It’s not always easy being an urban mom, and the city of Chicago tends to take more criticism than applause. This season though, I’m giving thanks for the city I live in: Chicago.
Here seven reasons why I’m thankful to be living and raising my kids in this Windy City:
- Lake Michigan is our swimming pool. There is nothing quite like jumping into a cool Lake Michigan on a hot summer day. My kids have grown up with Foster Avenue beach as their sandbox and Lake Michigan – the 2nd largest of the Great Lakes – as their swimming pool. The lifeguards keep things in check, the water is remarkably clear, and the people watching is sublime.
- We can travel the world, one restaurant at a time. We can “visit” other countries on a whim – via the huge selection of delicious ethnic restaurants that dot our city. From naan to lassis, from bulgogi to kimchee – my kids have tried it all.
- Amazing things are happening in our public schools. While much of the news is doom and gloom, my son is enjoying his elementary school experience at a fantastic CPS magnet school. Involved parents, super teachers, and a rigorous curriculum make his school one of the best in the city. Best of all, the rich cultural diversity of our world is reflected in his classroom. Something to look forward to: of the 500 top high schools in the U.S. rated by U.S. News and World Report, Chicago has three (Northside College Prep, Lane Tech, and Lincoln Park High School).
- We don’t have to depend on a car to get from point A to point B. My kids love taking public transportation. They beg me to take the blue line downtown on a regular basis. I’m fairly certain that I could drop my 10-year-old off at a random spot in the city and he’d be able to find his way easily and confidently home on public transportation. We also have been enjoying riding our bikes, and I’m finding that Chicago is becoming bike friendlier by the day.
- Our family pets live at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Who needs a pet cat or a pet dog when you can have a pet lion, gorilla and sea lion? We don’t have to feed them and they don’t shed on our sofa. Our pets live at the lovely Lincoln Park Zoo, and we can ride our bikes over and visit them for free, whenever we want, year round (during visiting hours).
- Backyards are overrated – especially when you’re surrounded by beautiful city parks. We have a huge backyard: our city is dotted with parks, both big and small. From the big – Humbolt Park (the ducks living at the pond are especially friendly) and Lincoln Park – to the small – Adams Playlot (with its awesome water play equipment) and Holstein Park – our parks are beautiful and simply made for fun.
- There’s no excuse for boredom. With so many gems just a short skip, hop or a jump away, there’s no excuse for boredom. Feel like flying into space? Rocket on over to the Adler Planetarium. Undergoing a dinosaur phase? Trek on over to the Field Museum, and say hello to Sue. In the mood for exploring a forest of ferns? Pop into the Garfield Park Conservatory. There are so many neighborhoods to explore on a whim – our favorite is Chinatown – and the Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry are just right for just right rainy days. Any ordinary day can be transformed into an day bursting with adventure and new discoveries when you’re living in Chicago.