Looking to plan family travel? Ditch the headache of airport travel and opt for the ease of a staycation instead. From a rustic cabin to a converted firehouse and cozy dwellings to spacious party-worthy spaces, we’ve scoured Airbnb listings for the unique and special primed for memory-making. Read on and plan on.

The Draw: It's a Treehouse!

The specs: 3 guests; 2 beds, 1 private bath (not in the treehouse)
The neighborhood: Schaumburg
Parking situation: on premises
Laundry access: no
Fun extras: hammock, lawn bowling, Titan (the family dog that may pay a visit)
Cost: $195/night
Online: airbnb.com

What kid wouldn't love to spend the night in a treehouse? It's straight out of dreamland for most kids. Glamp the night away in this cedar treehouse set 15-feet above a waterfall, koi pond and fire table outfitted with a fireplace, air conditioning, private deck, kitchenette, Wi-Fi, hi-def cable TV with premium channels and a new Wi-Fi TV for Netflix, fireman's pole, private outdoor RV-type toilet and private outdoor shower. They even offer full-color gift certificates if you want to gift this experience to your favorite tree lover.

There's no shortage of family activities in Schaumburg, but consider a trip to LEGOLAND Discovery Center which has 2 rides, 10 LEGO build and play zones, a 4D cinema, impressive LEGO structures to gawk at and more. Sounds like a journal-worthy birthday weekend for some special little one!


photo: Airbnb

The Draw: Converted Firehouse

The specs: Sleeps 6; 2 bedrooms, 2 beds, 2 couches, 2 baths, with pack and play available
The neighborhood: Ukrainian Village/West Town
Parking situation: parking passes available upon request
Laundry access: on premises
Fun extras: close to great areas, like Wicker Park, Bucktown and West Loop
Cost: $170/night
Online: airbnb.com

Live out the dream of staying in a firehouse, without those annoying alarms and sirens that would make it tricky for The Sandman to do his job. Located within walking distance to the United Center, this spacious converted firehouse is the perfect family retreat if you're rooting on the Bulls or Blackhawks or attending a family show. Want to bring along a furry friend? Not a problem, as dogs and cats are welcome.

If you're looking for a spot to grab coffee, breakfast or lunch, head to West Town Bakery, which strives to use as many local and natural ingredients as possible and can accommodate any dietary restriction. Plus, they have hand-spun milkshakes using housemade ice cream and cake balls.

The Draw: Converted Church

The specs: Sleeps 12; 3 bedrooms, 3 beds, 2 couches and 4 air mattresses, 2 baths
The neighborhood: Logan Square
Parking situation: garage
Laundry access: on premises
Fun extras: back patio for warmer temps or indoor fireplaces for chilly days
Cost: $950/night
Online: airbnb.com

While this spot teeming with history is a bit of a splurge, it can accommodate a larger group looking to split the tab. Construction on this former church began in 1888 and it functioned in a religious capacity until private owners began the conversion in 1990. Since then, it's been featured in Chicago Tribune Home Design Magazine, on the first season of HGTV's Extreme Homes and is regularly tapped for not-for-profit house tours, including the Art Institute, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Lyric Opera Guild and more.

Logan Square is home to the only weekly, year-round farmers market in Chicago, held indoors during winter months and outdoors in the summer. It's a low-key spot to grab an inexpensive breakfast or lunch or stock up on fresh ingredients for a meal prepared back at your home-away-from-home. If you want a break from cooking, Revolution Brewery is just down the way and is great for grub and a cold beer. Be sure to try their parmesan bacon popcorn! A fun resource nearby is Four Star Family Cyclery, which rents swoon-worthy cargo bikes you'll want to take home.

The Draw: More Fun Than Home for Kids

The specs: Sleeps 8; 4 bedrooms, 3 beds, 1 crib, 1 floor mattress, 1 air mattress, 3.5 baths
The neighborhood: Wrigleyville
Parking situation: on premises
Laundry access: on premises
Fun extras: BBQ, room darkening shades, high chair
Cost: $450/night
Online: airbnb.com

When you're looking to watch the Cubbies fly the "W", this two-story coach house should do the trick. It's home to 4 kids and it's telling with the abundance of toys, art supplies, large library of children's books, kid-proof dinnerware, retractable safety gates and indoor infant swing . . . just to name a few. There's even a playroom accessible by ladder for kids ages 4 and up.

A family favorite for dining in Lakeview is Crosby's Kitchen on Southport. There's always a slew of strollers, a good sign that it's kid-approved, and outdoor seating in the warmer weather months is an added bonus. Try their skillet chocolate chip cookie or save some room for their neighbor, Jeni's Ice Cream, a Columbus, OH transport offering some of the best ice cream you'll ever taste using only the finest, natural ingredients.

The Draw: Sidelined Pullman Train Car

The specs: 6 guests; 3 bedrooms, 3 beds, 3 baths
The neighborhood: Plano
Parking situation: on premises
Laundry access: no
Fun extras: piano in the sunroom, history, history and more history!
Cost: $189/night
Online: airbnb.com

Oh, the stories this Pullman Train car, the Constitution, could tell. Built in 1905, it was basically Air Force One for Presidents Harding and Wilson and when the president of the Illinois Railway Museum visited, he said it was the most well-preserved Pullman train car in the U.S. A large living room with fireplaces, a master bedroom and bathroom have been added to the the original car, which consisted of 4 state rooms, an observation deck, a dining room and a galley. This is all set atop a bluff overlooking Big Rock Creek and a floodplain full of 200-year old oak trees where you might see an Eagle or two. During the summer months, there's even a pool onsite to enjoy.

We recommend bringing along a few groceries to utilize the kitchen facilities and make this a true staycation, where you unplug and fully immerse yourselves in a getaway with a country feel.

The Draw: Rustic Charm

The specs: 10 guests; 1 bedroom, 5 beds, 2 baths
The neighborhood: Oregon, IL
Parking situation: on premises
Laundry access: no
Fun extras: several hammocks
Cost: $165+/night, depending on number of guests
Online: airbnb.com

If you're looking for a rustic getaway, we've got you covered. You'll find this early-1900-era cabin less than 2 hours west of Chicago on Rock River, where you can spend a weekend hiking, boating, BBQing and porch-sitting where Sauk and Fox Indians used to call home. Venture within a few miles from the cabin and you may just spot wild bison grazing. 

If you're looking to get out on the water, nearby White Pelican, Inc. offers canoes and kayaks, as well as shuttle service, and Lowden-Miller State Park is the perfect spot for families looking to take a hike. 

The Draw: An Outdoor Pool . . . in the City!

The specs: 16 guests, 6 bedrooms, 6 beds, 5.5 beds
The neighborhood: Wrigleyville
Parking situation: on premises and street parking
Laundry access: on premises
Fun extras: game room, media room, outdoor music system and TV
Cost: $1,000/night
Online: airbnb.com

Take your family . . . and maybe a couple other families for that matter . . . to this mansion with a heated outdoor pool (a rarity in the city confines). You'll enjoy country club style living right smack dab in the middle of the city with 2,000-square-feet of decks and patio and an outdoor music system and TV to go along with a cool-down in the pool during summer months. When you're not soaking up the sun, you'll find the fun continues on the inside in the game room with a bar, ping pong, foosball, arcade games, darts, a blackjack table and more.  

While you're in the neighborhood, check out The Park at Wrigley, which offers an open-air destination for farmers markets, community events, festivals, dining and a great spot to visit during game day, even if you don't have tickets. 

The Draw: Views for Days

The specs: 7 guests; 3 bedrooms, 4 beds, 3 baths, pack 'n play travel crib available upon request
The neighborhood: Streeterville
Parking situation: paid parking on and off premises
Laundry access: on premises
Fun extras: fitness gym, doorman, full stocked gourmet kitchen
Cost: $169/night

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better location in the city for a family staycation. You're within a stone's throw of Navy Pier, Museum Campus with Shedd, The Field and Adler, Millennium Park, beaches and Mag Mile. During the summer months, you can enjoy the Wednesday and Saturday evening fireworks displays, courtesy of Navy Pier. When you're not out and about enjoying the city, hang at the rooftop lounge with cabanas, grills and a fire pit or take a dip in the indoor and outdoor pools.

If you're looking for a unique family dining experience, check out SafeHouse Chicago, a spy-themed restaurant that requires a password, or a willingness to complete silly tasks, to gain entrance. They have a great kids menu and more activities to keep the interest of little diners than they can even handle in one visit.

Would you consider a stay in one of these Chicago-area Airbnbs? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers