Last week my family and I truly discovered Chicago. My husband and I usually go every fall to this beautiful city for business but this is the first time we took our two oldest kids and enjoyed Chicago for pleasure.
This post is a family guide to discovering Chicago, we live in MN and it can be a daunting task, let alone expensive if you don’t know how to maneuver your way around the city. In this post, I share my tips and experience for a family staycation at one of the most exciting cities in the U.S.
We decided on a 4 day 3-night stay, we weren’t taking our baby so we had to make the most of it. We stayed at the Embassy Suites By Hilton Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile (Note there are two locations in Chicago, this one is closest to Navy Pier). We chose this hotel for several reasons:
- The location
- Free wifi
- Free breakfast
- 2 room suite ( 2 double beds + pull-out sofa bed)
- Free cocktails every evening
We also decided not to drive, we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of parking in the city, the cost and the delay in case there was construction. This was one of the best decisions we made because of the 4th of July weekend. 🙂 So we flew to Chicago via Spirit Airlines (flight time 1hr 15min tops both ways).
We purchased the Chicago CityPASS (another great decision) before hand so we could bypass all the lines to the attractions and save on admission. We wanted to visit 5 attractions while in Chicago and it would have cost us over $200 per person without CityPASS. Here’s a list of attractions you can use CityPASS for:
- Shedd Aquarium
- Skydeck Chicago
- The Field Museum
- Museum of Science and Industry OR 360 CHICAGO
- Adler Planetarium OR Art Institute of Chicago
Note – you can only choose one of the last two listed but you get a booklet with coupons to the others as well. We saved over 50% using the Chicago CityPASS
In addition to visiting the attractions above, we also enjoyed dinner at 3 amazing restaurants each night.
- Giordano’s (famous for their deep dish pizza)
- Indian Garden Restaurant (I’m a sucker for Indian food, the cocktails were amazing too)
- Maggiano’s Little Italy (Not the best Italian I’ve had but the service was phenomenal)
Our last night in Chicago was actually my birthday, my hubby surprised me with a Sunset Cruise on Lake Michigan by Wendella Boats & Cruises. This was the cherry on top of an already amazing trip.
Plan Your Trip
To save time and money, you need to plan ahead. Decide how many days/nights you’ll be staying, your budget, and what you can and can’t do if you’re taking kids. We planned on going for 4 days and 3 nights and since we were taking our kids I wanted them to experience as much as possible each day. We planned for 2 attractions each day and dinner. Map out your attractions and distance so you’re not going across the city to your second destination.
- Get a hotel that offers Free Breakfast (This saves you time and money)
- Get a hotel that has a pool (check pool hours and restrictions if taking kids)
- Book directly with the hotel (You get better rooms and service)
- Take a cab/taxi (This saves you time and money) Think about how much parking in the city costs + time trying to find parking, especially in the summer months when there are tons of road constructions.
- Get a CityPASS (This saves you time and money) don’t spend your vacation waiting in line, get fast lane or VIP entry with Chicago CityPASS and save $
If you have additional tips for discovering Chicago Please go ahead and share with my readers below.