Chicago is such a fun place for kids. There’s so much to do, see and explore, like Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, and SkyDeck Chicago. We were there just two days earlier this month, but I easily could have spent so much more time enjoying this city.
One look online and you’ll find numerous hotel options, including many downtown Chicago hotels, which I personally think are the best bet for the convenience factor alone (I like to park my car and forget about it). Take a look at my picks for the best family hotels in Chicago.
Best Family Hotels in Chicago
Comfort Suites Chicago
We stayed at the Comfort Suites Chicago, one of the most convenient downtown Chicago hotels for taking in all that is uniquely Chicago. It’s situated on the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue) just a block or so south of the Chicago River. Our room even had the most fabulous view up Michigan Avenue.
Every room at the Comfort Suites Chicago has a full kitchen (not just a microwave and a mini-fridge) and a washer/dryer combo. Should you decide to wash some clothes (I did), the front desk sells laundry powder and fabric softener for just $2 each. Super convenient.
Even better, the hotel has a free hot breakfast every morning complete with pastries, yogurts and make-your-own-waffles, which is always a favorite of my kids. Like to work out? There’s a small fitness center inside the hotel, but the Comfort Suites Chicago also has a relationship with nearby Lakeshore Sport & Fitness, so you can get a day pass for $20 to enjoy fitness classes, a lap pool and more.
This family-friendly hotel in Chicago is just a 10-minute walk from both Millennium Park and Grant Park. This is key when you have kids who need to get out and run around. Grant Park is home to The Bean, while Millennium Park boasts Buckingham Fountain. You’ll want to snap pics of your kids in front of both while in town.
Another must is the new Maggie Daley Park, which takes up a 20-acre corner section of Grant Park. You’ll find rock climbing walls, mini golf and a massive playground. Spend a couple of hours at the park, then grab a bite at The Plaza at Park Grill. The children’s menu is limited, but the restaurant is very kid-friendly. My kids even played cornhole at the restaurant before the short walk back to the hotel.
The location of the Comfort Suites Chicago also makes it very easy to explore as a family. We took a 25-minute bus ride to the Lincoln Park Zoo. On the way back, we took the same bus and hopped off at a spot to pick up an easy, free trolley ride to Navy Pier. From Navy Pier, you can pick up a water taxi to Shedd Aquarium. Just two blocks from the hotel, take a kayak tour with Urban Kayaks. Super simple.
At dinnertime, we like to stay close to our hotel, and there are plenty of options. On the same block as the Comfort Suites Chicago you’ll find Subway, Chipotle and Red Robin Burger Works. Walk another block or so and you’ll find Emerald Loop, a downtown Chicago bar and grill. They have a great kids menu, and of course, it’s a must to go to an Irish pub-style restaurant while in Chicago.
Hotel Palomar Chicago
I’ve stayed at Kimpton hotels a number of times, so naturally I was drawn to the Hotel Palomar Chicago (a Kimpton hotel, of course) as one of the best family hotels in Chicago. As at all Kimpton hotels, look for cribs, child-size bathrobes, and in-room child safety kits with outlet covers and nightlights to keep the littlest ones safe and secure.
Bigger kids will love the Kimpton Kids welcome pack, which includes crayons and an activity booklet. They’ll also look forward to kiddie cocktails at the reception hosted by the hotel every evening. Request a pet goldfish to stay in your hotel room as part of the popular “Guppy Love” program or bring Fido with you on your getaway since all Kimpton hotels are notably pet-friendly.
Take in the views from one of the most kid-friendly downtown Chicago hotels from the heated indoor pool on the 17th floor. Kids will also love the hula hoops in the on-site fitness center and the in-room yoga mats when they’re ready to strike a child’s pose. Complimentary bike rentals are also available to all guests of the Hotel Palomar Chicago when ready to explore downtown Chicago on two wheels.
The James is another great family-friendly downtown Chicago hotel. From a welcome gift at check-in to kid-friendly DVDs available to rent and watch in your guest room, The James knows how to take care of its youngest hotel guests. You’ll even find a wide selection of children’s books and board games, as well as Nintendo Wiis and a variety of video games.
When you’re ready to explore Chicago, maybe along the Chicago River Walk, ask The James about the Paul Frank bikes and helmets that are available for kids. The hotel also offers complimentary trail maps whether you want to bike to the museums, the botanic garden or local farmers markets.
After a long day, little ones will love the milk and cookie turndown service at The James. If you brought your dog to this pet-friendly hotel, he’ll be ready to relax too on an organic doggie bed. As a bonus, all guests of The James receive a 15% discount at the nearby Tails in the City pet boutique.
Omni Chicago Hotel
The Omni has long been known as a kid-friendly hotel chain thanks to its award-winning Omni Sensational Kids program. At check-in, kids receive a backpack loaded with fun and entertaining activities, including an activity book (with healthy snack recipes), memory cards and crayons. On the first night of your stay, the Omni Chicago Hotel will even deliver milk and cookies for your kids.
For American Girl fans, ask about the American Girl Place Package, which includes a doll-size bed for your child’s American Girl doll, a doll-size pajama set and an American Girl book to read when it’s time for bed. Located on Michigan Avenue, the Omni Chicago Hotel is just steps away from American Girl Place where children can shop and have their doll’s hair brushed and styled.
For larger families, look for hotel suites at this downtown Chicago hotel with sleeper sofas in a separate living area. There are also two rooftop decks and an indoor swimming pool. The on-site restaurant, 676, has a fun kids menu with a crossword puzzle and a maze, as well as kids dishes with organic and locally-sourced ingredients.
Palmer House Hilton
There’s so much for children (and parents) to love about the Palmer House Hilton, like the free travel journal that children receive at check-in to document their stay in Chicago as part of the Peacock Club Children’s Package. Kids will also receive a coloring book that conveys in a fun and interactive way the role that the Palmer House Hilton plays in downtown Chicago.
Take a swim in the indoor pool after a fun day of sightseeing. On Friday evenings, look for Splash Screenings of family-friendly movies at this downtown Chicago hotel that kids can watch while swimming and playing in the pool. Meanwhile, parents can relax in the nearby whirlpool.
Ask the concierge about the Peacock Club Itinerary for a list of nearby events and attractions that appeal to little ones, like Millennium Park, Navy Pier and the Art Institute of Chicago. For those with toddlers, a Radio Flyer red wagon can be checked out at the Palmer House Hilton for excursions around town.