Big-city sophistication combined with small-town hospitality makes Chicago a perfect family vacation destination. Chicago’s influential architecture, cuisine for every budget and taste, and outstanding museums are reason enough for a visit with your family. Enjoy a day watching the White Sox play (and the antics of their dedicated fans); or check out Chicago’s lakefront and park system that are as beautiful and relaxing, as they are kid- and budget-friendly. Here are just a few fun family activities from DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Chicago.

Chicago Children's Museum

The engrossing, imaginative exhibits here emphasize doing—be it digging up a dinosaur bone or designing a water channel. A central, three-story rope tunnel immediately snares the attention of older visitors, though there are age-appropriate attractions for infants to pre-teens. If this place can’t exhaust the younger set's energies, nowhere can.

Address: 700 E. Grand Ave.
Open: 10am-5pm Tues-Sun and 10am-8pm Thu & Sat
Admission: $10.00
Chicago Air & Water Show

This massive display of military power features historic aircraft flybys, a staged amphibious attack, and precision flying teams. Prime beachfront viewing spots are from Oak Street to Montrose Beach. Takes place in Mid-Aug.

Phone: 312.744.3315
Shedd Aquarium

Upon arrival, head straight for the Oceanarium to watch the thrilling dolphin and beluga whale show. Staff trainers frequently choose children in the audience to help the reward the marine mammals with a snack after each trick. At the daily Tide Pool Touch and Reptilian Animal Encounters kids can indulge their urge to lay hands on the critters.

Address: 1200 Lake Shore Dr.
Phone: 312.939.2438  Open: Summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day): 9am-6pm daily (to 10pm Thu. Jun-Aug) Winter: 9am-5pm Mon-Fri and 9am-6pm Sat & Sun
Admission: Adults $24.95; Children: $17.95
Lincoln Park Zoo

Free admission encourages repeat visits to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Many exhibits including the working Farm in the Zoo and the Children's Zoo, allow kids to pet the animals. In summer a motorized "train" makes a scenic loop around the park, while on the pond, swan-shaped paddleboats float among the ducks.

Address: 2200 N. Cannon Drive      
Phone: 312.742.2000       
Grounds open: 9am-6pm daily 

Buildings open Summer & Fall: 10am-5pm daily (summer: to 6:30pm Sat, Sun) Winter: 10am-4: 30pm daily Admission: Free but $2 charge for Endangered Species Carousel 

Field Museum

Underground Adventure at the Field Museum: Enter this larger-than-life "subterranean" ecosystem to get a bug's-eye view of life. Wander through a jungle of roots, and listen to the chatter of a busy ant colony. Extra admission charged.

Address: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr.  
Phone 312.922.9410  Open: 9am-5pm daily     Admission: Adults $12; Children (4-11), seniors, and students (with ID) $7