Three of the Midwest’s star cities for meetings are also some of the most welcoming destinations for groups with families in tow.
The wonderful Windy City boasts diverse attractions, including Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Children’s Museum and Broadway shows.
“The fact that the majority of our major convention hotels and McCormick Place itself are surrounded by either the lakefront of Lake Michigan, our world-renowned Millennium Park and Museum Campus simply means that a family that stays together for a meeting plays together as well,” said David Whitaker, president and CEO of Choose Chicago.
One family- and group-friendly hotel is InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile.
“Our prime location is steps from the best shopping in the Midwest, the vibrant theater scene and must-visit Chicago landmarks,” said Ronald Hoogerbrugge, general manager of the hotel.
“On-property, we have an amazing Junior Olympic-sized swimming pool.”
The Omni Chicago Hotel, situated in the heart of the Magnificent Mile close to 360 Chicago Observation Deck, Lincoln Park Zoo and Navy Pier, is another ideal choice.
“For junior chefs traveling with their parents, Omni offers a family cooking class package with Pizzeria Uno, where they’ll learn how to the make Chicago’s famed original deep-dish pizza,” said David Katz, director of sales and marketing at the hotel.
Located downtown within walking distance to Navy Pier, Magnificent Mile and a number of Chicago boat tours is Hyatt Regency Chicago, which has a package that includes two-for-one admission to the Museum of Science and Industry.
“Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park is in our backyard and a must-see for children,” said Matt Schalk, hotel manager at the Hyatt. “The park features a climbing wall, a whimsical playground, miniature golf and picnic areas.”
There are also activities galore for families in St. Louis, especially in historic Forest Park, home to the Saint Louis Zoo and Saint Louis Science Center, as well as in the city’s diverse neighborhoods, including Lafayette Square, where the Victorian “Painted Ladies” reside.
“In St. Louis, we offer meeting attendees and their families a wide variety of attractions, events, world-class cuisine and amazing entertainment,” said John Bettag, vice president of sales for Explore St. Louis.
Set across the street from Forest Park is Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta St. Louis, where according to Scott Weiler, vice president of marketing and communication for Sonesta International Hotels., families appreciate $5 movie nights in the on-site theater and dips in the heated outdoor swimming pool.
At Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, located downtown in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, kids are welcomed with a chocolate arch amenity and then taken into the kitchen to make their own custom pizza with the chef, said Tim Powers, director of sales and marketing at the property.
Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch offers a Play in the Park program for guests to check out Frisbees, soccer balls and other sports gear to play with in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park across the street, as well as a Baseball Ticket Package, including tickets to a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.
Due to Milwaukee’s location on Lake Michigan, families visiting during warm months often head to Bradford Beach for sand, sun, volleyball and waterborne pursuits.
“Kayaking and canoeing the Milwaukee River have become popular family activities, and the Bublr bikeshare system is a great way to explore the city and the vast, green lakefront,” said Jeff Baryenbruch, executive director of sales for Visit Milwaukee.
Must-visit attractions include Milwaukee County Zoo, Discovery World, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and Miller Park, home to the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.
Among Milwaukee’s properties that mix meeting and family time are Country Springs Hotel and Water Park, Milwaukee Marriott Downtown and Hilton Milwaukee, where kids will get a kick out of Millie, the “canine concierge.”