Best Things to Do With Teens in Chicago: 12 Thrilling Attractions for Teenagers

by Jen
Best Things to Do With Teens in Chicago
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Ever wondered how to keep teenagers engaged and excited in the Windy City? Our guide unveils the best things to do with teens in Chicago, from soaring high in the sky to exploring the depths of the sea. Dive into a world of fun, learning, and unforgettable experiences tailored for young explorers.

Ready to dive into the heart of Chicago? This city is a playground for teens, bursting with excitement at every corner. Imagine standing atop the world, gazing out from the Skydeck of the Willis Tower. Feel your heart race? That’s just the start.

Chicago isn’t your average city. It’s a place where history comes alive in the streets and museums. Picture yourself walking through the vibrant neighborhoods like Chinatown and Pilsen, each step taking you through a different world. And for the sports fans, imagine cheering for the Chicago Bulls or Cubs, feeling the electric energy of the crowd.

For those who love the outdoors, Chicago’s got you covered. Kayak down the Chicago River or feel the wind in your hair at Maggie Daley Park. And shopping? The Magnificent Mile awaits with its endless array of stores. So, are you ready to explore Chicago? It’s a city that promises endless fun and discoveries for teens in this beautiful spot in Illinois. Let’s jump into the top 12 things you absolutely can’t miss in the Windy City!

The top places to visit with teens in Chicago right now

Best Things to Do With Teens in Chicago: 12 Fun Places to Go in Chicago with Teenagers

Exploring Chicago for teens is an adventure filled with excitement at every turn. From towering skyscrapers to bustling streets lined with art, the city offers a diverse range of activities that captivate young minds. Join us as we journey through Chicago’s most thrilling experiences for teenagers.

1. Soar Above the City at Skydeck Chicago

Imagine standing 1,353 feet above the bustling streets of Chicago, with the city’s panorama stretching out beneath you. That’s what you get at Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower, one of the best things to do with teens in Chicago. The Ledge, a glass balcony extending four feet outside the building, offers a heart-pounding experience. You’re literally standing in the sky!

Willis Tower is a Chicago icon, and Skydeck provides an unbeatable way to see the city. On a clear day, you can see across four states – an epic geography lesson! It’s also a perfect spot for those Instagram-worthy photos that your teen loves.

For a unique twist, visit Skydeck at sunset. Watching the city lights come alive from such a height is magical. And if you’re a photography enthusiast, it’s a chance to capture Chicago in its best light. Buy tickets online to avoid long lines. And for an extra special experience, try visiting during off-peak hours like early mornings or late evenings when the crowd is thinner.

Skydeck Chicago is one of the best things to do with teens in Chicago.
Experience Chicago’s skyline from 1,353 feet high on Skydeck’s Ledge, a heart-pounding glass balcony.

2. Test Your Teen’s Wits at The Escape Game Chicago

Get ready to challenge your mind and teamwork skills at The Escape Game Chicago. It’s an adventure where you and your teens become the heroes of your own story. Locked in a room, you have one hour to find clues, solve puzzles, and escape. It’s a thrilling race against time!

This is one of the coolest things to do with a teenager in Chicago. Each escape room has a unique theme, from heists to historical adventures. Your teens will love the mix of challenge and fun. It’s a great way to bond as a family and test your problem-solving skills.

Choose a room theme that suits your family’s interests for an extra engaging experience. Book in advance, especially on weekends, as slots fill up quickly. Don’t worry if you don’t escape; it’s all about the fun and teamwork!

Embark on a challenge at The Escape Game Chicago, where teamwork is key to solve puzzles and escape within an hour!
Embark on a challenge at The Escape Game Chicago, where teamwork is key to solve puzzles and escape within an hour!

3. Explore Underwater Marvels at Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium, nestled within the Museum Campus alongside the Field Museum and Adler Planetarium, offers an immersive journey through diverse aquatic ecosystems. From the tranquil Pacific Northwest’s rainforest in the Abbott Oceanarium to the vibrant life of the Amazon Rising exhibit, Shedd Aquarium is a gateway to the underwater world.

Shedd Aquarium stands out as a must-visit among Chicago activities for teenagers. It offers interactive learning and up-close encounters with marine life. The Caribbean Reef exhibit, with its 90,000-gallon tank, offers a 360-degree view of a bustling underwater community. Teens can witness divers feeding sharks, eels, and green sea turtles, making for a memorable experience.

The Wild Reef exhibit is a highlight, showcasing a vast array of sharks, stingrays, and live coral. For younger visitors, the Polar Play Zone is a fun, interactive space where they can dress up as penguins and explore a kid-sized submarine. For dining, Shedd Aquarium offers three restaurants, including the Soundings Café with its fresh, organic options and lakefront views.

Explore diverse aquatic ecosystems at Shedd Aquarium, where you'll journey through rainforests and vibrant exhibits.
Explore diverse aquatic ecosystems at Shedd Aquarium, where you’ll journey through rainforests and vibrant exhibits.

4. Uncover History at the Field Museum

Step back in time at The Field Museum, where history and science blend into an unforgettable adventure. This iconic museum, a cornerstone of Chicago’s Museum Campus, invites teens to explore the ancient world. From towering dinosaur skeletons to the mysteries of ancient Egypt, every exhibit is a journey through time.

The Field Museum is more than a collection of artifacts; it’s a gateway to the past. Teens can marvel at SUE, the world’s most complete T. rex skeleton, and Maximo the Titanosaur, the largest dinosaur ever discovered. These awe-inspiring exhibits are not only educational but also incredibly cool.

As one of the premier places to go in Chicago with teens, the Field Museum offers a unique blend of education and excitement. The museum is vast, so plan your visit to focus on areas that most interest your family. Check the museum’s calendar for special exhibits and events that might align with your visit. Remember, Illinois residents can enjoy free admission on certain days, so it’s worth checking if you’re local.

Delve into history and science at The Field Museum, where ancient wonders await on a captivating journey through time.
Delve into history and science at The Field Museum, where ancient wonders await teens on a captivating journey through time.

5. Get Breathtaking City Views at Navy Pier’s Centennial Wheel

Embrace the excitement at Navy Pier, a bustling hub of entertainment perfect for a day out with teens. This iconic Chicago landmark stretches out into Lake Michigan, offering a variety of attractions, from amusement rides to cultural experiences. It’s a place where fun and scenic views come together.

At Navy Pier, the Centennial Wheel stands out as a must-try. Soaring nearly 200 feet into the sky, it offers breathtaking views of the city and lake. But that’s not all – there are also exhilarating rides, boat tours, and seasonal fireworks to enjoy. It’s a blend of thrill and beauty that’s hard to beat.

Navy Pier is a cornerstone of Chicago teenager activities. It’s a place where teens can enjoy freedom and fun in a vibrant setting. Plan your visit around the fireworks schedule for an extra special experience. The Pier often hosts festivals and cultural events, so check the calendar for what’s on during your visit. Don’t forget to explore the smaller, less crowded attractions at the Pier for unique experiences.

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Navy Pier is perfect for a teen-friendly day out with rides, cultural experiences, and scenic lake views.
Navy Pier is perfect for a teen-friendly day out with rides, cultural experiences, and scenic lake views.

6. Unleash Creativity at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-class museum nestled in Chicago’s vibrant downtown. With a vast collection spanning thousands of years, it offers an unparalleled journey through the world of art.

The Art Institute is a highlight among fun things to do in Chicago with teens. It’s a place where famous works like ‘American Gothic’ and ‘Nighthawks’ live, surrounded by an array of global artistic treasures. Teens can immerse themselves in galleries showcasing everything from ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces. It’s an inspiring space that encourages exploration and creativity.

Chicago teens under 18 enjoy free admission to the Art Institute of Chicago, offering a budget-friendly cultural experience. When planning your visit, make sure to check the museum’s calendar for any special exhibitions or events that could be of interest. Given the vast collection, it’s advisable to allow plenty of time to explore the museum at a leisurely pace. For an interactive and educational experience, don’t miss visiting the Ryan Learning Center, where hands-on activities and resources await.

Discover art's vast journey at The Art Institute of Chicago, a downtown treasure with a timeless collection.
Discover art’s vast journey at The Art Institute of Chicago, a downtown treasure with a timeless collection.

6. Get Sporty at Wrigley Field

Feel the excitement at Wrigley Field, one of the most iconic baseball stadiums in the United States. Steeped in history and buzzing with energy, it’s the perfect place for teens to experience America’s favorite pastime.

Wrigley Field is among the fun things to do in Chicago for young adults, especially sports enthusiasts. The atmosphere during a game is electric, with fans cheering and the smell of classic ballpark snacks in the air. From the historic ivy-covered walls to the seventh-inning stretch sing-alongs, it’s a place where baseball legends have been made.

To make the most of your visit, try to catch a game, but if that’s not possible, stadium tours are available, offering a behind-the-scenes look at this legendary field. Arrive early to explore the surrounding neighborhood, full of unique shops and eateries. And remember, even if you’re not a die-hard baseball fan, the experience of being in such an iconic sports venue is something truly special.

Experience the buzz at Wrigley Field, an iconic stadium steeped in baseball history.
Experience the buzz at Wrigley Field, an iconic stadium steeped in baseball history.

7. Step Into a Real Submarine at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry is a wonderland for curious minds, where science comes to life through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. It’s an adventure in learning that teens will love, from exploring a real submarine to experiencing a simulated tornado.

The Museum of Science and Industry is packed with fun things to do with teens in Chicago.

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This museum offers a unique blend of education and entertainment. Teens can step inside a real U-505 submarine, one of the museum’s most famous exhibits, or feel the power of natural phenomena in the Science Storms exhibit. It’s an opportunity for them to see, touch, and interact with science in a way that’s both fun and inspiring.

Check the museum’s schedule for live science demonstrations and special events, which can add an extra layer of excitement to your visit. And don’t forget to visit the Coal Mine exhibit, a museum favorite that offers a glimpse into the world of mining.

Explore the wonderland of science at the Museum of Science and Industry—a hands-on adventure for curious teens.
Explore the wonderland of science at the Museum of Science and Industry—a hands-on adventure for curious teens.

8. Catch a Show at the Chicago Theatre

Step into the dazzling world of live entertainment at The Chicago Theatre. Known for its iconic marquee, this historic venue is a gateway to a variety of performances, from concerts to comedy shows.

When pondering what to do in Chicago, catching a show at the Chicago Theatre should be high on your list. The venue itself is a piece of art, with its elegant architecture and grand interior. For teens, it’s a chance to see their favorite artists or discover new ones in an iconic setting. Whether it’s a rock concert, a stand-up comedy act, or a theatrical performance, it promises an evening of top-notch entertainment.

Check the theatre’s schedule in advance and book tickets early, as popular shows tend to sell out quickly. Arrive a bit early to enjoy the ambience of the theatre and maybe even catch a glimpse of the famous auditorium. Don’t forget to take a photo under the iconic marquee – it’s a quintessential Chicago experience.

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Enjoy diverse live performances at The Chicago Theatre, an iconic venue showcasing everything from concerts to comedy.
Enjoy diverse live performances at The Chicago Theatre, an iconic venue showcasing everything from concerts to comedy.

9. Stroll Through Millennium Park

Discover the heart of Chicago with teens at Millennium Park. This urban oasis blends art, architecture, and nature in a unique way. It’s a place where you can see the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, known as “The Bean,” and enjoy outdoor concerts and events.

Millennium Park is a vibrant spot in the city, perfect for families exploring Chicago with teens. It’s a cultural hub where art installations and architectural wonders create a backdrop for memorable experiences. From the lush Lurie Garden to the impressive Jay Pritzker Pavilion, every corner offers something new to discover. Teens will love taking selfies with The Bean and exploring the interactive Crown Fountain. It’s a place where you can relax, have fun, and soak in the city vibes.

Check the park’s event schedule before your visit, as there are often free concerts and exhibitions. Don’t miss the chance to see a performance at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a stunning outdoor venue. And remember, Millennium Park is connected to other attractions like the Art Institute of Chicago and Maggie Daley Park, making it a great starting point for a day of exploration.

Explore Chicago's essence with teens at Millennium Park—a fusion of art, architecture, and nature.
Explore Chicago’s essence with teens at Millennium Park—a fusion of art, architecture, and nature.

10. Ride the Waves on Lake Michigan

Embark on an aquatic adventure on Lake Michigan, a thrilling experience for any teen visiting Chicago. Whether it’s kayaking, paddleboarding, or joining a boat tour, the lake offers a refreshing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s a chance to see Chicago from a different perspective, with the skyline as your backdrop.

Lake Michigan’s waters are ideal for teens looking for active fun. Kayaking along the Chicago River with Urban Kayaks lets you glide past iconic buildings, offering a unique view of the city’s architecture. For those seeking more excitement, speedboat tours from Seadog Cruises provide an exhilarating ride with splashes of fun.

These activities are among the top things for young adults to do in Chicago. They offer a blend of adventure, exercise, and sightseeing. Choose a water activity that matches your teen’s interest and skill level. Booking in advance is recommended, especially for guided tours and rentals with popular companies like Windy City Watersports or Chicago Electric Boat Company.

Explore Lake Michigan's aquatic adventures—offering kayaking, boat tours, and skyline views.
Explore Lake Michigan’s aquatic adventures—offering kayaking, boat tours, and skyline views.

11. Savor Flavors at Chicago’s Food Tours

Chicago’s food tours are a delicious way to explore the city’s diverse flavors. From the iconic deep-dish pizza to gourmet doughnuts, these tours are a journey through Chicago’s rich food scene.

One notable company offering such experiences is Chicago Food Planet, known for its variety of tours that cater to different tastes and interests. These tours take you through neighborhoods like the bustling streets of Little Italy or the vibrant corners of Chinatown, where each bite tells a story of Chicago’s culture and history. It’s a chance to try new flavors and dishes, making it a perfect activity for adventurous young foodies looking for things to do for teens in Chicago.

When selecting a food tour, consider your teen’s food preferences and any dietary restrictions. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, as these tours often involve exploring various neighborhoods on foot!

Savor Chicago's diverse flavors through food tours, from iconic deep-dish pizza to gourmet doughnuts.
Savor Chicago’s diverse flavors through food tours, from iconic deep-dish pizza to gourmet doughnuts.

12. Spy on Wildlife at Lincoln Park Zoo

Reconnect with nature at Lincoln Park Zoo, a serene escape in the midst of Chicago’s bustling city life. This well-loved zoo offers a chance to see a wide range of animals from around the world, from majestic lions to playful penguins. It’s a perfect spot for teens to enjoy a day outdoors, learning about wildlife and conservation.

The zoo’s lush landscapes and tranquil gardens provide a peaceful backdrop for a leisurely stroll. It’s an opportunity to take a break from the urban environment and immerse in natural surroundings. For those looking for things to do in Chicago under 21, Lincoln Park Zoo is an ideal choice. The zoo’s educational programs and interactive exhibits make it a great destination for young adults to explore and learn about the animal kingdom.

The zoo is free to enter, making it a great budget-friendly option. Check the zoo’s schedule for special events and animal feeding times, which can be particularly interesting to watch. Wear comfortable shoes as there’s a lot of ground to cover, and don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the memorable moments with the animals.

Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the best things to do with teen in Chicago.
Lincoln Park Zoo is perfect for teens to learn about animals and conservation while enjoying the outdoors.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Things to Do With Teens in Chicago

Got questions about navigating Chicago’s vibrant scene with your teens? Our FAQ section is packed with insights on the best Chicago activities for teenagers, ensuring your family adventure is both fun and hassle-free.

Is Chicago a kid-friendly city?

Absolutely! Chicago is a fantastic city for kids of all ages, including teenagers. With its blend of cultural institutions like museums and theaters, outdoor spaces like Millennium Park and Lincoln Park Zoo, and interactive experiences like The Escape Game and Navy Pier, there’s no shortage of engaging activities. The city’s diverse neighborhoods also offer unique experiences, from street art tours in Pilsen to exploring the historic Navy Pier.

Where do teenagers hang out in Chicago?

Teenagers in Chicago have a variety of cool spots to hang out. The Magnificent Mile is popular for shopping and dining. For those interested in music and art, neighborhoods like Wicker Park and Logan Square offer a hip vibe with lots of cafes and indie shops. During summer, beaches along Lake Michigan are hotspots for teens. And for a bit of fun, places like Millennium Park and Navy Pier are always buzzing with activities.

What are the best things to do with teenagers in Chicago?

The best things to do with teenagers in Chicago include visiting iconic attractions like the Skydeck at Willis Tower for breathtaking views, exploring the vast collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, and enjoying interactive experiences at the Museum of Science and Industry. Outdoor activities like kayaking on the Chicago River or biking along the Lakefront Trail also offer fun ways to see the city.

What’s the best thing to do with teenagers in Chicago during winter?

During winter, one of the best things to do with teenagers in Chicago is to visit the Millennium Park Ice Skating Rink. It’s a fun and festive activity that teens usually enjoy. Museums like the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium offer great indoor alternatives. Also, checking out the Christkindlmarket, a traditional German Christmas market, can be a unique and enjoyable experience.

Millennium Park Ice Skating Rink with skaters enjoying the ice.
Millennium Park Ice Skating Rink with skaters enjoying the ice. | Source: https://millenniumparkfoundation.org/

Are there any unique Chicago fun activities for families?

Chicago is full of unique fun activities for families. You can catch an improv show at The Second City, where comedy stars are born. Exploring the city’s diverse food scene, from deep-dish pizza to ethnic cuisines, is also a great way to spend time together. For a bit of adventure, try the architectural boat tours on the Chicago River, which offer both education and entertainment.

What are some educational yet fun activities in Chicago for teens?

For educational yet fun activities, Chicago offers plenty. The Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum are great for learning about astronomy and natural history. The Chicago History Museum provides insights into the city’s past. For a hands-on science experience, the Museum of Science and Industry is unbeatable. These places are a true Chicago gem, combining learning with interactive fun, making them perfect for curious teens.

What are things for 18 year olds to do in Chicago?

For 18 year olds, Chicago offers a variety of activities. They can enjoy the vibrant music scene at venues like the House of Blues or explore the city’s rich street art in neighborhoods like Logan Square. For those interested in theater, catching a show at the Chicago Theatre is a must. Additionally, 18 year olds can participate in the many festivals and events that the city hosts throughout the year.

Can teenagers visit Chicago’s nightlife spots?

While many of Chicago’s nightlife spots are for those 21 and over, there are still options for teenagers. Several music venues and concert halls, like the Aragon Ballroom, host all-ages shows. Teen-friendly comedy clubs like The Second City offer performances that cater to younger audiences. Additionally, some cafes and lounges in the city have a relaxed atmosphere suitable for teenagers, especially during early evening hours.

Final Thoughts on Exploring Chicago With Teens

Exploring Chicago with teenagers is an adventure filled with endless possibilities. From the towering heights of the Skydeck to the immersive experiences at the city’s world-class museums, there’s something to captivate every young heart. The best things to do with teenagers in Chicago blend education, fun, and unforgettable memories.

Whether it’s marveling at the city’s architectural wonders, enjoying a day at Millennium Park, or savoring the flavors of diverse cuisines, each moment spent in this vibrant city promises to be as enriching as it is exciting. Consider staying in Chicago to make the most of your time and immerse yourself in the beauty and energy of the city.

The top things to do with teens in Chicago for all types of travelers
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