The Mom's Guide to Chicago
Chicago is a city to have adventures in. For Chicagoans and visitors alike, days here are well spent hanging at the beach, stopping by local shops, exploring the art and architecture, riding the train and eating world-famous pizza. And if you're hitting the Windy City with kids in tow, you're in luck. These days, all the hippest Chicago restaurants have kids menus, craft breweries offer coloring supplies and museums have countless kid-friendly offerings. It's really a great time to be raising a family in Chicago — and an even better time to visit the city with yours.
One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday in Chicago is exploring different neighborhoods with my kids trying new restaurants and parks along the way. And while there's plenty to see and do downtown, it’s so easy to jump on the train and head north or west to cool neighborhoods such as Wicker Park, Logan Square, Lakeview or Lincoln Park — where you’ll likely see kids buzzing by on scooters everywhere you look.
While it’s hard to play favorites, below is my list of some of the very best Chicago hotspots that kids and parents alike will love.
Where to eat
Everyone has their top pick for the best deep-dish pizza in Chicago, but IMO, Pequod’s is No. 1 hands down. If you prefer Mexican, Antique Taco's Wicker Park location is a favorite spot for lunch or dinner — or just guac and a margarita before you stroll and shop around Milwaukee and Damen.
Beer fans, take note: Revolution Brewing is one of our most-visited spots for local brews and brunch — and those aforementioned coloring supplies for the kiddos. And in Logan Square, an amazing spot for new restaurants (most of which are totally kid-friendly), Lula Café is an all-star, whether for family brunch or a rare date night out.
Meanwhile, if you're on the hunt for coffee, Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits has plenty of the good stuff — plus pie and amazing biscuits. What more could you (and your littles) ask for? Or swing by Heritage Coffee; we love their atmosphere (and bicycles!) and the seasonal lattes are legit.
Where to shop
If you're a fan of all things tassels and streamers (who isn't?), stop by Festive Collective, a perfectly curated party shop that always has fun events. And definitely don't miss Merz Apothecary; I could spend hours in this store, which was established in 1897 and named one of the best beauty shops in America by Into the Gloss. If you head to the Lincoln Square location, you can even take the kids to the local toy store afterward.
Touristy places worth checking out
Maggie Daley Park, of course! Breeze past all those Millennium Park crowds and instead head to the best playground in the city. After the kids are spent from swinging and sliding, head to the nearby Shake Shack to refuel. Or, if your kids prefer their outdoor fun with a side of wild animals, check out the (free!) Lincoln Park Zoo; it just received some wonderful updates and exhibits and is now better than ever. Another Chicago tourist classic is the architectural boat tour. Cliché? Sure. A perfect way to see the city and show the kids a good time? Absolutely.
And for culture-filled rainy days (or, hey, hot summer days in the AC), there's the fantastic Museum of Contemporary Art, which hosts family days the first Saturday of every month.
After nearly a decade of living in Chicago, I've learned the easy way that it's one of the best kid-friendly cities out there. This list could have been a mile long! In my experience, the vast majority of local Chicago businesses are thrilled to welcome parents and curious kids alike — and they are successful because of it. I hope you'll visit Chi-town sometime soon.