Chicago Day Trips

Chicago Day trips: Hop in the car and explore the city this summer

2014-05-01T08:00:00Z Chicago Day trips: Hop in the car and explore the city this summerBarb Ruess Times Correspondent
May 01, 2014 8:00 am  • 

Chicago is such a wonderful destination. World class museums and zoos. Fabulous shopping and restaurants. Excellent theater and music. If you feel like you’ve “been there and done that” and your kids are ready for something new – we have some wonderful ways to explore the city!

Chicago Kids & Kites Festival

The 16th Annual Chicago Kids and Kites Festival returns to Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park (Montrose and Wilson) on Saturday, May 3, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free.

The City of Chicago will provide kite kits for children to build, decorate and fly while supplies last. Other activities include face painting, balloon artists and a kite-shaped refrigerator magnet craft. Jamey Lundblad of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events said, “One of the most popular highlights of the festival is the Big Kite Candy Drop, which is a piñata-like kite filled with candies that drop from the sky, taking place during the afternoon—weather permitting.”

Millennium Park Family Fun Festival

Millennium Park is a fun, free destination year-round and this year it is celebrating its 10th anniversary! Splashing in Crown Fountain and roaming the paths of the Lurie Garden are excellent ways to pass a beautiful summer day and parking is convenient. Mark your calendars for some extra fun this summer starting June 23 when the Family Fun Festival returns to Millennium Park. Every day from June 23–Aug. 24, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. the park has free activities, including music and arts and crafts, for kids of all ages.

The daily schedule includes Wiggleworms® at 10 a.m. with the Old Town School of Folk Music, a Reading Circle at 11 a.m. and Family Performances at 1 p.m. Activity Zone partners change weekly and include Lurie Garden, Get Out & Grow, Barrel of Monkeys, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago History Museum, Easel Art Studio, CircEsteem and Lookingglass Theatre. New activities this year include Movement Music Mondays, Mondays at 1 p.m., and Read All About It!, a reading and book giveaway Wednesdays at 11 a.m. The series is programmed by the Millennium Park Foundation, under the tent at Chase Promenade North. Admission is free. For details, call (312) 742-1168 or visit

Walk into a different country

If you have a group of kids that are comfortable walking at least five city blocks, consider a tour of Chinatown. As soon as you walk under the famous Chinatown Gate your kids will feel as if they have been transported to a different country. Signs are in Chinese. Markets carry foods and packages they’ve never seen before. Restaurants offer a dining experience far different from your local Chinese place. It may only be a few blocks long but the sights, sounds, smells and tastes will take you far away.

Highlights include:

- Chinatown Gate

- The Nine-Dragon Wall

- Chinatown’s Zodiac Square

- Shopping in the many gift shops

Chicago’s Chinatown is the third largest in the United States. You can take a guided tour through the Chicago Chinatown Cultural Institute but this area is easy to explore on your own. notes, “Chinatown is a great place for your kids to experience something new and different with you to guide the way. Be adventurous! If you are willing to taste or smell something you haven't tried before, your kids will follow your example.” Read more of Chicago Parent’s Chinatown tips and guide here:

Add to the Chinatown adventure with a trip on the water taxi

The Chicago Water Taxi embarks from stations throughout downtown: Mag Mile, LaSalle/Clark, North Ave and Ogilvie/Union. From any of those stations (with a transfer at Ogilvie/Union) you can take the water taxi straight to Chinatown. The Chinatown stop is in Ping Tom Memorial park – a short walk from Chinatown Square. The boat ride also offers some great views of the city that you can’t get any other way. Tip: If you go on a weekday, ask the attendant about the 10-ride pass. It can be used for more than one rider on the same trip and offers significant cost savings. See the water taxi schedule and fares at:

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