Parks are an essential part of life if you’re a city parent. Really, it’s either schlep off to the ‘burbs, stare at an iPad all day or go to a park. The third option sure seems like the best. My 5-year-old, Viva, and I spend a lot of time in them, and if there aren’t a lot of other kids around to smush, I’m more often than not hanging upside down on monkey bars and the like with her.
Here are a couple of my favorite parks over by the far North Side.
5887 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago
Best for: Babies through 12, and the park is broken into a tot part and a “big kid” part, which is nice if you don’t want your little one to fall or get bumped around.
Why kids love it: This park just reopened after a complete renovation, so the rubber pads on the ground are newly squooshy, and there are all kinds of amazing new features, like the giant spider web climbing gym, a playhouse for tots, a four person teeter-totter (or is it a see-saw?), a big teacup-like merry-go-round,* and more. There’s also a baseball diamond and a misting water feature that hasn’t yet re-opened. Oh, and it’s ADA accessible.
*Merry-go-rounds went away for about twenty years–glad to see them making a comeback.
Why parents love it: It’s spacious and close to downtown Andersonville and Edgewater.
Good to know: There’s no bathroom, so bring a shovel or a coffee can or something. There are two water fountains, though. There’s a pretty garden with squirrels and bunnies and flowers nearby (Senn Unity Garden), a big state of Young Lincoln in another park nearby (Senn Lincoln Monument – though, be warned, it can be a big of a Hooverville in that park).
Craftmobile at Senn: There’s an amazing, FREE thing that happens every Thursday in the summer months for ages 4-1. From 10-11 a.m., the Craftmobile comes to Senn Playlot filled with art projects. All supplies are provided.
Senn Movies in the Park: Watch “Finding Dory,” Saturday, Aug. 5 at 8:15 p.m.
6205 N. Sheridan Rd. Chicago
Best for: Ages 4-11
Why kids love it: There’s a play area that looks like a pirate ship, which can make for some imaginative play, and kids love being right on the lake.
Why parents love it: You’ll love to watch boats on the lake and the ubiquitous Geico and Coors banner planes, and Berger Park gives you access to the Waterfront Café, and many theater events in the Coach House. There are scads of classes and camps in the Cultural Center, and you’re just a short walk from some amazing (kid-friendly) eats in Edgewater, including Pete’s Pizza and Bakehouse, Dak Wings, Flaco’s Tacos, Ann Sather and Lickety Split. Oh, and there’s Metropolis Café to gas up on caffeine before you play.
Good to know: There are water fountains and a fieldhouse with a bathroom, open the following hours: Mon.-Fri.: 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat.: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun.: Closed.
Upcoming events: There are more theater events than I can list here, plus an upcoming jewelry fair and dog friendly ice-cream social. Check it all out here.