Things to do on a Day-Trip to Chicago with Kids

Many people cancel out day-trips as a form of travel, but its the perfect way to have enough time to see a new place and check some items off your travel list without burning out your annual leave.

Carson and I did our first of many (soon to come) day-trips to check off his 25th U.S State to Chicago, Illinois and had so much fun exploring the city for the day.

Flights for our Day-Trip to Chicago with Kids

I used both Sky-Scanner and Google Flights to search for the cheapest day of the week to go to Chicago. We weren't taking any bags besides a small back pack, so we were open to flying any airline since we would be avoiding baggage fees.

Southwest Airlines had a $50 flight deal flying out on the first flight from Dallas Love Field to O'Hare and coming back on the last flight giving us approximately 10.5 hours to explore Chicago.

Things to do on a Day-Trip to Chicago with Kids

1.The Shedd Aquarium:

The Shedd Aquarium allows your kids to explore life under the sea. From whales to dolphins to turtles and more, you’ll meet 32,500 creatures from aquatic habitats around the world. Explore Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium, where you can get face to face with beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters, sea lions and penguins.

Our favorite exhibit was the underwater view of the Beluga Whales and the Dolphins.


Non Member Adults: $39.95

Non Member kids (2-11): $29.95

COVID Protocols at the Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is handling the pandemic well. These were some of the steps we seen during our visit.

Separate entrance and exit points

•Limited hourly building capacity

•Timed-admission to maintain an even flow of guests throughout the day

•Required face coverings (ages 2+)

•Social distancing of at least 6 feet required

•Circulation paths to encourage one-directional flow

•Additional handwashing and sanitization stations

•Expanded sanitization and cleaning regimen, including frequently scheduled cleaning on high-touch surfaces and deep cleanings every night

•Physical barriers installed in places where social distancing cannot be maintained

•Temporarily pausing experiences such as aquatic presentations to reduce large gatherings and groups

2. The Field Museum

Walking distance from the Shedd Aquarium is the Field Museum. The Field Museum fuels a journey of discovery across time to enable solutions for a brighter future rich in nature and culture. Upon arriving you are greeted by Sue the T-Rex, if you know Carson, you know how crazy he is about DINOSAURS!!! There are several exhibits in the field musuem for you to explore with your little ones. Our personal favorite was learning about Maximo the Titanosaur, which is the biggest Dinosaur that scientist have discovered to date.

The Field is open 9am to 5pm, Thursday through Monday.


Basic Admission for Out of State Adults: $26

Basic Admission for Out of State Kids: $19

COVID Protocols at the Field Museum:

  • Face masks are required for all staff and visitors, except for children under 2

  • 144 hand sanitizer stations are installed throughout the building

  • Frequent, rigorous cleaning procedures follow CDC guidelines

  • Floor markers help guide social distancing and direct one-way paths

  • Exhibitions that are highly interactive or located in small spaces are temporarily closed

  • The number of visitors each day to 25% of the building’s capacity.

3. Grant Park:

Grant Park is near both the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. Its the perfect place for a picnic, to let your little ones burn off energy, or take in the Chicago Skyline.

4. Millennium Park:

You can not come visit Chicago and not come to take a picture in front of the Famous Silver Bean. Due to COVID, there is a gate around the bean, but you can still get some great photos.

5. The Chicago Theater:

A 7 minute walk from Millennium Park is the infamous Chicago Theater. It shines bright, even during the day time. Carson enjoyed seeing all the lights on the sign.

6. 360 Chicago Observation Deck:

360 CHICAGO Observation Deck offers breathtaking panoramic views of Chicago from 1,000 feet above the famed Magnificent Mile. The Observation Deck features a bar, café, and the 360 Chicago Tilt Ride.

The 360 Tilt is a attraction that will definitely give you a different view of Chicago. You hold on to handle bars as the windows tilt down to allow you to slightly lay over the city. The attraction is fast paced (I think the price should've been cheaper for the short time) , but Carson enjoyed being able to try something new (There is a height requirement) .


Observation Deck without the Tilt: $30

Observation Deck with the Tilt: $35

We did the All Access Pass which includes a alcoholic beverage for adults 21+ and a gelato for kids.

7. Chicago Riverwalk:

The Chicago Riverwalk is lined with several restaurants, stores, you might catch a musical performance etc. The Riverwalk has a dock for a boat tour of the city (tickets were sold out when we went) We had Ice Cream from Fannie Mae's as we sat to rest and watched the boats pass by.

Other things to do:

  • Adler Planetarium (Closed due to COVID)

  • Navy Pier (Closed due to COVID)

  • Lincoln Park Zoo

  • American Girl Place

  • Children's Museum

  • And much more!

Budget Friendly Tips for a Day Trip to Chicago with Kids :

Since we were only in Chicago for 10 hours, I wanted to find as many ways to save money as possible. Here are some of the ways we found.

1. Chicago City Pass:

We used the Chicago City Pass which gave us access to:

What's Included:

  • Shedd Aquarium - OPEN

  • Skydeck Chicago - OPEN

  • Field Museum - OPEN

  • Plus get admission to 2 more attractions of your choice:

  • Art Institute of Chicago - OPEN

  • Museum of Science and Industry - OPEN

  • 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck - OPEN

  • Adler Planetarium - TEMPORARILY CLOSED

2. Chicago Transit Authority:

The Chicago Transit Authority allows people to travel throughout the city via train/bus. We did the Unlimited Ride Pass for 1 Day for $10.00. Kids under 7 are FREE with an adult. The Chicago Transit Authority has an app that can be downloaded on our mobile device to see the schedule, map, etc but it was a little hard to navigate, so I used my Google Maps app that was much easier to read.

3. Take Advantage of FREE Activities:

There are several things in Chicago that require little to no money. Here are a few:

-Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Riverwalk, THE LINCOLN PARK ZOO (yes the zoo is free), etc

All in all, our Day Trip to Chicago was amazing and I cant wait to do another Day Trip to explore another state.

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