Chicago: What to Eat and Where to Stay

Here are some of the best places to eat and stay while in Chicago.

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For my favorite family/kid suggested activities while touring Chicago, see my earlier post. This post will cover just a couple of places I’ve discovered as good places to eat in Chicago when traveling with kids, along with my preferred place to stay.

Where to stay:

There are an inordinate number of hotels in Chicago, allowing you to get great deals if you do a quick Expedia or Hotels.com search. My family’s favorite is the Westin River North (320 North Dearborn). The hotel is right on the river and, if you are lucky enough (or request) a view facing the river, your kids will love looking out over the Chicago skyline, watching the riverboats float by and joggers running on the Riverwalk.

The Westin River North is also in a location I love for a family visit to Chicago. It’s surrounded by many restaurant options, including an Einstein Bagels (400 North Dearborn Street) just a block away for any early risers in the family.

It is also steps from the Riverwalk which has its own restaurants. You can pick up a riverboat tour here, or just follow the Riverwalk path, which will lead you to Lake Michigan and another angle of Chicago’s famous skyline and Navy Pier. Michigan Avenue shopping is also just a few blocks away and you can even walk or bike ride to Maggie Daley Park or the Art Institute for a full day of fun.

While the Westin River North is at the southern start of the Magnificent Mile and just north of Millennium Park/Maggie Daley Park and the Metra train stations, alternatively you may want to stay at the other end of the Magnificent Mile near Water Tower Place. There are loads of luxury and budget hotels in this area. The Warwick Allerton (701 Michigan Ave.) is a nice pick when traveling with kids as it feels like a boutique hotel.

Where to eat:  

1. Molly’s Cupcakes

A location within walking distance of the River North hotels, Molly’s Cupcakes (419 East Illinois Street) beats out all the other cupcake bakeries in Chicago (and there are many great ones!). Walk over and grab the kids a sweet treat after a long day exploring Chicago’s river and lakefront.

My favorite is a red velvet cupcake with buttercream frosting. Yum!

2. LYFE Kitchen

Dine in this casual spot or call ahead for some LYFE Kitchen (413 N. Clark Street) takeout and bring the food back to your riverview hotel room so they kids can people watch while you eat. They have natural, healthy, delicious options that are a great alternative to fast food.

3. Gyu Kaku

Gyu Kaku (210 East Ohio St.) place is reasonably priced and understandably gets super crowded, so I suggest you call ahead to reserve a table. This Korean BBQ joint is a fun destination alone when traveling with kids. You can sit at a traditional table or in a tatami room (you have to remove your shoes). Older kids will enjoy helping to cook the meats and vegetables right at the table as the traditional hot plates are in the middle. It’s not only a fun adventure for the kids, it’s delicious too!

4. Aster Hall

900 North Michigan Avenue’s/Bloomingdale’s food court, Aster Hall, near the Water Tower Place at the end of Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile is a great alternative to a sit down restaurant. It’s in a very swanky mall with high-end stores. They have banquettes, booths, high top tables and some comfy furniture scattered throughout the mall to sit, so you feel like you are eating at a fine dining restaurant.

Kids will enjoy that food is ordered via a kiosk that looks like a very large iPad. They can scan the menus of the ramen, hot dog, burger, salad, soups and BBQ joints and pick their favorites. The food is more upscale than your regular food court and has many more options, including a lot of healthy, natural fare.

For more Chicago planning, see: