While the Chicago Athletic Association has a wide-open space on the second floor called the Game Room, with a full bocce court, billiards and shuffleboard tables, it’s really geared more toward adults. So what to do if you’re traveling with kids? Plan outings around the city to keep them from getting stir crazy during the day — and wear them out so you can have your own fun at night!
Millennium Park & Maggie Daley Park
You won’t have to go far from the CAA to have fun with the kids. Millennium Park sits just across the street where you can check out the mirrored Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, music or a picnic on the Great Lawn or let the kids romp in the water spewing from the mouths on the giant video screens of the Crown Fountain. Then take a walk across the sinewy, snakelike Frank Gehry-designed pedestrian footbridge to the brand new Maggie Daley Park. Named for Chicago’s former first lady, the park offers rock climbing walls, numerous playgrounds with climbing equipment, swings and more, picnic groves, open park area and a quarter-mile-long “ribbon” that serves as a skating loop in winter and a walking/running parth in summer.
Robots at the Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry, located off Lake Shore Drive in Hyde Park near the University of Chicago, has numerous kid-friendly educational and fun exhibits. Spend a day at the museum, which is housed in the only-remaining building from the 1893 World’s Fair (the same year the CAA opened) and walk around a World War II German submarine; go down into a coal mine; explore a mirror maze; and watch baby chickens hatch.
And now through January 3rd, 2016, you can wow the kids with robots! A new exhibit, Robot Revolution, allows you to interact with robots of varying sizes and capabilities, including an all-terrain crawling robot; a robot that plays tic-tac-doe with you; and a baby seal robot that reacts to touch and emotion. You can even watch a robot soccer match! Tickets for this exhibit are $11 for adults and $9 for kids ages 3-11 on top of regular admission prices of $18 for adults and $11 for kids. 5700 S Lake Shore Dr, 773-684-1414
Lincoln Park Zoo
Set smack in the middle of the city, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the largest and oldest free urban zoos in the country. Kids will love watching sea lions, seals and otters swim underwater while polar bears lounge in the sun. Check out swinging monkeys tease their mates to make onlookers laugh. Enter the lion house and marvel at the large cats. Try to identify red kangaroos, Sichuan takin, alpaca, Chacoan Peccary and more. Kids can even go to the Farm in the Zoo to interact with cows, horses, goats, pigs and sheep. 2001 N. Clark St., 312-742-2000
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Just north of the zoo, the Nature Museum is a place of wonder and joy. Whether you’re letting delicate butterflies land on your shoulder in the Butterfly Haven; learn about various reptiles, birds and mammals; explore fossils and geodes or travel to a rainforest, the Nature Museum is truly an exceptional experience. 2430 N. Cannon Dr., 773-755-5100