Summer vacation gives parents a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with their children that may have been missed during the school year. Hectic work and school schedules don’t provide the most relaxed moments to enjoy each other, but the summers in Chicago offer a unique opportunity to teach your little ones what their city is all about. Summer in the city is a treasured time for memories to be added to the family scrapbook. The following exhibits offer the perfect and positive essay topics for “What I did on my summer vacation.”
Brookfield Zoo
8400 31st St.
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 688-8000

Over 2,500 animals are at home in Brookfield, which spans over 200 acres. And the summer of 2015 offers a new bird show exhibit, titled The Festival of Flight, that provides 30 minutes of engaging interaction with 20 species of birds from around the world. This includes birds in flight such as the red-tailed hawk, harpy eagle accompanied by their trainers. Other events include Summer Nights on Friday and Saturdays with entertainment, live music and a new laser light show this year.  The free shows can be found west of Tropic World; catch them Monday to Sunday: 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. through Sept. 7.

Chicago Children’s Museum
700 E. Grand Ave. at Navy Pier
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 527-1000

Has your child always wanted to captain her own boat? Now she can do so in a safe environment with the new summer event that includes boat-scape that overlooks Lake Michigan. Toddlers to pre-teens can experience a two-level work boat where they can learn how to hoist a sail – if sailing is their passion – or steer a ship. Another great experience is a visit to the new Tinkering Lab, where children may begin with the Peg Board challenge and advance to the Tool Bar to use hammers, screwdrivers with trained professionals that can help.

Millenium Park
Chase Promenade North
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 742-1168

The 2015 Family Fun Festival offers a variety of activities for the entire family with free admission from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Old Town folk singers lead children in sing a longs and dance. The Family Fun tent provides an hour of hip hop yoga. One of the new exhibits this summer includes tours of the beautiful Lurie Garden. Join them on Wednesdays where children have the opportunity to take home a copy of their reading circle’s book of the week, which includes Peter Reynold’s “The Dot,” that is presented during the themed week of the Art Institute of Chicago. Other weeks include different themes such as “How I Became A Pirate” by Linda Long during the themed week of the Looking Glass Theater.

Related: Best Family-Friendly Bike Trails In Chicago

Cantigny Park
15151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
(630) 668-5161

Cantigny Park is visited by over 300,000 each year outside of Chicago in the Western suburbs. It is the historical property and home of Robert R. McCormick, publisher and editor of the Chicago Tribune, who wanted nothing more than to provide education and philanthropic service to those who were in need. Cantigny offers 29 acres of arresting beauty in their gardens for all to enjoy, but children may take extra joy in exploring the Idea Garden exhibit, which offers themed areas such as the Alphabet trail. As children learn the Alphabet, they can also learn about plants names that correspond to the letters. Take a hike on an exquisite nature trail. Go on a discovery walk with free backpacks available for three hours to check out bugs with bug viewers or binoculars to see the birds of a feather up close.

Art Institute Of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 443-3600

Children under 14 are invited to attend the Art Institute of Chicago for free, where the museum offers creative art skill activities. Children engage in art making and games with special events that include the Family Festival in September. Some of the Art Institute’s most beloved exhibits include the historic Thorne Miniature Rooms that showcase dollhouse-like interior furnishings, beginning in the 13th century and beautifully detailed on a one-inch to one-foot scale. Sixty-eight model rooms provide fascinating miniatures of history. For kiddos who revel in knights on horseback, discover knights in full suits at The Arms and Armour exhibit preparing for the battlefield.

Related: Best Places To Do Arts And Crafts For The Whole Family In Chicago

Karla Sullivan is a Career Coach Examiner on However, her writing extends well beyond that scope, with inspirational articles in high level publications such as AARP, Grand Magazine, Reunion Magazine and Mature Years.