How to Have the Ultimate Chicago Staycation

I know that I can’t be the only mom who sometimes stops what she is doing, looks at the mountains of laundry before her and mutters to herself, “I need a vacation.” But a vacation when you are a mom can be anything but relaxing. The planning, the packing, keeping your kids content on the journey to your travel destination—it can be a LOT. That’s why I want to remind you of one of the most relaxing ways for moms and their families to travel—staycations. Yes, there is some planning and prep work involved, but most everything else is a breeze since your travel time is minimal and you are exploring your own backyard. For us Chicagoans, the staycation opportunities are endless, but we definitely found the premiere place to unwind and make memories. My family was invited to enjoy a one night staycation at the Mag Mile Marriott and we all agreed that is was the best staycation we have ever had.

What Makes the Marriott So Special

I know it might sound strange, but the Marriott hotel on Michigan Avenue was a big part of my childhood. No, I didn’t live in the hotel (how awesome would that be?!?!) but I spent a lot of time exploring it since my family used to have an upscale shop in the lobby. While my Dad was meeting with customers, my sister and I would ride the escalators, throw coins into the water fountain, and chat with the Marriott staff. My mind was always filled with warm memories about the Mag Mile Marriott (especially when it was decked out for the holidays), so I was  excited for my boys to love the hotel just as much as I did…thirty years later.

I’m happy to report that the staff is just as friendly and helpful and the hotel is even more stunning thanks to the remodeling of the lobby and renovated rooms. Our hotel room was located on the 42nd floor overlooking Michigan Avenue, and our view was absolutely tremendous. My boys must have spent hours gazing out the window playing “I Spy” whether it was morning, noon, or night. The only time I could pry them away from the view was if I offered them a bubble bath in the spacious tub in our room.


As for me, I spent the majority of our hotel stay wrapped up in a comfy robe and tucked under the luxurious blankets with a delicious cup of coffee, which basically made our staycation a dream vacation for me. One of the things that I tend to not like about staying in hotels is how the pillows provided are usually too soft or too firm (I guess I’m a Goldilocks for pillows, eh?). I’m happy to report that the Marriott pillows are just right—except when you have two little boys who try to hog them all in the middle of the night.

Marriott Amenities

When we arrived, our room we had a bunch of treats waiting for us from the popular Rush Street Pantry. I’m slightly ashamed to admit it, but I MIGHT have devoured the chocolate chip cookie in the bathroom when my boys weren’t looking. My husband and I also took advantage of the pantry for some late night snacks and cocktails while the boys were busy watching a movie.

My family and I were also able to try out the innovative farm to table restaurant, Harvest, located within the hotel. We made a reservation for dinner and were treated to some delicious bites. There was a substantial wait to receive our meal, but once it arrived we were pleased with the entrees, including the scallops and Caesar salad. The kids’ entrees were generous and we were pleased to be able to swap healthy fruit and veggie options instead of the traditional fried fare that you find on most children’s menus. Families should definitely check into the “Kids Eat Free” package that is offered, but I recommend that you visit Harvest for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner since kids tend to be impatient when waiting for meals by the end of the day.

Marriott Partnerships

One of the absolute best parts of staying at the Mag Mile Marriott is that the concierge has connections throughout the city to help you make the most out of your staycation. Currently, the Marriott has a partnership with the Field Museum so that you are able to bypass the lines and purchase tickets for the world class museum right from the hotel lobby.

My family and I were provided with tickets not only to the Field Museum, but also to their innovative Jurassic World:The Exhibition. I must admit that I was a bit nervous to take my boys to see it since they are timid and tend to be afraid of loud noises and dark rooms, but I’m glad that we gave it a try because they ended up having a great time seeing “fake dinos” up close.

When planning your trip to Jurassic World, I recommend that you use the East entrance, which is stroller accessible and conveniently located near the Jurassic World exhibit. The show runs every 30 minutes, and it took us about 20 minutes to go through the entire experience. If you have a timid child or one with sensory challenges, ask the attendant at the ticket booth for a pair of noise cancelling headphones. It made SUCH a difference for my kids. You can also learn more through the exhibit’s sensory guide.

The exhibit is very closely based on the Jurassic Park film, so feel free to brush up on it before heading to the Field Museum. The exhibit does a great job taking you to the dinosaur dominated island, mimicking the science labs and the famous “T-rex vs. Goat” scene (spoiler alert—the goat gets its vengeance!). While each part of the exhibit is spacious, there are a few parts of the tour that have you confined in one space, which was a bit challenging for us when my kids got scared. Hanging out in the back of each room helped, as well as reminding my four year old that the dinosaurs were just robots (they were so lifelike it was easy to forget!).

Location, Location, Location

Finally, the last thing that sets apart the Mag Mile Marriott is its location—the heart of EVERYTHING in Chicago. Shopping? Dining? Relaxing? It’s all right there.

We visited on the hottest day of the summer and headed to the Crown Fountain to splash around since the Marriott is not equipped with a pool. It was such a short walk from the hotel and the perfect way to wind down a busy day of exploring.

The Chicago Riverwalk is also just a short walk away, where you can enjoy boat rides, rent bikes and surreys, or simply enjoy a treat and watch the world go by.

And of course, there is the jaw dropping Maggie Daley Park nearby. The perfect place to work up a sweat and burn off all of the treats from the Rush Street Pantry.


My family and I want to not only thank the Michigan Avenue Marriott for inviting us to have a staycation at our hotel, but also invite you and your family to see why we love the Marriott so much.

Happy Relaxing!
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    • Amanda says

      I might be biased, but I think it is the most amazing city in the world–eat, shop, sightsee–it’s non stop!

  1. Alli Smith says

    I’ve only been to Chicago’s airport for layovers, but I’d love to visit the city and check out all the great sites like Jurassic World. The Marriott is always a great place to stay and this one has the best views.

  2. Sarah Bailey says

    Oh wow what an amazing sounding time you had on your Chicago staycation, there is something nothing better than staying closer to come and getting to enjoy the things around you.

  3. Jeanette says

    I am going to Chicago many times and I have never seen any of these places. I need to go for another trip there and check out all these places. That Marriott looks beautiful. I love doing staycations they are probably my favorite vacation when I am not flying out of the country.

    • Amanda says

      If you have never seen Maggie Daley Park, the Field Museum, or the Riverwalk, you are missing out! Come back soon and check it all out!

  4. candy says

    Chicago is only a train ride away and getting there is easy. So many different places to stay and see and do in Chicago. Never disappoints.

  5. Jen Temcio says

    I love Chicago. WE have not stayed there yet but I want to, and I want to try that Harvest restaurant and get a fast track to the field museum. It is such a great city!

  6. Emily says

    We live just outside of Milwaukee and visit Chicago often, it is the perfect quick weekend getaway. We love the field Museum and the Shedd aquarium, my kids always ask to go back to these museums all the time!

  7. Cheryl says

    I totally miss Chicago now. I lived there off and on for 12 years. I remember becoming a member of every museum in town when my son was little. Most paid for themselves with two visits.

    • Amanda says

      Yes, we definitely carry all of the worries…but we also carry all the joy and get so many of the snuggles and kisses that it makes up for it!

  8. rosemary palmer says

    I was born in a suburb of Chicago and have only been back to visit almost 30 years ago. It is on our list to visit again. A stay-cation is great if you let yourself feel like you are on vacation.

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