Climbing Schooner - Chicago Children's Museum (and Navy Pier)

The climbing schooner is a pretend ship, with a mast for children to climb. The climb is enclosed with netting, with levels to climb up to on alternating sides, so kids can’t fall far if they slip. Once a child climbs from the second to the third floor, there’s a small additional climb to a crow’s nest. From there, there’s a wooden bridge to walk across and come out just by the stairs. Kids who aren’t quite big enough for the full climb can instead start on the third floor, which just requires climbing about eight feet to get to the crow’s nest.


When he was 4 years old, one of my kids who had climbed similar things wasn’t quite big enough to do this one, but I think a more adventurous 4-year-old would be able to. If you’re not sure, there’s no problem with having them start up level or two and seeing how they’re doing, and there are always staff on hand in case there’s a problem. Since this is by the stairs and there’s cargo netting all around, you can see children easily the whole time.

There is also a lower level to the schooner, into a small play area. It's not the easiest place for a parent to fit, but you can get down there (warning: getting back up requires climbing up the net, which is harder than going down it). The only exit from the lower level is to come back up where they go in.