11 answers

LOVE Brookfield Zoo!!! Any Other High Quality Places/activities to See/do?

I just love Brookfield Zoo--I've been there probably a dozen times already this summer (great family pass) and each time I go with our girls, we see something different. Plus, they have a terrific young kid/tots sprinkler area to run around in (bring change of clothes), the Dolphin Show & the "Living Coast" acquarium (a la Shedd Acquarium), Children Zoos (both hands on, one more like a Children's museum), Carousel, Tram, Outdoor Playgrounds, etc., etc. So, I would definitely recommend Brookfield Zoo to all.

Are there any other great places to go, other than the Children's Museums? Those are great, but any alternatives and/or something different?

Looking for places that are interesting to visit possibly every other week or weekly. Even any suggestions for places to go during the winter months--e.g. any great indoor (non-class) playgrounds?

Brookfield Zoo is open every day of the year (I will have to check it out during the cooler months/mild winter). And, the family pass (Premium Plus, I think) is a great value if you go more than 3 times the whole year (includes free parking (normally $8/car), free admission ($10/adult), free tickets to shows, zoo tour trams, etc.; discounts on all food and merchandise).

Thanks for any and all suggestions.

2 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

Since there were a number of recommendations for the Morton Arboretum, we went there this weekend! We enjoyed it--the Children's Garden/Play area is huge and amazing. Very creative play areas--metal flowers that make music when you touch them, water pumping & sand play area, treehouses, mazes, gardening areas, farm crop area, etc, etc, etc. Really a lot of terrific options. (Good advice to bring extra clothes & shoes, just in case).

I think I'd also really enjoy the Arboretum more so if we could bike through it--the maps did not indicate bike paths and many trails are not paved (woodchip trails). So, I'll need to confirm if or when biking through the Arboretum is allowed and where. If so, I imagine it would be very beautiful and peaceful.

Only noteable drawbacks were concerns about ticks (evidently, there is a higher than normal population this year), poison ivy and getting stung by wasps/bees (there were a lot of them out on Sunday; my husband is, and our daughters potentially may be, allergic, so this is not a minor detail for us). Because of some of these risks, I think we'll come less frequently and will need to be very well prepared when we do come. Perhaps some of the cooler months would be better for biking and playing in the children's areas, if not also doing some hiking with long pants and other protection on (DEET/bug spray, etc.).

We'll definitely try the other recommended places mentioned below! Thank you to all for all the great ideas!


More Answers

I just got back from taking my 2 girls to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. They also have a great kids area with a wading stream, treehouses, mazes,and a bunch of other stuff for kids.
We have a family membership that is great because you can go for a couple of hours and still feel like your not running yourself crazy trying to see everything in one day to get your moneys worth.


1 mom found this helpful

The Museum of Science & Industry is worth a visit with young kids. They have the Ideas Factory with a special area for babies & toddlers - lots of padded foam shapes to crawl around, water & tunnels (like a small version of the children's museum). For older kids (under 12s) there is another hands on area with water & tons of interactive things to do. Other good things for kids there are the coal mine (complete with an underground train), watching chicks hatch from eggs and the train going from Chicago to Seattle. My 10 month old loves it.

Lincoln Park zoo is ok but nowhere near as good as Brookfield. The Peggy Notebart Nature Museum is also great for kids. You can sit and watch the butterflies - they may even land on you & they have lots of other hands on thing & some animals.

Enjoy the rest of the summer,


I've heard that Lamb's Farm (you can google it) in Libertyville is worth a trip.

1 mom found this helpful

I live downtown so we frequent lincoln park zoo (smaller - more manageable), Peggy notebaert, childrens museum on navy pier and science and industry. We are members of Peggy Notebaert and you get discounts for admission at childrens museum and S&I (you used to get in free and now they changed it to just a discount). Not sure of anything else your way.... We also love exploring all the local playgrounds in the city - so many different ones.

I just wanted to recommend "Jumps and Giggles" in Elk Grove Village as a wonderful indoor play place. It's got the tunnels to crawl up and through with the slide at the end, huge soft human(kid) size blocks to build with, and a carousel. Here is the link to the Jack A. Claes Pavillion where the Jumps and Giggles room is located:


It is a bit of a drive for me to take my 2 1/2 year old there but during the winter months it is worth it.


Lincoln Park Zoo is FREE!

Check out chicago parents magazine..they have tons of advice and ideas and it's a free newspaper.

The reader is a free newspaper as well and avaialble online and metromix.com

Check out The Morton Arboretum in Lisle. They have an amazing outside children's area. Bring a change of clothes as there are fun water play areas.
Kids learn about plants, etc.
My son is almost 6 and loves it!!!

The Garfield Conservatory is great - I think it's on the corner of Garfield and East in Oak Park.

Also, just a little place and only good for an hour or so but the River Forest Community Center has a little play room with a McDonald's like play structure with a ball pit. It's a great place to go if you just need to get out of the house but have limited time. The cost is $2 per child and it's open most of the time during normal bus. hours during the week. Call ahead to check the schedule as it's changed over the years and they do sometimes have it closed for a private birthday party or something.


Since you live in Oak Park, I would recommend the indoor playground at Ridgeland Common during the cold weather months (from about October to April). It's nothing fancy--just a big room with lots of Little Tikes and Step 2 climbing toys, slides, etc.--but it's cheap ($2.00) and can keep my daughter entertained for a few hours.


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