Family friendlyHistory, art and cultureTrip inspirationArea guide
Katie Sagal

10+ Things to Do in Chicago with Teens

We all know it can sometimes be a hassle to travel with teens. After all, even the least dramatic teens and tweens can have their moments of disinterest or disagreement. And so, as much as the whole family needs and wants a vacation, it can be difficult to find teen-friendly activities that will keep everyone entertained.

If you’re looking for things to do in Chicago with teens, check out our list of the top attractions and activities, including...

  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Skydeck Chicago
  • 360 CHICAGO
  • Navy Pier Centennial Wheel
  • The Field Museum
  • Adler Planetarium
  • Brookfield Zoo
  • Ride a Bike around Millennium Park
  • and more...

Head to the Shedd Aquarium

Image of Animal, Aquarium, Fish, Sea Life, Water, Female, Girl, Person, Teen, Adult, Woman, Outdoors,

Trust us, the Shedd Aquarium is the mother of all aquariums. This is one of the most popular things to do in Chicago for a reason. Your teens will be able to enjoy seeing animals that hail from waterways and ecosystems all across the globe, from the nearby Great Lakes to the vast rivers of Asia.

One of our favorite nifty things about Shedd is the Caribbean Reef exhibit, where visitors can actually take a 360-degree tour of an underwater reef community – it’s a really amazing up-close sight and is almost as good as snorkeling in Hawaii.

Bonus for everyone: you can skip the line with our pass, which is a huge benefit during busy tourist seasons. It will keep you and your teens from driving each other crazy during a long wait!

Get a Bird’s Eye View of the City

Image of City, Urban, Building, Cityscape, Outdoors, Metropolis,

Your whole family will love the stunning, panoramic views of one of the country’s most beautiful cities. So visit Skydeck Chicago today! Even the most skeptical teenagers will be amazed at 'The Ledge', an all-glass balcony that puts visitors four feet out from the edge of the building into space!

Looking for another perspective, and maybe a little more interactivity with your amazing views? Try 360 CHICAGO for another vantage point that’s equally as cool. 360 CHICAGO is also conveniently located near a good deal of trendy shopping, so your teens will particularly love that attraction.

Stroll Navy Pier & Ride the Centennial Wheel

Image of City, Urban, Metropolis, Person, Cityscape, Amusement Park, Ferris Wheel, Fun, High Rise,

There's nothing like a good old-fashioned boardwalk stroll. And you don't need to hit up the Jersey Shore to find one! You and the teens will love spending some time at Navy Pier. There is a slew of activities to choose from, including the Centennial Wheel and a bunch of fun rides.

There's also plenty of places to eat and pick up fun souvenirs to remember your trip to Chicago. Want some more ideas? Check out our post on things to do at Navy Pier and nearby spots.

Snap Photos on the Architecture River Cruise

Image of City, Urban, Metropolis, Cityscape, Boat, Vehicle, Water, Waterfront, Ferry, High Rise, Condo, Housing, Office Building, Person, Nature, Outdoors, Scenery,

Chicago is an amazing city for architecture. With a diversity of influences and an eclectic building history, the skyline of Chicago is quite remarkable. One of our favorite ways to survey this beautiful scenery is on an Architecture River Cruise that highlights the city's architectural history.

Teens will relish the chance to get that awesome Instagram photo, and it's fun for everyone to be able to identify famous buildings.

Explore the Famous Museums

Image of Indoors, Museum, Boy, Male, Person, Teen, Animal, Dinosaur,

Teens into natural history and science will find much to love in Chicago's museum scene. The Field Museum is one of the world's most prestigious natural history museums, featuring tons of fascinating stuff from gemstones to fossils (like the largest intact T-Rex skeleton - above).

For astronomy buffs, the Adler Planetarium is another great option and an amazingly fun thing to do. Or, for fans of general-interest scientific subjects, the Museum of Science and Industry is filled with interactive exhibits like a 40-foot indoor tornado.

Get Inspired by Art

Image of Art, Modern Art, Painting, Art Gallery, Adult, Male, Man, Person,

Artsy teens (and their parents!) won't want to miss out on the chance to visit Chicago's top-rated museum. The Art Institute of Chicago is an international favorite and draws in so many people to its amazing collections of art and artifacts that span the entire globe and all across history.

Be especially sure to check out the Modern Wing. Designed by famed architect Renzo Piano and filled with only the most exciting modern and contemporary art, it's the happening place to be.

Insider Tip: Download their innovative mobile guide to help navigate the museum.

Chill with Animals at the Brookfield Zoo

For fans of animals, Chicago is a delightful destination. The Brookfield Zoo features a diversity of animal exhibits, a massive nature park, and a fun animal-themed carousel. Teens will especially appreciate majestic creatures like big cats. Or, if you prefer to stay closer to the city, Lincoln Park offers a fun, small-scale zoo with an equally entertaining selection of animals. If you're really feeling like letting loose and acting like a little kid again, there are also some fun rides.

Ride a Bike around Millennium Park

Encourage the kids to enjoy the great outdoors during the warmer months with a refreshing bike ride around the city. Pedal leisurely along the waterfront, throughout Millennium Park, or along the 26 miles of gorgeous trails that wind around the lakefront. It’s also a great activity that teens can pursue independently, giving them some “alone time” amidst a family vacation.

Shop ‘Til They Drop

Chicago is also a shopper’s paradise. Whether they’re on a tight budget or have some cash to spend, teens will love the chance to explore Chicago’s amazing shopping districts. Heck, even window-shopping alone can be a real treat! From the Magnificent Mile and its unique mix of high-end couture and fast fashion to the more traditional offerings of the Water Tower Place Mall, there’s a store to suit every taste.

Save on Admission to Attractions Teens Will Love

There you have it. Our list of some of the top things to do in Chicago with teens during your upcoming trip.

Many of these teen-friendly Chicago attractions are included on our pass. Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

Love this article? Why not share it:

Buy with confidence

Free cancellation

Plans can change, we get it. All non-activated passes are eligible for a refund within 90 days from your purchase date.

Find out more


Confused? We're here to help!

See our FAQs

We're kind of popular, but don't just take our word for it.

Have a 5% discount, on us!

Sign up to our newsletter and receive exclusive discounts, trip inspiration and attraction updates straight to your inbox.

  • Thick check Icon