the western hemisphere? Step into the high-speed elevator to zoom up 108 stories. Dare to stand out on the new Ledge, an all-glass box dangling 1,353 feet in the air.
America’s first planetarium features three theaters, and a variety of shows, like the Night Sky Live!, an in-depth journey through the cosmos, and 3D: Universe, a musical tour of the universe. In spring 2010, look for the new 8,000-sqaure-foot two-story rocket and space station.
Chicago Boat Tours
Take a one-hour cruise on the Chicago River, a Chicago Skyline tour on Lake Michigan, a land and water Duck Boat tour on a WWII amphibious vehicle, or a dinner and fireworks lake cruise.