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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
"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