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In the Women’s Web ‘Travel The World With Kids’ series, we talk to mums from all over the globe who are interested in exploring their backyard attractions with their tiny tots! We hope you find them useful, if someday you choose to visit their part of the world. Presented in Q&A format, this one is with Neera from Chicago who blogs about her travel tales at Our Almost Everyday Blog
Chicago, the ‘windy city’ is one of America’s most famous cities. The hub of the Midwest, Chicago has a lot of attractive kid-friendly activities, says Neera. Let’s talk to her!
Hello Neera! Do tell us a little about yourself.
I am a stay at home mom to two adorable kids. Stay at home at first out of no choice but now by my own choice and loving it. We love to wonder, imagine, create, travel and explore and do much more, having a lot of fun in the process, not to mention learn while it’s all fun.
What are your suggestions for parents visiting Chicago with young kids ?
Chicago is a fabulous city with lots to offer to do/see with kids. It has some of the best museums, great theater watching opportunities for kids if you are visiting in extreme weather and great beaches, water parks and zoos during fair weather.
Winter time activities include:
– Adler Planetarium
– Shedd Aquarium
– Field Museum
– The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
– Museum of Science and Industry
– Garfield Park Conservatory (Free!)
– Emerald City Theater Productions for kids – Performances at Apollo Theater
– Victoria Biograph Theater
– Children’s Museum at Navy Pier (Free on Thursday evenings)
– Kohl’s Children Museum in Glenview
– Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg
Actually all the museums mentioned here are awesome and can be done on summer days too!
Summer time activities/things to do:
– Beaches along Lake Michigan – our favorite isFosterAveBeach
– Millennium Park – has a series of concerts for kids and adults all through summer
– Navy Pier – live music entertainment almost throughout the day, several boat tours, free trolley to downtown Chicago, Pepsi Skyline Stage
– Lincoln Park Zoo (Free! You pay for parking)
– Brookfield Zoo
– Santa’s Village AZOOsment Park
– Chicago Botanic Garden (Free entry but parking is $20 per vehicle. There’s a Metra parking a mile from the Botanic Garden where parking is $1.50 if you are willing to walk the mile.)
– Morton Arboretum
– Exploring Chicago on foot and the CTA bus and trains in the city, the daily pass for which comes at a very reasonable price.
What have been some of your favourite outings in Chicago with your kids?
We do a lot of traveling in the summers and are thrilled to find new places to go to almost every weekend without any repetitions. Foster Ave Beach on Lake Michigan was a hit with us as also with all the friends we recommended it to. As opposed to the more popular beaches which come with a price tag (either entry or parking), this one was just $1 an hour for parking and not overly crowded.
Chicago Botanic Garden was another hit with the kids primarily because of the Model Railroad Garden. One can walk through the outdoor exhibition and pass by familiar miniature American landmarks. All while mini trains crisscross on tracks past the landmarks. There are mini waterfalls, bridges, old country homes and mini landscapes. I have written about both the above outings here.
Santa’s Village AZOOsment park which is a small zoo and a small amusement park all rolled into one, is especially great for younger kids because it’s not a very big area – making it easier for younger kids to enjoy without getting too tired. There is a small petting zoo where the kids love to pet lambs and meet llamas. And an aviary where the kids can go inside the netted area and watch the birds up close. Many of the rides are geared towards 2-7 year old kids.
Garfield Park Conservatory is a must visit for nature lovers or in my opinion for all kids. They have great DIY activities going on every weekend every 15 minutes and maintenance of the absolutely great variety of plants requiring different growing conditions is awesome. To top it all, it’s free and open 365 days a year. A gem in ways more than one!
If you give a Cat a Cupcake at Apollo Theater, Chicago. We also loved exploring the city on foot, eating at the local eateries, taking the CTA train to China Town. We parked our car at Navy Pier and first spent some time there. Then we took the free trolley to the closest CTA station at Union Square and traveled back and forth with no particular agenda in mind other than the fact that ‘we wanted to have fun!’
For tourists visiting Chicago for the first time, do you have any particular tips?
If you are renting a car, be very particular about following the rules – completely stopping at stop signs, stopping before making a free right turn on red, returning at the right time at the parking meter – for if you make a mistake, you can be sure you’ll be fined for it!
Downtown Chicago is extremely happening and thus expensive in terms of accommodation. There are great suburbs within a 20 mile radius where you’ll get much better rooms for a much cheaper price. Even if you rent a car, take it to the city and pay for parking for one whole day at a parking lot, the whole deal comes out to be cheaper. If you do decide to stay in the city, I feel that you can do without a car because you’ll be paying for parking separately and not even using the car to go around in the city.
Are there any particular restaurants in Chicago that you think kids will enjoy?
Oh how much Mc Donalds rules! I don’t have to tell a parent that! The indoor play area is charming if you don’t go there too often. If your child is interested in trying out new cuisines, yelp.com is your best bet when looking for a specific cuisine in an area. We have particularly enjoyed Chinese/Korean at Moon Wok in Glenview where the kids like to put their own veggies in noodles/rice, add the interesting sauces and then give it to the chef to cook!
Are there any particular shopping areas in Chicago that you think kids will enjoy?
Well to be honest, ours don’t! But I recently got to know about a new kids’ area – Yu Kids Island at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg.
Any kid-friendly day trips out from your city?
Though we haven’t been there ourselves, Lake Geneva is a good one day trip for some moderate water sports to be enjoyed in the lake with the kids.
Devil’s Lake State Park which is about 2-1/2 hours drive is a beautiful state park and has trails which can be easily hiked with kids for beautiful views of the lake and for just enjoying the serenity and marveling at Mother Nature.
Thank you Neera!
*Photo credit: TBoard (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License)
Previous Interviews In The ‘Travel With Kids’ Series:
Jo-Lynne from Philadelphia
Tiffany from Frankfurt
Subha from Zurich
Shalini from Norway
Nora from Morocco
Laylah from Riyadh
Lisa from Dubai
Sarah from New Zealand
Toni from Manila
Maid In Malaysia from Kuala Lumpur
Uma from Chennai
The Mad Momma from Delhi
Lakshmi from Hyderabad
Sunayana from Kolkata
Sunita from Pune
Anuradha from Mumbai
Artnavy from Bengaluru
Leonny from Singapore
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