Family Weekend in the Chicago

Gas-Tank Getaway

This post was made possible by Lou Malnati’s, Swissotel Chicago, Shoreline Sightseeing and the Adler Planetarium who provided us the opportunity to experience Chicago for a weekend. 

Once you have more than one kid and more than one kid in school, family vacations become harder to take. As you’re looking at your packed schedule and dreaming about taking a trip, why not think closer to home? Lake County is just a quick trip to one of the greatest cities in the world, and we learned it’s fun to play tourist in a town, you know. Especially with the reward of your bed only 40 minutes away from your vacation and no planes are required.

family weekend in chicago

My family and I got to spend a weekend in Chicago at the end of August, and while we were only in the city for about one day and night, my kids are still talking about it weeks later! With several school districts having long weekends coming up a quick trip to the city may be your perfect getaway!

adler planetarium, family weekend in chicago

We started our trip on a Friday after school, which was the only downside of the whole weekend. Traffic was, well, it was what you expect on a Friday night during rush hour. Our first planned stop was to get dinner at Lou Malnati’s Pizza. Our family loves Lou’s, and we knew exactly what we would order. Lou Malnati’s has a great social media team, and I tweeted with them before arriving to determine the best restaurant (there were three near our hotel) that would work for a large group and lots of kids (four adults five kids). We dinned at the Gold Coast restaurant because it offered validated parking around the corner.

The other tip they gave us was to call ahead with our order so that we wouldn’t be waiting for so long. This was the best idea ever! The kids were starving from sitting in traffic, and since they don’t take reservations, I had visions of multiple meltdowns in the restaurant. We called ahead (about 20-30 min before arrival) and ordered our pizza, and because of that, we got a table as soon as we walked in! We ordered appetizers right away, and the kids were eating in minutes!

family weekend in chicago

We spent the evening at the Swissotel Chicago, and we were lucky enough to get upgraded to a suite. The Swissotel offers kids suites which would be perfect for families. They come with one room for the kids with toys, and kids sized furniture and tons of fun attached to the parent’s room. This room would be hands down the best way to do a mini-vacation with children. We were in a businesses suite which was still pretty amazing:

The kids were so excited about the tub we didn’t even need to go check out the pool because the tub was as big as a pool! Everyone we encountered at the hotel was friendly and helpful, and the food a the Geneva Restaurant (where we had breakfast) was amazing.

family weekend in chicago

Saturday was our full tourist adventure day!

family weekend in chicago

We started the day with a trip to a local tot lot and spray park that the hotel staff told us to visit. It was just a quick walk outside the hotel, and since my kids got up at the crack of dawn, a much-needed energy release!

family weekend in chicago, cloud gate

From there, we walked over to Millennium Park, which believe it or not, I had not been to before! My kid could have spent all day at Crown Fountain, but we had so much more to do! There was a whole tent set up with kids’ activities that we altogether avoided! We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Universe at the Adler Planetarium (see my review here).

Since we knew we would be heading home to our beds, we decided to push it and try one more thing. We hopped on the Shoreline Cruises Water Taxi and took it to Navy Pier. Our original thought was to take it for a ride, see the skyline and enjoy the water. Unfortunately, the ride was a little rough on the way there (side note our Captain Dusty did a fantastic job dealing with unexpected issues from unskilled boaters). So we decided to get off and get the kids a quick bite to eat (and steady mom’s seas legs) before heading home. The ride home was much smoother, but at this point, we were all tuckered out and ready to be back!

family weekend in chicago
Checking out the view

If you’re considering a weekend in the city this month, don’t miss the special Halloween events going on at the Fairmont Chicago. The Fairmont Chicago’s Executive Pastry Chef, Erin Brew, and Executive Sous Chef (a.k.a. The Kids’ Chef) Ronnie Rios Aleman, will be sharing with the kids’ creative ways to decorate pumpkins without even carving them! Chef Brew will be passing out favorite Halloween healthy treats, and kids that come in costume can enter a contest for a chance to win a four-pack of tickets to the Shedd Aquarium! If kids bring a donation for the Chicago food depository, they will receive a pumpkin carving kit to take home.

You can see more pictures from our weekend in the city on the Little Lake County Facebook Page.  You can try Chef Erin Brew’s Sweet and Savory Pumpkin Seeds with this recipe!

family weekend in Chicago

Swissotel Chicago
323 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL
(312) 565-0565 | Swissotel on Facebook

Shoreline Sightseeing
(312) 222-9328 | Shoreline Sightseeing on Facebook

Lou Malnati’s Pizza
Locations throughout Chicagoland
Gold Coast Location:
1120 North State Street, Chicago, IL
Lou Malnati’s on Facebook

Find more tips and tricks for hanging out in Chicago as well as other great getaway ideas on our Family Travel page.


Disclosure: My family and I were gifted dinner, one night’s hotel stay, planetarium admission, and water taxi rides in order to experience a weekend in the city. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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About Melissa Haak 885 Articles
Melissa is mom to 4. She used to dream of traveling the world, now she dreams of a clean kitchen. She can be found on most social media sites as @PBinmyHair because with this much hair and four kids, you're bound to find something in it.

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