Where to spend a whole day in Chicago with two young kids?
October 19, 2019 7:25 PM   Subscribe

I have one day to entertain two kids ages 3 and 7 anywhere in Chicago. I'd like to visit a neighborhood rather than the center of the city where we've spent most of the time so far.

We've already done the Millenium park, the big playground next to it, Sky Ledge, the Shedd aquarium, Lincoln zoo, Children's museum, ate a deep dish and rode a pedicab. Oh, and had some flaming saganaki! Since I will be on my own and so much of what we`ve done has been in the Loop, I would like to take a train to a nice neigborhood with a good playground, someplace nice to eat that's kid-friendly and maybe a bookstore with a good kids section to browse. Does such a thing exist, Chicago natives?
posted by Shusha to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Museum of Science and Industry and Hyde Park!

I would like to take a train to a nice neigborhood

✅ Take the Metra Electric line from Millennium Station

with a good playground

✅ Bixler Park, just a few minutes walk from the museum

someplace nice to eat that's kid-friendly

✅ Medici, Salonica, Noodles Etc.

maybe a bookstore with a good kids section to browse

✅ 57th Street Books
posted by theodolite at 8:02 PM on October 19, 2019 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Yes! Hyde Park is a fantastic neighborhood to visit with kids. You can start with a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry, and then walk down 57th Street where there are restaurants and shops. 53rd Street is more commercial than 57th and has more restaurant and shopping options. Also, 57th Street Books has one of the most eclectic children's book selections that I've ever seen. The University of Chicago campus is just a couple of blocks away, in case your kids are interested in visiting. The inside of Harper Library is an impressive site, and there are several coffee shops on campus that have snacks and treats available. My husband and I were back in Hyde Park recently after a many, many years and we couldn't stop talking about how kid-friendly the neighborhood seemed to us.

The best way to get there by train is to take the Metra to 57th Street
posted by defreckled at 8:06 PM on October 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you do visit the UChicago campus and your kids are Harry Potter movie fans, Cathey Dining Commons looks a lot like Hogwarts Great Hall. It's open to the public.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 8:33 PM on October 19, 2019

Best answer: Pilsen also is a great alternative to Hyde Park. Fun ride on the pink line, colorful murals, great places to stop for tacos, and National Museum of Mexican Art, which is lots of fun.
posted by dis_integration at 8:45 PM on October 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Take the train north to Glencoe or Highland Park or Winnetka. Lots of kid friendly restaurants, playgrounds within walking distance of the train. They are suburban towns. Relatively quiet and relaxing for the day.
posted by AugustWest at 10:36 PM on October 19, 2019

Best answer: There is also a large park in Pilsen a block or so from the Mexican Art Museum called Harrison Park. There is a used book store Pilsen Community Books, that's within a Mile, but you may want to map it for distance.

Hyde Park is likely going to be nicer and feel more touristy. Pilsen is definately more of a neighborhood feel, small shops, less commercialized. There are ton of interesting things(the murals are amazing) but it would take a little research to know where to go and the significance of it.
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:27 AM on October 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Kohl Children's Museum used to be on Green Bay in Wilmette, accessible from Metra. I think it has moved, though, to I'm not sure where. As a kid, I liked it more than the children's museum at Navy Pier, but I was probably a bit too old for that when it opened.
posted by hoyland at 5:42 AM on October 20, 2019

It's still loop adjacent - MCA (free for kids I think now), water tower, Ghirardelli for sundaes and a great playground next to MCA has been a nice day. Water tower is mostly served by bus or a quick cab from Chicago blue line. There is a Barnes and Noble still in that area.

Edison Park on metra has a strip of restaurants next to the train, a good park, though no bookstore.
posted by typecloud at 6:24 AM on October 20, 2019

The Kohl Children's Museum moved to Glenview in the early 2000s. The new location is MUCH larger and has a lot of great stuff for 3-7 year olds. Might be worth the visit.

The museum is about a 15 minute walk from the North Glenview Metra. There's also a shopping center nearby and a very large children's playground. Here's a map of the area.

If the kids like trains, this could be a nice day trip away from the city with some planning.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:09 AM on October 20, 2019

If mummies and related things have any interest for the kids, the Oriental Institute in Hyde Park is a hidden gem that you can add to your Hyde Park adventure.

If the weather is decent, just walking around the U of C campus and Botany Pond in particular can be nice.
posted by Mid at 7:24 AM on October 20, 2019

Good neighborhood suggestions above. If you've a smartphone, the My Chi Parks app is surprisingly useful for finding public events on whatever day you'll be visiting. (The South Side Weekly paper can also be great for events, but doesn't really have an ordered list.)
posted by eotvos at 9:13 AM on October 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your answers. Just to close the loop on this, we ended up going to Pilsen and it was lovely - amazing art, great food, fun playground and we got a bunch of freshly baked sweet bread and cookies. Exactly what I was looking for! Museum of Mexican Art is great and free to boot, but the kids were too tuckered out to look at anything.
posted by Shusha at 1:55 PM on October 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

You can easily spend an entire day at The Museum of Science and Industry. We got there when it opened and left when it closed and my kids still wanted to stay. It's one of the best science museums in the U.S.
posted by Ostara at 10:27 PM on October 20, 2019

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