This post was written by me and originally appeared on MommyNearest.com.
Days at home with the kids can get a little monotonous and it’s fun to break it up with some outings to entertain the kids and yourself. In my experience, early fall is a kind of “sweet spot” for outings with young kids. Older kids have gone back to school, so you won’t find a lot of tourists vacationing or families on outings, but it’s early enough in the school year that there aren’t a lot of field trips. You can visit all the amazing places Chicago has to offer without crowds.
Here are a few places to visit with your kids who are too young for school:
Kids are never too young to start learning through play at the DuPage Children’s Museum. Crawlers can play with beads, blocks, balls, and shapes in the Young Explorer areas, and toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy exhibits like Make It Move, Waterways and Bubbles, and Airworks.
Although some of the areas for the smaller kids are separated from the bigger kids’ stuff, visiting on a crowded day can be noisy and overwhelming for younger kids (and parents!). Visiting during quieter times gives kids more space and time to fully explore, and can be less stressful for parent and child.
Because it’s a slow time of the year, the DuPage Children’s Museum is closed September 1st through the 14th for annual cleaning, so it’ll be extra clean when you visit when they reopen.
See my full post about the DuPage Children’s Museum.
Legoland often has lines down the street on weekends and summer days, but when older kids are in school you’ll practically have the place to yourself.
Miniland is an amazing Lego version of Chicago, and you’ll enjoy all the little details. As long as they can sit on their own, your child can ride the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride with you (although it is dark and might be scary for some children), and then you can head upstairs for open play with Legos, 4D movies short enough for toddlers to enjoy, and lots more. You’ll find standard size Legos, Duplo, and giant Lego blocks so there’s something for all ages.
The Lego cafe offers convenient food at reasonable prices, and it’s right near the Lego building area and the GIANT play structure your children will love to explore.
Visit on Tuesdays from 10 to noon for Toddler Tuesdays with discounted admission (only $7 per person, with children under 2 free), the entire second floor open only to toddlers, and a special activity each week. This month they’ll have a hands-on workshop, play-based foreign language storytime, and a Gymboree music class.
See my full post about Legoland Discovery Center.
The Museum of Science and Industry has something for everyone, from miniature things – in the Colleen Moore Fairy Castle and the Great Train Story – to gigantic – a full-size train and airplanes. Visit exhibits dedicated to farming, storms, and space, just to name a few. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see a chick hatch from an egg.
The Idea Factory, an enclosed area for small visitors, will likely be your child’s favorite place. The comfortable area for feeding babies and changing diapers makes it a favorite spot for parents, too.
Even better: The Museum of Science & Industry is free Monday-Friday September 8 through 29.
Little Beans Cafe is a great place to connect with playmates and other moms. There’s a cafe, perfect for having lunch or a snack, and a separate play area with small tables you to sit and sip coffee while you watch your kids play.
Kids can play house and be a firefighter, and go shopping at the grocery store, and travel between each mini building in a ride-on car. Of course, there are costumes in case your child needs to be a princess or superhero while playing.
There’s a separate, enclosed area for non-walkers, and if you need a comfortable place to sit with a baby there’s a room with couches and a tv.
Reminder: Socks are required for adults and kids in the playspace.