Outdoor Attractions for Chicago Families

Make the most of a beautiful day at these fun, local attractions.

If you’re anything like my family, we are fully taking advantage of the outdoors. In Chicagoland, we have so many great outdoor adventures like playgrounds, hiking trails and nature centers to keep our kids entertained.

We have to take advantage of the outdoors when we have nice weather, too! Chicago winters would be here before you know it.  If you’re looking for more ideas, check out these outdoor attractions where families can easily spend half the day or the whole day. And these places will be a big hit with the kids, too.

Note: Some of these places are open seasonally so check ahead for hours before heading out! Looking for more kid-friendly activities? Check out our summer fun family guide!

Cantigny Park

Cantigny Park has it all: Beautiful gardens, two really neat museums, a playground, and even a tank park. Kids will absolutely have a blast climbing on a variety of tanks. Watch out for fun events like movies in the park, French Connection Day and a Lego train show.

Morton Arboretum

Take a hike with over 16 miles of paved and wood-chipped walking paths. While here, you can’t miss the beautiful new exhibit Human + Nature, five larger-than-life tree-inspired sculptures. After spotting these works of art, kids can easily spend the rest of the day at the five-acre Children’s Garden. Explore the treehouse, slide down tree roots or dip your toes in the creek. With their imagination, the options are endless.

Nathan Manilow Park

Located just south of Chicago on the campus of Governors State University, Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, or theNate, offers 100 acres of exploring. The sprawling sculpture park has art everybody can appreciate in an ideal setting with a prairie with blooming wildflowers and a lake. Even kids who are reluctant to “hike” will be encouraged to seek out the next sculpture.

Santa’s Village

The Christmas-themed amusement park offers plenty for families to do — go on classic or thrilling rides, pet animals and splash away in a waterpark. What more do you need? Well, they also offer festival foods that we love like funnel cake and Dole Whip. Fingers crossed that Santa drops by.

Navy Pier

The popular downtown spot is a hit with tourists and locals alike. The iconic Centennial Wheel provides an amazing view of Chicago’s skyline and Lake Michigan. Pier Park offers plenty of fun as well. Take a spin on the historic carousel or enjoy any of the carnival-type rides. Take a cruise, watch the fountain work its magic at Polk Bros Park, or enjoy the public art throughout. Wednesdays and Saturdays are a blast during the summer with a firework display dancing to music.

Blackberry Farms

Spend the day having fun while learning at Aurora’s Blackberry Farm. Not only will you find rides, paddle boats, hay rides, pony rides, a carousel, train rides, but historical demonstrations since it is a living history museum as well. The adventure playground is sure to be hit with bridges, zipline, slides and a climbing tower.

Maggie Daley Park

Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Maggie Daley Park offers an urban oasis of fun. The Play Garden is no doubt one of the area’s best playgrounds with a variety of play structures with different themes. Have more time?  Scale up the rock climbing wall, go mini-golfing, or skate on the ribbon. Make sure to stroll through Millennium Park to spot the Bean and attend festivals during the summer.

The Forge: Lemont Quarries

The 300-acre adventure park offers tons of outdoor fun and memory-making opportunities: the largest aerial adventure course, hiking trails, laser tag, water sports, mountain biking, dining, and more. The main attractions would be their aerial challenge courses. Eight Towers Adventure caters to older kids and adults with ziplines and challenging climbing elements. Younger kids can still have fun at Two Towers Adventure with tunnels, ziplines, balance beams and more all enclosed in safety nets.

Lambs Farm

Visit the Farmyard where you can pet and feed animals like goat, turkeys, chicken and rabbits. After saying hello to the adorable animals, challenge each other to a round of mini-golf (included with admission). If the kiddos still have a bit of energy left, play at the playgrounds located on all over the grounds. Don’t forget to stop by their bake shop for a sweet treat!


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