This is number 13 in my series of things to do with kids if and when you’re parenting alone. Whether you are divorced, separated or just alone for the day with the kids, I hope these posts can be a guide of things to do with your kids in a city that is not too kid-friendly, Chicago. I’m not just a lawyer, I’m also a dad.
No matter how great a law office environment and no matter how smoothly divorce litigation may turn out, it’s always nice to get out of the office, stretch your legs, and breathe in the fresh air. While I could write pages of praises for this next location, there are so many fantastic details that I’ll limit it to the main points and attractions.
Millennium Park has over two decades of history and development. It’s been a focal point for Chicago’s art and entertainment from mini golf to ballet. Its jam-packed with events, movies in the park, concerts, plant-life, and statues, but best of all it has free WiFi.
In all seriousness, this really is a great option no matter the age. Kid or adult, there’s something for everyone here.
So many activities are available, but the main points are as follows:
Lurie Garden (located at the southeast end of the park)
• Free 20-minute tours available
• Learn plant identification
• Hours: 6am-11pm daily
Chicago Cultural Center (northwest corner of the park)
• Two stained-glass domes
• Art, music, dance, theater, and more are regularly available.
• Hours: Monday-Friday (10am-7pm), Saturday-Sunday (10am-5pm)
Jay Pritzker Pavilion (near the middle of the park)
• During summer months, it offers nearly 100 free cultural events, concerts, and movies.
• Hours: 6pm-11pm daily
Maggie Daley Park (northeast area of the park)
• Climbing wall
• Tennis courts
• Play Garden (3-acre playground)
• Hours: 6am-11pm daily
Art Institute Chicago (southern area of the park)
• Special events
• New art acquired often
• Various exhibitions
• Thousands of artworks in total
• Admission: (Prices vary greatly) $14-$35, free for members and children under 14
• Hours: (Vary greatly depending on the area of interest) Open most days.
Harris Theater (just north of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion)
• Various opera performances
• Classical composers
• Dance performances (including ballet)
• Admission: (Prices vary greatly depending on the performance and seating)
• Box office hours: Monday-Friday (12pm-5pm)
Park Grille and Café (northwest corner of the park, right next to the Chicago Cultural Center)
• 300-seat restaurant
• Dining rink-side in an igloo dome is available during the holidays.
• Has the city’s largest al fresco dining area.
• Houses events such as Holiday Market and the Tree Lighting Ceremony.
• Prices: (Vary greatly)
• Hours: Monday-Thursday (11am-10pm), Friday-Saturday (11am-10:30pm), Sunday (11am-9:30pm)
Cloud Gate (northwest corner of the park near Park and Grille Café)
• 110-ton structure composed externally of stainless steel plates
• 66 feet long and 33 feet high
• 12 foot clearance underneath
• Great place for a mirror selfie or a family photo with the kids.
• Hours: 6am-11pm
If you’re not sure where to start then there are free 45-minute guided tours available between 11:30am and 1pm daily. This is between May and October. If you’re interested, you’ll need to meet at the Visitor Information Center in the Chicago Cultural Center.
Many of the attractions are indoors, but it’s always good to check the weather beforehand. A stroll through the park under an umbrella can be nice, drudging in soaked cotton not so much.
There are a few more things that would be good to keep in mind.
• There are restrooms located throughout the park.
• The park has a maximum capacity. Once it’s reached then the park will be closed to those trying to enter.
• A CityPASS will save you 53% at several of the locations.
• Alcohol is served, but also strictly regulated, at the park.
• The authorities on site encourage fun and creativity, but there’s also a fairly sizable list of policies and prohibited items on the park’s website.
• Hours: 6am-11pm
• Welcome Center: 9am-5pm
This park is located directly above Millennium Park Station (Michigan Avenue & Randolph Street). If you take your own vehicle then you may be able to find a parking meter or you may be able to park at one of the four following parking garages: Millennium Park Garage, Grant Park North, Grant Park South, or East Monroe Garage. There will be other options, but not likely as nearby as these. Expect to pay at any one of these locations. Parking availability will also depend on local events. Bike parking is also available as well as nearby Divvy Bike Sharing locations. Security in the park is reliable but a good, thick lock would probably be smart.
Millennium Park is 0.2 miles from my Chicago law office. Directions below: