Chicago Children's Museum near navy pier in Chicago Illinois

Neighborhood News: Believing in the Power of Play–Navy Pier’s Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago Children's Museum near navy pier in Chicago Illinois

Looking for a place where your children can play, have fun, interact and learn at the same time? Since 1982, the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier 700 E. Grand Avenue, Suite 127, has been creating experiences that are developmentally “just right” for children of all ages! 

Founded by The Junior League of Chicago 

Chicago Children’s Museum was founded by The Junior League of Chicago, responding to arts programming cutbacks in the Chicago Public Schools. Originally housed in two hallways of the Chicago Public Library, they eventually joined forces with the Education Resource Center, Columbia College, and Loyola University to found Express-Ways Children’s Museum, which would become Chicago Children’s Museum. They moved to their current location inside Navy Pier, in a 57,000-foot space, in 1995. 

A World of Fun for All Ages! 

Each exhibit at CCM has something to offer the youngest visitors and many include special infant and crawler play areas. As their website notes, Treehouse Trails Enchanted Forest and Kids Town are especially popular with younger visitors. 

Their Pritzker Playspace is designed exclusively for families with young children. They describe it as “The perfect place to bond with your child, connect with other families, access resources, and interact with friendly and knowledgeable professional educators.”

As Choose Chicago notes: “Kids build things in the Tinkering Lab; splash around in the flowing, squirting, pumping WaterWays playground; camp, climb, burrow, and make believe in and dig for dinosaurs in a recreation of a real Saharan expedition.” 

The Zoom Room

CCM’s Zoom Room “puts kids in the driver’s seat as they send toy cars hurtling through the curves, loops, dips, and crash sites of a colossal, multilevel racecourse,” according to their website. The Zoom Room features hundreds of toy cars and more than 40 tracks of every length, height, and angle, including two bi-level crash courses. It’s “the ultimate toy car experience— for children — and adults.”

Water City

Water City “connects water play and STEM experiences for the next generation of young explorers and their families, according to their website.”

The Water City exhibit is in the historic part of Navy Pier, called the Head House. The 50-foot tower includes a central water feature with three legs, bringing to mind the three branches of the Chicago River, and uniquely Chicago elements such as the lock/dam system, Lake Michigan, and skyscrapers from Chicago’s iconic skyline.  

Cloud Buster

Visitors can explore multiple levels, climb through unexpected spaces, and ascend to The Apartment, Cloud Buster’s highest destination that’s designed to resemble a Chicago apartment, complete with Chicago-themed artwork and posters. 

Google reviewers were stunned:

“Amazing place for kids of all ages. Car room has lots of young kids. Fire truck attracts lots of kids too. Engineering play area is actually advanced. Totally great for bigger kids. Water play provides ponchos of different sizes and has a dedicated change room.

Almost wanted an annual membership even though we are just visiting.”

Chicago Children’s Museum is located at 700 E. Grand Avenue, Suite 127, inside Navy Pier. They are open Mondays through Sundays (Memorial Day – Labor Day) 10am-5pm. Advance ticket purchases and member reservations are encouraged. For tickets and information, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago