With so many fun things to see and do, from stepping onto a ledge on the 2nd tallest building in the U.S. to splashing around an award-winning public art installation, Chicago is the perfect family travel destination. The city’s parks and expansive lakefront give a taste of nature while the bustling Loop is brimming with world class museums, theaters and architecture. Kids will delight in the historic elevated train transit system, the welcoming zoo located at the heart of the city, and not to be missed, a Chicago-style hot dog. Here are seven don’t-miss experiences for families visiting Chicago. 

Ride the “El’, a.k.a. the Elevated Tracks. The Chicago elevated train system loops around the city from above, giving riders a pigeon’s eye view. Hop on the Brown Line and take a ride around the Loop during non-peak travel times and you’ll enjoy a fun spin around the city. For maps and schedules, visit TransitChicago.com.

Meet and greet the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Lincoln Park Zoo is a beautiful zoo located within one of the prettiest city parks. It’s educational, fun, and perhaps best of all, free! Open year round, this zoo features animals big and small, from giraffes to geckos. The Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo and the Farm-in-the-Zoo, two zoos within the zoo, are great for kids looking to get up close and personal with the creatures. Don’t forget to take a ride on the Endangered Species Carousel, located on the east end of the zoo. 

Take off your shoes and splash around Millenium Park’s Crown FountainChicago’s brilliant new park is a wonderful spot to take an evening stroll, catch a live (free!) show, or admire some of the best public art installations in the world. Take off your shoes and dip your toes into the Crown Fountain, located at the southwest corner of the park: Watch out for the spitting images that blast water every few minutes! And be sure to take a snapshot of your family’s reflection in the beloved giant bean, a.k.a. Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture. 

Step out onto a ledge over 100 stories high in the skySkydeck Chicago, located at the top of the Willis Tower (the second tallest building in the U.S.) offers spectacular views (you can see up to four states on a clear day) with a side of vertigo. The Ledge is a glass box that gives you the chance to walk four feet off of the side of the building. 
 
Shop ‘Til Your Drop on the Magnificent Mile. North Michigan Avenue is a shopper’s paradise: you’ll find everything from posh shops like Burberry and Chanel to the affordable Forever 21 and H&M. Little girls and boys will adore visiting the Lego Store (located within Water Tower Place) and American Girl Place Chicago. Halfway down the mile is Garrett Popcorn Shop (625 North Michigan Avenue), the perfect spot for a caramel corn pitstop. 
 
Eat a Chicago hotdog. A traditional Chicago-style hot dog is an all-beef frankfurter topped with mustard, sweet pickle relish, white onions, a dill pickle, chopped tomatoes, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt, all wrapped up in a poppy seed bun. Clark Street Dog (3040 North Clark St., Tel. 773-281-6690) is one of the best hot dog joints in the city; Mom and Dad will enjoy the Goose Island beer on tap for $3.50.  
 
Explore the world of science and industry at a fascinated museum. There’s something for everyone in the family at the Museum of Science and Industry. Step on board a real German submarine, discover a giant, beating heart, and cherish a beloved miniature fairy castle from the 1930’s. Before your visit, check out the museum’s many online games and apps to enrich your experience.  
What’s your favorite thing to do in Chicago?