Tips for Families When Traveling Through Chicago Airports

Traveling with kids can be hard. Use these tips for navigating Midway and O’Hare airports to ensure a smooth flight to your final destination.

No matter how well prepared you are when it comes to traveling as a family, things don’t always follow your ideal itinerary. Whether you’re nervous about your little traveler’s first flight or you’ve found yourself with extra time to kill due to a delayed flight or other turbulent travel scenarios, we’ve got it under control.

Use these tips to find kid-friendly activities and restaurants and rest assured that, no matter what your final destination, it’s sure to be a smooth flight. 

Chicago O’Hare International Airport

 Tips for families flying at ORD

  • There are Mother’s Rooms and lactation pods located in every terminal for nursing moms or parents who just need a moment of quiet for their children. 
  • The Family Lounge is located in terminal 2. Kids can play in a bright setting with colorful seating while parents charge up electronic devices for the flight. Plus, there’s stroller parking!
  • Review TSA’s helpful videos ahead of time to make getting through security a breeze, including their informational videos on traveling with children and baby gear.
  • Accidents happen. Stock up on diaper bag essentials at the Oops! Diapers 2Go vending machines located throughout the airport. 

Things to do and see at ORD

  • Pick up a free Chicago Airports Activity & Coloring Book at the Information Desk. Kids can draw and color on activity pages that have fun airport facts. Or, plan ahead and print the coloring book before you get to the airport. 
  • Go on an art scavenger hunt! There is so much unique art decorating our city’s airports, but here are a few highlights for kids:
    • A four-story-tall brachiosaurus from The Field Museum lives in Terminal 1 — can you spot him? (He’s hard to miss!) 
    • Terminal 3 is home to the iconic “Hall of Flags.” Did you know that each flag represents a country that American Airlines serves non-stop from O’Hare? For older kids, make a game out of seeing how many national flags you can identify.
    • “The Sky’s the Limit” is an underground walkway in Terminal 1 that houses a neon sculpture of light and sound that is nearly 750 feet long! 
  • If you’re traveling during the holidays, swing by the Family Lounge to see if there’s any live children’s entertainment scheduled.
  • Visit Barbara’s Bookstore locations to pick up a snack, magazine or new read to keep your little one busy during your flight. 
  • Bring home a unique souvenir from the Windy City when you shop at The Field Museum store or I Love Chicago

Where to eat at ORD

  • Enjoy a taste of Chicago at Billy Goat Tavern & Grill, Berghoff Cafe, Garrett Popcorn Shop or Nuts on Clark. 
  • Chili’s Too in Terminal 3 has plenty of seating and a full kids menu with mac and cheese, chicken crispers and other kid-approved dishes.
  • Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless offers Latin-inspired sandwiches, soups, salads and sides for every meal. The large tortas are the perfect size for sharing with kiddos.
  • Pick up a snack or a healthy on-the-go meal at The Goddess and Grocer. This gourmet Chicago deli has sandwiches, flatbreads, local snacks and handcrafted coffee drinks. 
  • Grab a sweet treat at one of the adorable Sprinkles Cupcake vending machines located throughout terminals 2 and 3. 
  • For picky kids, there’s classic on-to-go options like McDonald’s, Burger King and Auntie Anne’s.

Chicago Midway International Airport

Tips for families flying at MDW

  • Use the Family Lanes at the security checkpoint. These lanes are intended for families with small children who may need a little extra time or are unfamiliar with security procedures. 
  • There is a Mother’s Room in Concourse C for moms who need some privacy and tranquility while breastfeeding. There is also a Mamava lactation pod in Concourse A.

Things to do and see at MDW

  • Need a new toy to keep your kiddo occupied during a layover? Kids Works carries a full line of toys, as well as children’s books, coloring books and activity pages, kids apparel and more. 
  • Sarah’s Candies is your go-to shop for picking up a sweet treat. This candy shop is stocked with goodies from Chicago confectioners. You name the snack and Sarah’s probably offers it covered in chocolate. 

Where to eat at MDW

  • Use this handy guide to quickly pinpoint which restaurants offer kids meals for kiddos 12 and under. Each child’s meal is $6.99 and is served with a side of chips and either a water bottle or milk. 
  • Hungry for classic Chicago comfort food? The iconic Billy Goat Tavern & Grill, the South Side landmark Reilly’s Daughter and old-school Home Run Inn all have outposts at the airport — and they have kids meals, too! 
  • Grab a tasty snack for the flight at Nuts on Clark or Garrett Popcorn Shop. These Chicago staples offer gourmet popcorn, roasted nuts, candy and more.

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