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20 Amazing Things to do in Chicago with Teens

20 Amazing Things to do in Chicago with Teens

Any family looking for a place with amazing experiences for the whole family must take a look at Chicago. For teens, the city’s lively atmosphere and diverse attractions make it an ideal destination. From world-class museums to thrilling outdoor adventures and mouthwatering culinary delights, Chicago promises endless possibilities for memorable experiences. 

This list of things to do in Chicago with teens is sure to appeal to any interest, ensuring an unforgettable journey through the Windy City for the whole family. 

For families interested in museums, tours, and sightseeing attractions, the Go City All-Inclusive Pass is a must. You save up to 50% on admission to over 25 attractions and get free admission to sites like Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, Adler Planetarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Explore more of the state! Here are our top picks for things to do in Illinois with kids.

The Best Things to do in Chicago with Teens

Skydeck Chicago

Skydeck Chicago is one of the best things to do in Chicago with teens

Skydeck Chicago at the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is a glass-floored ledge suspended 1,353 feet above ground, offering breathtaking views of Chicago’s skyline. This spine-tingling experience is sure to appeal to teens while the rest of the family can also get amazing views over the city. 

The adrenaline rush of standing on the transparent platform, seemingly floating above the city, is unmatched. Beyond the exhilarating experience, interactive exhibits and informational displays educate teens about the city’s architecture, history, and landmarks.

It’s a perfect opportunity for family bonding as they capture awe-inspiring photos and create lasting memories against the backdrop of Chicago’s iconic skyline.

Here are our favorite things to do in Chicago with kids.

360 Chicago

Tilt at 360 CHicago

For more great views of Chicago, 360 Chicago, situated atop the iconic John Hancock Center on Michigan Avenue, is a great alternative to the Willis Tower. With its panoramic views of four states, Lake Michigan, and the city’s famed skyline, teens are treated to a breathtaking perspective of the Windy City. 

Thrill-seekers can brave TILT, an enclosed platform that tilts outward over the city for an exhilarating view. 360 Chicago promises an unforgettable journey above the clouds, creating cherished memories for families exploring Chicago with teens.

Seadog Cruises

Seadog Cruise a fun to take in Chicago with teens

For a more exciting river cruise, Seadog Cruises offers speedboat rides, architectural tours, or exhilarating lakefront excursions aboard Seadog’s fleet of high-speed boats. Teens will love taking in the Chicago skyline and some of its most famous sights and learning about the history and culture of Chicago while experiencing an exciting high-speed ride. 

Boats depart from Navy Pier and there are multiple options for length and speed levels on the different cruises.

Chicago River Architecture Tour

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For a slower-paced boat tour for teens interested in architecture, a Chicago River Architecture Tour is an educational journey through the city’s iconic skyline. As the boat glides along the river, teens can view the skyline with buildings like the Willis Tower and the Wrigley Building while knowledgeable guides share fascinating insights into Chicago’s rich architectural history. 

With its blend of history, culture, and breathtaking views, the tour engages teens’ imaginations and provides a deeper appreciation for the beauty and significance of the city’s architectural heritage. It’s an unforgettable experience that combines learning with sightseeing, making it ideal for families exploring Chicago with teens.

Pizza Tour of Chicago

Chiacgo style pizza

A pizza tour of Chicago is an excellent way to experience one of the city’s most famous dishes, learn about the city’s history, and keep teens fed and entertained.

Tours start with deep-dish delights at iconic pizzerias like Lou Malnati’s, famous for its buttery crust and generous layers of cheese and toppings. Next, savor the crispy, thin-crust pies at Pizzeria Uno, where each bite bursts with flavor from fresh ingredients and zesty sauce.

Finally, indulge in a taste of Chicago’s unique tavern-style pizza at Pequod’s, renowned for its caramelized crust and savory toppings. Teens discover the rich flavors and diverse styles that make Chicago a pizza lover’s paradise with each slice.

To try other famous foods from Chicago and get some exercise at the same time, try this family food tour on bikes.

Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago is a city packed with museums offering an enriching and engaging experience. From the immersive exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry to the world-renowned artwork at the Art Institute of Chicago, these cultural institutions spark curiosity, foster learning, and provide endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-renowned cultural destination, housing an extensive collection of artwork spanning centuries and continents. Teens can explore iconic masterpieces like Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and Vincent van Gogh’s “The Bedroom,” immersing themselves in the rich history and diverse perspectives of the art world. 

Museum of Science and Industry

Chicago museum of science and industry

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago allows a hands-on exploration of science and technology. Teens interested in science and technology will love the interactive exhibits, including a real German U-505 submarine and a massive model railroad.

From space exploration to genetics, the museum ignites curiosity and sparks a passion for learning. They have rotating exhibits in addition to their permanent collection. Currently there is an exposition on the Science of James Bond. If you have a teens interested in pursuing a STEM career, you definitely don’t want to miss this museum.

Shedd Aquarium

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The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is an exciting underwater world teeming with marine life. Teens can view exotic sea creatures from around the globe, including dolphins, sharks, and beluga whales.

The aquarium inspires conservation efforts and fosters a deeper appreciation for aquatic ecosystems through educational exhibits and engaging presentations. Reservations are highly suggested for tickets, especially on weekends, during the summer, and on holidays.

Field Museum

The Field Museum

The Field Museum in Chicago is a treasure trove of natural history and cultural artifacts. Teens can embark on a journey through time, exploring ancient civilizations, dinosaur fossils, and interactive exhibits.

From the towering T. rex skeleton named Sue to Egyptian mummies, the museum has endless opportunities for discovery and learning. Wednesdays are free for Illinois residents in 2024!

Adler Planetarium

visiting the Adler planetarium is one of the best things to do in Chicago with teens

The Adler Planetarium in Chicago is an out-of-this-world experience for teens fascinated by astronomy and space exploration. With its state-of-the-art exhibits, immersive sky shows, and interactive displays, teens can journey through the cosmos, uncovering the mysteries of the universe and igniting a passion for science.

Museum of Contemporary Art

museum of contemporary art

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago showcases cutting-edge artwork from around the world, making it an inspiring destination for teens with interest in modern art.

From avant-garde installations to thought-provoking exhibitions, the MCA fosters creativity and encourages exploration of the ever-evolving contemporary art landscape.

Chicago History Museum

Chicago HIstory Museum
Image by Alanscottwalker

The Chicago History Museum is a chance to see the city’s rich and diverse past, making it an engaging destination for teens interested in history.

From the Great Chicago Fire to the city’s role in shaping American culture, the museum’s exhibits illuminate the stories and events that have shaped Chicago’s identity. There are also rotating temporary rotating exhibits, such as the current exhibit on how Polish immigrants had a major impact on Chicago.

Kayaking or Paddleboarding on the Chicago River

Kayaking the Chicago River
Photo via Kayak Chicago

Active families will love kayaking or paddleboarding on the Chicago River. As they paddle along the river, teens can marvel at architectural wonders like the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, while also enjoying the serene beauty of nature amidst the urban landscape. It’s a fun and active way for teens to explore Chicago from a different angle while creating lasting memories on the water.

Rentals are available from outfitters like Kayak Chicago or Urban Kayaks providing teens with all the equipment needed for a memorable adventure. 

Chicago River Walk 

Chicago River Walk

Exploring the Chicago Riverwalk with teens is a great way to get some exercise while being able to view the city.

Teens can stroll along the picturesque waterfront to view iconic architecture like the iconic Marina Towers and the historic Wrigley Building. They can also enjoy outdoor dining at trendy restaurants and cafes, savoring delicious meals with stunning river views.

For a more active adventure, families can rent kayaks or take an architecture tour by boat, immersing themselves in the rich history and beauty of Chicago’s riverfront. With its blend of leisure and culture, the Chicago Riverwalk provides a memorable outing for teens and families alike.

Cycle the Lakefront Bike Path

Biking Chicago

Cycling along the Lakefront Bike Path in Chicago with teens promises an exhilarating adventure with breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline. Rent bikes from vendors like Divvy or Bobby’s Bike Hike and hit the paved trail winding along the waterfront.

Teens can pedal past iconic landmarks like Navy Pier and Grant Park, pausing to snap photos or enjoy a picnic on the grassy lakeshore. With its scenic vistas and refreshing lake breezes, the Lakefront Bike Path is a perfect blend of outdoor recreation and sightseeing, making it an ideal activity for families exploring Chicago with teens.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier

Navy Pier, perhaps one of the most famous destinations in Chicago, has an array of exciting activities for teens to enjoy. They can soar high above the city on the Centennial Wheel, taking in panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the skyline.

Thrill-seekers can brave the Wave Swinger or make their way through the Amazing Chicago Time Freak Game. Teens can also catch a live performance at the Shakespeare Theater or indulge in classic carnival treats like funnel cakes and cotton candy. With its exciting atmosphere and diverse attractions, Navy Pier provides endless entertainment options for teens seeking fun and adventure in Chicago.

Grant Park

Buckingham Fountain in Chicago

There are plenty of activities at Grant Park for teens to enjoy in the heart of Chicago. They can start by exploring the lush green spaces and iconic landmarks like Buckingham Fountain and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Teens can rent bikes to cruise along the lakefront path or join a game of pickup basketball or volleyball. During the summer, they can catch live concerts or festivals at the Petrillo Music Shell. With its many attractions, Grant Park provides endless opportunities for outdoor fun and cultural exploration for teens visiting Chicago.

North Avenue Beach

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Visiting North Avenue Beach with teens is a quintessential Chicago experience filled with sun, sand, and fun. Teens can soak up the sun on the sandy shores, play beach volleyball, or take a dip in Lake Michigan’s refreshing waters.

Adventurous teens can rent paddleboards or kayaks for an exhilarating water adventure. The beach also features a bustling beach house with concessions, showers, and rental facilities.

The Second City Comedy Club

The Second City

For teens and families who love comedy, visiting The Second City Comedy Club promises an evening of laughter and entertainment. In Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, this legendary venue has launched the careers of comedic icons like Tina Fey and Steve Carell. 

Teens can catch hilarious improv shows featuring talented comedians who expertly riff on pop culture, politics, and everyday life. 

With its intimate setting and interactive performances, Second City creates a dynamic ambiance that encourages audience participation and spontaneous laughter. It’s a perfect opportunity for teens to bond with family and friends while enjoying top-notch comedy in the heart of Chicago’s renowned comedy scene.

Catch a Pro Sports Game

Wrigley Field

Sports fans won’t want to miss one of Chicago’s pro sports games while in town. Head to Soldier Field to witness the Chicago Bears in action, and witness the electric air of football fandom. 

The United Center is home to both the Chicago Bulls of the NBA and the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL which both offer an exciting evening of sports. 

Baseball fans won’t want to miss a Cubs game at Wrigley Field in the heart of Wrigleyville to see the iconic ivy-covered walls and cheer on one of the oldest teams in Major League Baseball. Or, head to the South Side for a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field. 

No matter the sport or the venue, attending a pro sports game in Chicago promises thrills, camaraderie, and unforgettable memories for fans of all ages.