Car-Themed Activities for Chicagoland Kids

Buckle up! Little car lovers of all ages will love these local speedways, auto museums, hobby shops and more.

An auto obsession is almost a rite of passage for many kids. From rolling Hot Wheels cars over any surface they can get their hands on to binge-watching the Pixar “Cars” movies, anyone who’s interacted with a toddler knows that cars, trucks and all things automobiles are at the top of their little minds. 

Even researchers have taken an interest in children’s extreme love for cars and trucks. A study in “Developmental Psychology” referred to children’s first fixations as “extremely intense interests,” and many of those intense interests are focused on cars due to their sensory appeal. 

Cars are loud with spinning wheels, moving parts and made in a variety of bright colors, making them naturally appealing to little ones in the sensorimotor stage of development. What begins as a toddler fixation often grows into a genuine interest in motor vehicles. 

Whether you have a truck-obsessed toddler or an older tween or teen that’s taken an interest in learning more about cars, these car-themed activities around Chicagoland are sure to pique their interest. 

For your next family outing, race to a day of fun at the speedway, auto museum, hobby shop and more exciting car destinations in the city and the suburbs. 

Accelerate Indoor Speedway

Your child has a long wait before they can get behind the wheel of a vehicle themselves, but that doesn’t mean they can’t experience the thrill of driving — it just needs to be in a safe, controlled environment like the one at Accelerate Indoor Speedway in Mokena. 

Kids ages 8 and up can experience the thrill of racing at this indoor speedway. Junior karts are reserved for racers ages 8-12 to ensure a safe ride. Each racer receives a detailed printout of their lap times and ranking information.

Chicago Auto Show

This annual event is not to be missed so start planning now! At the longest-running auto show in the nation, families can watch experimental car demonstrations, view antique and collector cars, check out the latest electric vehicles and enjoy much more family-friendly programming. Kids can even take a test ride in the newest cars on the market (don’t worry, Mom and Dad — a professional driver will be behind the wheel). 

Dads Slot Cars

Family owned and operated since 1992, Dads Slot Cars is a fun, inexpensive day out for any family of car enthusiasts. Rent and race retro slot cars for 30 minute intervals. 

Klairmont Kollections Automotive Museum

View 300 historical and eclectic cars at Klairmont Kollections Automotive Museum. The museum’s mission is to engage and educate younger generations about the historical impact that automobiles and their creators have played throughout history. Swing by for a quick trip spent admiring classic cars, or spend all day learning the history of each antique vehicle. 

Mid America Raceway

Introduce your little car lover to slot car racing at Mid America Raceway in Buffalo Grove. The hobby shop has everything you need to build and customize your own slot car to your exact preferences. The store hosts leagues and races, and also rents track time in 15-minute intervals so your child can get a feel for racing. 

NASCAR Chicago Street Race

Chicago’s inaugural NASCAR street races will be happening during Fourth of July weekend. The event is expected to draw 50,000 people to watch NASCAR drivers race through Grant Park and the streets of downtown Chicago. If you’ll be missing the event this year, don’t worry  — NASCAR signed a three-year contract with the city, so you’ll have an opportunity to watch the race next year. 

Run Rabbit Run

Shop car-related toys, slot cars and more at Run Rabbit Run, Chicago’s newest slot car hobby shop. If you haven’t seen (or heard) of a slot car since you were a child, get ready to be impressed by the modern cars at this shop. Run Rabbit Run specializes in wireless, imported cars from England that are sure to run the slot cars of your memory right off the street. 

The store has two tracks for racing; a hilly rural countryside course and a flat desert landscape track. 

Volo Auto Museum

Photo credit: Nikki Roberts

Buckle up! Visitors to the Volo Auto Museum will be blown away by the museum’s world-famous car collection. With more than 45 exhibits and 1,000 mechanical marvels, your family can easily spend the entire day touring the auto museum, which includes everything from classic automobiles and muscle cars to pop culture vehicles like the Mystery Machine, retired Disney Parade vehicles, antique car-themed kiddie rides and so much more. 

Zoom Room 

Photo credit: Chicago Children’s Museum

The Zoom Room puts younger kiddos in control as they send toy cars zooming down a massive, multi-level race course. This “speed laboratory” at the Chicago Children’s Museum has hundreds of toy cars and more than 40 tracks that loop, curve and drop. Kids will love playing with cars as they learn about gravity, force and acceleration. Zoom Room is one of the museum’s rotating exhibits, so make sure that it’s currently available before your visit.


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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Chicago Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for Chicagoland families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.

1 COMMENT

  1. HobbyTown Orland Park has many car themed items. We sell Hot Wheels, Lego, Slot cars, Die Cast cars, Pinweood Derby, Radio control cars. Come check it out!! 15601 S 94th Ave Orland Park

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