Sometimes, the family road trip is a whole lot more peaceful in theory than in reality... more >>
Chicago Family VacationSweet Home Family Chicago
Sweet Home Chicago is no sweeter than during the holidays, where it's all about family time. Bundle up because it will be cold outside, but everywhere you and the kiddies go you will enjoy the warm midwestern charm. And though Chicago is known for the blues, your children will be singing anything but, with a city full of museums like candy in a candy store. Home for the holidays in Chicago is warm indeed.
As the working jet set, we expose our children to many an opportunity. Our children practice their Bonjour in Paris, Ciao in Italy and Ni Hao in China. There is something that is very grounding about time with family in Chicago. In the Midwest, it’s about back to basics but with the working jet set spin. That spin begins at the Peninsula, where the red carpet is rolled out for the tots, with plush child-size bathrobes, rubber duckies and milk and cookies as their welcome gift. The Peninsula is one big playground for the kids, with wide spaces to run, including their gorgeous swimming pool, which is definitely not like the one we grew up with at the Holiday Inn. The Peninsula staff will be there to make sure the only thing you need to worry about is enjoying the weekend with the children.
To begin the day, enjoy a breakfast for little champions at Pierrot Gourmet, connected to the Peninsula hotel. Madeleine would approve of the pastries, fresh juices and savory quiche. For Mom and Dad, high-end green teas and a very respectable cappuccino will get everyone off to the right start. Stroll up Michigan Avenue, taking in all the holiday sites, smells and sounds. Take a picture perfect family shot at the Chicago River, near the classic Wrigley Building and the not so classic new Trump Tower. From here, hop a taxi over to Museum Campus, where you can spend the entire day at The Field Museum, marveling the dinosaur Sue, looking at the stars at the Adler Planetarium and seeing the fishies at the Shedd Aquarium. You could go kamikaze and try to fit all three in a day, but as usual with children, less is more. The tip either way is to buy a membership at the museums, which can often save a family of four on the steep daily museum prices. Also, have the Peninsula make arrangements or do so online before your trip, so that you can skip the long queues. Think of it comparable to jumping the line during your clubbing days.
For food, there are cafés in the museums, with the Corner Bakery as the best option in the Field Museum for lunch. You may want to break away though for the famous Chicago pizza at Lou Malnatis, which is well worth the cab ride away. After a day at museum campus, you and the fam will be tuckered out. The world is your oyster though at the Peninsula, where you can stay in and dine at Shanghai Terrace with the kids, or walk a few blocks to Feast, for some low-key comfort food. The Peninsula does provide babysitters, for Mom and Dad to sneak away. Even staying in house at the Peninsula Bar or in the Lobby is still a night out on the town. Avenues is the Peninsula fine dining experience, which will give you the option of five star dining while knowing you are but an elevator ride away.
The next day, head over to Wishbone for some southern breakfast with the kids, to fuel for your day in Lincoln Park. Start at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and marvel at the holiday spectacle of lights and special exhibits. Afterwards, head over to the Peggy Notebaert nature museum, where you can be surrounded by the butterflies in their sanctuary. Unlike Museum Campus, this is a very chill family circuit. Continue to enjoy the Lincoln Park charm by heading over to John’s Place on Webster for lunch, where every dish is made with love. Next door is Sweet Mandy B’s, Chicago’s answer to the cupcake trend, for a sweet treat. If the kids have a bit more desire for culture, head over to the Museum of Contemporary Art, known as MOCA, which has children’s art programs to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Before naptime, stop for a snack of Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula, where your kids will be bowled over by the mini-burger and fries, pbj and little snowmen treats.
After a much-needed family nap, get ready for a night out on the town. The days of the Ponderosa are but a distant memory for family dinners. Chicago is a steak city, and David Burke Primehouse is the very hip, family friendly option. David Burke has a menu especially for the kids. If bedtime is flexible tonight, the Adler Planetarium sometimes has evening hours, where you can look at the stars inside and out, overlooking the Chicago skyline.
To end your family weekend, head to Sunday brunch at the Four Seasons, where kids under 5 eat gratis. This is what a Sunday spread should look like, with rooms of food of overflowing raw bar, lobster benedicts, hot entrees and the star of the show, a children’s buffet. More than once you will go back for the crispy French fries, for the kids of course. After a weekend here, yours kids will love it so much you’ll think, why not call Sweet Chicago Home.