9 places to get your kids jazzed about learning

It’s no secret that children learn in a variety of ways. While some kids excel in math, others would rather spend time planting flowers in the garden or reading a sci-fi novel. Technology has also added a new and exciting layer to gaining knowledge. Kids now have the chance to discover subjects like coding, digital photography and video production on their own level.

We’re fortunate that the Chicago area is packed with educational opportunities for kids of all ages. Learning is only limited by your imagination when families visit these spots.

Museum of Science and Industry

With dozens of exhibits, tours and experiences to explore, it’s truly impossible to find yourself bored at MSI. Kids can make their way through a giant mirror maze, see a tornado up close and discover the inner workings of the body and brain all in one afternoon. Check out spaces little ones have only dreamt of exploring like a giant submarine, locomotive or even outer space.

Every age group can find something to build, create and discover. There’s no better way to fight the winter doldrums than by spending a day at the museum.

5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

The Kids’ Table

Have a budding chef in your family? Children as young as 18 months can get a hands-on learning experience with food prep, exploring new flavors and practicing kitchen safety at this one-of-a-kind cooking school. Skills and recipes increase with each age group and so does the fun! By the time kids reach the teen class, they’ll be whipping up tasty gourmet cupcakes and mouth-watering homemade pasta. Yum!

2337 W. North Ave. and 2864 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The outside world has so much to offer. Give kids an up-close-and-personal experience with nature at one of the museum’s many family events and nature camps. Whether they’re feeding a turtle, petting a salamander or participating in a butterfly release, kids are guaranteed to have a blast. Be sure to check out the interactive Dora and Diego Let’s Explore! exhibit before it closes at the end of January.

2430 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago


In the digital age, coding has become a skill that’s nearly as essential as reading and writing. Luckily, Codeverse has got your kids covered. Grades 1-8 can learn everything from robot programming to app building to 3D printing at weekly classes or focus on a specialty at a week-long Codeverse camp. Every step of the process is hands on, age appropriate and approachable to kids, so no one feels intimidated.

Various locations in the city and suburbs

Chicago Botanic Garden

Yep, it’s totally possible to enjoy the gardens during the winter, and learn something, too! Snow makes for gorgeous landscapes and awesome photo ops around the garden. If your family is feeling the winter blues, check out the greenhouse and transport yourself to a warmer climate, if only for a few minutes.

Kids have the chance to view tropical and exotic plant varieties that they may have never seen before. The Botanic Garden also offers cooking, art and gardening classes for kids of all ages.

1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

The Field Museum

The Field Museum isn’t just for tourists. From the world’s biggest dinosaur to plant species from across the globe, there’s always something new and exciting to check out. Children can put themselves in a real-life Honey, I Shrunk The Kids scenario and get a close-up view of the insect world in the Underground Adventure, learn the story of Sue in the Waking the T.rex 3D adventure and visit museum favorite, the mummies, in the Ancient Egypt area.

1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Harold Washington Library

No matter how much technology evolves, let’s hope that reading physical books never goes out of style. The Harold Washington Library’s entire second floor is dedicated to children. The newly renovated space is brightly decorated and bursting with books for children of all ages, along with activities like a puppet stage, STEAM-focused learning areas and a digital media section. This is not your average library by far.

400 S. State St., Chicago

Adler Planetarium

Seeing Adler through the eyes of a child is a special experience. Check out one of the thrilling shows (like a journey to the moon with Sesame Street characters) or explore the planetarium’s fun exhibits. Make sure to have kids get some energy out at the Planet Explorers play area before leaving.

1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Kohl Children’s Museum

Your little explorers will beg to visit Kohl again and again. Seventeen permanent exhibits along with rotating temporary exhibits give little ones an opportunity to engage in imaginative play, create art projects and learn the science behind renewable energy, music, electricity and more. Don’t miss the kid’s version of Whole Foods, where kiddos can role play shopper and employee.

2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview

This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.

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