There are more and more Chicago-centric apps out there — which means family outings (like playground visits!) are more fun and everyday stuff (like finding parking!) is less hassle. We sifted through them to give you the 12 must-haves, including ones that help you park, pay your dinner bill and even find a potty. Flip through our photo album for the scoop.

Art Institute of Chicago Tours

In a bit of a museum rut? It’s not another ticketed exhibit you need; it’s this free tour that makes the Art Institute new all over again. Think of it as a witty, experienced docent in your hip pocket. The vastness of the museum is made digestible thanks to over 25 tours. Choose one based on collection (African Art, Impressionism), theme (Chicago artists, monkeys in art), time or occasion (the one-hour tour, the full-day tour), and current exhibitions. Check out the “family” tour if you have wee ones in tow, which concentrates on the Family Room, Touch Gallery, and Thorne Miniature Rooms. School-aged kids get to choose from different themes, such as kids as subjects of art or “cracking the code” of various works, Da Vinci Code-style. Directions to each exhibit (and nearby bathrooms, of course) are handy and easy to use. Free. For iPhone or Android. Download the app here.

What is your family’s must-have app? Let us know in the Comments section below.

— Selena Kohng

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photo: Jenny Downing via flickr

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