Jul 20, 2022
4 min read

A Family-Friendly Guide to Chicago

Beth Ann Tieche is an elementary school principal turned stay-at-home mother of three – twins plus one! She is also the creator of 
Low Lift Fun
, a play, parenting, and family lifestyle blog aimed at making life with spirited children more joyful and less stressful. 
For family-friendly recommendations in the Windy City, Beth Ann is your go-to. She lived in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago for many years, and now lives with her family in the western suburbs.
Read on for some of Beth Ann’s family-focused guide to Chicago’s restaurants, cafes, and must-see spots.
Beth Ann Tieche
Beth Ann Tieche

What are your top three hotels in Chicago?

The Blackstone Chicago Hotel
 is a fun location, especially if you plan on going to the 
Art Institute
museum campus
Grant Park
, or doing some shopping on State Street and Michigan Ave.
Virgin Hotel on Wabash
 really feels like a vacation and getaway, and the rooms have such a fun, modern vibe! It’s also close to 
Millenium Park
, State Street and Michigan Ave. shopping, 
the Chicago Theater
, and the ‘L’ for easy public transit. 
Hyatt House Chicago/West Loop – Fulton Market
 is a great place to stay with a family! It has large rooms and an indoor pool for the kids.
Virgin Hotel
The Blackstone
Virgin Hotel // The Blackstone 

Eat & Drink

Where are your go-to spots to eat & drink?

 is the best pizza in the city. All Chicago pizza is good, but this is the real deal. Located in Lincoln Park, you’ll see all the Chicago cops eating here – you know that’s a sign of authentic good eats. It has a lowkey, pub atmosphere in an old two-flat building. This place feels like Chicago. Get the deep dish pizza with double meat (sausage and pepperoni) and you’ll be in heaven. 
Smoke Daddy
 in Wicker Park is my favorite barbeque in the city – great vibe, family friendly, and a large menu. My favorite is the pulled pork nachos, and they also have amazing brunch. 
If you’re dining with kids or a large group, the 
Grand Lux Cafe
 on Michigan Avenue is a total crowd pleaser. It’s a little cheesy (owned by the same people as the Cheesecake Factory), but is also very fun and has great food! There’s something everyone will love, and the desserts are especially over the top. It’s located right on Michigan Ave, making it the perfect place to stop if you’re shopping downtown with the kids and need a fun rest. But it’s also a great spot to get dressed up for dinner with the whole family and not feel out of place! They’ve always got amazing, friendly service, as well. 
Smoke Daddy
Smoke Daddy // Pequod’s

Is there anywhere you’d recommend for a great solo dinner? Why is it perfect for those traveling alone?

Athenian Room
! It’s a divine Greek restaurant in Lincoln Park, and it does not disappoint. It’s a hole in the wall dive bar vibe (it’s actually attached to a dive bar). The half chicken and gyro salads are my favorites here – but everything is amazing. 

What’s your favorite coffee shop?

Sip of Hope
 in Logan Square. They’re a nonprofit and 100% of their proceeds go to suicide prevention. The vibe is perfect, the baristas are the best, and they’re serving up hope every day. It’s a must-visit spot in my opinion. When I go, I always get a large Iced Chai and a chocolate chip cookie. 

Tips & Extras

What have we missed?

Chicago has an amazing assortment of museums. Best museums for kids under 7: the 
Chicago Children’s Museum
 at Navy Pier. Best museums for all kids 3-99: 
Museum of Science and Industry
Field Museum
, and the 
Shedd Aquarium
Choose based on your family’s interests – they are all phenomenal and do not disappoint. MSI is great for STEM lovers, if you have a dino lover you need to go see Sue at the Field Museum, and the Shedd is great fun for all ages. 
Shedd Aquarium
Chicago Children’s Museum 
Shedd Aquarium // Chicago Children’s Museum 

What’s the one piece of essential info you need to know when planning a trip here?

Check the weather before you go – like, the day before you leave! I once had a friend visit Chicago in April, she brought spring clothes (shorts, dresses, etc.) assuming it was spring – but it was still freezing cold. Double check the weather before you come, and pack for a range of temps if you can!

What’s the tip you tell everyone?

If you’re traveling with young kids, the 
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
 is a hidden gem! It’s very affordable, much smaller, and more manageable than the larger and better-known city museums. Great spot for a half-day stop! Also, it’s right next to the 
Lincoln Park Zoo
, which is free! 

What’s the tip you tell no-one?

The best view of the city is from the women’s bathroom of the 
Signature Lounge
, located in the John Hancock Center. It’s free to go up to the Signature Lounge (it’s just a bar!), then you can sit and have a drink. The drinks are pricey, but it’s still a very affordable way to get an amazing view of the city! 
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