If you are planning an upcoming trip to Chicago, check out our roundup of some our favorite highlights in the windy city.
If you’re traveling with kiddos, we highly recommend the Omni Chicago Hotel.
Photo courtesy of www.omnihotels.com
It’s an all-suite hotel located on Michigan Avenue in the heart of downtown Chicago. We had a wonderful experience there. It’s within walking distance to restaurants, shops and super convenient … a Whole Foods grocery store. Each room has a small fridge and microwave so we were able to store some breakfast and snack items to help curb the food budget.
The staff was welcoming and helpful, the rooms were updated and clean and the property itself is in a wonderful location. Definitely, check it out.
Navy Pier is full of different restaurants, stores, and a few rides all over the gorgeous Lake Michigan.
You can’t come to Chicago and not ride the iconic Centennial Wheel on Navy Pier! We rode during the day, but I’d love to ride it at night too on our next visit to see all of the city lights.
During the warmer months, there are a few other rides on the pier and games available for the kids and kids at heart 🙂
Memorial Day through Labor Day you can catch a firework show on the pier every Wednesday at 9:30 pm and Saturday at 10:15 pm.
Around 13 blocks of great stores, restaurants and hotels along Michigan Avenue make up the “Magnificent Mile“. There is a little bit of everything to explore. Norstrom, Bloomingdales, Nike, The Disney Store, American Girl Store, North Face, Dylan’s Candy Bar and oh my word so many more. Check out a full list here. I apologize for the lack of photos …. I had my hands full of shopping bags 😉
Maggie Daley Park
We stumbled upon Maggie Daley Park and were blown away. The playground alone kept the kids busy for a couple of hours. Climbing structures, tunnel slides, bridges, imaginary play and more.
The park also offers activities for a fee such as mini golf, a climbing wall, ice skating rink or “Skating Ribbon” as they call it. During the warmer months, you can rent roller blades or scooters to use on the skating track.
The kids were perfectly happy on the playground so we didn’t try out the other activities, but we can’t wait to add them to our list next trip.
AND the fieldhouse that houses all of the skating and climbing wall equipment rentals has wait for it… REAL bathrooms! It’s the little things, right? HA!
Millennium Park houses the iconic “Bean” sculpture that unbeknownst to me is actually named “Cloud Gate”. Who knew, right?
The Crown Fountain is also located within Millennium Park. The kids loved cooling off here. There are two 50 foot glass block towers that project images of different faces, many of whom spit water out at you. It’s so much fun to watch the different faces cycle through on the towers and the kids love stomping around in the water.
Make sure you pack non-slippery shoes and an extra set of dry clothes. It’s too enticing not to run in.
McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
If you’ll be visiting in the fall or winter, you should check out Millennium Park’s ice skating rink, McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. It’s usually open from mid-November to mid-March (weather depending) ice skating is FREE for all visitors. Skate rentals are available for $12-14. Check their website for further details.
During the Spring and Summer months, Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion houses concerts, performances, and special events. Check out their website for a schedule of events.
Sky Deck & The Ledge at Willis Tower
The Sky Deck is located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). Tickets are required to enter the attraction that allows you to look out on the Chicago skyline. Also on the Sky Deck is The Ledge, 4 glass boxes that extend about 4 feet outside the Tower. You can walk out onto this glass floor, 1,353 feet above the ground. It took a crowd of encouraging strangers to get me to go out there. As soon as I got out there, my son started jumping and I almost passed out, but I snapped this fun photo hahahah.
Museum of Science & Industry
Less than 20 minutes from the heart of downtown Chicago is the Museum of Science & Industry. We took the public bus out there and had no trouble whatsoever. There are so many ways to get there if you are sans car. Plan on spending most of the day here. It is truly amazing.
Hands-on learning about everything from storms and energy to farm equipment and the human body. This quickly became our all-time favorite museum.
The museum is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas, but most other days it’s open from 9:30 am – 4:00 pm. Be sure to check their website for hours before you plan your trip since some days the hours vary. Also, check out the website for information on ticket pricing and possible discounts available.
There are a few exhibits that are not included in the general admission ticket. I highly recommend adding on the coal mine tour. The realistic details in this exhibit are amazing. Your tour guide, decked out in mining gear, explains the different machinery and tools used for mining over the years as you walk through an extremely life-like coal mine.
Big Bus Tours
We decided to purchase a hop-on-hop-off pass for the Big Bus tour. We hopped on first thing in the morning and the kids got to sit up top in the front. They were beyond excited. It was a great way to see the entire city. Every tour guide has a different story to tell. One tour guide focused more on the history of the city. The next time we hopped back on the bus, the tour guide focused more on movies filmed around the area. It was a nice way to break up the day and take a break while still taking in the city. Keep an eye out for groupons and coupons. I think we found a deal online and purchased it through the groupon site. You might also want to check with the concierge at your hotel to see if they know of any current deals.
Whether you dine in or carry out, this Chicago classic is a must when you’re visiting the windy city. Giordani’s is quite popular so go early if you’re dining in. If deep-dish isn’t your thing, I won’t hold it against you 😉 .. their thin crust pizza is also amazing.
We usually try to do a low key breakfast in the room, but a few mornings we will treat ourselves to a big breakfast. Eggsperience Cafe did not disappoint. Their oven baked oatmeal was amazing and the kids loved the eggs, bacon, waffles, and pancakes.
I hope that this helps get ya’ll started with your travel plans. I highly suggest trying to do as much research before your trip as you can. Even if you don’t have set plans every day, having a list of options takes away a lot of the stress when you’re nearing meal time and everyone is looking to you for decisions 😉