We spent last weekend in Chicago with some friends and while it’s true that most activities focused on what the adults wanted to do, we did sneak out one afternoon to check out the Chicago Children’s Museum with two toddlers and two infants. We’re huge fans of Children’s Museums in general and so checking this one out was high on our list. Located right on the Navy Pier it is an easy spot to get to, even for tourists like us. The space encourages creative play for the most part but also has a good balance of soft science and art.
Disclosure : We received complementary passes but as always, options are totally mine.
I was a bit hesitant to walk through the gift shop with two toddlers who weren’t strapped into their strollers, but luckily it wasn’t too bad. We had two strollers with us and were pleased to see three large rooms that could be used for stroller parking (and hanging coats during the winter). However with both infants sleeping, we decided to push them around as we explored the three floors and had no issues doing so. There’s plenty of activities for all ages from infants to tweens. Despite being at the Navy Pier since 1995, the premises are modern and all details have been accounted for to make the space extremely family friendly. From nursing chairs to plenty of stroller parking and benches for time outs, families can be at ease. You can even purchase diapers from a machine, if in dire need!
During our two hour visit the infants were asleep and only woke up for a quick snack before we left but I did notice plenty of padded spaces for crawling. There’s even a dedicated Pritzker Playspace exclusively for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. We didn’t pop by the drop in centre but did peek in very quickly.
The toddlers had plenty to experience and learn. The Dinosaur Expedition was a clear favourite as they dug for bones in the excavation pit with their dads (let’s admit it.. the dad’s were having more fun it seems ;0). WaterWays was another fun spot where kids can paint on tiles, push boats down a water path and play with pulleys and pumps. This area not only had waterproof coats and jackets but also a dryer (where you may need to dry a coat at if it’s a busy day and all coats are damp). Play It Safe was also popular with the fire truck and firehouse setup and kids dressed as Firemen and women were sliding down the pole and rushing to rescue those in the smoke room.
With 15 permanent exhibits and spaces, they also feature special displays on an on-going basis. During our visit they had just launched Danger 101: Daring Deeds for Curious Kids where kids got to experiment with danger in a safe environment. From swinging into a stack of bean bags ( I SO wanted to do that but didn’t realize adults could play too! The rope holds up to 500 pounds so go for it!!) and handling REAL power tools to eating toasted insects and vomit jelly beans! Yes I did eat the insect…it was very salty and yes, I felt the crunch of the bones.
The two toddlers had a blast running around and the adults were constantly trying to drag them from one spot to another because WE WANTED to see the whole space! There’s plenty of fun for the adults too, especially as we sit and marvel at the sheer joy on the little one’s face and try to ignore their squeals of merriment. We only spent two hours here but could have easily spent an entire day as we didn’t even get to explore the Kids Town or Artsabounds areas.
You know what the best part was? I REMEMBERED the disinfectant and used it on the Little Monkey twice during our visit. It works… first time we haven’t brought back anything besides the learning 😉 Also speaks to the fact that the space was extremely clean. If you’ve visiting the Navy Pier be sure to swing by the Children’s museum. Kids 2 and under don’t need tickets but accompanying adults do.