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 ofLow 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.
What are your top three hotels in Chicago?
The Blackstone Chicago Hotel
is a fun location, especially if you plan on going to theArt Institute
, 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 toMillenium 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
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.
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, theGrand 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 // Pequod’s
Is there anywhere you’d recommend for a great solo dinner? Why is it perfect for those traveling alone?
! 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: theChicago Children’s Museum
at Navy Pier. Best museums for all kids 3-99:Museum of Science and Industry
, and theShedd 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
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, thePeggy 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 theLincoln 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 theSignature 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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