Free Ways to Keep Your Chicago Kids Busy This Summer

June 12, 2011

It’s the summer season in Chicago. If you have kids, this extra time together can bring forth a sense of excitement . . . and fear.

What to do with them for three months?!?

You can certainly put them to work in your Chicago real estate, or you can get them out of that house and keep them entertained.

I doubt you need advice for the former. Here are some ideas for the latter, and you won’t have to break the piggy bank for them, either.

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The Millennium Park Family Fun Festival kicks off Monday, June 13 and runs every day through August 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Each day will provide family performances, hands-on projects, gardening activities and daily story times in the Family Fun Tent, located on Millennium Park’s Chase Promenade North at North Michigan Ave. and E. Randolph St.

Admission is free. For more information, check out explorechicago.org.

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Crown Fountain is free and fun.

There is tons to do at Millennium Park while you are there, including the Crown Fountain, a tribute to our city, which is made up of two 50-foot glass block towers that display rotating video images of Chicago residents on LED screens.

The fountain, situated at 201 E. Randolph Street between Michigan and Columbus Avenues, has each image smile before appearing to spout out water from the resident’s mouth. There is also a cascading waterfall.

In other words, your kids are going to get wet, so plan accordingly and bring extra clothes. The fountain is on from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Visit millenniumpark.org for more information.

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Crown Fountain not enough for you? Don’t forget that one of the world’s largest fountains is here in Chicago.

Buckingham Fountain, located at Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway in Grant Park, runs daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Every hour on the hour for 20 minutes, the fountain offers a major water display. Once dusk hits, the display is accompanied by a light and music show.

Learn more about Buckingham Fountain before you go by visiting cpdit01.com.

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Want to see a movie but don’t want to come up with the high ticket price? Check out one of Chicago Park District’s Movies in the Parks.

From June 14 through September 16, free movies will be shown practically daily at more than 120 city parks.

The first show will be a screening of “Airplane!” at Montgomery Ward Park at Belmont and Lake Shore Drive on Tuesday, June 14.

To find out what will be shown when and where, call (312) 742-1134 or visit chicagoparkdistrict.com.

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I’ve always wanted to take my kids to the Art Institute, but I don’t want to shell out a lot for tickets, since other parental friends say they will be bored. (I like to think they are more cultured than that, but who knows.)

Now I have my chance. Beginning this month, admission into the Art Institute of Chicago is free all day long on the first and second Wednesdays of every month for Free Family Wednesdays.

For more information, call (312) 443-3600 or visit artic.edu.

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It costs to be member at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier, but there are some times you can sneak in for free.

Target sponsors free admission all day for ages 15 and under on the first Sunday of every month, and Kraft offers free admission for everyone on Thursday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m.

Navy Pier is always free to get into, so if you can scrounge up money for parking, you can spend the whole day wandering around and soaking in the sights. Plus, every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. and every Saturday at 10:15 p.m., the Pier provide a spectacular, and free, fireworks display synchronized to music.

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fosco park

Cool off at Fosco Park this summer.

Some day it will be warm in Chicago again, so how about a free water park? The Chicago Park District’s Fosco Park, 1312 S. Racine, is an 80,000-square-foot community center that has a pool that includes a zero-depth entry for your little ones, and a water playground with a water slide.

Check out the swimming schedule here or call (312) 742-PLAY for more information. For a lowdown on all Chicago Park District pools, click here.

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The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, was created for children, and includes an awesome butterfly room where kids can flitter around while the creatures do.

The Museum offers free admission on Thursday, though a donation is suggested.

The museum is located very close to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago Park District’s Lincoln Park Conservatory, two Chicago attractions that are always free to enter.

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If you go to one of those last attractions just mentioned on a Wednesday or a Saturday, you can check out the Green City Market, 1750 N. Clark, situated right next to the Lincoln Park Zoo. There you can pick up some locally grown produce while teaching your children about the importance of sustainable farming.

The market is open from 7 to 11 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays through October, and there are a variety of demonstrations and educational programs to go along with it.

For more information, visit chicagogreencitymarket.org.

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Start off your summer break this week at the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, where general admission is free from June 12-17.

The aquarium will also be extending its hours for the week, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information, call (312) 939-2438 or visit sheddaquarium.org.

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Want to teach your children more about the city in which they live? The Chicago History Museum is offering free Mondays during the month of June.

That will end on July 1, but Katelynn Riordan of the Museum wrote in to ChicagolandRealEstateForum.com to tell us that there are other free days in which to take advantage.

Those include: August 23-24, September 12-16, September 19-23, September 26-30, October 3-7, and October 10-13.

So now you have your fall planned as well.

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Here are some other local attractions that always offer free admission:

*Chicago Architecture Foundation

*Chicago Cultural Center

*Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

*Smart Museum of Art

Did we miss anything? If so, share! And, stay tuned to Chicagoland Real Estate Forum throughout the summer for more fun things to do around Chicago all season long. Happy summer!

About The Author


Read All Stories By Tracey



i want to say Thanks for Chicago real estate, new home builders, developers, communities. i really needed it.


I am traveling with my kids this summer to Chicago and this is a great list of things to do with them.

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