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 offer 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, the city's two top family hotels. The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel offers an unheard of 25-lap outdoor pool with a twin version indoors.  The boutique-style Hotel Palomar provides a Baby Butler easing travel with infants.  If you're more budget conscious, Embassy Suites Chicago-Downtown, Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown or Omni Chicago Hotel might be better bets (and they're suites)! 

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


The brand was way ahead of other hotel chains in terms of welcoming families when it launched Loews Loves Kids years ago. The initiative ranges from child-proofing kits for families with kids under four to family specific packages. Loews Chicago Hotel sits smack dab in the center of the action with the Art Institute and Millennium Park just south and the Mag Mile just over the river. Plus, the burgeoning River Walk is just below and Navy Pier is steps away. The Urban Explorer Family Package, available year-round, encourages adventure for the whole family as it incorporates a scavenger hunt to see the city's top attractions. The "explorer kit" comes stocked with junior survival needs from backpacks and water bottles to sunglasses and compasses.

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, offers a convenient location in the heart of downtown Chicago and just steps from Millennium Park, as well as programming year round for families. In the winter there are specials for ice skating at nearby Maggie Daly Park and summer brings a money saving Shedd Aquarium package and a picnic totes and park package so the fam can enjoy a gourmet picnic in Millennium Park. Fairmont Chicago really embraces the holidays by hosting programs such as a Kids Cookie Camp with the hotel's executive chef and staff. Ask about suites with separate rooms for kids and parents to have their own space and the hotel offers cribs upon request plus access to babysitting services. At Fairmont Chicago, all kids under age 5 eat free from the children's menu and kids aged 6-11 eat for half price from the regular menu.

The only all-suite hotel located on Michigan Ave., the Omni Chicago completed an $11 million renovation in 2015. Suites have an elegant parlor separated by classic French doors and some have pull out sofa beds as well. The location is ideal for shopping, local attractions and dining and its American Girl package, with a trunk full of extras, is a big hit with fans of the Midwestern brand. Consider a culinary experience for budding Gordon Ramseys: the family can join chef at the farmers market and return to the property with him to cook your dinner. The pool and 5th floor sundeck are highly regarded with visiting families, too. A kids' breakfast buffet, set up daily at the onsite 676 Restaurant, is free for those five and younger. Expect thoughtful, modern, Midwest American cuisine from breakfast through dinner.


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 eight 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 13 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.

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago
Photo courtesy of Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago

This pet-friendly, gorgeous hotel located near Millennium Park and the Magnificent Mile 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 three-hour express laundry service after Junior spills his Darjeeling. Consider booking the Kids Kamping Package that brings a tent with camping activities and sleeping bag to the room. The year-round package's other goodies include popcorn and M&M's for four people and a variety of family movie selections; breakfast for two adults each morning in Filini Restaurant; special kids' breakfast for two kids each morning in Filini Restaurant; valet parking for one car per night.

It may be counterintuitive but the Ritz-Carlton is actually great for families. Located in Water Tower Place, it's walking distance to Oak Street Beach, American Girl Place and many other attractions. What the property offers inside, however, is just as appealing. There's a Red Wagon Warm Welcome where youngsters can choose a toy to take home. A special candy cart shows up at each "Ritz Kids" hotel room door for free sweet treats. When dining in the hotel's restaurants, they get a Chicago themed coloring book and Ritz Kids Healthy Menu. Don't miss complimentary popcorn in the lobby each night at 5 p.m. And, yes, there's an impressive indoor pool. Since American Girl Place is just a few steps from the hotel's front door, the hotel offers a popular American Girl Package that includes overnight accommodations, a take home doll bed, milk and cookies at turndown and valet parking.

The elegantly luxe Four Seasons has stepped up its kids' game in the past few years. When children check-in, they fill out their "registration" (name, age and promise to have fun) and get a Sammy the Skyscraper passport. During their stay, kids complete an activity in each outlet (spa, restaurant, bell desk) and receive a stamp and when completed, they snag free ice cream. In addition, the little shavers receive: choice of toy from the treasure chest at check-in; welcome amenity in guest room, including a stuffed animal; access to the Kids Clubroom with foosball, air hockey, Niintendo, books, toys; access to the 50-foot indoor pool with floaties; and even a kids' shoeshine service where athletic shoes get a Four Seasons charm and new shoelaces. Then there are VIP tickets for Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and other attractions. The most popular family package is Family Fun in the City.

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 and there's even complimentary grocery service. Parents appreciate the complimentary evening social that serves beer, wine and a variety of bites Monday through Thursday. Tell Junior to pipe down - yes, there's an indoor top-floor pool with great views of Chicago.

The Hotel Palomar Chicago features a heated indoor pool on the 17th floor and, a seasonal rooftop sundeck for lolling. The property hosts PIXAR movies on select Fridays throughout the summer at 8pm on the outdoor terrace. For families traveling with infants, Palomar has launched a Baby Butler to help with all the little bundle's needs. The Palomar Baby Butler is a complimentary service for parents designed to lessen their load by fully stocking the guest room or suite with all of the disposable baby essentials a family would need during a trip. The River North location is close to Michigan Avenue shopping and offers complimentary bike rentals, goodie bags for kids at check-in with crayons and coloring books, and seriously fun seasonal family-focused packages throughout the year. Not that the kids would notice, but the hotel also has an excellent on-site restaurant, Sable Kitchen & Bar.

Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown
Photo courtesy of Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown

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 lounge area. 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 a pool, a 24-hour gym and two wonderful Italian restaurants, Osteria Via Stato and Pizzeria Via Stato, onsite. Wi-Fi is free. This River North location is three blocks west of Michigan Avenue's Mag Mile. There is a sister location, Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile at 511 North Columbus Drive, which is walking distance to Navy Pier and Maggie Daley Park - great places for little ones.


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