Things to do with kids in and around ChicagoMary Houlihan – For the Sun-Timeson September 2, 2021 at 3:23 am

Welcome to our highlights of events and entertainment in Chicago for kids and families to enjoy. Bookmark this page and check back for updates on the latest activities.

Pullman National Monument

Pullman Clock TowerEric Allix Rogers/Historic Pullman Foundation

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 4, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 5

Where: 11001 S. Cottage Grove

What: Labor Day marks the grand opening of the Pullman National Monument site and 12-acre campus. The National Park Service plans an entire weekend of activities for people of all ages. Included are guided tours of the visitor’s center, Hotel Florence and Pullman-built rail cars as well as self-guided walking tours of the site. The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum and the National Park Service host a series of programs featuring songs and stories of the National Parks, railroad and labor songs and more. Admission is free.

More information: For more information on events and COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Fall at the Morton Arboretum

Tails on the TrailsMorton Arboretum

When: To Oct. 31

Where: 4100 Illinois 53, Lisle

What: The arboretum kicks off its fall programming in September with a variety of outdoor events including the dog-friendly Tails on the Trails (Sept. 12), Destination Asia Cultural Festival (Sept. 25), the walking play “A Haunting in Sherwood Forest” (weekends through Oct. 31), the Fall Color 5K Run and Walk (Oct. 2), Cider and Ale Fest (Oct. 23) and more. There is a long list of other activities including wellness programs, family hikes and informational programs. Admission: $8-$16.

More information: For vaccination and/or mask policies, visit

Pilsen Fest

Pilsen FestProvided

When: Sept. 5

Where: Blue Island between 18th and 21st

What: Pilsen Fest, celebrating Latinx music and Pilsen’s rich cultural heritage, returns with a two-day event. First up is !Subelo!, a free 18-and-over concert in partnership with the city’s Protect Chicago Music Series, featuring Molotov, Kinky and more from 1-9 p.m. Sept. 4 in Harrison Park, 1824 S. Wood. The next day, the festival returns to the streets of Pilsen with music, food and art. Among the performers are Sammicee, Mariah Colon and Aya Ito; visual artists include painter Alma Dominguez and printmaker Carlos Barberena.

More information: For vaccination and/or mask policies, go to

Chicago SummerDance in the Parks

Chicago SummerDance in the Parks.DCASE

When: Aug. 18-Sept. 15

Where: Parks throughout the city

What: Dancers of all ages and skill levels are invited to take part in introductory dance lessons by professional instructors followed by live music and dancing. Lessons begin at 4:30 p.m. followed by dancing from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

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Loop Mural Walk

“Make It Good” by Shawnimals on the Loop Mural Walk.Chicago Loop Alliance

When: Through Sept. 6

Where: Online

What: As part of an initiative to encourage people to return to downtown Chicago, the Chicago Loop Alliance has created a free self-guided tour of the colorful artwork tucked into alleys and side streets. A mural guide, which features three different routes of artwork by both well-known and emerging artists, can be accessed on smartphones.

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Chicago Fireboat Tours

Chicago Fireboat Tours offer great views of Chicago’s waterways.Courtesy Chicago Fireboat Tours

When: Ongoing

Where: DuSable Harbors, 111 N. Lake Shore Dr.

What: Built in 1936, the Fred A. Busse was the largest, diesel-powered fireboat in the world at the time and served the Chicago Fire Department from 1937-1981. The current owners renovated the retired fireboat, which is now in its second season cruising Chicago waterways. Tickets: $35-$40, $19.50 ages 4-12.

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Adler Planetarium

“Imagine the Moon”Adler Planetarium

When: Ongoing

Where: 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.

What: The planetarium has partially reopened with a selection of its award-winning sky shows. On weekends in July and August two shows will play twice daily: “Imagine the Moon” (10:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m.) and “Skywatch Live” (11:30 am., 1:15 p.m.). The full museum won’t reopen until March 2022. Tickets: $15.

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Tempel Lipizzans’ stallions

A Tempel Lippizan stallion performs “Airs Above the Ground.”Courtesy Tempel Lipizzans

When: Through Sept. 5

Where: Tempel Farms, 17000 Wadsworth, Old Mill Creek.

What: The stallions return for a new season of equestrian dressage along with interactive, educational events. Performances feature synchronized movements set to classical music that show off the strength, beauty and intelligence of the Lipizzan horse. Following each event, there are self-guided tours through the stables to meet and pet the equine stars and ask questions of riders and trainers about how the Lipizzans are raised, trained and taught to “dance.” Tickets: $35, $25 for ages 4-14.

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‘Par Excellence Redux’

When: “The Front 9” (to Sept. 16) and “The Back Nine” (Oct. 13-Jan. 2)

Where: Tee off at the Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 S. Cottage Hill, Elmhurst

What: A fun new exhibit features a fully playable 18-hole mini-golf course created by more than 20 artists, designers and architects from Chicago and beyond. The family-friendly course pays homage to the School of the Art Institute’s wildly popular 1988 exhibition “Par Excellence.” Course themes range from social justice to the occult and include a fortune-telling hole that has the power to dramatically change scores as well as a hole that challenges players with an optical illusion. Admission is $5-$10 (online timed reservations); children 4 and under free.

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Chicago Children’s Museum

Where: Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand

When: Ongoing

What: Fun and learning are on the agenda at the popular family gathering spot, offering a wide variety of exhibits aimed at improving children’s lives by creating a community where play and learning connect. Babies and toddlers can enjoy “Treehouse Trails” and “Kids Town” while “Tinker Lab” and “Dinosaur Expedition” will enthrall older children. Admission: $19.

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‘Becoming Jane’

A new exhibit at the Field Museum, “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Jane Goodall,” follows her journey from her childhood in England to a career as a passionate scientist studying chimpanzees in Africa. Hugo van Lawick/National Geographic

When: To Sept. 6

Where: Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.

What: Generations have been inspired by the work of primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall who has not only shown the urgent need to protect chimpanzees but also redefined species conservation to include the needs of local people and the environments. A new exhibit at the Field Museum, “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Jane Goodall,” follows her journey from a curious young child in England to a passionate scientist studying chimpanzees in Africa. Included in the exhibit are a recreation of her field research tent, a hologram-like projection of Goodall who shares her fieldwork memories, augmented reality activities and a projection of Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park.

Tickets: Admission: $18-$32

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‘Hello Helios: The warming suns of Chicago’s Greektown’

Detail view of James Mesple’s Sun and Moon Image featured in the “Hello Helios” exhibit in GreektownCourtesy Greektown Chicago

When: Through spring 2022

Where: Halsted from Monroe to Van Buren

What: Welcome summer with a new outdoor exhibit celebrating the start of summer with 24 artworks inspired by the sun and related mythologies from Greek, Aztec, Yoruba, Japanese and Native American cultures.

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Kayak for Conservation

The Shedd Aquarium’s popular “Kayak for Conservation” program.Shedd Aquarium

When: Ongoing

Where: Kayak Chicago: 1220 W LeMoyne,

What: Get close to nature via the Shedd Aquarium’s popular Kayak for Conservation program, which features a variety of socially distant kayaking experiences on the Chicago River. Participants learn about the river’s environmental history and discover wildlife living in its ecosystem. Sessions are open to all levels of kayakers (including newbies) and are led by Shedd’s wildlife conservation experts. The cost is pay-what-you-can ranging from $20-$100 per participant, with a recommended $40, the base cost of the program.

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‘Take Flight’

The Boeing 747 at “Take Flight.”Museum of Science and Industry

When: Permanent

Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.

What: The MSI’s Boeing 747 reopens with a reimagined exhibit that explores modern aviation and the science of flight. The plane’s interior has been restored and new interactive elements have been added. Tickets: $12.95, $21.95.

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