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The 9 best things to do with kids in September

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

As summer becomes a distant memory and the school year begins, the whole family will be looking to the weekend for fun. Ease into fall with a slew of kid-friendly festivals, concerts, museum freebies and zoo events. Here's what to do with the kids in September. 

1. Midnight Circus in the Parks

The kiddos won't have to stay up past bedtime to see the Little Big Top take over parks throughout the city with an eclectic ensemble of acrobats, aerialists and eccentrics. Wicker Park, Welles Park, Oriole Park and others host—check out the full lineup here(Various locations and times, Sept 2–Oct 15. $5–$20, kids under 2 free)

2. Lincoln Square Apple Fest

The namesake fruit is coated in caramel, baked in pies and pressed into cider at this annual Lincoln Square fall festival. You'll love the chef demos, and they'll go nuts for the Leland Avenue Kids Zone with special programming throughout the two-day event. (Lincoln Ave between Lawrence and Eastwood, Sept 30 & Oct 1, 9am–6pm. $5 suggested donation)

3. Free Days at the Museum of Science and Industry

If you've been meaning to get the littles to the Hyde Park institution, there's never been a better time. Throughout the month of September, Illinois residents receive free admission with a valid ID on the following dates: Sept 5–8, 11–15, 18–22 and 25–29. Free admission includes access to classic exhibits like the Great Train Story and the Baby Chick Hatchery. (5700 S Lake Shore Dr)

4. Festival de La Villita

Head to Little Village with the kids to celebrate Mexico's independence from Spanish rule with live music and entertainment, food vendors and carnival rides. (4400 W 26th St, Sept 8–10. Free)

5. 79th Street Renaissance Festival

Say Sayonara to summer at this annual block party. The two-day South Side fest allows visitors to try local eats, shop nearby retailers, chat with community organizations and catch live performances. (79th St between Racine and Loomis, Sept 9 & 10, 10am–7pm. Free) 

6. Fiesta Familiar

Hosted by Spanish-speaking newspaper Hoy, this annual family extravaganza is the largest of its kind in the Midwest. The young'uns will be treated to arts and crafts with local artists, nutrition-themed games, science experiments and live music and entertainment. (Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N Clark St, Sept 23, 10am–5pm. Free)

7. ZooRunRun for the Animal Care and Conservation Fund

Adults are invited to run a 5K through the zoo grounds, while children ages 4 to 13 get to run their own 1-mile dash an hour later. You'll see ravens, lemurs, bald eagles and zebras along the way. (Brookfield Zoo; 8400 31st St, Brookfield, IL; Sept 10 at 8:30am. $15–$35)

8. Fall Fest at Lincoln Park Zoo

Get your fall feels on at this monthlong fest that begins at the tail end of September. A Ferris wheel, corn maze, hay mountain and pumpkin patch should make it easier to forget about summer. (Lincoln Park Zoo; 2001 N Clark St; Sept 29–Oct 29, Fri, Sat, Sun 10am–5pm. Free)

9. The 606 Walk + Global Peace Picnic with Juicebox Concerts

Three international groups perform at the Humboldt Park Boathouse. Let the littles get their groove on to the sounds of a 12-piece orchestra from Puerto Rico, modern electronic beats from Mdou Moctar and Venezuelan Afro soul. (1301 N Sacramento Ave, Sept 17 at 2pm. Free)

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