20 ways to beat the heat with kids in Chicago and suburbs

When the heat hits Chicago, there’s no denying that it’s hard to figure out what to do with the kids. Stay cool all summer long with these fun kid-approved solutions for families in the city and suburbs. 

1. Play indoors.

Your kids won’t mind jumping around at an indoor play place while you sit back and enjoy the AC. Bring the indoor fun to the next level by riding rollercoasters and bumper cars at these indoor amusement parks

2. Sing and shout.

Dance around with your energetic little ones! Luckily, these locations offer plenty of drop-in music classes to keep them moving. 

3. Head to a water park. 

As great as your local park district pool is during the summer, treat your kiddos to an awesome day at one of these aquatic centers in the suburbs

4. Enjoy nature inside. 

If your kids want to smell the flowers, opt for these indoor nature centers. Tip: catch the super tall 60-year-old agave plant that finally bloomed at Garfield Park Conservatory

5. Take a boat ride. 

It’s cooler by the lake and you’ll definitely get wet at Seadog Chicago’s ultimate thrill ride. Here are some other fun water boat rides worth trying. 

6. Visit a cooling center. 

It’s important to stay safe during a heat advisory! Check on your neighbors and if you or someone does not have a working AC, visit one of these cooling centers provided by the Chicago Park District.  

7. Eat all the ice cream. 

How can you say no to ice cream when it’s extra hot? Grab a scoop at those old-fashioned ice cream spots or be adventurous and try a more unique frozen treat

8. Have a beach day.

If you can handle the heat, head to these family-friendly beaches in Chicago and we won’t be surprised if you spend a lot of time in the water.

9. Attend an indoor event. 

Looking to go out but want to stay indoors? Our Weekend Picks always cover plenty of indoor events or see a full list of family events on our calendar

10. Visit an escape room.

Now’s the time to put your family to the test and try out an escape room. We’ve found some kid-friendly options for you. 

11. Play mini golf.

If you don’t want to play mini golf under the sun, these indoor mini golf places offer some great options for families (with a cool glow-in-the-dark experience included!). 

12. See a show.

Check out the Chicago theater scene with these family-friendly shows. Your kids will love to see “Junie B. Jones, The Musical” at the Marriott Theatre or “The Music Man” at Goodman Theatre.

13. Run around a splash pad. 

Let the kids loose at these fun spraygrounds and splash pads in the city and suburbs. And parents, we know you won’t hesitate to get wet too. 

14. Climb your heart out.

Your adventurous rug rats will love to visit one of these indoor rock climbing gyms. It’s also a fun workout for the whole family!

15. Go to a museum.

Enjoy a day of learning at one of your favorite Chicagoland museums! Your kids will get a kick out of the Field Museum’s new Fantastic Bug Encounters! exhibit. If you’re on the budget, check out our complete list of free museum days

16. Hit the movies.

Who else is more excited than their kids to see the new Lion King? See one of these new family movies and take advantage of these budget-friendly summer movie programs

17. Make a cool craft.

If you don’t want to leave the house, keep the kids entertained with some fun crafts. Try out this ice paint craft or even better, make your own ice cream

18. Visit the library. 

A trip to your local library never fails. They might even have a fun event going on while you’re there! If not, you should definitely check out some new children’s books we’ve featured in the past. 

19. Splash around indoors.

Want water fun without the sun? We’ve got you covered with local indoor swimming pools and exciting indoor water parks

20. Enjoy some classic Italian ice.

After having some ice cream with the family, you can save some room for Italian ice too. We recommend checking out these Italian ice spots


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