The Best Of Chicago With Mini Humans

The Bean in Chicago, the Best Of Chicago With Mini Humans
The Best Of Chicago With Mini Humans

The Best Of Chicago With Mini Humans

Kristyn Meyer is on a journey to make herself the best human that she can be. These posts are a reflection of that. She welcomes your support via reading and through commissioned affiliate links within her posts! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. To stay up to date on all of her shenanigans, please subscribe to her email list! (psst…there’s a free gift involved)

Six years ago we made the decision to break away from the traditions that we had all of our lives and create our own.

Up until that point, Thanksgiving was spent with family. It may have been my family or his family, but it was family. We may be in Detroit or Three Rivers or Wisconsin, but we were around a turkey. Many of those years were celebrated at an Old Country Buffet.

No, that’s not a joke. I have many fond memories of my OCB Thanksgivings.

But six years ago we decided we wanted to do our own thing. It got to the point where we weren’t really sure where we were going to land for the holiday until a few days beforehand. If it was out of town, we had to arrange for dog sitting and drive time. It was becoming a headache, and we no longer looked forward to it as we had before.

The decision was made to pack up and go to Chicago for a few days. We left the day before and came back the Saturday after. We found a restaurant to get turkey at, and then didn’t actually order turkey. The experience of Black Friday shopping in the Windy City was much better than expected. It was a great time.

Since the first time, six years ago, we have grown by several family members. Our oldest no longer goes along with us, but we take two mini-humans with us now.

We have learned things.

And we want to share those learnings with you.

The Best Of Chicago With Mini Humans

Hotel: For the first few years we tried out different places to stay. We really like The Silversmith Hotel but it’s normally too pricey and doesn’t have a kitchenette or anything in their standard rooms. But oh my gosh, I have the best and funniest memories of that place. My favorite being one of the times that we were there with our oldest. I didn’t know he was coming around the corner and I opened up the TV cupboard. As I did that, I hit him smack in the face with the door. I still can’t tell that story without crying from laughter.

My husband discovered the Residence Inn hotels from Marriott on a business trip. There are two in Chicago – Residence Inn River North and Residence Inn Downtown/Loop. River North has a swimming pool and their breakfast attendant has worked there for TWENTY YEARS. People go to that hotel every Thanksgiving just to see her. She’s overly nice and helpful and goes out of her way to take care of you. Downtown/Loop does not have a pool but the rooms are newer, a bit bigger and more upgraded.

Both have kitchenettes with a dishwasher, microwave, stove, refrigerator, freezer and pots/pans/dishes. No oven. They are both located around several grocery stores and tons of restaurants. We like the pool at the one but the extra space at the other. River North is closer to grocery stores like Jewel-Osco as well, which is where we get our Thanksgiving dinner. Both have free breakfast, and it’s a really good breakfast with a lot of different choices.

Child at a table with a Thanksgiving dinner in front of her during the Best of Chicago with Mini Humans
Mini Human with our Thanksgiving feast in the kitchenette area of the hotel room.

Transportation: We are about a 2.5 hour drive to Chicago, but parking in the city is stupid expensive. We take the South Shore train instead. It goes into Millennium Station and is a short walk from both of the Residence Inn Hotel’s.

Chicago has their public transit systems (CTA) but I’m not a fan. Something I did not realize until I had a stroller to push around was that, as a city, Chicago sucks at being handicap accessible. Many of the CTA stations do not have elevators, and it is all but impossible to lug a stroller up the big flights of stairs. You have to strategically plan what stops to go to based on if they have an elevator or not. That often means that you will walk more than you intended because you have to get off a stop before or two stops after.

Because we are still in the car seat stage, we don’t use taxi, Uber or Lyft. It’s too much of a hassle to carry around the seats, and with the driving that happens in the city I have no desire for my children to go without one. We walk a lot, but since our hotel is in a good location we are close to most everything.

We also have a really great stroller. I purposely chose the Orbit Baby Stroller with the Sidekick attachment with Chicago in mind. Because of the Sidekick, it’s not as wide as a double stroller, and it’s not extra long either. It can fit easily in most store/restaurant doors.

And no, I did not pay that absurd amount for that stroller. They were recently bought out by Ergo and this is the latest version. I paid less than half that when I bought mine several years ago. Buy used my friends!

Children on the South Shore Train - NICTD during The Best Of Chicago With Mini Humans
Mini Humans on the South Shore Train

Entertainment: We have done most of the touristy things over the years. Shedd’s aquarium is neat, but the customer service is horrible and it is also not very handicap accessible – several elevators were broken when I was there last. I would not go again. Maggie Daley Park is awesome, but I lost my daughter in the chaos and actually had to call 911. She was fine, I found her while I was on the phone with the dispatcher. But it’s huge, so have your eagle eyes ready.

We love Christkindlmarket Chicago, but go right when it opens because otherwise it’s too busy and you can’t fit a stroller of any type through the aisles. The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade is fun, but do know that it rarely starts on time. You have to get there early to get a good spot, but you will probably be waiting a while until it gets going. Stan’s Donuts is a new fave, the Biscoff Donut is amazing. And of course, there’s the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, Water Tower Place, Millennium Park, The Lego Store, American Girl Store, Nutella Cafe Chicago. The list goes on and on.

Child at Dylan's Candy Bar in Chicago during The Best Of Chicago With Mini Humans
Mini Human at her favorite store – Dylan’s Candy Bar

Restaurants: We don’t go too crazy in this category yet, as our kids are little and we have to be strategic at meal times. Depending on their moods, we can’t go somewhere where we have to wait too long. With that being said, we really love The Sugar Factory. You can make a reservation and they text you when it’s your turn, so you don’t have to be in the restaurant waiting until a table is ready. And they have a candy store and photo area in the lobby too, so it’s entertaining for the little ones. They don’t have a kids menu, and their portions are huge so you will want to prepare for that. But they have great food and really fun drinks and milkshakes.

We recently went to Revival Food Hall as well. It has many different restaurants in a cafeteria type setting. The kids shared a giant slice of pizza (only $6!), I tried a burger from Mindy’s Burgers and the husband had Smoque BBQ, which I wish I had gone with. My burger was great, but his was better!

Another favorite is Rock Bottom Brewery, which I have just learned is a chain across the USA. We have always been fortunate to get in without a wait and their service is really fast. The food is great too.

Child at Sugar Factory Chicago during The Best Of Chicago With Mini Humans
Mini Human at The Sugar Factory Chicago.

Do you have any must-visit places in Chicago? Should we check them out next time? Let us know!

The Best Of Chicago With Mini Humans

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