Bronzeville beckons

Despite its name, this bustling Chicago tourist destination is as good as gold for local families. With a thriving culture enhanced by world-class gospel, jazz and blues talent, Bronzeville is a sure-thing this summer.

Make sure to take the kids to the Bronzeville Children’s Museum, 96th Street and Western Avenue, (708) 636-9504. Through the end of this year, the museum is showcasing its"Food Becomes You” and"African Americans in the Food Industry” exhibits, which teach children the importance of healthy eating and exercise. Children can visit a pretend Nutritionist’s Office, burn off some energy in a soft play area, play educational computer games and work in a pretend kitchen. An entire day at the museum for a family of four is only $9. Nothing beats fun and education on the cheap.

History buffs must take a walking trip on South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Up and down the road, 96 shiny plaques represent important African Americans who have made a significant contribution to the Bronzeville area. Get inspired by the Victory Monument for the Eighth Regiment statue, at 35th and King Drive, which honors African American former military men.

For the family bookworm, Afrocentric Bookstore, 4655 S. King Drive, (773) 924-3966, has a fully stocked children’s room with selections more diverse than your local chain bookstore. The Mongo Antique Market, 535 E. 35th St., (773) 373-2842, is great for a casual day with the family. Held the second Sunday of each month from May through October, parents can browse antiques while children explore clothing and jewelry designed just for them. Admission is $5, $3 seniors and students, free for children.

The Negro League Café, 301 E. 43rd St., (773) 536-7000, where families can savor catfish nuggets, smothered pork and candied yams, comes with the highest recommendation of Harold Lucas, the president and CEO of the Bronzeville Visitor Information Center. Go for lunch, as the dinner and after-hours entertainment can be too loud or adult-themed for little ones.

For even the pickiest eater, Pearl’s Place, 3901 S. Michigan Ave., (773)-285-1700, will satisfy. Come for the sweet potato pie, collard greens and fried chicken (made to order), and the kids can choose from a great kids’ menu.

Bronzeville’s food takes you to Soul Food heaven, and its rich history surrounds and educates your family. It is more than worth it to visit this rising gem in cultural Chicago.

Allison Markowitz

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