Sensory-Friendly Attractions and Activities in Chicagoland

Looking for something to do with your child with special needs? Check out our local list of sensory-friendly ideas.

As a parent of a child with special needs, you want to give your child opportunities to have fun and make friends. Unfortunately, many kid-focused attractions can be totally sensory overload, especially for kids who are sensitive to loud noises and bright lights.

If you’re looking to find family fun and a community of people you and your child can connect with, these sensory-friendly events might be a good place to start.

Looking for more family fun? Find even more events around town in our event roundup for families with special needs

Events

Sensory Seeker Friday

Every Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., The Insect Asylum offers a sensory activity for children. Each week will introduce something new and children can enjoy free play and explore the museum afterwards. Get tickets ahead of time and use the promo code SENSORYKIDS for a 50% discount. 

Adaptive Play Time

This monthly event provides a modified environment for play and learning for children and their caregivers. It is intended for families with disabilities, on the autism spectrum and/or with sensory processing disorders. Pre-registration is required.

Everyone at Play

Families with children with special needs are invited to the museum to explore the exhibits while it is closed to the general public. It also has a quiet room for stimulation breaks. Pre-registration is required.

AMC Sensory Friendly Films

  • Addresses: Various locations in Chicagoland
  • Cost: Movie ticket prices vary

Perfect for a child with sensory processing issues. On the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, the theaters show family-friendly movies with the lights on and the sounds lower than usual.

Sensory Sundays at Jurassic Gardens

On the third Sunday of everymonth, the animatronic dinosaurs at Jurassic Gardens fall asleep. This means there is no loud roaring, flashing lights or unpredictable dino movements — just fun for all dino lovers! If your little one is scared of the life-size dinos, this is a great time to visit. 

Sensory Sundays

  • Address: Chuck E. Cheese, various locations in Chicagoland
  • Cost: Free admission

On the first Sunday of every month, the play area will open two hours early for children with autism or sensory sensitivities. It will have reduced lighting and noise. 

Special Needs Screenings

Enjoy a movie with the volume low and lights turned on. Children are allowed to move around, talk and even dance during the show.

Attractions

Many local attractions offer apps, sensory maps and serene break areas.

Art Institute

The Art Institute has a map that outlines in green which rooms are usually quiet and aren’t crowded. The spaces highlighted in yellow have natural sunlight.

Brookfield Zoo

In addition to the sensory-friendly family room and a resource center to Hamill Family Play Zoo, Brookfield Zoo offers its BZ Care Kits, which includes noise-reducing headphones, visual schedules, self-identifying badges, social stories, and more. 

Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago Children Museum offers sound-muffling earphones and a “calming corner” on the third floor.

Field Museum for All

Field Museum guests can preview exhibitions and follow a sensory-friendly map through its Apple Store or Google Play “Field Museum for All” app. 

Lincoln Park Zoo

Sensory bags are available in the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Searle Visitor Center, which includes noise-cancelling headphones, a stress ball and yellow-tinted sunglasses. A quiet room is located in the Member Center near the Searle Visitor Center. Tactile opportunities and places with high and low stimulation are listed on the zoo’s website.

Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry details which exhibits and attractions are loud, where flashing lights and disorienting displays are, and areas with low light in a sensory map.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier’s app, “Sensory Friendly Navy Pier,” features insider tips and a sensory-friendly map. Download it for free on the Apple Store or Google Play.

Shedd Aquarium

Visitors to the Shedd Aquarium can create a personalized schedule and communicate with museum staff through icons with the app “Sensory Friendly Shedd Aquarium,” which is available on the Apple Store and Google Play.

Playgrounds

Sensory Garden Playground

This suburban playground in Lisle is for all kids complete with a sound garden, tree top swings, sculptures and more play areas to come.

We Rock the Spectrum

With locations in Palatine and Franklin Park, this indoor playground features sensory-friendly equipment for kids to use.


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Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Since 1984, the Chicago Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for Chicagoland families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.

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