Chicago hotels well suited for kids and families

Traveling with kids is stressful. Their little legs get tired, the attention span is fleeting and teenagers can be a general pain in the keister on the road. Finding the right hotel can make the belly-aching better.

Many hotels offer welcome bags to help keep kids entertained or discounts to local museums. Book a hotel with an indoor pool and you've won half the battle. Well, maybe a quarter depending upon how challenging your offspring can be. 

If you are looking for luxury, try the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago or the Ritz-Carlton Chicago, two of the city's top family hotels. The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel offers an outdoor rooftop pool that might make Michael Phelps swoon. Spend the night in one of Swissotel Chicago's signature Kids Rooms which are set up with toys, games and entertainment for young travelers.  If you're more budget-conscious, Embassy Suites Chicago by Hilton Magnificent Mile or Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown might be better bets (and they're suites)! Families with art lovers in their crew, should book a suite at the new 21c Museum Hotel. Going to the theater? The Allegro Royal Sonesta Hotel is a good bet. Have a date with the Chicago Cubs? Hotel Versey, previously known as the "Rock and Roll Days Inn, is a welcome alternative to ordinary downtown hotels. 

Here are some top kid-friendly hotel recommendations in Chicago as well as Great Wolf Lodge Illinois offering attractions, dining, accommodations and entertainment inside and outside of the water park, that appeal to both children and parents.


21c has location in its "plus" column and with 106 suites families have more space vs. standard hotel rooms. The eclectic, hip art within the hotel will be attractive to kids and teens (great to peruse on a rainy day). The gift shop stocks items for children such as onesies, miniature versions of the brand's Evergreen Penguin and kids craft kits. Families should look into the Free Self-Park Package (free in and out self-parking at the enclosed parking garage behind 21c plus 10% off your stay and a $10 minibar credit) and the Pet Lovers Package so you can bring your buddy along. Some of Chicago's most popular attractions are nearby and several "unlock" special offers when you show your 21c Museum Hotel Chicago room key card. For example, 21c guests can take advantage of a free TILT experience at 360 Chicago.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Hotels because: In the heart of lively River North, 21c offers spacious suites, an art museum right in the hotel and family-friendly packages.

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The Allegro Royal Sonesta Hotel has a colorful 100-year storied history, great location near downtown attractions and a number of packages for family fun in the heart of city. Take the Family Escape package, for example, which includes a private movie-theater experience, soft drinks and theater candy, a variety of games including a life-sized Jenga, and a parking discount for one vehicle. Choose a suite with an adjoining room for parental privacy and ask about the hotel's bicycles so you can explore the lakefront and Millennium Park. You're in Chicago's theater district, so you won't have to wave down a taxi after the musical. Stroll to a cornucopia of affordable eateries (the pastries at The Dearborn are nothing less than fabulous) and public transportation is just outside the door of the art deco property.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Hotels because: Walk to the museums, theaters, Millennium Park, budget and fine dining restaurants while staying at the centrally located Allegro. Good family packages, too.

Read more about The Allegro Royal Sonesta Hotel Chicago West Loop →


Visitors will love the family-focused amenities at Swisshotel Chicago. The distinctive 4-Diamond all-glass hotel offers spectacular wrap-around views from the Chicago River to Millennium Park and is located just off of the Magnificent Mile and near Maggie Daly Park. Spend the night in one of Swissotel Chicago's signature Kids Rooms which are set up with toys, games and entertainment for kids of various ages. Items are customized based upon Junior's hobbies, favorite game and toys, too. Count on sweets upon arrival with an in-room movie to end the night. Peruse family friendly promotions, such as the Shedd Aquarium Package, on the web site. During the holidays, visit the Santa Suite when the man in red books the hotel's Presidential Suite to serve as his rock star crib. Expect over-the-top d├ęcor include more than 16 snow-covered Christmas trees and photo ops with Kris Kringle.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Hotels because: Steps away from the Magnificent Mile, parents will love the location and views and youngsters will be thrilled with kid-friendly suites.

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Lincoln Park

Especially suited for families with older kids and teens, Hotel Versey is a welcome alternative to ordinary downtown hotels. Hotel Versey previously known as the "Rock and Roll Days Inn," music fans will be excited to know that the likes of Foo Fighters, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Sheryl Crow (who rollerbladed through the lobby, although not permitted), Wilco and the Black Keys stayed in this cool stack of bricks. Rooms are simple and spacious; common areas are colorful. Roughly a 15-minute walk from Wrigley Field and Lincoln Park, the hotel offers packages like the Cubs Rate: book a room and receive 25% off. There are plenty of sweet indie eateries and shops nearby.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Hotels because: Hotel Versey is in a vibrant neighborhood with indie eateries and shops, just a mile from Wrigley Field and Lincoln Park.

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Gurnee is home to serious outlet mall shopping, Six Flags Great America and the first Great Wolf Lodge property in the state. It features an 80,000 square-foot water park with family slides, wave pool, toddler water play area and an outdoor oasis with a pool and cabanas. When the skin gets too puckered, hit Great Wolf Adventure Park, a family entertainment center with a ropes course, climbing wall and arcade. If you can't face days of pizza and hot dogs, this Great Wolf Lodge offers seven different eateries including Barnwood, an elevated, farm-to-fork restaurant with locally sourced ingredients from nearby purveyors. Parents may appreciate the extensive menu of signature cocktails, wines and craft beers, too. Families can choose from various suite styles, including kid-focused Wolf Den and KidCabin suites that come with bunk beds. Bring granny and book premium multi-bedroom suites designed to accommodate larger families or friends traveling together.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Hotels because: Great Wolf Lodge Illinois has attractions, dining, accommodations and entertainment inside and outside of the water park, that appeal to both children and parents.

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This pet-friendly, gorgeous hotel located near Millennium Park is ideally located for families aiming to explore the major landmarks of Chicago. What kid wouldn't go gaga over rooftop swimming and parents can lounge in the sun taking in views of the skyline. There is an outdoor splash pool for kids, fire pits, cabanas, hot tub, running track, an indoor pool; and dedicated yoga space. Families can enjoy weekend afternoon tea service and a three-hour express laundry service after Junior spills his Darjeeling. Consider booking the Kids Kamping Package that brings a tent with camping activities to the room; special amenity for the kids on the day of arrival; breakfast for two adults each morning; special kids' breakfast for two kids each morning; and self parking for one car per night. If your baby is covered in fur - look into the VIPup package.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Hotels because: Parents love this hotel for its location next to Millennium Park and its relatively reasonable rates.

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The elegant Four Seasons has not only undergone a multi-million dollar renovation, the luxe property has stepped up its kids' game. Upon check-in, kids get an activity book highlighting city landmarks and educational arts and crafts. They'll want to head straight to the heated indoor pool that offers kickboards, noodles and floaties upon request. The family can enjoy a private cinema experience in a theater room featuring a drop-down projector screen and a collection of DVDs and streaming service access. The hotel's culinary team provides popcorn, candy and beverages. Little noshers choose a favorite ice cream flavor and toppings from the deliver-to-door ice cream cart (and boozy floats for the 'rents). Ask about the the Family Experience Package that includes access to VIP tickets at Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and other attractions. The Lakeside Family Suite is an Executive Suite connecting to a Lake View Double Room, both with unobstructed views of Lake Michigan.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Hotels because: This award-winning luxury hotel has all sorts of extra perks for families.

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The property, one block from the Red Line subway and the Magnificent Mile, is all about two-bedroom suites, a fully-equipped kitchen with a two-burner stove, dishwasher and microwave. You can save a lot of money and aggravation when traveling with kids if you can stock a fridge and make a snack. When they are working your last nerve, the suites' separate living and sleeping areas allow kids and parents to have some space, too. The hot breakfast each morning is a wonderful convenience for families as is the fully stocked suite shop to purchase snacks, beer and wine. Parents appreciate the complimentary evening social Monday through Thursday (although the evening reception and indoor pool have been suspended until 2022). The hotel partners with American Girl Place, so look for special packages and promotions. It's also a pet friendly hotel (fee applies).

Recommended for Family-Friendly Hotels because: Roomy, a fully equipped kitchen, free hot breakfast and central location adds up to great value for families.

Read more about Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown →

It may be counterintuitive but the Ritz-Carlton is actually great for families and hosts many. Located adjacent to Water Tower Place, it's walking distance to Oak Street Beach, American Girl Place, Lego Store and many other child-worthy attractions. What the property offers inside, however, is just as appealing: an impressive indoor swimming pool, outdoor rooftop, children's tent for the room, and a Red Wagon Warm Welcome where youngsters can choose a toy to take home. When dining in the hotel's restaurants ask for the Ritz Kids Menu. Every day, look for the (free) daily popcorn cart in the lobby at 5pm sharp, too. For fresh air and exercise, Seneca Children's Park is just across the street from the completely refashioned Ritz Carlton, Chicago. The hotel offers a popular American Girl Package that includes overnight accommodations, a take home doll bed, plus milk and cookies at turndown.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Hotels because: In addition to a fabulous central location, the Ritz-Carlton offers all the amenities of a luxury hotel plus fun extras for kids.

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No matter what room you book, you always get a two-room suite so the 'rents can send their kids to bed while they close the door and hang out in their room's separate living area. No fighting over the remote with two 55-inch TVs, plus the kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave and coffeemaker are super convenient for hungry families. Included in the budget-friendly hotel price is a free cooked-to-order hot breakfast, including made-from-scratch omelets. Return from your Chicago outings in time for a complimentary reception of soft drinks, a full bar and snacks like nachos or pretzels and dip. There's also an indoor pool, sauna and fitness center. The hotel has city/lake views, lots of complimentary amenities and is within walking distance to Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue shopping. Some hotel services may be unavailable or limited during your visit because of social distancing protocols.

Recommended for Family-Friendly Hotels because: Budget-conscious parents love Embassy Suites' two all-suite hotels in Chicago, which include complimentary breakfast, pool, and close proximity to many attractions.

Read more about Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Magnificent Mile →


Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky