ChicagoforKids.org offers eight free
downloadable audio tours of the Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan
Avenue Bridge/Tribune Tower, Millennium Park, the "L," the Picasso
sculpture, North Avenue Beach, Chicago food and the Garfield Park
The tours all focus on things kids care about-such as the
fact that sliding on the Picasso at Daley Plaza is not only OK, but
it's also encouraged. Each tour comes with a map to help parents
get kids to the right places. The tours are available in five
languages: English, Mandarin, German, Japanese and
The Chicago Greeters program is another freebie. This one,
however, is not open to city residents, although suburbanites are
welcome. Chicago Greeters are volunteers who squire up to six
visitors at a time on tours in 31 different neighborhoods.
Reservations must be made a week or more in advance at ChicagoGreeter.com.
If you don't have a reservation, try the Chicago
InstaGreeters program, which offers free one-hour walking tours of
the Loop, Millennium Park, Hyde Park and Old Town on a first-come,
first-served basis on weekends. Information on where to find an
InstaGreeter is at ChicagoGreeter.com/instagreeter.
Finally, there are the 24 formal Chicago Neighborhood
Tours offered at various times throughout the year by the Chicago
Office of Tourism. These tours are aimed at history-loving adults,
but spokeswoman Patricia Sullivan says some work well for slightly
older children, particularly those studying Chicago
For kids, she recommends tours of the colorful Chinatown,
Pilsen and Devon Avenue areas. New this year are tours of Columbus
Park and Garfield Park; Andersonville and Edgewater; Avondale, Old
Irving and the Villa; Back of the Yards and Bridgeport;
Bronzeville, South Loop and IIT Campus; Lincoln Park, Lakeview and
Wrigleyville; and Uptown and Argyle Street.
Tours are $30 for adults and $25 for seniors and children
8-12. A schedule of tours is available at
If the day (too hot?) or the kids (too tired?) mean a walking
tour isn't in your future, try the trolley. We checked
out Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co., whose hop-on,
hop-off trolley tours offer the freedom to check out the city's
best spots at your own pace, but with a conveniently charming ride
to the next.