Chicagoland Attractions Set Reopening Plans

With more and more adults receiving vaccinations, Illinois has returned to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan and museums and zoos are reopening and extending capacity requirements.

Timed tickets are required at most attractions, so plan ahead. As always, when leaving the house be sure to wear a face covering and heed social distancing requirements.

We’ll update this article as new information arrives.

360 Chicago

Note: Reopened Jan. 28

Purchase timed tickets online (and take advantage of promotional offers) and wear a mask when you visit. Handrails and glass on TILT will be sanitized after every use, and food options from the bar and cafe will be grab-and-go. If you’re not ready to visit, check out 360Chicago’s list of 360 Things to do at Home or ride Chicago’s tallest thrill ride with a Virtual TILT.

American Writers Museum

Photo Credit: American Writers Museum

Note: Reopening May 14

The American Writers Museum will celebrate its fourth anniversary with $4 off admission through May 31. Tickets must be purchased online and guests must wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Gloves and styluses will be available to interact with the exhibits.

Art Institute of Chicago

Note: Reopened Feb. 11.

Timed tickets and masks are required to visit. Monet and Chicago has been extended to June 14 for families that had not yet seen it. Virtual visits to the Art Institute include exploring old collections, a trip behind the scenes of some of the hot spots at the museum and art activities for young learners. Many are free and accessible for families with kids of all ages.

Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo’s Dinos Everywhere exhibit

Note: Reopened March 1

The Dinos Everywhere exhibit returned for families who missed it last summer. The more than 40 animatronic dinosaurs are scattered throughout the park, and visitors can see them without the need for an extra ticket. Timed tickets and reservations will be required and all indoor spaces – except for restrooms – will be closed. Families can still watch the zoo’s daily chats on its Facebook channel at 11 a.m. weekdays.

Cantigny Park

Note: Reopened Feb. 5

The museum reopened Feb. 5 with social distancing protocol in place, and outdoor areas are still available. Masks are not required outdoors, but are required inside buildings and while in restrooms. Check the park website for virtual events.

Chicago History Museum

Note: Reopened March 4

Tickets and reservations are available in two time blocks each day: morning and afternoon. Advanced purchase is highly recommended as museum capacity is reduced to 25 percent. Masks and social distancing are required inside the building.

Chicago Park District

Lincoln Park Conservatory Spring Flower Show: Pretty in Pink. Photo provided by Chicago Park District

Parks are open for walking and ice skating. Families can visit to begin register for spring events. Park playgrounds and pools reopened in March. Masks are mandatory in the parks and on playground equipment and parking fees will be enforced.

Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden, photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

During the day, visitors can see the perimeter walk, Thomas English Walled Garden, Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden and most areas of the Malott Japanese Garden. Restrooms will be available in the Visitor Center and Regenstein Center’s Greenhouse Galleries. Though the Orchid Show was canceled this year, online programming includes classes for artists of all ages.

Chicago Riverwalk

The Riverwalk is open from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, though verify the hours for any stores or restaurants you plan to visit. Face coverings are required and gatherings of more than 10 are prohibited.

Chicago Architecture Center

While the building is closed, online events and virtual tours are still available. The CAC@home series launched last year is frequently updated with new content and live, virtual events. Walking tours resumed Feb. 13 with reduced capacity and masks required.

Cosley Zoo

Tickets provide zoo access for one hour. Masks are required for all guests over the age of 2 when social distancing cannot be maintained. The caboose, nature play areas and inside viewing of rabbits and chickens remain closed and daily duck and chicken feedings are suspended.

Discovery Center Museum

Note: Reopened Jan. 24

The museum has a new special exhibit, Hot Wheels Race to Win, that is scheduled through May 16. Online tickets and reservations are good for two-hour stays, and capacity limits increased to 125 people per session on March 22. Temperature checks and health screenings will apply to both staff and guests, and hand sanitizer will be available for use as guests enter. Staff and guests ages 6 and older are required to wear masks; guests 5 and younger are encouraged to wear masks, but not required. Check out the museum’s “Playful Learning at Home,” which includes curbside pickup of science kits.

Elmhurst Art Museum

Note: Reopened Jan. 28

The museum is open Thursdays-Sundays and is free on the first Friday of each month. One-way directionals will guide guests through the museum, and social distancing and masks are expected. Learn more about the newest exhibit, There is Black Housing in the Future: Equitable Public Housing as Memorial, with online discussions and hear from the artists via videos (this exhibition opened March 4). Check out more online exhibits in the art museum’s “At Home” offerings.

Elmhurst History Museum

Note: Reopened Jan. 22

Timed tickets are required and visits are limited to one hour. With capacity limits in place, each group is allowed no more than five people. A new exhibit, Together We Cannot Fail: Overcoming the Great Depression, has opened and runs through May 2. Kids can also enjoy “Lessons from the Schoolmarm,” adapted for online learning lessons from the one-room schoolhouse.

The Field Museum

Note: Reopened Jan. 23

Field has capped daily attendance at 25 percent, install floor markers to ensure social distancing and masks are required inside the museum. High-touch areas and screen interactives as well as the Crown Family PlayLab and smaller galleries will not be available. After reopening, the museum will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Visit the museum’s website for virtual events like “Meet a Scientist” and learn more about other STEM exhibits with “SUE Science Saturdays.” Free admission days have been reinstated and occur: Feb. 25, March 8, March 11 and March 15.

The Forge: Lemont Quarries

The Forge is the area’s newest high climbing adventure area, open seven days a week. Ice skating and outdoor dining are available with reservations. Kids can sign up for Spring Break Camp with daily themes March 29-April 2.

Illinois Holocaust Museum

Note: Reopened Feb. 3

The museum will host visitors with free admission on Wednesdays in February and March. Masks are required and temperature checks will be given upon entry. A new exhibit, “Mandela: Struggle for Freedom,” opened Feb. 18, and families can experience the tiny cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in jail. Guests can also learn Holocaust history and tour the museum virtually.

Kohl Children’s Museum

Note: Reopening to the public June 2

Kohl had reopened in January with its Very Important Play program, but will invite guests to return to see all of the inside exhibits in June. Capacity will be restricted to 25% and all guests ages 2 and older must wear face coverings. June 2 also welcomes the opening of the museum’s newest exhibit: SummerBurst, an outdoor festival with five STEAM activity stations that will run through Aug. 29. Advanced ticketing is required for both the museum and SummerBurst.

Lakefront Trail

Lakefront walker with dog, Adam Alexander Photography Photo Courtesy of Choose Chicago

Families are encouraged to bike, run, walk and rollerblade in the same family unit. Due to winter conditions, the trail will close if there is a threat that it will ice over or if there are high waves. More entry points will open in March and parking will be regulations at the lakefront will also be lifted. Large gatherings are prohibited and social distancing is required. Check the Chicago Park District website for related closure information.

Legoland Discovery Center

Note: Reopened Jan. 22

Reserve a two-hour playtime to enjoy the attractions and play zones at the Legoland Discovery Center. Bricks and play spaces are cleaned between appointments. Playtimes are available Fridays-Sundays and the retail store is open Fridays-Tuesdays.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Note: Reopened March 4.

Access to the zoo remains free and families must register for timed tickets. Select buildings have started to reopen for public access. Families can also register to run the Virtual Run for the Zoo to raise money for the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

Note: Reopened Jan. 20

Preregister for tickets on the museum’s website. Face masks are required and temperature checks will be given at the door. Capacity limits are in place as the museum reopens. Future geologists can check out the museum’s calendar of virtual activities.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Medieval Times

Note: Reopens late April

Ticket reservations will be required as capacity will be reduced to 25 percent. Masks will be required when guests aren’t eating and contactless temperatures will be taken upon entry. Menus will be digital and table cards are disposable. Tickets still include a four-course meal and a two-hour jousting tournament featuring six knights, real weapons, beautiful horses and a live flight of the royal falcon.

Morton Arboretum


Walking and hiking trails are available. The Visitor Center, the Arboretum Store and the Ginkgo Café are available with adjusted hours. The arboretum announced March 17 that the start of the forthcoming Human + Nature exhibition is postponed because of pandemic-related shipping delays.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Notes: Reopened March 2

Masks and social distancing are required, as are timed tickets and reservations. Once inside, guests are asked to follow the blue visitor arrows through the museum. Hand sanitizer is available. Families not prepared to venture out can check out a slate of new exhibits opening exclusively online. A full calendar of virtual events and discussions continues on the museum’s website.

Museum of Illusions

Note: Reopened Jan. 29

Chicago’s newest museum had a short opening run before the November shutdown and will have sanitary precautions in place upon reopening. Timed tickets are required and masks and temperature checks are mandatory. The museum has installed an air purification system into the HVAC to help maintain cleanliness.

Museum of Science & Industry

Notes: Reopened March 4 to members, March 7 to general public

Check out science at home activities as well as virtual events and storytimes focused around the museum’s top exhibits. The museum is timing its reopening with the start of its newest exhibit, Marvel: A Universe of Super Heroes. Timed tickets are on sale, and the museum will be open Wednesdays-Sundays.

Navy Pier

Note: Reopened April 30

Chicago’s largest tourist attraction started its phased reopening April 30. The Chicago Children’s Museum located at Navy Pier has recipes for play at home and online projects with kids available on its website.

Raging Waves Waterpark

Renderings provided by Raging Waves

Note: Reopens June 5

The water park will reopen with the new six-lane “Aussie Mat Dash” in place. Social distancing and safety protocols will be in place as required by the CDC as well as state and local governments. Masking will be required in the bath house and all indoor areas, and when social distancing can’t be maintained. Mobile ordering has been introduced at the “Hungry Croc” food stand to limit in-person transactions.

Ravinia Festival

Note: Tickets on sale June 16

Ravinia will reopen its festival season July 1-Sept. 24, 2021. Families can enjoy spaced seating in the pavilion or seating on the lawn with large-screen TVs situated for enhanced views of the stage. Masks and reduced capacity will be required in accordance with recommendations the CDC and local health organizations at the time of the concerts. Laurie Berkner will play a Kids Concert at 11 a.m. on Aug. 7, 2021.

Santa’s Village

Note: Open weekends only until June

The park is open for limited hours on Saturdays and Sundays only until Memorial Day weekend when Santa Springs, the park’s water park, also reopens. The park will only open if the weather is above 72 degrees. Families must purchase tickets online, or reservations for those with a Season Pass, as park capacity is limited. Masks are required for all guests ages 2 and older and social distancing is expected between members not in your group.

Shedd Aquarium

Note: Reopened Jan. 30

Masks will be required indoors and out and advanced ticket purchases are recommended. Social distancing is required in every gallery and exhibition space and hand sanitizer will be available for staff and guests. For families not ready to leave home, virtual programs include animal encounters, camps, activities and videos. Watch Shedd’s social media feeds for the continued adventures of Wellington the rockhopper penguin.

Skydeck Chicago

Note: Reopened April 23

The reopened Skydeck — including The Ledge — includes a new Chicago-centric museum for families to enjoy. Masks must be worn at all times and advanced tickets are required.

WNDR Museum

WNDR Museum

Notes: Reopened Feb. 26

The reimagined WNDR experience requires face masks, social distancing and timed tickets. The museum has increased air ventilation and filtering throughout the building and features one-of-a-kind installations from artists, collectives, and studios locally and globally. The museum is open Thursdays-Sundays with the first hour on Saturdays and Sundays featuring complimentary tickets for frontline workers and their families.

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