Things To Do in Chicago with Teens In 2024

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If you have teens in your family, you owe it to yourself and them to schedule a trip to Chicago soon.  There are so many fun things to do in Chicago. It’s one of the most popular cities in America to visit, especially for families.

Check out our list of the best things to do in Chicago with teens in 2024.

Use our list to plan your next family adventure. It includes some of Chicago’s more well-known sights and attractions as well as some hidden gems. 

SHEDD Aquarium

jellyfish at SHEDD Aquarium in Chicago

One of the largest indoor Aquariums in the world, SHEDD Aquarium will impress you and your teen. Check out the divers in SHEDD’s Caribbean Reef, which offers a 360-degree view of an underwater reef community. They have penguins. They have dolphins. They have a giant octopus. They have the biggest (and creepiest) spider crabs you’ve ever seen. The SHEDD Aquarium will show you creatures you didn’t even know existed!

  • Address: 1200 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
  • Operating hours: 9 AM – 5 PM (times may vary)
  • Phone: (312) 939-2438
  • Website: sheddaquarium.org
  • Instagram: @shedd_aquarium

Museum of Science & Industry

The U-505 Submarine at The Museum of Science & Industry

The Museum of Science & Industry is insane. It’s huge (over 400,000 square feet) and covers anything and everything science-related. It features a U-505 Submarine, a baby chick hatchery, virtual reality exhibits, and a massive model railroad. Make sure to check out “You: The Experience” and “The Science behind Pixar Films” exhibits. The entire museum is a lesson on how to create hands-on experiences that make learning fun. There’s also a five-story dome movie theater at the Museum of Science & Industry. Any trip to Chicago with teens must include a stop at the Museum of Science & Industry.

  • Address: 5700 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637
  • Operating hours: [9:30] AM – 4 PM (times may vary)
  • Phone: (773) 684-1414
  • Website: msichicago.org
  • Instagram: @msichicago

Tilt

Located on the 360 Chicago Observation Deck in the John Hancock Building, Tilt provides a little more thrill than the normal observation deck experience. Basically, you lean up against a glass wall, and then the wall tilts out 30 degrees, giving you one of the best views in Chicago at over 1000 feet high. The most terrifying part is the fact that the operator only tilts you out 10 degrees to start, stops you for a second, and then keeps going. You can feel your whole body tense up as you hit that sudden stop. If you and your teens aren’t up to the challenge, it’s just as fun to watch other people freak out. However you choose to experience the observation deck, the spectacular views of Chicago are well worth the elevator trip up 94 floors. 

  • Address: 875 N Michigan Ave 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611
  • Operating hours: 9 AM – 11 PM (times may vary)
  • Phone: (888) 875-8439
  • Website: 360chicago.com/tilt
  • Instagram: @360chicago

Navy Pier

Navy Pier and Chicago skyline

Navy Pier is probably the most popular tourist destination in Chicago. Located along the Lake Michigan shore, Navy Pier combines amusement rides, a museum, restaurants, shopping, dinner cruises, gardens, and more for one of the most unique spots within the city. Navy Pier is home to Centennial Wheel, a huge Ferris wheel standing over 200 feet tall. Centennial Wheel is open all year (weather permitting) and offers unbelievable views of Chicago.

  • Address: 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
  • Operating hours: 10 AM – 8 PM (times may vary)
  • Phone: (800) 595-7437
  • Website: navypier.org
  • Instagram: @navypierchicago

Field Museum

Maximo at the Field Museum in Chicago

The Field Museum is one of Chicago’s premier destinations for those interested in natural history and anthropology. Located on the Museum Campus along Lake Michigan, it houses an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits ranging from ancient Egyptian tombs to the bones of dinosaurs, including the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex named Sue. Its interactive displays and educational programs make it a favorite for families and history enthusiasts alike.

  • Address: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
  • Operating hours: 9 AM – 5 PM, last admission at 4 PM (times may vary)
  • Phone: (312) 922-9410
  • Website: fieldmuseum.org
  • Instagram: @fieldmuseum
Top Pick
Field Museum of Natural History

Delve deep into the world of natural history with this Field Museum admission ticket in Chicago. Spend as long as you like exploring the museum's collection of more than 26 million artifacts. Get to know SUE, the world's largest T. Rex, or stroll through the sparkling Hall of Gems. Time travel through 13,000 years of history in the Americas, from the Ice Age to Inca and Aztec temples. Take advantage of the free daily tours, led by Field Museum docents.

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Adler Planetarium

Planetarium show at Adler Planetarium in Chicago

Located at the eastern end of Chicago’s Museum Campus, Adler Planetarium connects people to the universe and each other under the sky they all share. As America’s first planetarium, it offers immersive sky shows, exhibitions about the history and future of astronomy, and space science. It’s a gateway to the stars, inviting visitors to explore the cosmos in a hands-on, interactive way.

  • Address: 1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
  • Operating hours: 9 AM – 4 PM (times may vary)
  • Phone: (312) 922-7827
  • Website: adlerplanetarium.org
  • Instagram: @adlerplanet

Magnificent Mile

If your teens like to shop, there are few places on the planet they will enjoy more than the Magnificent Mile. The Magnificent Mile is a one-mile stretch of North Michigan Avenue right through the heart of Chicago that is lined with shops, flagship stores, boutiques, malls, and restaurants. Basically, any store a teenager would be interested in is located along the Magnificent Mile. Chicago is the place to be for great shopping, and it all starts on the Magnificent Mile. 

SkyDeck at Willis Tower

Skydeck Chicago
View looking down through the floor of Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower

Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower, is a 110-story building right in the heart of Chicago. It was the tallest building in the world until 1998. Now it is the 8th highest in the world and the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. The SkyDeck, however, is what sets Willis Tower apart from other tall buildings. The Skydeck is an observation deck located on the 103rd floor of Willis Tower. You can see four states from the SkyDeck. You can also see straight down 1,353 feet, thanks to what they call “The Ledge”. The Ledge is made up of glass boxes that extend out from the SkyDeck over 4 feet. The floor is glass as well, which provides you with one of the scariest moments of your life if you dare look down. They say the glass is 

  • Address: 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606
  • Operating hours: 9 AM – 10 PM (times may vary)
  • Phone: (312) 875-9447
  • Website: theskydeck.com
  • Instagram: @skydeckchicago
Top Pick
Skydeck Chicago

Visit the Skydeck, located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) with this pre-paid admission ticket. From the highest point in the city, look out on Chicago's skyline for panoramic views of the sprawling Windy City. Peruse the interactive displays and exhibits showcasing Chicago's history, which are geared toward curious learners of all ages. Then walk out on to the Ledge, a glass balcony that allows views of Navy Pier and Wrigley Field from one of the world's tallest buildings, standing 1,353 feet (412.4 meters) tall.

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Cloud Gate at Millennium Park

A teen boy standing in front of Cloud Gate

Its real name is Cloud Gate, but it’s more affectionately known as The Bean. Cloud Gate was created by British artist Anish Kapoor. There’s nothing like it, and you haven’t truly visited Chicago if you haven’t taken a selfie in front of the Bean. The rest of Millennium Park is worth the visit as well, but it’s hard to compete with a 110-ton sculpture that looks like it’s from another world.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the largest and oldest art museums in the United States. Featuring over 300,000 pieces of artwork, the Art Institute is a massive museum and perfect for any art-loving teenager to visit. It is home to artwork from some of the most famous artists in history, like Van Gogh, Cassatt, Seurat, and Picasso. The Art Institute also makes a cameo in one of the most famous scenes in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

  • Address: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
  • Operating hours: 11 AM – 5 PM (times may vary)
  • Phone: (312) 443-3600
  • Website: artic.edu
  • Instagram: @artinstitutechi

iFLY Indoor Skydiving

Experience the thrill of skydiving without having to jump out of an airplane at iFLY Indoor Skydiving. This state-of-the-art facility provides a safe and controlled environment where visitors can float on a column of air, simulating the free-fall aspect of skydiving. Professional instructors guide participants through the process, making it an exhilarating activity for all ages and experience levels.

  • Address: 800 W Scott St, Chicago, IL 60610
  • Operating hours: Hours vary; check the website for current schedule
  • Phone: (779) 368-4359
  • Website: iflyworld.com/lincoln-park
  • Instagram: @iflyus
Top Pick
Chicago-Lincoln Park Indoor Skydiving

Feel the rush of skydiving without going anywhere near a plane, with this indoor skydiving experience in Chicago. Start off with thorough training so you feel confident and know what to expect. Then, enjoy two 60-second ‘free fall’ experiences in a technologically advanced vertical wind tunnel, which feels much like real skydiving. No experience is necessary, and your instructor will give you hands-on assistance when you need.


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Lucky Strike Bowling

Lucky Strike Bowling offers a modern and upscale bowling experience in the heart of Chicago. It’s not just about bowling; it’s about enjoying a lively atmosphere with great music, gourmet food, and a wide selection of drinks. With its chic decor and state-of-the-art lanes, Lucky Strike is the perfect place for a fun night out with friends or family.

    Grant Park

    Grant Park is known as Chicago’s front yard, offering sprawling green spaces, stunning gardens, and iconic attractions like Buckingham Fountain. Located in the heart of the city, it’s a communal hub for festivals, concerts, and leisurely strolls, providing a serene escape amidst the urban landscape. The park’s scenic paths and picturesque views of the city skyline and Lake Michigan make it a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.

    • Address: 331 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601
    • Operating hours: 6 AM – 11 PM (times may vary)
    • Phone: (312) 742-3918
    • Website: Grant Park
    • Instagram: @chicagoparks

    Chicago Architecture Boat Tour

    One of the coolest activities from our last trip to Chicago was doing one of the city’s boat tours. There are several tours available of varying lengths and scopes. Chicago is blessed with absolutely incredible architecture. Taking an architecture boat cruise is one of the best ways to get unobstructed views of Chicago’s massive skyscrapers and other city landmarks and attractions.

    Top Pick
    90-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour

    Discover the architectural gems of the Windy City from an ideal vantage point on a cruise down the Chicago River. Offered several times throughout the day, it’s easy to fit the leisurely excursion into your itinerary. Covering more than 130 years of architectural history, the tour is the perfect opportunity to see a huge area of the city without the hassle of taxis and public transit.

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    Lincoln Park

    Lincoln Park, Chicago’s largest public park, is an oasis of tranquility and natural beauty. It stretches along the lakefront and is home to the free Lincoln Park Zoo, conservatories, and numerous statues and monuments. Its lush landscapes, sports fields, and beaches offer a variety of recreational opportunities, making it a favorite spot for families, joggers, and nature lovers.

    • Address: 500-5700 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60614
    • Operating hours: 6 AM – 11 PM (times may vary)
    • Phone: (312) 742-7726
    • Website: Lincoln Park
    • Instagram: @chicagoparks

    Bobby’s Bike Hike

    Bobby’s Bike Hike offers a unique and engaging way to explore the city of Chicago. As one of the city’s premier guided bike and walking tour providers, Bobby’s Bike Hike takes visitors through the historic streets, vibrant neighborhoods, and scenic paths of Chicago. With a variety of tours available, ranging from the Lakefront Neighborhoods Tour to the Bikes, Bites, and Brews Tour, there’s an adventure for everyone, whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or just looking for a leisurely ride.

    • Address: 540 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611
    • Operating hours: Vary by season and tour; check the website for current schedules
    • Phone: (312) 245-9300
    • Website: bobbysbikehike.com
    • Instagram: @bobbysbikehike

    Chicago Sports

    View of the pitching mound at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

    Chicago is a city with a rich sports history and passionate fans. From the Cubs at Wrigley Field and the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field to the Bears and Chicago Sky at Soldier Field and the Bulls and Blackhawks at the United Center, there’s almost always a game to catch. Each venue offers a unique atmosphere, and attending a live event provides a glimpse into the city’s love for its teams.

    Lake Michigan Activities

    Two kayakers on the Chicago River

    Lake Michigan’s vast expanse offers a variety of activities along Chicago’s shoreline. From relaxing on the beaches and picnicking in the parks to kayaking, paddleboarding, and boat tours, there’s something for everyone. The lake provides a beautiful backdrop for a day of adventure or relaxation, with stunning views of the city skyline.

    Here are some specific spots where you can enjoy these activities:

    • North Avenue Beach: One of Chicago’s most popular beaches, North Avenue Beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and volleyball. It’s also a great spot for paddleboarding and kayaking. 
    • Montrose Beach: This beach is known for its more laid-back vibe and is a favorite among locals. It’s also a good spot for bird watching.
    • 31st Street Beach: Known for its beautiful harbor, this beach is great for families and offers stunning views of the Chicago skyline.
    • Kayak Chicago: Offering kayak rentals and tours, it’s an excellent option for exploring Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

    Each of these locations provides a unique way to experience Lake Michigan and the beauty of Chicago’s lakefront. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, you’ll find it here.

    Maggie Daley Park

    Millennium Park and Cloud Gate get all the love, but Maggie Daley Park is well worth the short walk on the pedestrian bridge that connects the two parks. Honestly, it wasn’t until my second trip to Millennium Park that I ventured far enough over to spot Maggie Daley Park. I can’t believe I missed it, seeing that it is a 20-acre park filled with climbing walls, mini-golf, playgrounds, tennis courts, huge gardens, and an ice skating ribbon.

    Chicago Riverwalk

    Restaurants and boats along Chicago Riverwalk

    Running along the south bank of the Chicago River, the Riverwalk is one of the hippest spots in Chicago. The Riverwalk is over a mile long and filled with restaurants, beautiful scenery, artwork, and walkways, and even features a museum. There is plenty of activity along the river, too, with kayaking, fishing, boat tours, bike rentals, and more. Teens will love all the options in this wondering scenic area of the Windy City.

    Where To Eat In Chicago With Teens

    Stan’s Donuts

    A half dozen box of donuts from Stan's Donuts

    You can’t go wrong with donuts, and Chicago has a rich donut tradition. Stan’s Donuts is one of the best. This historic donut shop started in Los Angeles, California in 1963, and after a partnership with Chicago’s Labriola Baking Company, Stan’s made its way to Chicago in 2014.  Tons of flavors, from the standard glazed to the insane Dreamsicle Bar. With locations all over Chicago, Stan’s Donuts is always close enough to warrant a stop.

    Chicago Pizza

    A deep dish pizza from Giordano's in Chicago

    It’s almost a given as a tourist to get Deep Dish Pizza during a trip to Chicago. The city has plenty of options. Full disclosure, we’ve only eaten at Giordano’s. But plenty of pie shops are known for their deep dish delights including Lou Malnati’s, Bartoli’s, My Pi, Pequod’s, and Labriola.

    Of course, deep dish pizza is not what real Chicagoans eat. Check out spots like Pat’s Pizza, Vito & Nick’s, Italian Fiesta Pizzeria, and Candelite Chicago, for authentic Chicago pizza loved by locals (let me know which pizza shops I missed).

    Portillo’s

    Known for their Chicago-style hot dogs and their Italian beef, Portillo’s is a fast-casual-style restaurant with locations all over the city and beyond. What started as a simple hot dog stand in the city has turned into a franchise that was sold for 1 billion dollars in 2014. Chicagoans take their hot dogs and Italian beef very seriously, and while there are many other great places in town, Portillo’s makes our list. Just make sure you don’t put ketchup on your hot dog.

    Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe

    A teen eating breakfast at Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe

    My youngest son and I stumbled upon Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe and it could be one of the best accidents ever. It was easily the best breakfast of the trip. We ended up ordering way too much, especially for a day filled with activities around the city. But it was well worth it. The cinnamon roll pancakes were a smash hit with my son, but the whole menu is worth a look.

    Garrett Popcorn Shops

    Garrett Popcorn Shops have been a Chicago tradition since 1949, offering handcrafted popcorn in a variety of flavors. Their signature blend of CaramelCrisp and CheeseCorn, known as the Garrett Mix, is a must-try for any visitor. Stop by one of their many locations across the city to experience why their gourmet popcorn has been a beloved treat for generations.

    Chicago Food Halls

    Chicago’s food halls offer a diverse culinary experience under one roof, showcasing a mix of local chefs and global cuisines. From Revival Food Hall in the Loop to Time Out Market in Fulton Market, these bustling hubs are perfect for foodies looking to sample a variety of dishes. They’re also great gathering spots for groups with different tastes.

    Chicago Food Tours

    Chicago Food Tours provide a delicious way to explore the city’s culinary delights and learn about its rich food culture. Whether you’re a pizza lover, a connoisseur of gourmet treats, or someone looking to explore the city’s sweet side, there’s a tour for you.

    • Chicago Pizza Tours: Dive deep into Chicago’s pizza scene with tours dedicated to this beloved dish. These tours take you through different neighborhoods, sampling various styles from deep-dish to tavern-style thin crust. Learn about the history and unique qualities of Chicago pizza while tasting some of the best pies the city has to offer.
    • Chicago Food Tours: This comprehensive tour takes you through some of Chicago’s most iconic and delicious neighborhoods. Experience a variety of flavors, from classic Chicago dishes to international cuisine, all while learning about the city’s culinary history and culture.
    • Underground Donut Tour: Satisfy your sweet tooth on this tour focused entirely on donuts. Visit some of Chicago’s best donut shops, sample a variety of flavors, and learn about the craft of donut making. It’s a fun and indulgent way to explore the city.

    For each of these tours, you’ll enjoy not just great food but also stories about the neighborhoods, the food, and the people who make it. It’s a tasty way to learn about Chicago and its diverse culinary scene.

    Top Pick
    Chicago Pizza Tour

    Enjoy Chicago’s only bus guided neighborhood pizza tour. Eat like a local as you travel off the beaten path into Chicago neighborhoods to savor the best pizza. Your local guide will teach you the science behind ingredient selection and baking as you sample slices from historic pizzerias. In just a few hours, you’ll leave stuffed, and with an understanding of why pizza is such an important part of Chicago’s culture.

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    Billy Goat Tavern

    The sign inside the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago

    Billy Goat Tavern is a Chicago institution, made famous by the “Cheezborger, Cheezborger, Cheezborger” sketch on Saturday Night Live. This legendary dive bar and grill has been serving up burgers and beers since 1934. With its quirky atmosphere and history of celebrity visitors, it’s a fun and casual spot to enjoy a classic Chicago meal. This was one of the best surprises of our last Chicago adventure.

    • Address: 430 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
    • Operating hours: 6 AM – 2 AM (times may vary)
    • Phone: (312) 222-1525
    • Website: billygoattavern.com
    • Instagram: @cheezborger

    Where to Stay in Chicago with Teens

    There’s no shortage of family-friendly accommodation options in Chicago. We’ve had the opportunity to stay at several top hotels around Chicago. The best place to stay depends on the areas you plan to visit during your trip. Chicago is a major metropolitan with hundreds of hotels spread across the city’s neighborhoods. Below are some of our favorite options for select areas in Chicago: 

    Bucktown/Wicker Park

    •  Hyatt Place Chicago Wicker Park
    • The Robey

    Chicago Loop 

    • citizenM Chicago Downtown
    • Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown Riverwalk
    • Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago
    • Hyatt Regency Chicago
    • Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago
    • Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago
    • theWit Chicago – A Hilton Hotel

    Gold Coast

    • Hilton Chicago/Magnificent Mile Suites
    • Sonesta ES Suites Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile

    Hyde Park

    • Best Western Plus Hyde Park Chicago Hotel
    • Hyatt Place Chicago-South/University Medical Center

    Lakeview

    • Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace Hotel
    • Hotel Zachary Chicago, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

    Lincoln Park

    • Hotel Lincoln
    • Hotel Versey

    Magnificent Mile

    • Hyatt Centric Chicago Magnificent Mile
    • Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile

    River North

    • Aloft Chicago Downtown River North
    • Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown River North
    • Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown River North
    • Freehand Chicago
    • Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile
    • Hyatt Place Chicago – River North
    • Residence Inn by Marriott Chicago Downtown/River North

    South Loop

    • Hampton Inn at McCormick Place
    • Hilton Chicago 
    • Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown South Loop
    • Hotel Blake, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member
    • Marriott Marquis Chicago

    Streeterville

    • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chicago – Magnificent Mile
    • Courtyard by Marriott Magnificent Mile Chicago Downtown
    • Loews Chicago Hotel
    • Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk

    West Loop

    • Crowne Plaza Chicago West Loop
    • Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Chicago Downtown
    • Hyatt House Chicago West Loop/Fulton Market

    Plan A Family Trip To Chicago

    When planning a family trip to Chicago with kids and teens, it’s really helpful to tap into resources like tourism boards and destination marketing organizations. These groups know all about family-friendly activities, educational spots, and cool places that teens will enjoy. They make it easier to plan a trip that’s fun for everyone. Choose Chicago is a great example of this; it’s packed with info to help families make the most of their visit.

    Use our list of activities and attractions above, along with Choose Chicago to plan an amazing Chicago adventure with your teens.

    What are your favorite things to do in Chicago? Let us know in the comments below.

    Pinterest image of Cloudgate in Chicago
    Things To Do in Chicago with Teens In 2024

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