Chicago is one of the most popular cities in the United States to visit, and you’ll find tons of things to do in Chicago with teens. This fun travel destination appeals to a broad range of travelers, and we’ve found it’s especially fun to experience with older kids.
Things to do in Chicago with Teens
We’ve pulled together a huge list of the top things to do in Chicago for teens! Whether you enjoy adrenaline pumping activities like Tilt or something more relaxed like strolling though Millenium Park and the adjacent Art Institute, there really is something for everyone in the Windy City.
Make sure you are familiar with the Covid restrictions in place in Chicago and at the various attractions before your trip.
Pro tip: Leave the car at home! Driving (and parking) in Chicago is very expensive and stressful! Public transportation and rideshare services are easy and affordable.
If you want to experience the top Chicago attractions and save a hefty chunk of change then check out Chicago CityPASS.
The pass is good for 9 consecutive days and can save you almost 50% off individual ticket prices.
Attractions include Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck and the Field Museum plus TWO of the following: Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck and Adler Planetarium.
Buy it here and save now: Chicago CityPASS
Museums in Chicago for Teens
If your teen is a fan of art, history, or science, they’ll love these Chicago attractions.
Not only is the Shedd Aquarium one of the top things to do in Chicago for teens, it’s also in one of the best locations for Chicago skyline views! There are over 30,000 animals in the aquarium, representing over 700 species.
Special events and programs include animal encounters, shark feedings, and special learning labs for teens.
Address: 1200 South Lake Shore Drive
Phone Number: 312-939-2438
Another hot spot on Chicago’s lakefront Museum Campus is the Field Museum. Don’t miss the chance to explore one of the largest natural history museums in the world.
Exhibits range from bird habitats, gems and minerals, indigenous cultures, fossils, and much more. You can’t miss Sue, the largest T-Rex specimen ever found.
Address: 1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Phone Number: 312-922-9410
Rounding out the Museum Campus on Lake Michigan is the Adler Planetarium. America’s first planetarium has been educating visitors since 1930. Exhibits include Astronomy in Culture, Chicago’s Night Sky, and a Space Visualization Lab.
Address: 1300 South Lake Shore Drive
Phone Number: 312-922-7827
Museum of Science and Industry
The largest science center in the Western Hemisphere is one of the best things to do in Chicago with a teenager. Even the building is worth the trip, as it was originally the Palace of Fine Arts in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.
Among the many exhibits, you’ll find a full-scale coal mine, an actual German submarine from WWII, the Apollo 8 command module, and an impressive rotation of traveling exhibits.
Address: 5700 South Lake Shore Drive
Phone Number: 773-684-1414
Art Institute of Chicago
One of the oldest and largest art collections in the United States, the Art Institute is a Chicago legend. There are nearly 300,000 pieces of art, including one of the best collections of impressionist art to be found outside of France.
From classics to modern and contemporary art, the Art Institute (and the gift shop!) are a must-see when visiting Chicago with teens.
Address: 111 South Michigan Avenue
Phone Number: 312-443-3600
Museum of Contemporary Art
If modern art is more your style, then Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art is the place to be. It’s one of the world’s largest contemporary art museums, and the gift shop is a great place for souvenirs. Special exhibits are some of the hottest tickets in Chicago!
Address: 220 East Chicago Avenue
Phone Number: 312-280-2660
Chicago History Museum
Learn about the history of Chicago at this northside museum. Exhibits include original train cars, an Abraham Lincoln collection, and a current crowdsourcing opportunity that will determine future exhibits.
Central to the history of Chicago is the Chicago Fire, which features prominently throughout the museum.
Address: 1601 North Clark Street
Phone Number: 312-642-4600
Parks and Outdoor Fun in Chicago with Teens
Enjoy walking, biking, swimming, kayaking and more at these the beautiful Chicago outdoor spaces.
Known as Chicago’s Front Yard, Grant Park is a huge area encompassing many of Chicago’s most important landmarks. The Museum Campus, Millennium Park, and Buckingham Fountain are all located in Grant Park.
In the summer, there are always festivals in Grant Park, including Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, and JazzFest. In the winter, ice skating in Millennium Park is a classic family outing.
Address: 337 East Randolph Street
Phone Number: (312) 742-3918
Chicago’s “Central Park” is a great place to go with teens. The park encompasses the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is free. If you visit in the winter Zoo Lights is a very popular activity, while the summer brings locals out to enjoy the sunshine.
There’s also the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Lincoln Park Conservatory, and a lily pond. You can also rent a paddleboat, canoe or kayak and paddle around the Lincoln Park Lagoon!
Address: 2045 North Lincoln Park West
Phone Number: 312-742-7726
North Avenue Beach
One of the most popular beaches in Chicago, North Avenue Beach is buzzing with activities in the summer. There’s a beach house with food, showers, and restrooms. You can join a beach volleyball game, take a yoga class, or rent a kayak and head out into Lake Michigan.
Address: 1600 North Lake Shore Drive
Phone Number: 312-742-3224
Lakefront Bike Path
Bicycling along the Lake Michigan shoreline is the perfect family activity in the summer. You can rent bikes at several points along the lake, including at North Avenue Beach, Oak Street Beach, and at Navy Pier. Ride all the way to the Museum Campus and enjoy breathtaking skyline views from several angles.
The largest zoo in Illinois is located in the southwest suburb of Brookfield. They have over 400 animal species in a 216 acre park. They also have fun events throughout the year, including ice skating in the winter months.
Address: 8400 West 31st Street, Brookfield
Phone Number: 708-688-8000
Indiana Dunes National Park
One of America’s newest National Parks is just one hour from Chicago! And you can get there using public transportation! The park includes 15 miles of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline, and 50 miles of hiking trails through sand dunes and nearby wetlands.
Address: 1215 N State Rd 49, Porter, IN
Phone Number: 219-395-1882
Cruises, Tours and Views in Chicago
Your teenagers will love seeing Chicago from different vantage points. Check out these stunning aerial views, ride the ferris wheel, or take a river cruise.
Located at the top of Willis Tower, formerly known as Sears Tower, SkyDeck is the best spot for aerial views of Chicago.
Ascending 103 stories in a high-speed elevator is exhilarating enough, but now you can also step into one of four clear boxes that hang suspended over the city. If your teens love adrenaline, they will love “the Ledge.”
Address: 233 South Wacker Drive
Phone Number: 312-875-9696
Another popular observation deck in Chicago is on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building. The observation deck overlooks Lake Michigan and Michigan Avenue.
In a bid to compete with the Ledges of Willis Tower, 360Chicago now has “Tilt,” an observation box that tilts out over the city below.
Address: 875 North Michigan Avenue
Phone Number: 888-875-8439
There are several ways to get out and explore the water around Chicago. Seadog cruises are an adrenaline-packed jetboat tour of Lake Michigan, starting at Navy Pier. Hitting speeds of 45 mph, and executing 360-degree turns, this is a thrilling way to experience Lake Michigan.
Address: 600 East Grand Avenue
Phone Number: (312) 321-7600
Chicago River Architecture Tour
This boat tour of the Chicago River is one of the top things to do in Chicago. Seeing the city from the river is a unique experience, and learning about the history and architecture that made Chicago is the icing on the cake. You’ll never look at the Chicago skyline the same way again!
Address: 400 North Michigan Avenue
Phone Number: 312-337-1446
Chicago River Kayak Tour
For a slower-paced tour of the Chicago River, consider a kayak tour. Wateriders offers kayak rentals, private tours, and group tours.
Choose a history and architecture tour, sunset paddle, a Navy Pier fireworks paddle, or a moonlight paddle. Exploring Chicago by kayak is fun for the whole family!
Address: 500 North Kingsbury Street
Phone Number: 312-953-9287
Enjoy 360-degree views of Chicago from this iconic Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. Reaching heights of nearly 200 feet, this is a thrilling ride and a breathtaking view! Gondolas are enclosed, so this is a fun experience even if you visit Chicago in the winter.
Address: 600 East Grand Avenue
Phone Number: 312-595-7437
Chicago Sports Venues Your Teen Will Love
Is your teenager a sports fan? Definitely add these stops to your Chicago itinerary!
Chicago is a sports fan’s paradise, and Wrigley Field is ground zero for Chicago baseball. One of the oldest ballparks in the country, the ivy walls of Wrigley Field are an icon of baseball.
If you can catch a Cubs game, your teen will love the atmosphere and energy of Wrigleyville. You might also book a tour of Wrigley Field, or catch a concert when the Chicago Cubs are on the road.
Address: 1060 West Addison Street
Phone Number: 800-THE-CUBS
Guaranteed Rate Field
On the south side, you can catch the “other” Chicago baseball team, the Chicago White Sox. This is a “newer” stadium from 1991, so it’s a totally different experience than Wrigley Field. If your teen is a big sports fan, it’s definitely worth checking out a game at each of the stadiums in town.
Address: 333 West 35th Street
Phone Number: 312-674-1000
Another iconic sports hall of Chicago, this is where the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks play. Walking the same hallowed halls as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman is worth the trip to Chicago’s west side. United Center is also one of Chicago’s largest concert venues.
Address: 1901 West Madison Street
Phone Number: 312-455-4500
Adrenaline and Entertainment for Teenagers in Chicago
Wondering what to do on a rainy day in Chicago with teens? Here are some heart-pumping ideas.
iFLY Indoor Skydiving
For an indoor activity, and a major adrenaline rush, check out indoor skydiving! Expert trainers walk you through the process to ensure a safe flight and then you get to experience flying in a wind tunnel. Packages are available for multiple flights in one session.
Address: 800 West Scott Street
Phone Number: 779-368-4359
Great Escape Room
If your family hasn’t tried an escape room yet, Chicago is a great place to check it out! Work together as a family to figure out how to escape the room. Special theme events include scavenger hunts and extended 100-minute adventures.
Address: 160 East Grand Avenue
Phone Number: (312) 281-8915
Lucky Strike Bowling
This isn’t your grandpa’s bowling alley! Located in the hip Streeterville neighborhood, Lucky Strike Social has 18 bowling lanes, ping pong tables, billiard tables, and over 100 arcade games. If you are looking for indoor activities in Chicago, this is a great place to spend the day with your teens!
Address: 322 East Illinois Street
Phone Number: 312-245-8331
Originally the Improv Olympics, this is a great place for evening entertainment. Catch an improv comedy show at the theater that helped launch the career of dozens of comedians and actors, including Vince Vaughn, Tina Fey, Seth Myers, Chris Farley, and Stephen Colbert. Improv comedy is best suited for older teens.
Address: 1501 North Kingsbury Street
Phone Number: 312-929-2401
The Second City
Another iconic spot in Chicago’s entertainment scene, the Second City is a training for comedians, as well as a live theater. Dozens of Saturday Night Live alumni got their start at Second City, so you never know who you might catch on stage or in the audience.
Address: 1616 North Wells Street
Phone Number: 312-337-3992
Shopping and Eating in Chicago with Teens
In a city as big as Chicago, there are tons of fun things for teens who love shopping and exploring local cuisine.
Water Tower Place
This shopping mall is the anchor of the Magnificent Mile. If you plan on doing any shopping with your teen in Chicago, this is the place to start.
This is also a great place to grab a bit, as there are several great food options, including foodlife, Chicago’s original food hall, on the mezzanine level.
Address: 835 North Michigan Avenue
Phone Number: 312-440-3580
Chicago has a vibrant Chinatown just south of the city center. Learn about the history of Chinese immigrants and how they came to Chicago at the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, which also offers walking tours.
Shop for fun souvenirs and sweet treats at shops and bakeries in the area. If you haven’t tried dim sum, there are several restaurants to try this fun Chinese brunch.
Address: 2206 South Wentworth Avenue
Phone Number: 312-225-6198
If you are lucky enough to visit Chicago around the holidays, you have to visit the Christkindl Market in Daley Plaza downtown. You will feel like you’re in Germany with this authentic Christmas market. Shop from artisan crafts, gifts, food, and of course, mulled wine! (Or hot chocolate for the teens!)
Address: 50 West Washington Street
Phone Number: 312-494-2175
Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
Chicago is famous for cheesy deep dish pizza, so your teen will definitely want to check out Giordano’s for the best stuffed deep dish pizza in town. Expect a long wait at the main River North location, but you can pre-order since the stuffed pizzas can take a while to cook.
Pizzeria Uno and Lou Malnati’s are two other popular Chicago pizza places.
Address: 730 North Rush Street
Phone Number: 312-951-0747
Garrett Popcorn Shops
You may wonder why people line up outside Garrett Popcorn shops, but this is one of the top cravings for Chicagoans who move away. The locations on Michigan Avenue and State Street tend to be the most crowded, so check out other locations if you don’t want to wait in line.
Make sure you try the Chicago Mix: cheese and caramel popcorn mixed together. It’s heaven!
Address: Multiple Locations
If you haven’t experienced an Eataly Market, then you definitely want to visit Eataly Chicago! With 63,000 square feet of space, Eataly has food counters, restaurants, shops, and cooking classes. Most teens will make a beeline for the Nutella bar!
Address: 43 East Ohio Street
Phone Number: 312-521-8700
Chicago-Style Hot Dog
Another iconic Chicago food is the hot dog! Start with an all-beef hot dog and a poppyseed bun, and whatever you do, don’t ask for ketchup! A true Chicago dog has mustard, white onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomatoes, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.
SuperDawg in the suburbs is a popular drive-in spot, while Portillo’s in the city has a pretty good dog. Of course, if you catch a baseball game, you can definitely get a Chicago dog at the stadium!
Revival Food Hall
If you have picky eaters in the family, or just seem to have a hard time agreeing on restaurants, food halls are a lifesaver! Chicago’s newest food hall, Revival, has 15 fast-casual food counters, all from local Chicago restaurants. No chains! You can have tacos, seafood, BBQ, burgers, poke bowls, ramen, sandwiches, and more!
Address: 125 South Clark Street
Phone Number: 773-999-9411
More Things to do with Teenagers in Chicago
Chicago Big Bus
A great way to see the highlights of Chicago, and get your bearings on the various neighborhoods, is by taking a hop on hop off bus tour with Chicago Big Bus. The commentary provides a nice background of the city, and on a nice day, you can ride up top for a birds eye view of the city.
Address: multiple stops
Phone Number: 877-285-4796
Pullman National Monument
The only National Park Service site in Chicago, Pullman is one of the nation’s first planned company towns. On a walking tour, you’ll learn about the Pullman factory where train cars were made, and you’ll see how the town was built for the factory workers and bosses.
Address: 11141 South Cottage Grove
Phone Number: 773-264-7431
If you arrive in Chicago by train, you’ll arrive at Union Station. This grand building was designed by famed Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and opened in 1925. The historic Great Hall was featured prominently in the movie “The Untouchables” and was recently renovated in 2019.
Address: 225 South Canal Street
Phone Number: 800-872-7245
One of the coolest outdoor concert venues in Chicago is at Northerly Island. Formerly Meigs Field Airport, this strip of land sits just off the shore of Lake Michigan. You’ll have some of the best views of the city from Northerly Island, and there are concerts and festivals throughout the summer. There’s also a park on the island if you prefer a quieter experience.
Address: 1521 South Linn White Drive
Phone Number: 312-745-2910
Another amazing outdoor performance venue is Ravinia Festival, located in the north suburbs. The Metra runs a special train right to the gates of Ravinia, so getting there from the city is easy.
Choose lawn seats, go early and bring a picnic to enjoy under the stars. You can also pre-order a picnic dinner and chairs to pick up on-site.
Address: 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park
Phone Number: 847-266-5100
With all of these fun things to do in Chicago for teens, you’ll never hear “I’m bored!”