17 Ways to ‘Visit’ Your Favorite Chicago Places Without Leaving The House

Keep kids busy at home with these fun virtual experiences.

Whether you’re trying to be cautious during the COVID-19 pandemic or stuck at home due to the weather, you can still visit your favorite Chicagoland attractions without leaving the house. 

Wondering how to keep your kids busy indoors? Some local attractions provide excellent virtual experiences (most of them are free!) to allow kids to learn at home. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many attractions have enhanced their virtual offerings. Keep reading to see our favorite virtual experiences for Chicago kids. 

Museums

Photo Credit: Lucy Hewett

Kohl Children’s Museum

Kohl Children’s Museum has some great ideas on how you can experience their museum without leaving the house. From Bubbleology to Fabric Counts, the Home Zone includes plenty of kid’s activities with items you probably already have in the house. The site is growing each day and includes teacher resources that are also great for parents-turned-teachers.

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium‘s Sea Curious is worth the watch if you’re looking for an educational video for kids as they answer questions like “Do animals play?” and “What do animals eat?” Other virtual options from Shedd include Virtual Animal EncountersUnderwater Beauty Live Cam, Stay Home with Shedd (great for grades 3-5), Keep Sharks Swimming and Shedd’s Audio Guides.

Adler Planetarium

Keep your pint-sized scientists entertained with great science project ideas listed on Adler Planetarium’s website. You can even make your own lava lamp! How cool is that? You can also subscribe to their emails to find new ways to explore space at home.

Museum of Science and Industry

Your curiosity of science doesn’t stop when you leave MSI! The museum is providing hands-on science experiments for kids to try at home. Make your own tornado, create some cool slime and so much more. A new Learning Resources hub has been created for teachers and students.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Receive STEM activity ideas from the Nature Museum through its daily e-newsletter. The “Past Wonder at Home” newsletter includes a specific theme (butterflies, frogs, etc.) filled with nature and science facts, activities and a behind-the-scenes look of the museum. Also check out a full docket of online resources for parents and students, including tickets to Curious by Nature: Live into early December. Keep an eye on the events page for other online, family-friendly events like nature card making.

The Field Museum

Missing Máximo? You can chat with the dinosaur on the Field Museum’s website and ask him all the questions you want. Other virtual options from the museum include learning resources for pre-K through high school students and their educational YouTube channel, The Brain Scoop.

National Hellenic Museum

Explore more than 20,000 Greek American artifacts for free thanks to the National Hellenic Museum’s online catalog. You’ll find historic photos, newspapers, books and oral histories from Greek Americans.

Chicago Children’s Museum

The Chicago Children’s Museum is keeping kids and parents occupied with a Parenting Playbook and Recipes for Play at Home.

Chicago History Museum

In addition to creating a living history of how Chicagoans adapted to the pandemic, the Chicago History Museum has created workshops for families with kids in grades 3-5 and for teenagers. Check it out to let kids learn about their city and neighborhoods while at home!

American Writers Museum

Online offerings at the American Writers Museum include virtual exhibits, a podcast and blog and access to the AWM YouTube channel where kids can check out Little Squirrel’s (Virtual) Storytime.

Music and theater

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

If you want to experience music at home, check out CSOtv for free and premium concerts. They have a children’s series called “CSO for Kids” where they teamed up with Chicago Children’s Theatre to create some high-quality story telling.

Chicago Children’s Theatre

The Chicago Children’s Theatre has upped its game during the pandemic with many virtual options. One of our favorites are “Walkie Talkies.” These original audio files help families navigate the neighborhoods of Chicago by foot or by car. Also check the CCT website to browse their vitual works on their CCTv YouTube channel.

Classes

The Kids Table

Let your kids help with holiday cooking thanks to the virtual lessons they learned from The Kids Table. On-demand classes are optimized for bakers ages 2-14.

Old Town School of Music

Wiggleworms is a rite of passage in Chicago, and the Wiggleworms online classes have brought community together. Newborns to 4-year-olds can still wiggle, dance and clap to music designated for them.

Children’s performers

Royal Princess Parties

Royal Princess Parties offers live virtual chats and parties featuring your favorite princesses and superheroes.

Miss Jamie From the Farm

If your “Barnyard Babies and Tater Tots” are missing Miss Jamie, check out her YouTube channel for new and older videos and stories. Littler kids can sit, move, wiggle and sing and dance along to the stories.

Nanny Nikki

Chicago-area performer Nanny Nikki has a series of videos on her YouTube channel and is continuously updating the “You Sing, I Sing” series of musical playdates with other area musicians.


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This story originally published March 18, 2020. It has been updated with the most recent information. 

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