Best places to play around Chicago

We’ll make you a deal: If you promise to put down the smartphones and tablets, we promise we’ve got something even more fun than the next level of Candy Crush. Yes, we swear! You told us your favorite places to play around Chicago, and none of them involved a touchscreen and a couch. Check out these great playgrounds, indoor play places, animal encounters and other ways to explore nature.

This beach is pure Chicago fun. With a new harbor, beach withconcessions and restrooms and a handicapped-accessible park,there’s a little something for everyone. Plus, in addition to greatviews of the city, visitors will love the public art display of 18trees painted in vibrant hues along the lakefront.

Best playground in Chicago: 31st Street beach and playground


  • Miss Lori’s Play Group
  • Adams Park
  • Little Beans Cafe
  • Portage Park

Other great places to get your game on


Crazy, wild, in-the-air fun makes Pump It Up just the place forkids to let out their inner jumping bean. Kids can bounce, slide,climb and jump on the oversized inflatables. Even better, manylocations have special areas set aside just for toddlers, so nochance of accidents with bigger jumpers.

Best place in Chicago to let your kids run wild: Pump It Up


  • FireZone
  • Goldfish Swim School
  • Ball Factory
  • Windy City Fieldhouse

Best place in Chicago to let your kids run wild: Finalists


Firefighters have exhausting jobs, so it’s only fitting thisspot for the kiddie set gets them ready for naptime. The Schaumburgplay place has fire trucks and ambulances to explore, a house forpracticing rescue techniques and a craft area. Plus, drop-insinclude a lesson on fire safety – fun and educational!

Windy City Fieldhouse in Logan Square was simply made for kids.With eight multi-purpose courts, a kid can play to their heart’scontent and still not run out of room. It even offers open gymtimes and fun mini-camps for days when kids aren’t in school.Score.

Best place around Chicago to wear out your kids: FireZone and Windy City Fieldhouse (tie)


  • KeyLime Cove
  • Elite Kids
  • Goldfish Swim School

Best place around Chicago to wear out your kids: Finalists


Illinois is nothing but flat? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Starved Rockis filled with canyons, waterfalls and trails that take you back towhen the Native Americans lived here. This historic park offerssome of the best views you’ll see only 90 minutes from Chicago.

Best place for families to explore nature around Chicago: Starved Rock State Park


  • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
  • The Morton Arboretum
  • Illinois Forest Preserves
  • Taltree Arboretum & Gardens

Best place for families to explore nature around Chicago: Finalists


We expect to see lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) when wevisit any zoo. But what about bald eagles, roadrunners (yes,they’re real!) or lowland tapirs? Head to Brookfield Zoo tointroduce your kids to these lesser known species and maybe you’llleave with an aspiring zoologist or conservationist.

Best place around Chicago to see animals: Brookfield Zoo


  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Lambs Farm
  • Randall Oaks Barnyard Zoo

Best place around Chicago to see animals: Finalists


With nearly 400 pieces of railway equipment, this is the spot toshow some locomotive love. Kids can learn the history of Chicago’strain culture, take a ride on a streetcar or restored train, andpose for pics throughout the open-air museum. Be sure to check thewebsite for some train-tastic events.

Best place around Chicago for kids who love trains: Illinois Railway Museum


  • 2 Toots Train Whistle Grill
  • DuPage Children’s Museum, second floor
  • Riding the El around the Loop
  • Ogilvie Transportation Center

Best place around Chicago for kids who love trains: Finalists


What other spot in the city has an actual “Play Manifesto”? It’sno wonder, since this place is perfect for kids of all ages -whether they’re fishing in Treasure Trails or building in theTinkering Lab. Temporary exhibits rotate through to guarantee notwo visits are ever the same.

Best place around Chicago to act like a kid: Chicago Children’s Museum


  • WhirlyBall
  • Six Flags Great America
  • Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn
  • Windy City Fieldhouse

Best place around Chicago to act like a kid: Finalists


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