Bucktown is a hip, urban neighborhood located on the north side of the city. With its trendy boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants, it’s a great corner of the city to live in or visit for a day or evening of fun. Legendarily named after the goats raised in the area by Polish immigrants around the turn of the century, Bucktown is also host to some great festivals, including the Bucktown Arts Fest (August 27th and 28th, 2011) and the Tree and Garden Walk (July 9 and 10, 2011). Our family lives on the border of Bucktown, so here’s a listing of our favorite spots for kid-friendly fun.
Holstein Park and Pool
2200 North Oakley Ave.
Call for pool hours
Holstein Park is our “Country Club” in the city. This Chicago Park District pool and park is one of the best in Chicago. Come summertime, the pool is the place to be: designated family swim times and a shallow, separate baby pool make it especially kid-friendly. I appreciate swimming laps during the first and last hours of the day, when the pool is relatively quiet and divided into lanes. Best of all, this country club is free! Just bring your towel and a couple bucks for the guy who sells yummy tropical paletas, sliced mangoes and watermelon wedges at the play park beside the pool.
1960 North Western Avenue
Hours: Mon.–Sun. 9:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m.
Margie’s Candies is an old-fashioned Chicago ice cream and candy parlor. Its neon lights have lit up the corner of Armitage and Western for over 80 years; customers have included Al Capone and the Beatles. The GIGANTIC ice cream sundaes complete with a cookie wafer, whipped cream and of course, a cherry on top, are what leads to the long lines that snake outside on hot summer nights. My kids and I usually share a Turtle Sunday, but now that my son is ten (and a Margie’s fanatic), he takes on the Swiss Sunday (marshmallow fluff! chocolate fudge!) all on his own.
1739 North Damen Ave.
Hours: Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
When you first step inside, you really might mistake this boutique for a deli – but the former cold cut case contains a wide selection of unique t-shirts. Kids will have a blast creating their own personalized t-shirts. Use your own design or choose from the deli’s funny designs and custom lettering. In addition to t-shirts, you can also customize baby onesies, dog t-shirts and underwear – all of which make great, thoughtful gifts. The t-shirt deli also hosts design-a-t-shirt kid’s parties.
Cat and Mouse Game Store
2212 West Armitage Ave.
Hours: Tues. 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Wed. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Thur.–Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
This fantastic game and toy store is a kid’s delight – the perfect spot to pick out a birthday or holiday gift or simply a special treat. We can’t pass by Cat and Mouse without stopping in to take a look: you’ll find all sorts of quality games, puzzles and skill toys for all levels of players and ages and helpful staff to answer any questions or offer suggestions. Every Tuesday evening from 6:30-10 p.m., Cat and Mouse hosts its very own Game Night, introducing and teaching a new game to patrons each week. The store is also home to Chicago’s Yo-Yo Club and Dungeon and Dragons Encounter Night – new members always welcome!
1630 North Damen Ave.
Hours: Mon.-Wed.; Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thur. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Psycobaby is the hippest kids’ toy and clothing store around. You’ll find the funkiest kid’s clothing around here – and if you’re looking for a unique baby shower or baby/toddler birthday gift, this is the place to go. Babies and kids are of course welcomed here with open arms. A great range of in-store events include performances by local kid-friendly musicians and book signings and readings by children’s book authors – check www.psychobabyonline.com for updated event listings.