Living on the far north side means that I end up traversing the
suburbs-sometimes unintentionally, since the line between city and
'burb isn't so clear in some areas. Take Lincolnwood, for example.
It borders neighborhoods like West Rogers Park, Sauganash, and
Albany Park and could easily pass as Chicago proper. It might not
be on many people's hangout radar, but I've found myself spending
time in Lincolnwood a lot these days-and not by accident. Here are
some ways to get to know this friendly neighbor to the north:
- Lincolnwood Library. This place is a mecca of
kids' programs, from weekly movie screenings to storytimes to an
after-school café during the school year. The best part is that
they're all free, and you don't have to be a Lincolnwood resident
to register. I take my three-year-old to the weekly "Storytime and
More" (for ages 3-5), which feels more like a preschool class than
a free schedule-filler. There's storytime, alphabet teaching, and
top-notch crafts (think the letter "e" hatching from an egg). My
favorite event, though, is the annual Book Sale (June 18-25 this
year), where you'll find boxes of books, DVDs, and albums. Prices
are usually discounted the last few days: this year's discounts
were $0.25 for paperbacks, $0.50 for hardcovers and albums, and $1
for DVDs and audio books. I scored a summer's worth (40-ish) of
books and music for under $25, including a Benny Goodman vinyl for
hubbie, Richard Scarry favorites and The Boxcar Children for the
boys, and a Joan Didion classic for myself. Not too shabby.
- Lincolnwood Farmer's Market. There's something
about the allure of open-air markets in the thick of the city, but
farmer's markets 5000 N and better are few and far between (feel
free to correct me if I'm wrong). Since this little piggy doesn't
want to fight through traffic, I found that Lincolnwood's charming
version off Pratt is just as good. Every Thursday through October
13 (8am-1pm), the parking lot of St. John's Lutheran is transformed
into a community of local farmers and the consumers who care enough
about them to stop by. Oh, and the parking? Awesome.
- Lincolnwood Fest at Proesel Park. I have fond
memories of riding the Tilt-A-Whirl one too many times here.
Carnivals are as Americana as it gets and an unforgettable
experience for kids, and Lincolnwood Fest's sprawling version is no
exception. Aside from typical rides and games, there's a magic show
and ventriloquist show (separate events) and an antique/classic car
show on the last day. This year it runs from June 28-31.
- Bike Trails. Technically, it's called the Skokie Sculpture Park, but the stretch of
McCormick starting at Devon is indeed L'wood territory. The gently
sloping hills are perfect for bike-riding, rollerblading,
stroller-striding, or early bedtime-inducing. The trails run all
the way north to Dempster and then some, according to some Yelpers.
Newly planted trees help block out McCormick traffic, but you'll be
too busy admiring the eclectic sculptures to notice. Download the
print tours from the website, especially the treasure
hunt-esque Family Guide.
- Lazar's Juvenile Furniture. I have yet to set
foot in here, but that will all change soon, especially with
our newest addition. This family business has been
around since 1917, making it the original baby superstore-and one
of the country's best, according to Baby Bargains. I love that they
carry brands most places don't, like Petit Collage, and big-ticket
items as well as basic essentials.
- Lincolnwood Town Center. Let's be honest; we
urbanites may look down at malls, but we secretly love them. This
one is the retail equivalent of a pot roast; no frills or foam-just
the hearty basics (i.e. Gap, The Children's Place, and
Haagen-Dasz). And you can count on LTC to have that cute thing in
that hard-to-find size.
- Christmas Lights. Of course, we'll have to wait a while for
this one, but trust me. It's legendary. Between Devon and Pratt
west of the Edens, the upscale residential area transforms into
holiday magic: a tree that goes through a three-story home,
animated gingerbread men, and an elf-filled treehouse to name a few
(much cuter than it sounds). Inch along in your car and
gawk as long as necessary; don't worry, because everyone else is
doing the same. It's been a family tradition since I was little,
and while participating houses seem to have dwindled, kids (and
grownups) will still be blown away.
So there you have it: my very unofficial guide to
Lincolnwood. What did I miss?
Selena Kohng is a mom of two living in Sauganash.
See more of Selena's stories here.