Let’s face it, Chicago is one massive city!
Do a quick search of Chicago neighborhoods and you’ll find over 100 neatly defined communities, neighborhoods, and suburban cities. Every neighborhood is a little different, but there’s no doubt Chicagoans love and embrace the uniqueness of each one.
With so many different, unique options, it’s no wonder I had a hard time narrowing down where we would stay during our family trip to Chicago last summer. Finding the perfect neighborhood for families with kids requires a unique combination of factors: ease of getting around, unique local culture, great food options, and lots to do at your doorstep too!
Picking the best place to stay in Chicago with kids is a tough task, but that doesn’t mean I won’t give it a try!
Read on for my top 5 Chicago neighborhood picks for families:
Best for: outdoorsy families
The Lincoln Park neighborhood is ideal for families who love to get out and explore (especially on a bright, sunny day)! North Avenue Beach, the (free!) Lincoln Park Zoo, and Lincoln Park Conservatory are all a stone’s throw away, while a quick ride on the L will bring you north to Wrigley Field or south to the Magnificent Mile and Loop quite easily. (PS. Don’t miss a Chicago Architecture River Cruise!)
Airbnb Favorites in Lincoln Park:
Best for: foodie families
Families who like to eat will love being in West Loop, where tons of Chicago’s newest and trendiest restaurants are located. While the restaurants here wouldn’t exactly be characterized at family-friendly, even an early dinner at The Publican is quite doable (and worth it!). If you’re hard-pressed to get a reservation at Girl & the Goat, a breakfast at sister-restaurant Little Goat will certainly please both the kids and adults.
Airbnb Favorites in West Loop:
Best for: alternative families
10 years ago, no one probably ever would have recommended this area for families, but…times are changing folks! For families looking for a more eclectic experience, immersed in great culture and casual food options, Bucktown (or even Wicker Park to the south or Logan Square to the west) is a great spot to be! The area is outside the hustle and bustle of the city, yet only a 15 minute ride away on the Blue Line to take you to the heart of the Loop. Not that you’d ever really have to the leave though; Damen Avenue is lined with plenty of shops and restaurants to pack your itinerary and the 606 walking trail offers a neat way to explore the area. (PS. a neighborhood food tour is a great way to spend the day here too!)
Airbnb Favorites in Bucktown:
Best for: center-of-the-action families
River North is all about location, location, location. If you want to be close to the Magnificent Mile shopping, Navy Pier, Millenium Park, and an unlimited number of riverfront eateries and sidewalk patios, River North will be perfect for you. You can, of course, hop the L to just about anywhere in the city, but with a location this central you’ll probably find yourself simply walking. Rentals options here vary wildly in price, but you can certainly find a few affordable gems among the ridiculously expensive penthouse condos.
Airbnb Favorites in River North:
Best for: budget families
Want affordable luxury close to all of Chicago’s kid-friendliest activities? Then South Loop may be just right for you. The former industrial area that gave way to high-rise condos took a bit of a beating during the financial crisis. So while things are picking back up here, snagging a 2 bedroom luxury condo for under $150/night is quite doable! You may be a slightly removed from some of the city’s sights, but you’ll be steps from the Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium. And when you’re ready to explore further, you’ll still be well-linked to the rest of the city via public transportation.
Airbnb Favorites in South Loop:
Which Chicago neighborhood suits your family best?
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