Ready to tackle The Taste with toddlers? If you'd like to head out to this year's Taste of Chicago with young kids in tow, doing a few simple things ahead of time can make the day go a whole lot better.
First, visit the Taste of Chicago website to get a schedule of entertainment for the day you're planning to visit, as well as a map of vendors. Figure out what kind of food you want and where that booth is located, then print out the map and tuck it in your bag. One of the biggest reasons people feel overwhelmed by the crowds is that everyone's staring up at menus trying to figure out what they want, says Cindy Gatziolis, spokesperson for the Chicago Office of Special Events. With your map in hand, you can just head directly to your food vendors of choice.
And, while you're planning ahead, food and beverage tickets can be purchased in advance of the Taste of Chicago at all Dominick's stores in Illinois with a Fresh Values Card from July 5-10 for $7 a strip (12 tickets to a strip), limit 4 strips per person. Tickets can be purchased after July 10th at all Dominick's stores for $8 a strip, until supplies run out.
Once you get to the Taste, start with smaller portions for smaller eaters.
"Keep in mind, every restaurant has two taste portions, which are just made for children," says Mary Slowik, Taste of Chicago manager. "They are two smaller servings and nothing is more than four tickets, which is $2."
This year there will be about 50 restaurants serving food at the Taste, with everything from ethnic food to classic American favorites.
"This is a great opportunity to sample your family's favorite items, as well as explore all the different cuisine that Chicago has to offer," Slowik says.
But if you don't think your picky toddler is going to eat anything you buy, go ahead and pack the food and drink they'll eat-the entry-point guards will check bags, but they're looking for alcohol, not juice boxes.
When you're done tasting, visit the Family Village area of the festival, at Columbus and Jackson, a perennial family favorite.
"It has activities from museums and different vendors do promotions," says Slowik.
If you're caught short and need an emergency diaper change, Family Village has free diaper supplies.
One last word of advice: Try to get to The Taste early-opening time at 11 a.m. when it is least crowded.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.