Things to do with kids in and around ChicagoMary Houlihan – For the Sun-Timeson July 22, 2021 at 4:51 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.

Merit School of Music

Merit School of Music is hosting summer pop-up performances beginning July 24.
Merit School of Music is hosting summer pop-up performances beginning July 24.
Courtesy of Merit School of Music

When: To Aug. 28

Where: Various locations

What: In July and August, the music school hosts a family-friendly series of interactive pop-up events throughout Chicago neighborhoods from Pilsen to Lincoln Park. “Pop-ups in the Parks” offers free instrument tunings, demos and performances by students and faculty, “Music at the Markets” features performances and giveaways at outdoor markets and “Musical Storytimes” is filled with stories and activities.

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‘Mother Goose Lost’

Tina-Kim Nguyen (from left) as Nancy, Suzy Krueckeberg as Mother Goose, and Greg Gonzales as Frank in “Mother Goose Lost.”
Andrew Pond

When: 10 and 11:30 a.m. July 24 and 31

Where: Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport

What: Children will enjoy Eclectic Full Contact Theatre’s adventure-filled tale that finds Mother Goose forced into retirement and the dastardly Solomon Grundy rewriting all the nursery rhymes. Can friends Frank, Mandy and Detective Joe Saturday find her and save the rhymes? Tickets: $12.

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Pierogi Fest

The Babushka Brigade will be featured at this year's Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana.
The Babushka Brigade will be featured at this year’s Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana.
Marisa Lopez

When: July 23-25

Where: In and around downtown Whiting, Indiana

What: For more than 25 years, Pierogi Fest has delighted with its off-the-wall humor, great food and entertainment. If you want massive amounts of food, this is the place to be. There’s also the annual parade, a wacky event featuring entries like the World Famous (Anything but) Precision Lawn Mowing Team and the Babushka Brigade, a pierogi eating contest, a pierogi tossing contest, an arts and crafts area and the Bizarre Souvenir Bazaar.

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Neighborhood festivals

You never know what fabulous finds will pop up at the Andersonville Vintage Market.
You never know what fabulous finds will pop up at the Andersonville Vintage Market.
Courtesy ACC

Among the performers at Wicker Park Fest (July 23-25, $10) are Archers of Loaf, Smoking Popes, Wyatt Waddell and more. On Milwaukee, from Paulina to North. Visit … Taste of Lincoln Avenue (July 24-25, $10) offers plenty of tastings from local restaurants, live music and a kid’s carnival. On Lincoln, from Fullerton to Wrightwood. Visit … Andersonville Vintage Market (July 25, Aug. 22, $5) features antiques, jewelry, clothing, music and more. On Catalpa, from Clark to Ashland. Visit

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: Ongoing

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. 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 Greektown
Courtesy 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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