chicago bean

Chicago is a huge city filled with cultural treasures, including a thriving art scene, world-class architecture, renowned museums, and authentic deep-dish pizza. If you’re lucky enough to call the Windy City home, then you’re surely going to want to take advantage of some of the numerous fun things to do around the city this weekend. You can go on walks, take in local art, and go shopping for things to take home. If you have kids, you can take them out to see the family-friendly delights of Chicago. Any outing to explore Chicago should start at the city’s Riverwalk.

Chicago Riverwalk

chicago riverwalk

Image via Flickr by Conal Gallagher

The Chicago Riverwalk offers stunning views of the river and the city’s architecture. It’s located downtown, with a waterfront park and a pedestrian trail that runs for 1.25 miles along the south side of the Chicago River. You can find murals painted by popular artists along the walkway walls, vendors at the Community Marketplace, and concessions along the way. Stop by the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum to learn about the Chicago River and its movable bridges. General admission to the museum is $6; the fee is $5 for children older than 5 and students with ID.

Community Marketplace

Located on the Riverwalk near Michigan Avenue, the Community Marketplace is composed of four vendors. Two of these, Small Shop Chicago and Neighborly, represent creators and artisans from diverse communities across the Chicago area. You can find ethically sourced, locally made products including apparel, accessories, home decor, and much more. Much of it is made by local craftspeople such as ceramicists, woodworkers, printmakers, and designers. Batters and Berries serve up brunch here, while Chiya Chai Cafe offers a sampling of its large selection of chai drinks from its main store on Milwaukee Avenue.

Greeter Tours

Maybe you’re visiting Chicago for the weekend and want to learn all about it, or perhaps you’ve lived here for years but want your kids to learn about important parts of the city’s history. Either way, the Chicago Greeter tours will take you around the city, and the friendly Chicago Greeters can tell you the history of the buildings and places along the way. Your family can find out how the city evolved beside the river and learn about important landmarks and areas of cultural significance to communities in the city. These tours are free and can be reserved online.

Sweet Home Gelato

After a long trek around the city, you and the kids might be hankering for a sweet treat. Look no further than Sweet Home Gelato. You might not have to go far, as it has a few locations around the city, including on the Riverwalk. The family-operated Sweet Home Gelato serves locally made small-batch gelato using fresh and natural ingredients. Gelato uses less cream than American-style ice cream, but you don’t lose any of the creaminess because it’s churned at a slower speed, which incorporates less air, giving a smoother, denser texture.

Hyde Park Art Center

Hyde Park Art Center is a great place to visit if you enjoy art or want to inspire any young artists in your family. It’s a gathering space for contemporary artists in the Chicago area that offers residencies for local and international artists and fosters creativity in the community. The exhibitions showcase the talents of diverse artists and helps artistic careers by putting the artwork before a broader community to engage with and enjoy. This way, the Center helps creatives from beginning students to fully fledged artists. The exhibitions are free and open to the public, but reserve your spot ahead of time.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory is one of Chicago’s many treasures. If you love plants and nature, you won’t want to miss this large botanical conservatory that offers eight indoor gardens in glass houses and 10 acres of outdoor gardens with a pond and play areas for children. The indoor gardens include the tall Palm House, where full-sized palm trees grow in a tropical setting; the Desert House, which is populated by cacti; the Fern House, where lush ferns and an indoor lagoon show what prehistoric Chicago’s swampy lands were like; and more. Admission is free, but reservations are required, and donations are appreciated.

Maggie Daley Park

If your idea of a good weekend is a day of family fun at the roller park with the kids, head to Maggie Daley Park for inline skating and scooting. Its ribbon ice rink has been converted to a roller path for the summer season, so dust off those inline skates and get going. The course is free to use with your own equipment, and rentals are available on the weekends. Scooter rentals are also available. The park is located only a short walk from the lakefront or Millennium Park and its iconic world-famous “The Bean” sculpture.

Wildlife Discovery Center

If you have kids, you won’t want them to miss the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest in the North Shore area of Chicago. It’s a living museum and biological station that’s home to about 85 species of animals. Kids of all ages will love to see some amazing creatures, including crocodilians and other reptiles, regal raptors, and a bobcat named Boris. The Wildlife Discovery Center is at Elawa Farm near Middlefork Savanna, a 670-acre wildlife refuge. Groups of up to six people get in free, but registration for a time slot is required and includes a 45-minute personalized tour.

Chicago has so much to offer visitors and locals alike. Whether you want to wander along the riverfront, learn about the city’s history, meet new animals, or enjoy an afternoon of inline skating with the family, there’s always something to do. Kids will love to see the vibrant murals along the Riverwalk or stop at Sweet Home Gelato for a cold treat. Has this list inspired you to go exploring in Chicago this weekend? We at Pequod’s Pizza would love to hear from you if you’ve tried any of the activities on this list. Which one is your favorite? After a long day of exploring the city you will definitely be looking for a satisfying meal. There are many great options all over the city, but if pizza is on your mind you can place an order or reserve a table at Pequod’s.