My perfect summer Sunday: Chicago

I love living in Chicago. Summer is, arguably, Chicago’s greatest season. And what’s the best day to enjoy the greatest season in finest metropolitan area in all the land? It’s obviously Sunday.

Here’s how my family does Sunday up right in a town that’s never lacking in awesome:

A place to eat

The Phoenix

If it’s a wide open kinda Sunday, we make it our mission to head down to Chinatown–even though it’s pretty much the polar opposite direction, city-wise, from our Irving/Albany Park borders. For any dim sum novices out there, don’t be cowed; it’s instant gratification in the form of rolling cart tiny food. You will overeat, and you will have pleasant dreams about whatever that incredibly delicious thing was that you ate after pointing to its picture on a laminated menu. My fave is The Phoenix and my kids totally agree with me … or will, once they put down the chopsticks and come up for air.

2131 S. Archer Ave.

A place to play

North Park Nature Center

Lest you think that a nature preserve in the midst of an urban area smacks of oxymoron, I assure you that the North Park Nature Center is a very real, very clover-scented thing. Kids can race down actual trails, spy legitimate wildlife and take advantage of some terrific, hands-on programming. Best yet? This place is free–as a bird. (Or a deer or any other unfettered and frolicking woodland creature.)

5801 N. Pulaski Road

A place for a rainy day

The Art Institute of Chicago

Raining? Chilly? Muggy as heck? You know I’ll be at the Art Institute. We’ve got a family membership (which, honestly, everyone should, since it’s incredibly affordable for the programming and access you’ll get), but even drop-in visits are wonderful and prorated for Illinois residents. Whether you’re enjoying the tried n’ true (Impressionists Gallery, Thorne Miniatures) or catch ‘em before they’re gone galleries (America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s), this place is like a warm hug to the brain and eyeballs and soul.

111 S. Michigan Ave.

A place to grab a treat

Alaska Paleteria and Neveria

It’s a widely held–and utterly delightful–Mexican school of thought that there’s no flavor too crazy for ice cream. One of the absolute best places to grab it in the city, Alaska Paleteria and Neveria, brings authentic, small-batch treats to Irving Park. We adore the avocado–yep, avocado–cajeta (goat milk caramel), pine nut and sweet cream cinnamon, but the superstar item is the mangoneada; fresh mango ice cream, diced mangoes, enough chili sauce to make you question your sanity, plus a delicious tamarind straw to help suck it down. And, since it’s within walking distance of our home, it just screams “Sunday afternoon treat.” (Especially if the dad in a given family has an off-the-hook sweet tooth.)

3446 W. Irving Park Road

A place for sun and fun

Montrose Avenue Beach

And if it’s a unicorn of a summer Sunday (and, by some magical miracle everyone’s still on pleasantly toned speaking terms), there’s no cooler way to close out a weekend than at the beach. We love heading to Montrose Avenue Beach, but really, with 28 miles of beachy lakefront, there’s no wrong place to grab a patch of sand and picnic it up right.

200 W. Montrose Harbor Drive

Our family’s summertime motto? Go outside, STAY outside and eat every last delicious thing in sight.

See ya next weekend!

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