Things To Do With Kids in Naperville

Our company is based out of Chicago, which means that plenty of us hail from the surrounding suburbs, including Naperville, Illinois. If anyone knows about Naperville kids’ activities, it’s us. We grew up playing the arcade games at Odyssey Fun World, catching cheap movies at Ogden 6, and even taking field trips to Schaumburg to go to Medieval Times (because medieval history, and stuff). Here are some of our favorite Naperville kids’ activities—and some of our favorite things to do with kids in the nearby suburbs.

Top Family-Friendly Things to Do in Naperville

  1. Explore the DuPage Children's Museum: Kids can build something using real tools, play with giant bubbles, and create their own works of art.
  2. Splash and swim at Centennial Beach: One of Naperville’s unique attractions, this isn’t a typical beach but rather, a former stone quarry filled with water. It’s a popular hangout in the summer.
  3. Glide around in a Naperville Kayak: Paddlers hang around the Naperville Paddle Boat Quarry in kayaks or stand-up paddleboards or head out on the DuPage River for a leisurely 3-mile paddle.
  4. Run around Odyssey Fun World: Miniature indoor amusement park rides! Laser tag! Outdoor paintball! This is a mecca for kids, and unlike when we were growing up, it now has its own location separate from a bowling alley.
  5. Devour cookie dough at Cookie Dough Creations: This place in Downtown Naperville specializes in egg-free edible cookie dough. Fair warning: it is addictive.  
  6. Discover Naper Settlement: Kids learn about life in the 19th century at this family-friendly outdoor history museum with 12 acres of interactive learning.
  7. Catch a cheap flick at Ogden 6 Theatre: This well-worn theater has been a staple in the community since the ’70s. Families especially love it for its low prices—general admission is just $4!

Spotlight On: DuPage Children’s Museum

In 1987, two early childhood educators from Hinsdale founded the museum, which used to operate out of a van that would travel to park districts, Scout troops, and schools. After years in Wheaton, the museum opened its current permanent location in Naperville in 2001. Here’s a glimpse at what you can find there now:

  • 3 floors of interactive exhibits dedicated to science, math, and art
  • Lego and Duplo block exhibit where kids and adults can build on the floor, table, and wall
  • Splash Zone exhibit where kids will get wet (a change of clothes is recommended)
  • Cafe with organic, allergy-friendly foods and compostable packaging

Get to Know The Naperville Quarries: Where You Can Swim, Kayak, or Ride a Paddleboat

Just past the high-end stores and bustling restaurants in Downtown Naperville lie two bodies of water in former stone quarries. Given their size, it’s a bit surprising that they exist in such a busy downtown area. But they were there long before the chain stores and multi-floor parking garages moved into the area, and they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. That’s because Napervillians treasure their converted quarries, better known as Centennial Beach and Naperville Paddle Boat Quarry/quarry lake.

Centennial Beach is more like an old-fashioned swimming hole than a traditional lake or pool. Here, young families build sandcastles and splash in the shallow end, and teens and adults swim out to the rafts anchored 15 feet below the surface in the deep end. There’s also a high-dive for brave souls.

The paddleboat quarry, AKA Quarry Lake, is a fun destination for lovers of calm watersports. As its name suggests, you can rent paddleboats and tool around the quarry on a hot summer day. Naperville Kayak also rents out standup paddleboards and kayaks for quarry exploration, and its staff helps beginners feel comfortable in their boats.


Top Family-Friendly Things to Do in the Surrounding Suburbs

  1. Brookfield Zoo: One of the top zoos in the country
  2. Medieval Times (Schaumburg): Elevated dinner-theater with medieval knights and jousting
  3. Raging Waves Waterpark (Yorkville): Illinois' largest water park with 26 water slides and a lazy river
  4. Seven Bridges Ice Arena (Woodridge): Large public skating facility with NHL and Olympic rinks
  5. Four Lakes (Lisle): Popular recreation spot for skiing and snowboarding
  6. Willowbrook Wildlife Center: Wildlife rehabilitation center where visitors can watch staffers as they care for baby animals
  7. Cantigny Park (Wheaton): 500-acre park with scaleable Army tanks, gardens, and a war museum
  8. Morton Arboretum (Lisle): 1,700-acre arboretum with more than 222,000 live plants


Spotlight On: Brookfield Zoo

If you grew up in Naperville or any of the surrounding suburbs, you 100% visited this zoo and you 100% believed that “adopting” an animal meant you got to have a tiger/snow leopard/giraffe as a pet. That might not have been true, but Brookfield Zoo is still pretty great. Here’s why:

The zoo, which opened its gates in 1934, was one of the first zoos to create more natural-looking enclosures for its animals. This meant that things like moats and ditches replaced traditional cages. It’s still heavily involved in animal conservation.

Currently, the zoo’s animal residents are spread across more than

Fun Fact: Brookfield Zoo has a collection of Mold-A-Rama machines so kids can take home a souvenir of their favorite animal.

Spotlight On: Medieval Times

Medieval Times will always hold a special place in the hearts of kids in the Chicago suburbs. The immersive dinner-theater experience transports a stadium full of guests back to an age where heroic knights jousted while lords and ladies looked on. Here’s why kids love to go:

  • You get to wear a crown!
  • You get to cheer your knight on while he takes on the competition!
  • There’s a bad guy to root against!  
  • You get to eat roasted chicken with your hands!

In Their Words

"We really train the knights hard from the beginning, building up their leg muscles and building up their arm muscles to hold the swords. Our knights spend several hundred hours training. They have to push themselves beyond what they think they can do, because people aren't paying to see ordinary people—they're paying to see knights in action."

Robert Idrizi, Medieval Times knight