The Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) is a fabulous resource for Chicago families. This popular spot offers hands-on learning and family fun for kids of various ages. Here is what you need to know before you take your kiddos for a visit.

Quick Facts:

Address: Navy Pier
700 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611-3428

Phone: 312.527.1000

Admission/Membership Info:

Hours: Open every day 10am-5pm
Free Thursday evenings 5-8pm

The museum is open every holiday except Thanksgiving and Christmas days. See the website for more information on other special hours.

Ticket Price:
Members (Free)
Children under one (Free)
Children & Adults ($10)
Seniors ($9)

On the first Sunday of every month, admission is free for ages 15 and under. On Thursday evenings from 5-8, admission is free for everyone.

I highly recommend investing in a membership to the Chicago Children’s Museum. A one-year membership for a family of 4 costs $90. Members also receive a couple of free guest passes (perfect for when Grandma is in town!) and discounted parking (which is great because parking fees at Navy Pier are ridiculously expensive). Your membership even entitles you to free or discounted admission to over 300 other museums nationwide (I was delighted to recently receive free admission for 6 people at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh thanks to my membership). As part of their holiday savings program, the CCM is offering discounts on memberships purchased before January 2, 2011 so now is a great time to renew or try a membership for the first time.

Getting There/Parking:

The best way to get to the Chicago Children’s Museum is the CTA. See the website for specific information on bus routes to Navy Pier. If you do drive, be prepared for the high parking prices at Navy Pier. However, Navy Pier is offering discounted parking rates through February 28, 2011 (but it is still not cheap).

Planning Your Visit:

The Chicago Children’s Museum has more to offer than you could possibly see in one visit (which makes it perfect for plenty of return trips!). Consider taking a few minutes to check out the website so you can prioritize the exhibits you want to put on your agenda.

Depending on whether you are visiting with “big” (over age 5) or “little” (under age 5) kids, here are my recommendations for the best exhibits and activities.

Big Kids:

• The Kovler Family Climbing Schooner. This three-floor climbing apparatus delights adventurous and energetic kids — who are even willing to wait patiently for their turn to climb.

• Skyline. This innovative exhibit offers kids the chance to build their own skyscrapers, while exploring the science and technology behind the process.

• Inventing Lab. This area of the museum really appeals to older kids who can play the role of inventor and come up with their own creative solutions to the problems posed at each station. Kids up to age 12 or so will have a blast exploring in this space.

Little Kids:

• Play It Safe. Upon entering the museum, kids will not be able to resist the fire truck and other realistic interactive safety and fire exhibits.

• Kids Town. My little ones always want to start our visit in this room. Visitors can drive a CTA bus, shop at the grocery store, deliver the mail, and even change the tires on their car.

• Waterways. Kids can’t resist water play! At the Chicago Children’s Museum, they can don a protective raincoat and get their hands wet as they explore the many ways that we use water.

Caitlin Murray Giles

Caitlin Murray Giles

Caitlin Murray Giles is a freelance writer and mother of three. She chronicles her adventures with the little people in her life at Wee Windy City and A Hen and Two (now Three) Chicks.


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