Who says that just because you have a baby, you have to kiss culture goodbye? Chicago’s best-loved institutions are catering to the pint-sized crowd with tours that keep parents and babies happy. And if your little one doesn’t quite cooperate with the usual indoor-voice rule? There’s a no-shushing guarantee.
For art buffs
The Ed Paschke Art Center opens its colorful galleries to babies and caregivers (4 p.m. last Tuesday of the month) with free 30-minute guided tours. Paschke’s Pee-Wees introduces little ones to the colors, patterns and big faces featured in Paschke’s paintings, and teaches the grownups some of the ways babies’ brains process them. Feel free to leave the stroller at home: baby-wearing is encouraged. For more traditional stroller tour experiences, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art (11:30 a.m. first Wednesday) and Art Institute of Chicago (11:30 a.m. second Monday).
For nature lovers
Outdoor trails might not seem the most stroller-friendly (all those bumps!), but babies can breathe in some fresh air at these programs tailored especially to them. Heller Nature Center offers Babies in Nature, an educational stroll with a naturalist through the 97-acre preserve’s trails (10 a.m. Aug. 6 and 20), while Chicago Botanic Garden‘s Bloomin’ Garden Strollers includes a brisk walk through the greenery as well as a social play component (9:45 a.m. Aug. 7 and 14).
Peek into the past–the ancient past–at The Oriental Institute, where Strolling Through History tours cater to the sippy cup set. This month’s theme (2 p.m. Aug. 11) is “The World in Biblical Times” and promises an exploration of the writings, sculptures and objects of daily life housed in the museum’s galleries, as well as lively discussion. Stick around for playtime for babies once the tour is done.
For first-time parents
Parenting novices can make new friends and get advice from health professionals at Kohl Children’s Museum, all for free. Baby& Me Time (9:30 a.m. Monday) allows new moms and dads to network and socialize, plus chat with a nurse from Advocate Lutheran General Hospital about early childhood development and parenting topics. It’s also a great way to familiarize yourself with one of the country’s best children’s museums–chances are, you’ll be spending a lot of time there in the years to come.