With Spring Break this week, we decided to do a week-long staycation in Chicago and explore our own city. Boy, have we been busy! From the movies (to see The Lorax) to the Lincoln Park Zoo to a marshmallow playdate, the beginning of the week was packed. We couldn’t stop there so yesterday we headed to the Chicago Children’s Museum in downtown Chicago (at Navy Pier to be exact!). We’ve been to Navy Pier quite a bit but we’ve never been to the Children’s Museum.
I had heard such great things about the Museum and how it was packed with activities and things for kids ages 0-10 to do for quite a few hours. This was going to be an all afternoon activity and the kids were beyond excited when I told them what was in store. Good thing the Children’s Museum didn’t disappoint!
While it is a pricey activity at $12 each for children and adults (children under one are free) and parking is $21, after being there for 4+ hours, we think it is totally worth it. NOTE: You can usually find a coupon for a $1 or two off if you do a search online. There are also FREE days and FREE family nights during the month and you can check out that schedule HERE.
What It Offers
It was a cool day in Chicago yesterday, so I was happy to see three large coat /stroller parking rooms to drop all our coats and park the stroller. Since it was Spring Break for more than just my kids, it was a busy day and I needed both hands free to keep tabs on my three energetic kiddos.
The Museum is three floors of fun where kids can play and learn at the same time. They can be a firefighter, hide in a treehouse, clown around, dig for dinosaur bones, dam up a river, make art to take home, and much more. I was pleased to see that there were at least 13 different areas of the Museum to keep us busy for hours.
Each area of the Museum was well laid out and included things to do for different ages. For example, “Kids Town” had a blocked off small area just for babies, a grocery store, CTA bus and Car Wash for the toddlers and older kids and even included a nursing /changing room for parents. And the best thing about this area was that there was one way in and one way out. If I parked myself at the entrance, I could let all three kids play in the area of their choice without worrying that they would escape and get lost in the Museum. As a matter of fact, most of the areas in the Museum were like this except the Play it Safe Area (firefighter stuff!) and the Circus Zirkus areas where there were multiple exit points.
Kraft Artabounds Studio
Each month The Children’s Museum has a different theme. March was a Circus theme and April will be bugs! What kid doesn’t like bugs?!? There is an authentic studio and gallery called the Kraft Artabounds Studio that is staffed by trained art educators and visiting artists. The studio has three planned “activities” at day at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm for kids to paint, print, press, sew, sketch, sculpt and much more depending on the theme of the month. Since the capacity is limited in the studio, they hand out passes 1 hour before each class. We had a chance to experience the studio firsthand so that my kids could express their own creative abilities. Keeping with the circus theme, the kids each made a circus flea exhibit. Our art teacher, Courtney, was fabulous! She was helpful and patient with even the 2 year old who doesn’t always have the longest attention span.
I love that the Kraft Artabounds Studio realizes that older kids may want to participate but have younger siblings that are too young for projects, so they have a special areas in the studio just for babies and toddlers. This area has a sensory table filled with sand, books, mirrors, chairs and a dollhouse to keep the little ones happy while the projects are being completed. My 2 year old participated in the project for a few minutes but ended up much happier at the sensory table. If you visit the Museum, I highly recommend you snag one of the passes for the Artabounds Studio activities because my kids loved it!
Our Favorite Parts
Each of my kids had a favorite area of the Children’s Museum. My 2-year-old was especially fond of the water play at WaterWays. My 5-year-old was in LOVE with the Play It Safe area where he got to live out his dream of being a firefighter. My 7-year-old was perfectly content perfecting her flea circus exhibit in the Kraft Artabounds Studio. I’m telling you, there is something that appeals to all kids in every area of the Museum. We didn’t find one area that one of the kids seemed bored or didn’t have enough to do.
It’s All in the Details!
Details. Details. Details. It is all about the details in the Children’s Museum! They have really thought out everything there. They provide a wall of rain coats for kids in the WaterWays area to keep kids dry. What is a circus without dressing up as a clown? They have that too! Where else are kids going to get to slide down a child-size fireman pole while wearing the full fireman jacket, pants and boots? Seriously, this place was awesome! Plus, the areas are set-up so well that even though it was super busy when we were there, there was never a line to wait for an activity except crawling through the “pirate ship” in the center of the Museum. This lack of lines really kept the kids happy!
While I could go on and on in detail about everything in the Children’s Museum – that’s not Baby Gizmo’s style (usually!). We like to show it to you in a video! With help from our own Baby Gizmo kid testers, we present to you a Baby Gizmo Look at the Children’s Museum in Chicago…