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Chicago is a great city for a family getaway. The Windy City has plenty of culture, dining and shopping for the parents, and a host of great attractions to keep the little ones, tweens and even teens happy. And, don’t forget the pizza this town is known for!
Chicago’s kid-friendly attractions include the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History, which are both located on the same campus off Lake Michigan. There’s also the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is free and has an interactive farm.
The Magnificent Mile, an upscale section of Michigan Avenue, has the Chicago Sports Museum and a Disney Store, along with lots of great dining and shopping. You can also head over to The Bean at Millennium Park to snap a pic and watch performers, or take a spin on the iconic Centennial Ferris wheel and other fun rides at Navy Pier.
There’s plenty to do in Chicago, so choosing a location to headquarters out of on your trip is important. As always, staying close to what you plan to visit is a plus, so planning out activities before choosing a hotel may help narrow your selections. In general, we recommend staying in the downtown area as many of the above attractions are within walking distance of downtown, and the zoo or aquarium are only a 15-minute drive.
Award rates listed below are for a standard room with two beds unless specified otherwise. If you want to splurge, we’ve included a few higher-end properties that cost up to 70,000 points a night, but keep in mind that the value of hotel points varies by chain, so 70k points in one chain may be the same as 25k in another. See TPG’s current hotel point valuations.
511 N Columbus Dr., Chicago, IL 60611
Loyalty Program: Hilton Honors
Award rates often range from 24,000 – 50,000 points per night
Nothing beats a suite when you’re traveling with a few kids in tow. Like all Embassy Suites properties, this one offers suites as the standard room category, a complimentary breakfast with made-to-order eggs and an evening cocktail reception with free drinks and appetizers that can help stretch the vacation budget. This hotel features an eco-friendly Sky Garden and is centrally located near the Mag Mile, offering children’s activities, cribs, a kid’s menu and high chairs.
720 S Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605
Loyalty Program: Hilton Honors
Award rates often range from 28,000 – 60,000 Hilton points per night
The Hilton Chicago overlooks Lake Michigan, Grant Park and Museum Campus, a 57-acre park in Chicago that sits alongside the lake and encompasses five of the city’s most notable attractions including its aquarium, natural history museum and Adler Planetarium, which was America’s first. The property has an indoor pool and sundeck. If you want to beef up your Hilton elite status or points balances before a stay at the Hilton Chicago, check out one of these Hilton card offers that award up to 150,000 bonus points.
28 N Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60606
Loyalty Program: World of Hyatt
12,000 Hyatt points a night
This Hyatt Place property is in the historic Loop area, which is also home to the 110-story Willis Tower, a landmark skyscraper formerly named, and still often referred to, as the Sears Tower. The property is also near Grant Park, which is known for its Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world. Breakfast is on the house at Hyatt Place (as long as you book direct), and the hotel also has a pool for the kids. You can also do laundry on-site, which is a plus when traveling light with the family for more than a couple of days.
151 East Wacker Dr., Chicago, Illinois 60601
Loyalty Program: World of Hyatt
15,000 Hyatt points a night
With over 2,000 rooms, the Hyatt Regency Chicago is the largest hotel in Chicago and is located just a block from the Magnificent Mile. It offers both lake and city views, and is less than a 10-minute walk to Millennium Park, which has an ice skating rink during the winter months. The hotel is a short walk to waterfront activities at the Chicago Riverwalk in case you want to head there to help your kids work off some of that youthful energy.
As a Category 4 property, this hotel is another great spot to use a Hyatt Category 1 – 4 award certificate
125 W Ohio St., Chicago, IL 60654
Loyalty Program: Best Western Rewards
20,000 Best Western points a night (just 10k on some nights until Jan. 15)
This property boasts an indoor heated pool and rooftop deck with stunning views of the Chicago skyline. It’s within walking distance of the Magnificent Mile, or you can hop on the trolley for a short ride to Navy Pier. The Chicago Riverwalk, a 3.4-mile pedestrian path also known as Chicago’s Second Lakefront, is about a half-mile away and Millennium Park about 10 minutes further. The hotel has on-site parking for $25 a night. If you are bringing a car to Chicago, be sure to check parking rates at area hotels as they can reach more than $70 per night, depending on location and brand.
505 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60611
Loyalty Program: IHG Rewards Club
50,000 points a night
If you have IHG Rewards Club points and want to stay in a historic hotel right on North Michigan Avenue, this one is an excellent choice. This elegant hotel has a sweeping staircase and marble mosaic floors in the lobby and even has a classic indoor pool from the 1920s. Parents and teens might be more impressed with its grandeur than toddlers, so know your audience. (If you want to really impress toddlers, check out the Holiday Inns outside of town with Holidomes — indoor pools with waterslides.)
When deciding where to stay on longer trips, remember that those with the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card can get the fourth night free on award stays at IHG properties.
221 N Columbus Dr., Chicago, IL 60601
Loyalty Program: Club Carlson
70,000 Radisson points a night
In downtown Chicago near Millennium Park, the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel is one of the nicest Radisson properties in the country, featuring a rooftop swimming pool. Though, with so much to do close by, you may have a hard time finding time to take a dip with the kids. Minutes away, you can take a boat tour along the Chicago River or a hike along the Chicago Lakefront Trail. Navy Pier is 1.4 miles away, in case you want to hop on the iconic Centennial Wheel.
410 N Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60654
Loyalty Program: Marriott Rewards
25,000 Marriott Rewards points per night
This hotel in the Marriott/SPG family is ideal for extended family stays because it offer studios, one- and two-bedroom units with kitchens. It’s close to the Loop, near the river, and features a pool and free breakfast. For 25,000 Marriott Rewards points per night, you’ll get a king-sized bed and a sleeper couch for the kids.
Since it is just 25,000 points per night for a stay, this is a property where you could use not only a Marriott 35,000 point certificate available with many co-branded Marriott and SPG credit cards, but also a more limited 25k certificate.
71 E Upper Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60601
Loyalty Program: Wyndham Rewards
15,000 Wyndham points per night
The Chicago Riverwalk is just steps away from this hotel, placing it close to all the activities going on at Millennium Park/Grant Park, known as Chicago’s Front Lawn. Take time to explore the city’s museums like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry from this spot. With Wyndham, all standard hotel rooms are just 15,000 points per night.
With so many terrific points hotels to choose from in the area, pack up the kids and head to Chicago for a fun-filled weekend in the city. Chicago is centrally located from both coasts and has two airports served by basically every major airline. This means short flights, competitive airfare and jet-lag free travel (at least for those traveling from North America).
Featured photo by Tony Webster/Flickr
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