The clock is ticking down: Summer is almost over and nobody’s ready. Sure you may have completed your technical preparations. Maybe you have done all of your school supply shopping, picked out the perfect outfit for the first day of school and even finished that daunting list of summer readings. Before the kids return to school, bid that summer vacation the proper farewell, soaking up the last relaxing, sun-soaked days together.
There are some great ways to prepare for the school year without stressing yourself or your wallet. Avoid the cookie-cutter look of the big chain stores with these fun, funky area options sure to please any family.
This summer has left our family a little fried in more than the roast, toast and burn kind of way that 100-degree heat and full-on, daily sunshine leaves in its nightly sunset. Specifically, this summer has left me, the mother of two little boys, totally burned out by 10 a.m. after breaking up the tenth argument of the day.
Chicago boasts a variety of activities that include boat rides, gardens, outdoor concerts and nature museums perfect for any family this summer. Whether you live in Winnetka, Wheaton or Wicker Park, Chicago and the suburbs offer a little bit of everything parents need to get the kids out of the house when school lets out.
Nothing beats baseball as the ultimate pastime with hot dogs, a few cold ones for the grown ups and rooting on that favorite team. Here in Chicago there is never a shortage during baseball season, and it really kicks off with the Crosstown Classic. Whether you bleed Cubby blue and red or kick it on the south side with the Sox, if you are in Chicago, you are watching baseball. When that dreaded time between seasons strikes though, it’s time to take the family out to get that fix. Sure there are highlights and recaps, but true lovers of the game don’t just watch, they play and they need practice. Here in Chicago there are plenty of batting cages just waiting for you to hit that home run, but these are the best of the best.
If you’re as big of a (party pooper) stickler for nutrition as I am, or if you’re just simply looking to rotate in some fresh and delicious kid-enticing treats at, say, your Fourth of July party, you’ve landed on the right article (read: there will be no mention of anything marshmallows or fluff or those little black and white cookies that are chalked full of equal parts of sinful and good).
Pack the kids up and head to Chicago’s best toy stores for great deals, exciting new toys and hours of playtime.
Much to my boys’ dismay, we simply cannot spend every minute of daylight each day of summer vacation at the park, the pool or at the beach. There are days we all simply need to relax, and well, the house isn’t self-cleaning and dinner isn’t self-preparing, so even if we table the relaxing idea, there are days (even in the gloriousness of summer vacation) when we simply must be homebound in order to keep alive and partially clean. This is where the backyard comes in…
As the seasons change and temperatures rise, save the family from the heat waves and make a mad dash for the city’s best waterparks and pools. Whether splashing around, diving in or sliding down an outrageous labyrinth of tubes to land in a giant pool full of refreshment, there is no better way to cool off this summer than somewhere sunny and poolside. In Chicago, the best wet and wild amusement is flexible enough to fit any schedule. Stay the entire weekend or just a few hours, but be sure to hit the best places to swim in Chicago.
If you’re looking to introduce your 3 to 5 year old child to a structured setting of activities with teachers and other children before the stresses of kindergarten kick in, preschool is the way to go. More structured than traditional daycare, children learn to follow instructions, share and cooperate, and are introduced to the foundations of learning. Finding an enriching and affordable preschool is not easy, but Chicago’s top five make it a no brainer.
Fulfill your need for speed with an introduction to racing that’ll have you hooked on the first lap. These area go-kart facilities are the Chicago area’s best, from kart-exclusive race factories to fun parks for the whole family.
Improving your family’s health is no small task, though we all would agree it’s worthwhile. Making the transition is easiest by taking baby steps. Here’s a list of must-have staple summer items aimed at creating healthier, greener, more sustainable lifestyles.
Life is busy, and family life is busier! The more people in the family, the more it seems like the schedule never sleeps. Luckily for Chicago-area families, there are services and businesses geared toward lightening the load for families and generally making life a little bit easier. (And best of all, many of them are eco-friendly and green!)
If you have a budding young performer who dreams of taking center stage, sign that little singer, dancer, actor or comedian up for a summertime program that will offer theater, acting and performance arts classes near home. From Shakespeare to “Glee,” Chicago’s got theater covered.
Cold weather will soon be behind Chicago, and that means it’s finally time to get back outside with the family. Soak up a little sun and take the family out for a day of fun putting around a mini golf course. These, the best miniature golf courses in the windy city, offer everything from professional practice courses to views of the city’s stunning skyline.
Before a patch of grass has been chosen, fresh Earth tilled and little hands become eager to sink their fingers into the Midwestern soil, a successful gardener gives thought to the crops he or she wants to reap and sow. Of course, not all plants grow easily or are hardy enough to survive little feet stomping around the garden, so the family garden bed needs extra-special thought. Here’s a list of the best, kid-friendly plants to grow in our May 15th – late October Zone 5 Chicago growing season.
Just north of Chicago in Evanston, S.P.A.C.E. Is doing what urban dwellers thought impossible… bringing cool to the suburbs. S.P.A.C.E. stands for Society for the Preservation of Art and Culture in Evanston, and despite the lofty name, they do live up to their goal.
Creative and imaginative play often comes naturally from the ever-learning-and-exploring minds of children, so there’s oftentimes no need to spend a whole lot of money on costumes or accessories. Here’s a simple guide to gathering resources for a costume and scene-setting trunk that will keep your little ones’ play time running wild even if there’s a return to indoor play with Chicago weather featuring characteristic all-day rains that are typical for our Midwestern spring.
Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue is the place to shop ‘til you drop. From high-end boutiques to funky fashion hotspots, there’s a shop to satisfy everyone. Even kids will find a shop or two that meets their wildest shopping dreams. Here are my top seven picks for fun and kid-friendly shops on the Magnificent Mile.
Easter calls for a festive brunch complete with colorful eggs and all the sweet treats of the season. Brunch options abound in Chicago, but here are my suggestions for unique brunch offerings this upcoming Easter.