TravelingMom.comThe masterpieces in the Art Institute of Chicago? Bored sighs.
The amazing architecture along the Chicago River? Yawns.
But take my 4- and 6-year-olds past Cloud Gate in downtown Chicago’s Millenium Park (a public art sculpture nicknamed “The Bean” because of its bean-like shape) and they are absolutely hypnotized by it. Like moths to a flame.

Public art can be hit-or-miss with young kids, especially if they can’t climb on top of it. But when you get close to The Bean, you can’t stop touching it and looking at it. It made me take all sorts of artsy pictures, too, using the reflections. 

Psychadelic Bean!

Psychadelic Bean!

What is it about this sculpture that kids love so much? Maybe it’s because they can see themselves. Or maybe they just like climbing into its little crevices (until they bump their heads and cry, that is).


After you’ve Bean-there (sorry, couldn’t resist), walk over to the Crown Fountain. Weather permitting, kids can frolic in the 1-inch high water and watch those super-cool “alive” faces spew water every 10 minutes or so. Bonus: lots of adult seating areas on the perimeter. 

The Crown Fountain is also great for toddlers, as is the wide open patch of grass behind it.

The lawn area of the Pritzker Pavilion is a great place to plop down, grab a hot dog from a nearby vendor, and free your toddlers from their strollers so they can run around in the grass.

Save the Art Institute and the architectural tour until their older.