If you don’t know DailyCandy yet, stop reading and click here. I’ve been getting their daily fixes ever since my New York fashionista years (back in the days) and I’m still hooked…Ok, I’m more interested in the latest baby bottle than the coolest cocktail hotspot these last few years, but I am grateful that DailyCandy keeps me in the loop all over. So it’s with great excitement that BozAround is featuring Lindsey Gladstone on her beloved hometown, Chicago. Lindsey is the editor behind all of the DailyCandy’s Kids, from NYC to Los Angeles and Everywhere in between. She lives in Chicago with her husband Ben and their two daughters. Here’s Lindsey’s Best of Daily Family Life in Chicago..
Sweet Home Chicago
Welcome to my hometown. I’ve tried to leave (twice) and I can’t quit her. Despite the long, cold winters – and when I say long, I mean we sometimes skip spring altogether, a factor to consider when planning a visit – Chicago is one of the warmest places I know. It’s got big city sophistication with a Midwestern smile. Oh, and come hungry.
Before We Start
Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. If you stay close to your hotel on Michigan Avenue (where most lodging options are located) you will miss out. Wicker Park, Pilsen, Bucktown, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Hyde Park, Old Town, Lakeview: These are the neighborhoods Chicagoans call home – dive in – we love visitors and kids. Full disclosure: many of the restaurants and shops I’ve picked are in Wicker Park walking distance from my home.
Our Favorite Spots
A beautiful oasis right in the middle of Lincoln Park, The Lincoln Park Zoo is a true gem. We spend most of our time visiting the monkeys, waiting in line for the carousel, and debating the color of the flamingos (are they pink or orange?), but there is much more to see. You could easily spend an entire morning strolling around the grounds and the recently renovated ecofriendly nature boardwalk. There are plenty of dining options on-site; however, our favorite thing to do is pack a picnic and eat in the gardens at the Lincoln Park Conservatory out front. Just across Fullerton Parkway is the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, where a 2,700-square-foot butterfly haven beckons littles with 75 species flitting about on any given day.
Whenever we need a taste of Florida (usually midwinter), we spend the morning at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The humidity levels are just so, that even in January it feels (and looks) like June inside. The conservatory was damaged in a storm this past year, and they are raising funds to repair it.
If you can avoid the rest of the tourist trap that is Navy Pier (good luck with that) The Chicago Children’s Museum is a world-class children’s museum that’s worth a visit. If you don’t want to fight about whether they can go on the Ferris wheel, opt for the Museum of Science and Industry. It’s been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl, and it continues to delight with classic exhibits like Colleen Moore’s miniature fairy castle, an old-fashioned Main Street, and a massive model railroad.
Chicago is a great music town, but if you’re traveling with kids, odds are the shows you’ll want to see will run a little late. Two kid-friendly options are The Old Town School of Folk Music, it has great weekend programming around the city, and the Beat Kitchen’s Concerts for Kids, where the doors for kids shows open at noon.
the girls, at Millenium Park
Get Me Out of Here
By the time summer rolls around, we cannot wait to get outside. Some of our favorite spots include the outdoor Green City Market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings (adjacent to the Lincoln Park Zoo); Millenium Park, an architecturally stunning outdoor space with a sculpture-cum-water feature that kids love to frolic in; Oz Park, a kid-friendly play lot with wood climbing structures and sculptures of Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion; and Welles Park, for swimming and a free summer concert series.
Where Did I Get This? Chicago
Dose Market, founded by a foursome of Chicago’s most in-the-know editors, is a welcome addition to the shopping scene. Every month, they choose one Sunday to bring together the best of the Midwest in food, fashion, art, and home. Artisanal eats alongside beautiful necklaces on the other side of handcrafted speakers made from suitcases. I have yet to leave a Dose without something new to try, taste, or wear. Kids are welcome. Ice cream and other treats should keep them occupied while you shop. Some other favorite stores around town: Rudy’s Roundup, a modern day general store; P45, one of the first independent women’s boutiques still packed with great finds; The T-shirt Deli, custom tees that come packaged like a corned beef sandwich; Roslyn, a well-edited collection of up-and-coming designers with a dash of vintage; Ikram, a high-end speciality store whose new space also has a cafe (think ladies lunch, not kids in tow); LMNOP, a fanastic kids store that always feel fresh; Building Blocks, an intimate toy store where the shelves are stocked to the ceiling (literally) with playthings for kids.
At Oz Park
I’m Hungry. You?
Big Star is one of our favorite places to grab lunch with the girls. Be forewarned, this is not a kiddie restaurant, and hipsters may gawk at you and your littles. But the hipsters will get over themselves – eventually. Even a 2-year-old can appreciate the best guacamole in the city and a chip dipped in queso fundido. For pizza with the family in tow, try Piece. Yes, it’s a New Haven-style thin crust joint in a deep dish town, but worth every crisp bite. Sweet tooth? Don’t miss Margie’s Candies, an old-school candy store and ice cream shop that’s been around since the ’20s,Sweet Mandy B’s, the best butter cream-frosted cupcakes within city limits, and Floriole, an artisanal bakery a few doors down from Sweet Mandy B’s that strikes a balance between savory and sweet.
For some grown-ups-only fun, head to Avec. Three words of advice: bacon-wrapped dates. Don’t leave without ordering them. Avec doesn’t take reservations, so we like to go early, sit at the bar, and take our time, letting the server pair the plates with different wines. If you can steal away from the kids for only a cocktail, best to make it a really good one. The Violet Hour, a signless speakeasy in Wicker Park, is pure magic. A nondescript entryway gives way to velvet curtains, private tables, and drinks so delicious they’re dangerous (or so dangerous, they’re delicious). If you don’t mind a wait, try The Aviary, the latest from Grant Achatz, where chefs create drinks using at least 19 (!!!) kinds of ice. And by drinks, we mean science experiments meet cocktails.
If you’re flying into town and aren’t renting a car, Going Green Limousine is an incredibly kid-friendly car service with car seats and kids DVDs to keep tired travelers occupied on the last leg of their journey. And I just heard about a new sitter service, Sitter Studio, where all of the sitters are professional artists, so kiddos will be getting cultured while you get out and enjoy yourself.
Thank you Lindsey!