Family vacations in Illinois can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters — it all depends on pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are recommended attractions for those planning Illinois family vacations.
Navy Pier in Chicago is home to the Chicago Children's Museum, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, an IMAX Theater, a huge Ferris wheel and much more. Families can enjoy rides, museums and 30-minute boat rides that leave the pier to explore the lake shore.
Address: 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 312- 595-PIER or 800-595-PIER
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight; closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day; summer, fall, winter and spring hours vary slightly, call or check the website for details
Price: Admission to the Pier is free, but there are fees for many of the pier's attractions
Museum of Science and Industry
Visitors can learn about the past, the present and in the future of science and space through interactive exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry. Some exhibits are permanent while others change periodically, allowing frequent visitors to always experience something new. Exhibits like Swiss Jolly Ball, featuring the world's largest pinball machine, and NetWorld, interactively explaining how the Internet works, will intrigue visitors young and old.
Address: 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637
Hours: Open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily; closed Christmas day
Price: Adults, $15 (Chicago residents, $13); seniors, $14 (Chicago residents, $12); children, $10 (Chicago residents, $9)
Legoland Discovery Center
At Legoland Discovery Center, tour the Lego factory and learn how the plastic bricks are made. Visitors can also take a master builder workshop, build and test Lego racers, climb aboard a Lego ride, and more. Plus, favorite famous characters made from Legos are on display at the Lego Hall of Fame.
Address: 601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with final entry at 5 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with final entry at 6 p.m.
Price: Adults, $19; children, $15; children age 2 and under, free
Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo is close to downtown Chicago, open daily and free to visitors. A few attractions inside the zoo have extra costs attached, such as the Endangered Species Carousel for $2.75 and the Kids Express Train for $2.50. But the family can see gorillas, lions, tigers, bears, giraffes and other animals at no charge.
Address: 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614
Hours: Open November through March, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; April to May, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Memorial Day to Labor Day (May 29 to September 6), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekends; September to October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Chicago Architecture Foundation
The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers boat tours on the Chicago River, as well as walking and bus tours. Visitors can learn about different architectural styles, then hear the fascinating stories behind some of Chicago's most historic buildings.
Address: 224 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604
Hours: Shop & Tour Center: Sunday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
Price: Tour prices vary; call or check the foundation's website for details
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum presents Lincoln's life and family during his years in the White House, preserving his legacy through important turning points in American history such as the Civil War. Researchers can pour over artifacts and documents in both the museum and library to gain insight into his decision-making process. A visit to Lincoln's world must also include a stop at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and Lincoln's tomb, where the former president is buried with his wife and three of his four sons.
Address: Museum: 212 N. Sixth St., Springfield, IL 62701, Library: 112 N. Sixth St., Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: 800-610-2094 or 217-782-5764
Hours: Public and research hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; exhibit viewing only: Saturday and Sunday
Price: Adults, $12; seniors 62 plus, $9; children 5 to 15, $6; military (ID required), $7; students (ID required), $9; children under 5 and members, free
Museum Campus: Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Field Museum of Natural History and Soldier Field
Visitors can easily spend a whole day at the Museum Campus in Chicago, which encompasses the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Field Museum of Natural History and Soldier Field, which is home to the Chicago Bears football team. Mom and Dad won't be able to tear the dinosaur lovers away from Sue, the 42-foot-long T. Rex skeleton at the Field. The Adler offers stars, planets and deep space shows, and the Shedd showcases marine life of all kind — from penguins to whales and sharks.
Address: 1300-1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: Field Museum: 312-992-9410; Adler Planetarium: 312-922-7827; Soldier Field: 312- 235-7000; Shedd Aquarium: 312- 939-2438
Hours: Adler Planetarium: Weekdays 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Weekends from 10 a.m.to 5 p.m. The Field Museum: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round, except Christmas Day. Shedd Aquarium: Open May 30 through June 30, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; July 1 through September 5, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: Each museum has separate admission price lists; see individual websites for details
Have you been to Illinois? What are your favorite attractions?
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