With a toddler and a baby at home, we are always looking for new things to do around the city. I look for classes that not only keep my busy toddler, Noah, engaged, but also learning. He’s at that age where I need to constantly keep him moving! When Lincoln Park Zoo reached out for us try their LEAP class, I knew we had to check it out.Continue reading
As Noah is approaching 3 years old, I am trying to fill our days together with various activities. Especially as the weather gets cooler, finding things for us to do becomes limited. Toddlers have a lot of energy and I am trying to to keep up! He also is at the stage where he enjoys trying new things and learning about everything. “Mommy, what’s this?” is on repeat in our house! During the winter, I like him to be in a least one lesson a week and Lil’ Kickers is the perfect fit for a busy toddler. With 19 locations in just Illinois alone, there is a class and location perfect for all families.
Ever since staying at home with Noah, finding time to workout was difficult. I missed that ‘me’ time. I also like to fill our days with lots of activities and keep busy, so when Fit4Mom reached out about Stroller Strides, it would be a great chance to get out of the house with him, all while getting my workout in.
I didn’t know much about what Stroller Strides was or how it worked. What I did know was that Noah had to sit in the stroller for a 60 minute class while I exercised. Excited to start, I was a little hesitant that he wouldn’t be able to stay in the stroller for that long while I had “mommy time”. He really didn’t like to be in the stroller much these days.
Chicago is just the best in the summer. In fact, us Chicago-goans wait all year for it. The festivals, beaches, farmers markets, and activities are endless. For tourists, it’s the best time of the year to visit as well. The city and it’s people really come alive during the spring and summer months.
I put a list together of things I like to do in the summer, some I plan on doing, and even ones you can bring the whole family to. If you know anyone looking for adventures or have friends coming in town, send this their way! Continue reading
Spring is officially here (although no physical signs of it. Sigh) and Easter is right around the corner. Get out your pastels, boat shoes, and Easter egg baskets and let’s talk about brunch. I have put together some of the best Easter Brunches and Egg Hunts in the city for the entire family.
Commonwealth Tavern- One of my favorites this year has to be at Commonwealth in Roscoe Village. They will be having a kid-friendly Bunny Brunch on Sunday, March 25 (Bunny Brunch) and Sunday, April 1st (Easter Sunday Brunch) from 10 am to 2 pm. There will be FREE kid-friendly activities will include Easter egg coloring, crafts and a special appearance from the Easter Bunny.
While the little ones have fun, adults will enjoy a $3 Build-Your-Own Mimosa Bar and $6 Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar (YASSS PLEASE!). There are several brunch options like a Brunch Schnitzel (herb aioli, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, fried egg; $14), or a Pig Muffin (maple pig head, farm egg, American cheese, English muffin; $12). The Kid’s Menu ranges in price from $5 to $6 with options like bacon and eggs, grilled cheese, mini cheese burgers and chicken fingers. You can make reservations at (773) 697-7965.
Easter brunch at Macy’s (Chicago-Walnut Room) and Oakbrook-Signature Kitchen): March 24th, 25th, and 31st– Meet the Easter Bunny, enjoy balloon artists and face painters while eating a breakfast buffet. You can find both menus and pricing here. Brunch on Saturday starts at 9am and Sunday at 10am. Macy’s Bunny Brunch
I/O at the Godfrey Hotel Chicago: Sunday, April 1st, 2018– Boasting to be Chicago’s largest indoor outdoor rooftop lounge, Easter Brunch is being served under their retractable roof. Besides some of the best views of River North and downtown, eat brunch with the Easter Bunny, get your face painted and my favorite, a play room for the kids. Brunch includes a carving station, an omelette station and family style pastas for $39/adults and $12/kids. To make reservations and find more information, find it here.
Bistronomic: Sunday, April 1st, 2018 (9:30 am-4:00 pm)- If you and the family feel like getting a little fancy, head over to Bistronomic. Located in Streeterville, serving French food and well known among “foodies” for being top notch farm-to-table food. This brunch includes a menu with filled with seasonal produce from the Green City Market, with a vegetarian option. $42/adults and $56 with Bottomless Mimosas (PARENT BONUS) 2-course Children’s menu $20 (under 12). Make your reservations here at Open Table
Lunch with the Bunny at Independence: Mar. 24th, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.– Head to the Irving Park neighborhood to Independence Park for breakfast and pictures with the Bunny, face painting, inflatables and art projects. For $15 dollars per person, you can find out more information at Chicago Park District.
New City Lincoln Park- Located at 1457 N. Halsted Ave, this recently “modern” mall has been actively throwing family friendly events (we like the tree lighting) all year. For Easter this year, they have a free Easter Wonderland event on their plaza. On March 31st, from 10-12 pm, there will be Easter activities, bunny visits and special appearance by Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter. You can RSVP here.
Tuscany on Taylor: Sunday, April 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuscany Restaurant on Taylor Street will feature an a la carte Easter specials menu created by Executive Chef Victorio Padilla. The regular menu will also be available, and some of the specials will include items like a Smoked Salmon Crostini ($11), Gnocchi ($19), Braised lamb shank ($28) and more! You can make reservations here.
900 Shops- This is the first year the Easter Bunny will be at this location. Located in the 900 N. Michigan Avenue building, the Bunny will be available for photos from Friday, March 23 – Saturday, March 31. The Bunny will start seeing guests at 12 pm and will see the last guest at 6 pm. Very similar to Photos with Santa Clause, keep in mind that all guests must be present in order to sign up for the virtual line. Once entered, you will receive a text with your estimated wait time. Online reservations are not available. Upon arrival you cannot select your preferred time slot.
Or if you feel like running around with your little one and getting those eggs, the Chicago Park District has great hunts across the city that are free. Find more at Chicago Park District
(Updated March 2019)
With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, there are lots of events and activities happening, many involving over indulging in some adult beverages and creating some fuzzy memories. But just because you have a family now doesn’t mean the fun can stop. There are a ton of family friendly activities happening and even ones that involve green beer just for you parents. Yes parents, you deserve a green beer or two.
I gathered a list of things we have done as a family, alone and other popular events throughout the city. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Chicago winter months can be brutal, especially with little ones. The days can become even longer when you are stuck inside all day. I have rounded out a list of our favorite indoor spots. I have included classes, open playrooms and additional fun, indoor activities to keep everyone entertained (hopefully!) and sane during the cold months. I also got some help from fellow moms too and included their favs. Even included a special discount code, a promotion and several free options because who doesn’t like to save some extra cash right?!
Merry Music Makers– Music based classes from kids birth to 5 years old. Children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat and participate in the music of our culture, provided their early environment supports such learning. Merry Music Makers offers research-based curriculum.
TIP: There are three locations throughout the city; Lakeview, Andersonville, and Edgewater
NYC Kids Club– Just recently opened, this gym has various classes, but several are gymnastic based. We have done one open play and a Gym Tots class and really enjoyed it. They have some great grand opening specials that includes Monthly – 50% off your first month + 1 year unlimited open play! Offer expires January 31.
TIP: There is a parking lot on the side on the building.
Bubbles Academy– We have been to several events and open plays here, Noah has always enjoyed it. They focus on an art integrated curriculum and have many classes like art, music and creative movement. The facility has lots of space and they are always having FREE events. Some upcoming parent workshops like potty training and building math skills are really informative for parents.
TIP: Sign up for their newsletter and get the latest events, workshops, and classes.
Purple Monkey Playroom– Located in Bucktown, this playroom is nice for children to explore in the large play space. They have free coffee, tea, and WiFi. I really like the mini kitchen area to heat up lunch and have some snacks. We have always done a day pass for $15 and usually stay for at least minimum of two hours. I think its a great place for play dates on a cold day.
TIP: They have lot parking available in the 90 mile Cuban Cafe gated parking lot at 2449 W. Armitage, directly under the El tracks. It’s about a 3 minute walk to the playroom.
Sod Room– Sod Room is an eco-friendly, indoor play space located in the South Loop of Chicago. They provide toys and materials from recycled cork flooring, low VOC paint, and reclaimed wood. It is uniquely designed to utilize as much natural light as possible. They also have workshops and classes. A day pass is $15 dollars.
TIP: They also feature a retail boutique which offers local, organic, fair trade, and recycled products and gifts for children and parents.
Goldfish Swim School- Through some research and word of mouth, we found Goldfish Swim School and we LOVE IT! It’s our favorite activity to do as a family. We each take a turn in the water with him during the 30 minute class (because of his age). We have the same teacher each lesson in a very small class and they work with you and the level your child is at. You can read more about our experience here. By lesson 3, Noah was enjoying it and learning to do the activities much more independently. After we showered, they have diapers, blow dryers, lotion and wipes to help get ready after the shower.
TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.
Lil’ Kickers Soccer– We started soccer lessons when Noah was 20 months (now turning 2 in two weeks) and LOVE it. The program is designed to help develop a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills while providing physical exercise and developing players who are good sports and good teammates, on and off the field. The coaches are very encouraging, always high-fiving, and players get stamps at the end of each lesson (my son’s favorite part!). It is a 50 minute lesson with an adult, but at the age of 3, a parent is no longer required.
TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.
Mini City on 21– Located in Norwood park, this is an open playroom that is a parent/guardian supervised indoor play, party and cafe. They have have classes and birthday party packages available. Day passes are $10 for children 1 – 10 years old and $7 for children 11 – 12 years old. 0-11 months are FREE.
TIP: You can get a MINI “PASSPORT” (only for children 1 -10 years old) with a 5-day pass, $40, 10-day pass, $80 or 15-day pass, $120.
Tinkergarten– All classes take place outside at a local park. Outdoor classes where children can play with other children alongside adults to learn through well-designed, outdoor play-based activities. They help kids develop a host of important capabilities, including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence and problem solving. Classes range from 18 months to 8 years old.
TIP: Free trials in March for the spring season
Zumbini– Created by Zumba and BabyFirst for kids ages birth to 4 years old, the Zumbini program combines music, dance and educational tools for 45 minutes of parent and child bonding! Also taught by a local fellow mom! Check out their schedule for classes all over the city.
TIP: Use the code Mamatribe15 for 15% off (only valid at the Irish American Heritage Center).
Young Explorers at the Adler Planetarium– Children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old can check out Young Explorers’ Mondays from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm, where children and their families can try hands-on activities like Fly a Kite, Stories Under the Stars, and more. Or add a sky show to your day when you purchase a Basic Pass that includes One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure.
TIP: Free with admission.
Kidsyard– Located off Irving Park Road, it is a 2,400 square feet play center for children aged 0-12 years. They have soft play structures, giant blocks and a climbing wall. All activities are created and appointed based on the age of the children and other safety requirements. For the babies or children under 4, there is a specific area to enjoy, with activities that engage their senses, body and mind. They have their own ball pond, mini slide, soft play blocks to crawl on and play equipment.
TIP: They do NOT allow outside food, but have a cafe.
Learning Loop Academy-Learning Loop Academy is dedicated to providing a safe and caring learning, playing and growing space where parents and caregivers can spend time together with their infants and toddlers. It is an interactive area to gather and explore many aspects of movement, music, art language and literature with the opportunity to meet and connect with other families. Check website for pricing.
TIP: Free parking and Wifi
Kohls Children’s Museum– Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview, offers 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits for children ages birth to 8. All of our exhibits and programs are aligned to the Illinois State Learning Standards and are designed to nurture a love of learning in young children. Adults and children are $12 dollars.
TIP: Children under 1 years old are free.
Adventure Playland– Located in Mt. Prospect, it is an indoor playground for the kids while serving food, coffee and free WiFi for parents. Open to children 6 months to 7 years old. Children under 1 are free with paid sibling. Monday-Thursday is $10.00, Friday & Sunday is $12.00. An after school special on Monday-Thursday after 3:00PM, is $7.00 per child
TIP: They have punch cards available.
Fun Republic Play– Fun Republic in St. Charles, was founded by three local moms whose main goal was to create a play center to help children not only develop basic motor skills and social skills, but also develop self-confidence while having fun. Fun Republic strives to offer a safe, creative and exciting play setting for children of all ages.
TIP: Kids under 1 years old are FREE.
Wonder Works Wonder Works is 6,400 square feet of fun, a place of creative play for kids birth to age eight. Located in Oak Park, the children’s museum helps kids, their parents and caregivers unleash their imaginations. Wonder Works Children’s Museum provides a hands-on environment for children from birth to age 8 years old. The museum includes six permanent experience zones and hosts parties, field trips, concerts and other fun, educational events. Plus, an outdoor organic garden. Regular Admission is $7 per person, child or adult
TIP: Wonder Works also offers reduced admission for groups of 10 or more children when scheduled in advance through our field trip program.
Peekaboo Playroom– A playroom located in Oak Park, children from 0-6 years old can enjoy the variety of toys, play hide-and-seek in between the little house, read books in the book corner, play basketball, climb and slide in the clubhouse, and much much more. One day unlimited play is per child $12, sibling #2 and Sibling #3 FREE.
TIP: 1 hour pass for $6 dollars
Meet at Gather– Located in downtown Evanston, this playroom offers a place to Gather for art and music classes, workshops and events, open to all ages and abilities. They are open for drop-in art and play Monday-Saturday.
TIP: They have won for Best Playroom in 2017.
When all else fails:
Have the fun delivered to your door! These are kits that are toys with a purpose. Ranging from science to arts and crafts. Here are some kits that you can customize based on your child’s preferences.
HOOT for Kids- For newborn to 6 years old, these treasure boxes are customized based upon your child’s age and developmental stage. They are toys with a purpose.
Bramble Box– Bramble Box award winning Play and Craft Kits are hand-curated activity boxes for kids age 3-7. Mom created and kid tested for hours of fun (& learning) with items to inspire imaginative play and all the materials for at least 2-3 hands-on activities and crafts.
Curiosity Pack– Curiosity Packs inspire a love of learning through age-appropriate activities. Children will learn about letters, numbers, friendship, science, art, love, and every other intriguing subject you can imagine.
My Giant Box– My Giant Busy Box will keep ’em busy! There’s 16 projects, mold dough animals, collage a farm and sticker art. Decorate paper bag puppets and tissue art pictures, then frame them. Includes plastic frames, animal punch outs, bright dough colors, peel and stick tissue art pictures, tons of tissue paper, glue, and easy to follow instructions.
Magnetic building blocks are hands on learning tool. They can be combined in so many different ways! It includes a set of 102 pieces, including magnetic alphabet blocks & numbers.
With a few more winter months left, I hope some of these ideas help out your little ones (and you!)
Until next time,
(See collaborating post here with Fab Food Chicago)
One of my favorite weekend activities to do in Chicago is to try different brunch spots around town. But after I had my son, my brunch requirements changed. I didn’t want to stop going, but needed to find accommodating places. A children’s menu with lots options (or at least something kid friendly on the menu), good service and a welcoming atmosphere are all qualities I look for now. With so many brunch places in Chicago, I have narrowed it down to the top 5 kid friendly brunches in the city.
Located in Lincoln Park, Stella Barra is connected to Summer House and serves an All You Can Eat Chef Inspired Brunch for $19.95 for adults and kids under 12 eat free. There are so many options for the adults and children. They have pancakes, French Toast (my son’s personal favorite), house made cinnamon buns, biscuits and gravy, chilaquiles (this is a must) yogurt parfaits and so on. Mimosas and Bellini’s are $5 dollars as well. The service has always been great; giving children crayons, coloring menus and very accommodating on seating. There is also stroller parking in front and lots of dining space. Great food and service really make this place kid friendly. They also take reservations.
TIP: They have an outdoor patio in the back with lots of seating for large groups.
Location: Lincoln Park || 1954 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 634-4101
With two locations, Lincoln Park and Logan Square, this diner is the first brunch we ever brought our son to. This casual café is an easy diner to bring children of all ages for breakfast or an early lunch. It is a great value, friendly service and have breakfast and lunch served daily.
They open at 7am and you can find lots of children and families there. They are very accommodating with seating and strollers and will make you feel right at home. They have plenty of sweet and savory options, with delicious pancakes and French toast for children and a variety of omelette options for the adults, all large portion sizes. Their corned beef hash and sweet potato fries are great options for brunch too. Service is fast, friendly and the food is all worth checking out. They do not take reservations, so I recommend going early.
TIP: The Logan Square location is BYOB.
Logan Square || 2753 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 235-1155
Lincoln Park || 2200 N. Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 270- 4343
Knife and Tine
Knife and Tine was a place I was initially hesitant to bring my son. It is small and rather intimate, but I cannot say enough about their service and willingness to work with you and your children. And of course, the food. I have been several times with my son for happy hour, dinner and brunch, and each time, the food and service go beyond expectations. I have even dined by myself with my son and they have been extremely helpful. They will help you with the stroller, seating accommodations, and even give your little ones a box of Legos, stickers and crayons with coloring sheets. For the adults, the shrimp and grits with scrambled eggs is amazing. It is made with white cheddar and apple smoked bacon. For the children, they have banana pancakes, French toast, grilled cheese and other fun dishes. The food is incredible, service is very good every time. They also take reservations.
TIP: They have delicious coffee cocktails.
Location: Lincoln Park ||1417 N. Fullerton, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 697- 8311
This Lakeview and West Loop Southern comfort restaurant is great for any meal, but the perfect place to bring your family for brunch. The crab cake benedict, red eggs and their biscuits are delicious. Definitely don’t skip the biscuits, they are some of the best I have ever had. You can also ask for a side of honey.
For children, my son loved the strawberry pancakes. He devoured them. There are other options like eggs, grits and mac and cheese for children. All the portions are large and easily could be shared.
The service is friendly, fast and accommodating. There is lots of dining space for you and your family. They do take reservations, but only for parties of 6 or more on the weekends.
TIP: One Free entree from the Kids menu for every regular adult breakfast (must be ordered by 9 am)
Lakeview ||3300 N Lincoln Ave||, Chicago, IL || P: (773) 549-2663
West Loop ||1001 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL || P: (312) 850-2663
Kingsbury Street Cafe
This Near North Side upscale diner has extremely good food, innovative dishes and fast service. The menu has items like lemon pancakes, shrimp egg white frittata, and salmon hash. One of their most well known dishes is the Piggy Moo Cluck Sandwich, which is eggs, ham, bacon and cheese served on ciabatta bread. It’s amazing and not your average brunch sandwich. They serve some really delicious coffee and brunch cocktails to accompany the food.
For the children’s menu, it isn’t extensive, but they have typical items like pancakes and chicken fingers. However, many of the items on the adult menu could be shared with children, even for the pickiest eaters. My son and I shared the lemon pancakes and we both loved them.
This cafe is great weekend brunch with a fun, lively vibe with a little something for the entire family. It does get very busy on the weekends. I would highly recommend reservations.
TIP: They sell pastries to go.
Location: Near North Side||1523 N Kingsbury St||, Chicago, IL || P: (312) 280-1718
Until next time,
The holidays are pretty much here. The season goes by so fast with parties, events, shopping, etc. It’s hard to experience it together as a family. But it’s not too late to get out there and enjoy some festive activities throughout the city as a family. I rounded out some events that are still happening and some of our own personal favs. Enjoy!
2. Chicago Trolley & Double Decker- Holiday Lights Tour- Experience the magic of the holidays with Chicago’s most spectacular light displays at the city’s most popular destinations.
This tour is great for even Chicagoans that want to enjoy the holiday lights as a family out of the cold. As a bonus, A FREE holiday cupcake from Sprinkles is given to all riders. Tours are running now until December 23rd, 2017. Adult tickets are $29 dollars and Kid’s tickets are $18 dollars (ages 5-15). Reservations are highly recommended due to the popularity of the tour. You can make reservations here.
3. Holiday Market- Randolph Street Market– The market is a unique shopping experience for the whole family. There are unique gifts from thrifty to extravaganza. It is December 16-17 from 10am-5pm. This is an indoor market with free parking onsite. They have a $30 dollar family package that includes 2 adults/drinks (wine, beer, champagne) and up to 4 kids plus a kids snack (online special only) You would definitely find a gift for even the pickiest shopper on your list.
4. Caroling at the Cloud Gate- Get ready to sing some holiday classics during Caroling at Cloud Gate. This festive series is part concert, part sing-along at Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean” on Fridays, through December 15 from 6-7pm. Weather permitting.
5. White Christmas at Music Box Theater– In its 34th year, this annual tradition brings the family together at the Music Box theater to see Santa Claus, sing along and watch a holiday classic. Santa welcomes the audience and, accompanied by Music Box organist Dennis Scott, leads them in the sing along to the most cherished Christmas carols. The lyrics are projected onto the theater’s screen so no one misses a chance to sing their hearts out. Then, the audience gets to enjoy a Christmas movie classic.
6. Christkindlmarket- Park at Wrigley – We have enjoyed many family friendly activities at the Park at Wrigley since it opened this year like movies, Green City Market, and live music for children. But now it is turned into a winter wonderland perfect for any age. I found this to be a little easier to navigate with little ones compared to the Daley Plaza Market, especially if you have a stroller or with several children. There is ice skating and rentals are available, lots of food options and unique shopping. Santa does make an appearance on Saturdays (and it is inside!) It runs now until December 31st, with ice skating until February 2018.
7. Santa Suite at Swissotel– One of the best things we did as a family this holiday season was our first Santa visit at the Swissotel. On the 41st floor, in a 5 room Presidential Suite, it is completely transformed into a winter wonderland experience. The space is decorated with twelve Christmas trees, a table set for Santa, and even a station to write letters to the North Pole.
They also have different pop up shops, including floral crowns from Crowning Event.
There are several places to eat on Southport Corridor in Chicago. But there isn’t one that can truly claim they are farm-to-table. And to be honest, that terms gets thrown around so much now. But what does it actually mean? At Grassroots Eatery at 3747 N Southport Ave, they are a neighborhood eatery serving American contemporary farm-to-table dishes. Everything is sourced from local and Southwest Michigan Farms. All the produce and protein is hand selected by the owner at places like Kaminski Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan and produce from Frank Farms in Berrien, Michigan. Additionally, they grow their own herbs, tomatoes, and kale. There is nothing more farm-to-table than that.
Some stand out dishes on the dinner menu is the pork chop. It is a 10 oz organic, Iowa raised pork chop served with roasted sweet potatoes and pickled Red Haven peaches.
Or the cheeseburger from Kaminki Farm that is 14 day dry aged house ground beef with a tomato jam and apple smoked bacon. One of my personal favorites is the buffalo cauliflower and house-made mac & cheese with an option to add mushrooms, bacon or lobster. Absolutely fantastic.
They also serve several local beer, spirits and wine. The Pinot Noir from Dablon Winery (learn more about this winery here.) is delicious and the Smoke & Spice cocktail with mescal and jalapeno was perfect.
What I also like about Grassroots is the kids menu. Too many times have we dined with Noah and the only options are either cheese pizza or chicken nuggets. Not nutritious for him at all. What’s unique is they are offer the same organic and free range food like the regular menu. Even the cheeseburger on the kids menu is a 14 day aged ground beef patty. Best part, all kids meals are $6 dollars.
They serve weekend brunch that includes $15 dollar bottomless mimosas and $5 dollar bloody mary’s. Other specials during the week are 1/2 price bottles on wine on Wednesdays and a daily 3 course pre-fix menu for $27 dollars.
It is definitely a place you can take your family, head to brunch with friends or out on a date night (a great location because it is attached to Mercury Theater and next to the Music Box). Try getting back to the basics and enjoy a true farm-to-table meal at the approachable Grassroots Eatery.
Let me know what you think.
Until next time,