The end of summer can be bittersweet for parents, as they celebrate the final weekends of togetherness before sending their children off for their first day of school. Rather than spending those dwindling summer hours at home in front of the television, families should consider taking a quick weekend trip to Chicago. In addition to being a relatively affordable vacation spot thanks to its multiple airports and hub status for many airlines, Chicago is also a hotbed for fun and entertainment during the early fall season. Chicago’s vibrant theatre scene, world-class museums and enthusiastic sports culture add up to deliver a family-friendly vacation where everyone is guaranteed to learn something they don’t teach in school.
Many residents of Chicago, such as those at One Bennett Park, admire the Windy City’s many opportunities for family friendly entertainment, dining and attractions. Located in the heart of Streeterville, this new luxury residential tower from Robert A.M. Stern Architects is accessible to many of the city’s most popular family hangouts.
Whether you are visiting, or here to stay, here are five reasons Chicago is a great place to spend time with the family over a weekend:
1. Baseball season is in full swing
As it gets closer to the annual World Series event, baseball games become even more exciting. Both avid sports fans and their little ones will enjoy a visit to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Tuck into your stadium seat with some peanuts and Cracker Jacks and enjoy a night of team spirit, giveaways and plenty of other surprises you’ll only find at an all-American ball game.
2. You can visit the largest indoor aquarium in the world
Shedd Aquarium has been one of Chicago’s most exciting attractions since it opened in 1930. Home to more than 8,000 aquatic animals, including penguins, dolphins, beluga whales and sharks, Shedd Aquarium is the largest aquariums of its kind. In addition to special exhibits, such as the Amphibians, Shedd Aquarium also features the Abbott Oceanarium, an immersive “coastal” space where visitors are surrounded by a variety of marine life from playful otters to colorful schools of salt-water fish. The Rice Amphitheatre’s aquatic presentation is not to be missed as Pacific white-sided dolphins and other large sea mammals play and perform tricks live.
3. Kids can walk with the dinosaurs at The Field Museum
Considered to be one of the largest museums of it’s kind in the world, The Field Museum of Natural History is an educational wonderland home to special exhibits and permanent collections like “Inside Ancient Egypt” where visitors can peer at mummies for a remarkable glimpse back in time, or “The Grainger Hall of Gems”, a dark walkway filled with glimmering, rare jewels from around the globe. Of course, the kids will probably be most excited to meet SUE, the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex recovered and on display to date. Families can pop-in for Waking the T.Rex, a 3-D presentation about SUE and other prehistoric beasts.
4. You can laugh with the country’s best improv comedians
While famous spots like iO and The Second City offer content that’s traditionally suited for a more mature audience, there are plenty of family-friendly improv shows taking place daily in the Chicago area. Shout out a suggestion and prepare for a taste of fast-paced “game form” improv at ComedySportz, a popular weekend spot where two comedy teams face off against each other in a battle for laughs. The team who scores the most favor with the audience wins! Who knows? You may even get pulled on stage to play along with some of the city’s funniest performers.
5. There’s no shortage of every kid’s favorite food, PIZZA!
What kid doesn’t love pizza? And what better way to get them excited about dinner than to introduce them to a kind of pizza they’ve never had before – authentic deep-dish pie! More like a casserole in some cases than a pizza, these heavy slices may throw kids for a loop when they see the sauce sitting on top, but watch their eyes light up when they realize there’s plenty of cheese and pepperoni piled underneath. Spots like Pequod’s Pizza in Lincoln Park and The Art of Pizza in West Lakeview come recommended by Time Out Chicago and remain standout favorites among visitors and tourists alike.
So, round up the kids for a weekend trip to Chicago to experience some fun, laughter and discovery that the whole family can enjoy.