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The Best Places for Toddlers in Chicago

Carousel, one of many amusement options at Nav...Image via Wikipedia Vacation or holidays are for building a life-time of memories for our children. As a kid I still remember those long train rides and spending all that happy first times of setting the foot in the cold waters or building sand castles. These are true vacations that lasts life long. Planning a vacation with toddler is tricky as they’ve grown enough to have their own ideas and wants for the places or play activities they want to enjoy.

First thing I guess learnt as a parent is change expectations of what a vacation is. Not getting get uptight when the schedule doesn’t work, as most of times the schedules go awfully bad. Morning start time shifts to afternoons easily though how much planning we do. When everything is in place then type of place is difficult to choose.

First thing is to search for local unique area attractions. I live in Chicago and I’ve found these helpful websites to decide on the type of vacation and all places based on location — suburbs or in the city.

The most important and useful first website is to check out ChicagoKids, a friendly searchable database of places to go in Chicago and its vicinities for children.

This is useful information and scrubbing this to our needs takes a bit of time.

Zoo :

For zoos, Brookfield and Lincoln Park are both rated top. I’ve been to both of them with my toddler, I like Brookfield better as it is bigger in size and have more attractions compared to downtown located Lincoln Zoo park. Brookfield zoo has both parking fee and admission fee with different options — General Admission, Dolphin show, train ride, Stingray bay. It is all day event and as early you get in there it is better as afternoon sun takes toll on you and your toddlers energy levels. Best time for Brookfield zoo is in summer. Lincoln zoo in contrast is famous for its zoo lights in winter time. Proper winter clothing for toddler is the stringent requirement for harshest Chicago winters. Only parking fee is required and no admission fee is charged at Lincoln Zoo.

Museums :

The best time for museum visits is in winter. A children’s museum at Navy Pier in winter is a good hang out though the parking at Navy Pier for a evening would cost anyway around $25.

The Museum of Science and Industry ( is another favorite. Is it right for Toddlers ? It depends on the likes of your toddler. They have interactive touchy-feely stuff. Cool stuff about cars, trains, submarines, the human body, etc.

Field Museum — It is for kids who love the exhibits of mammals & birds from around the world. Check out the dinosaur exhibit

Planetarium :

Adler Planetarium may be for bigger kids for educational purposes and if your toddler is quite and can sit for few hours then this can be added to the list.

Others : Millennium Park is good for summers with the Chicago view bean and fountain where kids can get their feet wet in hot summers. The Shedd Aqarium is a great destination if your toddler is into Nemo or fish as my one does. Nearby Wisconsin Dells are popular with kids with their indoor and outdoor water parks built around Lake Delton suited for all the seasons. On way to Dells there are quite a few attractions — Lamb’s Farm is in Libertyville, Baraboo area — circus museum. Sears tower deck, the largest building for your toddler to get introduced to heights.

Sources :
->My own experiences – 1)Brookfield Zoo Chicago Toddler attraction , 2) Lincoln park zoo lights in winter of 2007


Do you think of any other places that I missed in this post ? Please share with others via comments your and your’s toddler’s Chicago places & experiences

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Posted By: Kalyan | Date: August 26, 2008 | Categories: Travel

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