We force our kids to take Spanish lessons. We drag them to museums to learn about French impressionist artists and we encourage them to read “Fancy Nancy” just to get a few French words into their blossoming vocabularies.
But we’ve found that the best way for our kids to understand the world is to feed it to them, to let them play in it and to help them love it instead of making them learn from books, worksheets and classes.
It’s easy to introduce your children to different cultures without even leaving the city limits.
Take them here King Spa Sauna
Why In this massive traditional Korean sauna,
children are invited to relax along with the adults. Older kids
will love this place (there’s not much to do for children under age
8 or 9) because you basically walk around from sauna to sauna.
Discuss how the salt room makes your body feel, and then run from
the hot sauna into the ice room and back again. There are Jacuzzis,
shower areas and movie rooms with continual movies being played day
and night (it’s open 24/7).
Make them squeal Take a break for a little
Korean food at the small cafeteria-style restaurant and grab some
shaved ice for dessert. It’s a full Korean immersion here.
Details 809 Civic Center Drive, Niles, (847)
Take them here Bonjour Café Bakery
Why One of the best parts of visiting France is
sitting down at the café, ordering an espresso and a pain au
chocolat, and listening to the beautiful French language being
spoken around you. It just feels très magnifique. Here, the
pastries are authentic, the employees only speak French and the
quaint atmosphere is exactly what is lovely about a French
Make them squeal Grab them a macaron and a hot
chocolate, sit them in a little seat and maybe they’ll pick up a
French word or two.
Details 1550 E. 55th St., Chicago, (773)
Take them here Szalas Restaurant
Why When you step into this wooden cabin,
you’re entering Poland. Or what can pass for over-the-top Poland in
Chicago. You’ll sit in a converted carriage where you will eat
traditional Polish fare (come famished and wear adjustable-waist
pants) while watching the live Polish entertainment.
Make them squeal It’s the experience that makes
this fun (there are better places for Polish food). So let your
child pull the chain on the bell to request permission to enter
this restaurant. Prepare to be transported back to a time when
doorbells didn’t exist.
Details 5241 S. Archer Ave., Chicago, (773)
Take them here Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish
Why Catch a cricket, rugby or football game
(American soccer) at this traditional pub and introduce your child
to English and Irish sports while eating classic British fare
(Shepherd’s Pie, fish & chips).
Make them squeal Explain the rules behind a
rugby game: Essentially, there are no rules, so watch the real-life
drama that ensues, complete with delicious accents.
Details 3905 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, (773)
Britain and Ireland
Take them here Mitsuwa Marketplace
Why It’s a supermarket the size of Walmart,
filled to the brim with exotic Japanese fruits and veggies (you can
still get your normal stuff if you want to do your shopping while
you’re there), live fish, random pickled vegetables and even a
Make them squeal The food court is better than
any American food court we’ve ever seen-and has everything from
sushi to ramen to Japanese burgers.
Details 100 E. Algonquin Road, Arlington