Whatever your interest, from literature to art to architecture, you’ll find its expression in one of the Windy City’s top museums.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler
Zoom out. What’s this place all about?
Children's is fittlingly the western anchor of Navy Pier, itself a family magnet. On the beaten path for local as well as visiting families, with edu-taining exhibits that are right-sized for a couple hours' diversion.
What will we find here?
Kids and their minders come to Children's to play in active and creative ways. There are three stories of ship rigging that look like crocheted towers for older kids to climb, and gentler trails for the under-fives. Exhibits engage kids to tinker with simple machines, design a waterway, and make art.
Are there any temporary exhibits worth seeing?
Special programs activate the galleries, but it's the permanent installations that drive visits.
What did you make of the crowd?
The seasonless playspace draws a lot of preschoolers on weekdays, and the entire family on weekends. Here, the kids can go bonkers and no one will give them a second look.
Is it easy to get around?
Nothing terribly thwarting here, except perhaps the unexpected routes of excited children.
Any guided tours worth trying?
Rather than tours, the museum holds regular programs that might include dance parties, tinkering and dough making workshops—all free and all engaging.
Gift shop: obligatory, inspiring—or skip it?
Educational toys and a good selection of children's books make the ground-level shop a must-browse.
Is the café worth a stop, or should we just plan on going elsewhere?
This is a BYO snack situation. That, or you can visit the many restaurants and fast food counters of Navy Pier.
Any advice for the time- or attention-challenged?
Few kids are likely to want to feel satisfied with an hour at the museum, but give it a shot. Start with a climb up the schooner rigging, a dig for dinosaur bones, and a splash in the waterway play space.
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