You give it a little wave when you’re passing thru to catch a flight at Chicago O’Hare, but have you ever jumped off the exit lit up by the Fashion Outlets of Chicago to see what Rosemont is all about? It only sits about 20 miles northwest of Chicago, but Rosemont has developed into a major destination that offers a lot of the excitement you’ll find in the city in a super convenient suburb setting. Read on to hear about those outlets we teased you with, dining options the kids will be excited to explore and dates you should most definitely add to the family calendar.
Where to play, play, play!
Make the fun old fashioned by lacing up your bowling shoes and hitting the lanes at Kings Dining and Entertainment. This isn’t your grandma’s dusty and dimly lit bowling alley, they have 20 ten-pin bowling lanes, over 50 HD TVs, pool tables and a pretty sweet sound system. Use their Dine Then Bowl reservation system to be moved to the top of the bowling priority list when each member of your party orders an entree or equivalent.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s your kid! Yes, really — that’s your kid taking flight! Skip the terrifying jump from a plane to feel the rush of skydiving by planning a visit to iFly Rosemont. A 12-foot diameter wind tunnel powered by electric motors simulates freefall conditions, recreating the wind effects of actual skydiving. Slip into those flight suits and soar like an eagle!
Where to stock the closets
Bring along the plastic for a shopathon at Fashion Outlets of Chicago. Stores like Carter’s, The Disney Store, Claire’s, Gymboree, Nike, Forever 21, Converse (and much more!) will get the kiddos excited for we’re-already-back-to-school (but still have shopping to do) shopping. Tap the concierge for stroller rentals, to get your Fashion Outlets Savings Pass with up to $800 in savings from participating stores or for help making restaurant reservations. Don’t forget to stop by Godiva to watch them make . . . and then you eat . . . their scrumptious chocolate-covered strawberries.
Where to get sporty
The Blackhawks may have sparked hockey fever in Chicagoland, but the Chicago Wolves offer an opportunity to bring your young fans to see live action at an affordable price (tickets start as low as $10) at Allstate Arena. With pregame shows filled with fireworks and laser shows, a chance to try your best slap shot in the Kids’ Zone and post-game autograph sessions, you can be sure this will be an event the whole family will remember. Regular season home games run October-April.
Where to refuel
Even the sweetest tooth will be satisfied when meal time leads you to Sugar Factory. With nearly a 40-page menu, there’s no need for a separate kid’s menu, but several food options can be prepared in smaller portions if you ask. Kids will think they’re on a trip to heaven with drinks served in goblets — with and without alcohol for the parents — candy galore, milkshakes, ice cream, chocolate fondue and, oh yes, the insane milkshake that includes a chocolate covered glass and anything from a burger to a Twinkie on top.
You’ll be in Rosemont, but you’ll feel like you’re in Germany when you step into Hofbräuhaus Chicago. The sister location to the legendary original in Munich is surprisingly family friendly on weekend afternoons. Their menu is packed with kid-favorites, including mini pretzel bites (yum!), chicken tenders and burgers, as well as traditional German go-tos like potato pancakes, sauerkraut bites and schnitzel.
If you’re looking for something a bit more fancy, make a reservation at Fogo de Chão, a traditional Brazilian steakhouse. The meat . . . It. Just. Keeps. Coming. And, boy, is it amazing. They have a mango salsa Chilean sea bass that is incredible, if you prefer seafood. Also, do yourself a favor and grab the biggest plate you can find and fill it with the spicy bacon on the salad bar. Then, go back for a second plate of bacon. Because, you can do that at Fogo. Good news about this restaurant is the experience is free for kids under the age of 6 and half price for ages 7-12.
Fans of flight will totally dig The Ashburn at Loews Chicago O’Hare. Borrowing inspiration from Chicago’s first airport, Ashburn Flying Field, The Ashburn celebrates the heritage and tradition of aviation in their decor, but their food includes unique twists and modern interpretations of classic American cuisine in a gastropub setting. Just one quick conversation with the Chef, Jose “Tiny” Garay, and you’ll fall in love with the cuisine and his passion for serving up quality, fresh dishes made from locally sourced products whenever possible.
Where to stay
There’s so much to do in Rosemont, why not make it a staycation? You can’t go wrong with packing an overnight bag and laying your head down at the Loews Chicago O’Hare. You are literally (and we ARE using the word literally correctly here) minutes from everything you could possibly want to do, and you get the bonus of feeling like you’re in a luxury downtown Chicago hotel, without the hassle of parking and traffic. Their signature Loews Loves Kids program is designed to make overnights fun with a complimentary activity book, a “Kids Closet” full of toys, books, car seats, strollers, nightlights and self-contained DVD players with age-appropriate DVDS, a children’s menu with healthy options, cribs, roll-away beds and child-proof kits. Pssst . . . the concierge will help with babysitting services if you want to sneak in a date night! Wait, we’re not finished, for a $120 fee you can even bring along the family pet!
Dates to jot down
Sept. 13-Oct. 31 — Looking for a family-friendly place to celebrate Oktoberfest? Look no further than Hofbräuhaus Chicago. In a grand dining hall packed with communal tables, you can get excited about a rotating array of European musicians that play oompah music on stage (brace yourself for the chicken dance). There are also kids’ parades and games, and you might even see an aplhorn, a longhorn used by Swiss mountain dwellers. Come hungry for traditional German grub.
Oct. 27 — Families are invited to Halloween Kinderfest to celebrate the spookiest time of the year with children’s costume contests, parades, live music, face painting, Halloween-themed arts and crafts stations, $5 kids meals and more.
Find out more about everything Rosemont has to offer: rosemont.com
— Maria Chambers