Spring break season has just passed. My kids were on Spring break for 2 weeks.  Yes, 2! The first week we pretty much hung around the house and got a few things done. The weather was pretty sucky, and I had a lot of work. They played games, did some homework, and drove each other nuts. LOL! I was not going to take that for another week. 🙂

I told you before about my stay at the Essex Inn during the Chicago Auto Show. But I was anxious to see how the Inn fared with my kids in tow. We had a FABULOUS time!

The Essex Inn offers several packages that allow you to not only enjoy a great hotel stay, but enjoy some of the attractions in and around downtown Chicago. And they have family friendly packages… Score!! The packages change according to what is going on in the city at the time. We went with the Jellies at the Shedd Aquarium package.

With the Jellies package for $159 you get:

  • Overnight accommodations for two
  • Two VIP tickets to the Shedd Aquarium featuring over 32,500 aquatic animals from around the world
  • Free shuttle (please check at reception for schedule and availability)
  • Take the whole family! Add an additional person to this package for $31 (subject to availability)

Check out the Essex website for more details to see the other available packages.

Along with the family package kids get souvenir bags that include snacks, water, sunglasses, and even a Go Fish game. I thought that was really nice, and the kids loved them.


On my last visit I stayed in a Standard King room which was nice. However, this time we were in a Family Suite which could not been more perfect for my family. The suite includes 2 rooms, one with one double bed, a desk, fridge, closet, and TV, and an adjoining room with 2 double beds and TV.



This was absolutely perfect for us. The 4 kids had the room with double beds, and I was still able to watch TV and work in the single room once they were gone to sleep.


The bathroom in the suite is also perfect for families. Although small I love that the tub and toilet are in a separate area than the sink. With 4 kids this was perfect. Someone could be in the shower, while a couple more were brushing their teeth without being in the way.

Since there is a fridge I packed juice, bottled water, lunch meat, pudding, yogurt, crackers, and more for snacks. Although I do wish that there was a microwave as well. But having a lot of snacks and cold eats with us saved me a bundle in food costs. However, we were less than 2 blocks from Lou Malnati’s Pizza. We ate dinner there the first night. I had to let the kids experience Lou’s! And they loved it! On night 2 we went for a walk and ended up with chicken wings from Wingstop.

In our room we had a stunning view of the Museum Campus, the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium, Michigan Ave, and surrounding high rise buildings. This provided great scenery during the day and at night.


But where did we spend most of our time?? The pool! The Essex Inn has a great pool and lounge area.

2014-04-16 21.46.00

My kids spent a couple of hours in there the first night, and a ton of time in there on day 2. There is a life guard on duty whichI like. While they played I relaxed and watched. LOL! Although, I had visions of sitting in the sauna. Next time!


I was so proud of my boys! They are usually a little fearful of water only going in up to their waste. LOL! But they splashed and played and kept asking to get back in the water. They were pretty much little prunes the whole time.


We ate breakfast at the onsite restaurant, Brasserie by LM. The kids loved it. The kids menu includes great, fun, unique dishes that they enjoyed eating.

Although the Essex offers a shuttle, since we were close we walked over to the Aquarium through the park. We got lucky since it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day. We stopped for plenty of photos along the way.


It was a beautiful day and the more we walked the more it warmed up. We took our jackets off during our walk. It was funny because that night when we went out we really needed them!


We had a great time at the Aquarium. The VIP pass includes access to all attractions, so we took advantage of it. It had been a while since I was last there, so I loved looking at all of the fish as well as the new attractions.


What is it about looking at pretty fish that turns you into a big kid? I feel like I kept saying “Ooooh, look at the fishy!” LOL! We also really enjoyed the new aquatic show, One World.The show includes dolphins, sea lions, and beluga whales. There was even a special treat…. a sweet rescue dog that the Shedd took in and trained.



We checked out the Jellies which were awesome. I could not get enough of looking at them and snapping photos.

essex_family_22 (1)

The kids (ok, only a couple of the kids) touched the stingrays. We made sure to look at just about everything.

essex_family_58 (1)

We had a really good time on our staycation. It was like we went away, but I only had to drive into the city. The kids are already asking when we can go back. And they cannot get enough of talking about the pool!

If you are planning a stay in downtown Chicago the Essex Inn is certainly worth checking out. The staff is very friendly and helpful, the rooms are very well put together and very clean, and the location is perfect for easy access to everything that Downtown has to offer.


Disclosure: This post is part of my involvement in the compensated Essex Inn Ambassador program. All opinions are my own.