Things to do with kids in and around ChicagoMary Houlihan – For the Sun-Timeson September 9, 2021 at 5:29 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.

Printers Row Lit Fest

Printers Row Lit FestKen Carl

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 11-12

Where: Along Dearborn from Polk to Ida B. Wells Drive.

What: Calling all booklovers! The Midwest’s largest literary celebration returns with author interviews, dozens of diverse booksellers and special events including a commemoration of 9/11 and the Great Chicago Fire, a panel with BookTok influencers and much more. Pulitzer Prize winner and National Book Award winner Colson Whitehead will discuss his new book “Harlem Shuffle” (4 p.m. Sept. 12, pre-registration required for this event only) and journalist/novelist Dawn Turner offers a look at her new memoir “Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate and Sisterhood” (10 a.m. Sept. 11). Admission and all programs are free.

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

WPB Art Quest

“Butterfly Effect,” a mural by Ali SixPhoto by Garrett Karp

When: Ongoing

Where: Wicker Park, Bucktown

What: The WPB Art Quest offers free self-guided tours of Wicker Park and Bucktown, including sculptures, galleries and murals. Among the murals is a new creation by street artist Ali Six titled “Butterfly Effect,” which is a tribute to Olga Maria Calderon, who was killed a year ago in a stabbing at a nearby Walgreens. From Sept. 15-Oct. 15, registration is optional; anyone who purchases a $45 ticket will receive a limited-edition t-shirt featuring Ali Six’s new mural. A portion of the proceeds will go to charity.

More information: A map of murals and public art is available at

Haunted houses

The spirits of the underworld emerge in “Spirit of Halloween.”13th Floor

When: Sept. 10-Nov. 13

Where: 5050 River Rd, Schiller Park

What: The haunted house season kicks off with two all-new shows from 13th Floor Chicago. “Bad Blood” revolves around an ancient feud between vampires and werewolves, and in “Spirit of Halloween,” a witch casts a spell to summon the spirits of the underworld. Tickets: $19.99+.

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

Neighborhood festivals

Lakeview Festival of ArtsCourtesy Lakeview Festival of Arts

Lakeview East Festival of the Arts features juried art, music, children’s activities and food. From 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 11-12, on Broadway from Belmont to Hawthorne. Admission: $5 donation. Visit … The African-Caribbean International Festival of Life and Jerk, Seafood & Vegan Festival includes vendors, music and lots of great food. Sept. 11-12 in Washington Park, 55th and Cottage Grove. Tickets: $20+. Visit … The Ravenswood ArtWalk returns with open studios and galleries, pop-up performances and an outdoor art market. From 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 11-12, on Ravenswood from Lawrence to Waveland. 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

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.

More information:

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.

More information:

‘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.

More information:

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.

More information:

‘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.

More information:

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.

More information:

‘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.

More information:

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