Family-Friendly Chicago Vacation Ideas - United Hub
Places

Family friendly cities: Chicago fun

By Bob Cooper, August 09, 2017

For kids in today's hyper-digital world, boredom comes easily. But a city vacation is a perfect remedy, and Chicago, where most family attractions are withing walking distance, is one of the best U.S. cities to consider visiting. The kids won't get bored, nor will you, because there's more to do on a family-friendly Chicago vacation than there are grains of sand on Chicago's beaches. (The beaches are just one more reason to go).

Lakefront beaches

No, it's not the ocean. But your teenager can try stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Michigan (there are several rental shops) while younger ones construct a good ol' sandcastle, all while mom and dad play beach volleyball, take a swim or bronze on the beach. Twenty four free beaches line Chicago's 26-mile shoreline, most of them named for the streets that end at the water. The seven-mile string of North Side beaches that are part of Lincoln Park, the city's largest, are the most popular, especially side-by-side Oak Street and North Avenue Beaches, with less crowded beaches farther north.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Coco Chanel once said, “The best things in life are free. The second-best things are very, very expensive." Fortunately, the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the best things. You won't even have to pay peanuts to enter the primate house. Other favorite stops include the lion house, a reptile house, an arctic tundra area (polar bears!), a penguin cove, a seal pool and the new macaque forest. New to the Farm-in-the-Zoo are American Guinea Hog piglets that were born in June. Check the Daily Activity Calendar for feeding times.

Navy Pier

To celebrate its 100th year in 2016, Navy Pier unveiled the new Centennial Wheel, a 196-foot-high Ferris wheel affording spectacular views from air-conditioned gondolas. It's the biggest of several new additions on the massive pier, but old favorites also remain, like the hand-painted carousel. Also on the pier: the Wave Swinger, Light Tower ride and climbing walls for young thrill seekers; an array of sightseeing boats that venture out onto Lake Michigan; and the three-story Chicago Children's Museum geared to 10-and-unders.

Chicago riverwalk

Until the 1990s, the Chicago River was filled with sewage, garbage and industrial waste—an embarrassment to the city. Now it's not only clean, it has become an attraction for visitors who stroll the riverwalk as it snakes through downtown Chicago. Kids may be bored walking past restaurants and public-art installations, but should enjoy following the river with their parents on a rented bike, surrey or kayak—or in a water taxi or sightseeing boat.

Museum campus

Clustered together on Lake Michigan are three huge family attractions, collectively called the Museum Campus. The Field Museum presents “Jurassic World: The Exhibition" through December, plus the world's largest and best-preserved T-Rex skeleton, a massive mummy collection and much, much more—nine acres of mostly interactive exhibits in all. The Adler Planetarium features several daily shows in each of its theaters—two domed space theaters and a 3D theater—in addition to astronomy exhibits. And the Shedd Aquarium's massive windows overlooking Lake Michigan help illuminate its whales, sharks, dolphins, otters, gators, penguins, tarantulas and, well, seemingly every creature on the planet that lives in or near water.

If you go

United Airlines has more than 500 daily flights from the hub city of Chicago from dozens of cities, and MileagePlus Rewards can help pay for your car rental and a family-friendly hotel room once you arrive. Go to united.com or use the United app to plan your family-friendly Chicago vacation.

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Scroll to top