Activities for the Whole Family in River North

04/12/23  |  Julie Latsko

River North is a close knit community with plenty to offer.

Whether you're visiting Chicago or you already live in the city, there's an abundance of activities to enjoy in the River North community. This neighborhood is the perfect destination for both out-of-town visitors and locals looking for a fun staycation. To assist in planning the ultimate day or weekend in these neighborhoods with children, we have compiled our favorite activities, dining options, and accommodation recommendations.
Our guide includes information on amazing hotel amenities such as in-room ice cream service and hotel pools, as well as sightseeing and shopping opportunities that are family-friendly. This guide is your go-to resource for visiting River North with kids.

Take in the sights on the open-air bus

Ride on an open-air bus to explore Michigan Avenue, which is also known as the Magnificent Mile, in Chicago. This famous mile-long stretch extends from the Gold Coast to River North, and it's filled with luxury brands and fantastic window shopping. Visitors and locals can enjoy the beautiful sights and skyscrapers along the Mag Mile all year round.
In the summer, taking an open-air bus ride along Michigan Avenue offers an opportunity to see riverboats and beautiful Chicago landmarks. During the winter, the Mag Mile is adorned with holiday decorations and brightly lit. Along Michigan Avenue, there are numerous shopping centers such as Water Tower Place, the 900 North Michigan Shops, The Shops at North Bridge, and the Apple Store, to mention a few.

Experience afternoon tea at The Drake Hotel

The Palm Court, located in the iconic Drake Hotel on Michigan Avenue, offers an enchanting afternoon tea service. The stunning dining room is reason enough to visit, and you can indulge in a variety of kid-friendly treats, including pastries, cookies, sandwiches, and lemonade or tea. The Palm Court tea menu is recommended for children between four and 12 years old.

Enjoy a boat tour along the Chicago Riverwalk

The Chicago Riverwalk in the heart of River North offers several options for families to enjoy the beautiful scenery. You and your kids can take a leisurely stroll, hop on a water taxi, or enjoy a meal by the water. During the summer months, you'll witness fascinating architecture, skyscrapers, and plenty of kayaks and tour boats.
Older kids may enjoy kayak rentals to paddle around the river with a guided tour. Tour boats are also available for children of all ages, offering an open-air cruise experience. Many of these boats have indoor sections for colder or rainy days as well.

Explore and shop at the American Girl store

The iconic American Girl store, located at Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue, is a haven for doll lovers. You can find a variety of dolls, playsets, and books catering to your child's interests. Dolls are also welcome to join kids for meals at the restaurant in miniature highchairs. There is also a doll “hospital” and salon to fix up your dolls.

Get creative at the LEGO Store

The LEGO Store is the ultimate destination for LEGO enthusiasts of all ages. Visitors can spend hours building and exploring the LEGO sets available in-store. You can choose your own LEGO pieces from the walls to create your unique creations or pick up age-appropriate sets. Conveniently located in Water Tower Place, adjacent to the American Girl store, these two make a perfect pair for a fun-filled family outing.

Take a family food tour

River North is a hub for dining in Chicago, with plenty of options for families with kids. Make a family food tour out of it for the day and explore these favorite kid-friendly restaurants in the neighborhood, covering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
Parlor Pizza serves delicious crispy, thin-crust pizza in Napoleon style that's perfect for sharing. You can try different toppings and find something everyone will like, including plain cheese and pepperoni options for picky eaters.
If you have a sweet tooth, head to some of the best cupcake shops in the city, including Sweet Mandy B’s, Sprinkles, and Molly’s Cupcakes, all located in River North and the surrounding area. Why not make it a fun cupcake crawl and try them all?
For breakfast, Yolk offers classic dishes such as scrambled eggs, pancakes, waffles, and omelets that are easy to eat out with kids.
When you're looking for a quick and easy meal, Portillo's is a Chicago landmark that's not to be missed. Their River North location offers hot dogs, burgers, fries, shakes, and chocolate cake, and even has a drive-thru for added convenience.


With plenty of hotels and private rental options to cater to families, it is easy to find the perfect accommodations to suit your needs.
The Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile is a great option for families, with spacious two-room suites and a complimentary breakfast. The Aloft Chicago Mag Mile is another family-friendly hotel, with a kids' camp program and an indoor pool. And the Residence Inn by Marriott Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile offers apartment-style accommodations with fully-equipped kitchens, perfect for families who prefer to prepare their own meals.
No matter which type of accommodations you choose when visiting River North, you'll be in the heart of one of Chicago's most exciting neighborhoods, with plenty of family-friendly activities just steps away.

Making a move to Chicago

Falling in love with River North? Whether you're a Chicago local looking for a fun staycation or an out-of-town visitor planning your next trip, the River North area offers endless entertainment and dining options for the family.
If you find yourself falling in love with this vibrant neighborhood and considering a move to the area, there are many beautiful River North houses for sale and a variety of River North, IL real estate options to choose from. Enlist the help of Julie Latsko, a lifelong Chicagoan and real estate expert, to help you find your dream home in River North and the surrounding area.
So whether you're visiting for a day or considering a permanent move, River North and the surrounding area is an excellent option for families. With its exciting activities, stunning architecture, and delicious food, River North has everything you need to create unforgettable family memories.
Learn more about River North houses for sale and River North, IL real estate market by reaching out to Julie Latsko today.