5 ways to go greener as a family in Chicago this spring

Chicago is ready for spring. It was a long winter for parents with children raring to get outside. While the flowers may have been hibernating, the green scene has not. This spring brings the best of the old and some exciting new hot spots. The Green Mama's Five Favorites include places that are specifically family friendly and where green-in both the health sense and the eco sense-are prioritized.

How do you try to be "greener" as a family? Leave a comment!


See, shop, eat

The only year-round farmers market in Chicago, the Green City Market provides local, organic produce, meat and dairy, often for less money than the conventional stuff at the grocery. You can find the market every other Saturday at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. In May, it moves outside at the south end of Lincoln Park and is held every Wednesday and Saturday.

In the summer, hit a farmers market in your neighborhood. Find when and where with the help of The Local Beet's market locator, thelocalbeet.com.


Eat green with your kids

Eating organic can have a major impact on your carbon footprint (even more than driving) and a major impact on your child's health. Eat local, organic and delicious food and have a family-friendly night out at Uncommon Ground, where the organic rooftop garden, left, provides food for the restaurant (1401 W. Devon Ave., Chicago). Friday nights 6-8 p.m. are free Honky Tonk Happy Hours where kids can dance while you eat. In the summer, the fun moves outside with Farmer Fridays. Other child-friendly green restaurants include Heartland Cafe (7000 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago); Blind Faith Cafe (525 Dempster St., Evanston); Bleeding Heart Bakery (1955 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago); and new on the scene, City Provisions Delicatessen (1820 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago).


Dance or exercise together

We all know movement is healthy and doing it with your kids is particularly fun. All this and more is possible at the new Hip Circle Studio, 709 Washington St., Evanston. If this doesn't fit your schedule, you and your kid can get classes at these other great locations as well: Bloom Yoga Studio (4663 N. Rockwell, Chicago); Grateful Yoga, (1108 Davis St., Evanston); Be By Baby, (1654 W. Roscoe St., Chicago); and Bellybum Boutique (4347 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago).


Shop green

There is more and more evidence about the importance of limiting exposure to toxins, such as those found in plastics, skin care products and food. Get the green goods locally in Chicago at Bellybum; Green Genes, (5111 N. Clark St., Chicago); Little Green Baby, left, (4654 N. Rockwell St., Chicago); Be By Baby; Greenheart Shop, (1911 W. Division St., Chicago); grow, (1943 W. Division St., Chicago); Nat & Helens (3125 N. Broadway St., Chicago); and Healthy Green Goods (702 Main St., Evanston).


Explore nature

The Garfield Park Conservatory is a great year-round destination in Chicago (warm in the winter, beautiful and fragrant in the summer). As spring finally arrives, the conservatory continues to please with activities such as Discover the Power of Plants and a Family Make and Take, both of which happen every weekend and are free. There are also imagination playground dates, Wild Wednesdays and more.

For some education to go with your exploration, check out the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The public face of the venerable Chicago Academy of Sciences, the museum is geared toward younger kids with its butterfly house and knee-high exhibits.


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