Best Things to Do with Chicagoland Kids This January

Plan ahead! We've rounded up some of the best activities and events to do with kids in Chicago and suburbs this month.

When raising kids, you know life can get busy with school, sports practices, dance classes and other extracurricular activities. That’s why it’s sometimes helpful to plan ahead when searching for exciting events and attractions in Chicagoland. To make things easier for you, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do with kids this month.

There are many happenings around Chicagoland in January. Check out the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events along with other winter fun, including winter festivalssledding hills and outdoor ice skating rinks.

Keep on scrolling to see our top picks of kid-friendly events in Chicago and the suburbs. You can also find more family events listed in our calendar.


Photo credit: Unicorn World

The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle at Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago

Through Jan. 7, 2024

Enjoy this immersive event about the most beloved family holiday tale, The Nutcracker. You’ll see immersive projections and special effects, meet a life-sized Nutcracker, have photo ops and more.

ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo

Through Jan. 7, 2024

Enjoy a twinkling winter wonderland complete with festive activities, such as visits with Santa, a holiday pop-up bar, sweet treats of all kinds and more.

Honor the Dream: Celebrating Dr. King Through Art at South Chicago Branch

Jan. 11, 2024

Ages 6-13 can join South Chicago Branch to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through symmetry art.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Story Time at King Branch

Jan. 13, 2024

Ages 0-6 can visit the King Branch to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with an evening of crafts and stories. Registration required.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King! at South Shore Branch

Jan. 13, 2024

Ages 3-12 can visit the South Shore Branch to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with crafts, stories and activities.

Black Creativity Family Day at Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Jan. 15, 2024

Families can participate in a day of community art experience, engage in creative activities and explore the Juried Art Exhibition. For all ages.

Family Event | Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Chicago History Museum

Jan. 15, 2024

Enjoy this annual family-friendly event at the Chicago History Museum. There will be activities and performances for all ages.

MLK DAY 2024: Yesterdays, Todays and Tomorrows at Hyde Park Art Center 

Jan. 15, 2024

Teens can join Hyde Park Art Center to celebrate MLK Jr. and also celebrate Black creators and artists, shop at a pop-up bookshop, enjoy live music performance by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago Chamber Ensemble and more.

Pompeii: The Exhibition at Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Through Jan. 15, 2024

See this immersive, educational museum exhibit, “Pompeii: The Exhibition.” You’ll be transported back in time to learn about Pompeii and see more than 150 historical artifacts.

Polar Adventure Day at Big Marsh Park

Jan. 20, 2024

There will be tons of winter activities including birds of prey, nature art activity, storytelling, guided winter hike, hot cocoa and more.

Family Fun Fest at Harold Washington Library Center 

Jan. 21, 2024

Families with kids ages 13 and under can enjoy winter play activities, music, art and more. Registration is required.

Unicorn World at Navy Pier

Jan. 26-28, 2024

See life-size animatronic unicorns, a magical forest, rides, inflatables unicorn activities, arts and crafts, gift shop and more.

Winter Wonderland at Rauner Family YMCA

Jan. 26, 2024

Hosted by Aetna Better Health of Illinois, this pop-up event offers a place for attendees to get access to free flu vaccinations and blood pressure checks while enjoying photo opportunities, face painting, a live DJ, refreshments and more. 

Winter Wonderland at Eat to Live Urban Farm

Jan. 27, 2024

Hosted by Aetna Better Health of Illinois, this pop-up event offers a place for attendees to get access to free flu vaccinations and blood pressure checks while enjoying photo opportunities, face painting, a live DJ, refreshments and more. 

First Kings of Europe at Field Museum

Through Jan. 28, 2024

View this exhibit at the Field Museum that gathered more than 700 exquisite objects, such as jewelry, armor, weapons, more.

Hamilton at James M. Nederlander Theatre

Through Jan. 28, 2024

See this epic saga that follows the rise of Alexander Hamilton, based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography. It blends the sounds of hip-hop, R&B, jazz and Broadway music. For ages 5 and up.

Disney100: The Exhibition at Exhibition Hub Art Center Chicago

Through Feb. 25, 2024

The Walt Disney Archives opens its vault of historical and special treasures, works of art, artifacts, costumes and memorabilia with the launch of Disney100: The Exhibition. See 10 elaborately themed galleries with many interactive elements for all ages.

Blue Man Group Chicago at Briar Street Theatre

Through March 31, 2024

Experience new instruments, technologies and audience participation at the Blue Man Group Chicago. This family-friendly performance is great for ages 3 and up.

North/Northwest Suburbs

Photo credit: Feld Entertainment

Willow Hill Lights at Willow Hill Golf Course

Through Jan. 6, 2024

Enjoy this drive-through holiday lights show, which is back for its second year with bigger and better displays. It will feature a 1.6-mile route with more than one million lights, three drive-through tunnels and a 30-foot Christmas tree.

Lightscape at Chicago Botanical Garden

Through Jan. 7, 2024

See thousands of twinkling lights while walking through the Winter Cathedral and a reimagined fire garden.

Disney On Ice presents Magic In The Stars at BMO Center

Jan. 11-15, 2024

See Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Elsa, Anna, Raya, Buzz, Woody, Lighting McQueen and more as they perform in this ice-skating show.

Winterfest at Century Park Pavilion

Jan. 13, 2024

Families can enjoy winter activities for all ages at Century Park Arboretum. Toast s’mores over the fire, watch the sled dog team and more.

Winter Bash at Wood Dale Park District

Jan. 14, 2024

Families can enjoy this indoor/outdoor event with entertainment, activities, hot cocoa, meet and greet with the dogs and mushers from Free Siberian Rescue and more.

Georgia Garvey Book Reading at The Book Stall

Jan. 18, 2024

Teens can hear from Georgia Garvey, a former Chicago Tribune editor when she holds a reading from her new book, Everything’s Going to Be OK (Until It’s Not).

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live Glow Party at NOW Arena

Jan. 27-28, 2024

Monster truck fans of all ages will experience the thrill of watching their favorite trucks in the dark! See Mega Wrex, Bigfoot, Bone Shaker, Tiger Shark, Gunkster and more light up the floor as they smash, crash and compete in epic monster truck battles! Spectacular laser light shows and Hot Wheels toy giveaways, too.

“I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli at Illinois Holocaust Museum

Through April 14, 2024

Learn about deli history with menus, advertisements, neon signs, photographs, uniforms and film and TV clips. There are also interactive and photo opportunities.

South Suburbs

Ice & Lights Fest in Downtown Lemont

Jan. 21, 2024

  • Address: Downtown Lemont
  • Cost: Free

Enjoy Lemont’s 4th Annual Ice & Lights Fest with live reindeer, live ice carving, marshmallow roasting and more.

Western Suburbs

Photo credit: Illumination – Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum

Through Jan. 6, 2024

Surround yourselves with color while walking on the one-mile paved pathway. Enjoy seasonal music, captivating light designs and roasting s’mores on a fire at this outdoor event.

Winter Lights at Central Park

Through Jan. 7, 2024

Enjoy a half-mile walk to see the holiday lights through Central Park. See inspirational signs, colorful rainbow arches, cascading snowflakes and more.

This post is updated annually.

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Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano is a mom of one and Chicago Parent's Audience Development Coordinator. She tracks down the best events every week and shares the inside scoop with families in print and online. She enjoys reading, traveling and exploring new places with her son.


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