While Sue, the largest, best-preserved T-Rex on the planet, is the star of The Field Museum, the new Creatures of Light exhibit, with interactive features like iPad games and a glow-worm cave, will wow kids too ($23 for 12 and up, $16 for kids 3 to 11, free for younger kids).
With more than 32,500 animals representing 1,500 species, the Shedd Aquarium has plenty for families to explore. Two things not to miss: the seasonal stingray exhibit which runs through October (you can actually touch one) and the aquatic show with dolphins, whales, and sea otters. ($35 for 12 and up, $26 for kids ages 3 to 11, free for younger kids, with advance online purchase of the "total experience pass.")
The Adler Planetarium offers eight different shows, including One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure ($22 for 12 and up, $18 for kids 3 to 11 for admission and one show).
Take a spin on the iconic Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. The pier is also home to Chicago's Children's Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, where Shrek The Musical is playing from July 13 to September 1, 2013. Another show option: Cirque Shanghai is performing at Navy Pier through September 2.
Even the kids won't mind an afternoon of shopping as long as American Girl Place and The Lego Store are on the list.
This popular urban park has a three-story steel sculpture -- dubbed "The Bean" -- that's become a photo opp for families because it reflects the Chicago skyline. Also don't miss the Lurie garden and the Crown Fountain, where kids love to get wet.
A favorite among local families, the Lincoln Park Zoo costs nothing to enter. Don't miss the Treetop Canopy Climbing Adventure.
During a 90-minute tour, docents deliver cool facts about 50 buildings along the Chicago River.
An easy walk to attractions, the newly renovated Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile woos kids with an indoor pool. (Rooms start at $179 per night.)
Hotel Lincoln offers family suites with bunk beds, a kids' table and chairs, and a step stool. (Family suites start at $309 per night.)
This piece was accurate at publication time, but all prices, offerings and availabilities are subject to change. Please contact each hotel and attraction for up-to-date rates and information before taking your trip.