One of the coolest things about Chicago is the fact that we have so many different neighborhoods — and each area has its own distinct character, from serene and beachy to hipster cool. Get out of your own neighborhood and spend a day exploring each of these spots with the family.
If you’re heading this way to go to the aquarium, the Field Museum or the planetarium, it would be such a shame to go straight back home when you’re done. Instead, skip the café in the museum and head over to Chicago Waffles, where you can get a waffle flight which has red velvet, chocolate, Liege and Belgium mini waffles. Walk off your meal via a stroll on the lake, or run around at the South Loop’s new playground, located in the middle of The Shops at Roosevelt Collection. The playground is fantastic for kids — and it’s smack dab in the center of some parent-favorite stores: Lululemon, The Container Store, H&M (they have a kids’ section at this one) and White House Black Market, plus others. There’s even a movie theater here with stadium seating.
It’s getting a reputation — in a good, fun way — for becoming a hipster paradise. And this up-and-coming neighborhood loves its kids. Start by filling up your bellies at Bang Bang Pie Shop. It’s only been in the neighborhood for about three years, but it’s already a hot spot — for good reason. They’ve got savory food served on warm biscuits, which is perfect for breakfast, lunch or a breakfast-y dinner (you must have the Candied Bacon Biscuit plus the grits). And you can’t leave without one of their seasonal pies. Next, take a walk down the brand new 606, an elevated 21 ½-block trail. When the kids need a break, they can play at the Palmer Square Park, a grassy area that was inspired by The Velveteen Rabbit. While it doesn’t have a lot of park equipment, it does have two adorable rabbit statues, a lot of grass, a slide and enough room to run your sillies out.
Check out our video tour of Logan Square!
Little Italy& University Village
Tucked away near the University of Illinois, Chicago, is a neighborhood that’s really starting to hit its stride. We can’t mention this area without drooling over our favorite place in all of Chicago: Mario’s Italian Lemonade. These handmade Italian ices come in just about every flavor, from chocolate to watermelon, and they’re just $1.75 for a small. They are worth every.single.penny. There’s a line on weekends and evenings, but if you go during the day, you can usually grab one without a wait, before you camp out on a stoop to eat it. For lunch (yes, dessert came first), head over to County Barbeque, which is a Bib Gourmand recipient. Their corn pudding is essentially a cobbler stuffed with corn kernels, and the ribs have a rich crust and a chewy, deep flavor. Then, walk or drive (parking is a cinch) over to Sheridan Park, which is a spacious park outside a park district building.
This quieter community on the north side of Chicago, seven miles from the Loop, contains a whole lot of family fun. Since Edgewater runs along the lake, it’s got a fabulous beach: The Kathy Osterman Beach. The water is calm, street parking is a usually a breeze, there are clean bathrooms and there’s even free Wi-Fi. And unlike the North Avenue Beach, where you’re packed like sardines every time the sun considers shining, this one always seems to be peacefully tranquil. Broadway Cellars is a family-friendly brunch spot with bottomless mimosas and bottomless Bloody Marys for the parents. Next, let the munchkins play at Berger Park, where there’s a playground, a café and plenty of benches for adults to chill and take in the gorgeous water views.