Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Move over Starbucks... Play Cafés abound around town

It's the latest trend - play cafés where kids can let out some energy and parents can relax with a cup of joe. For cold or rainy days, here are a few that you might enjoy.

Family Grounds Cafe
3652 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago
Family Grounds Cafe is a hip coffee shop with an area where kids can play, and a separate area where parents can relax an enjoy Intelligentsia espresso, coffee or tea, savory treats, and even free WiFi and free parking. The play area includes a Victorian playhouse, performance stage, train area, schoolhouse and more. Special classes and events take place on a regular basis - for example, violin classes, mom supprt groups, special musical performances and more.

You can reserve play time blocks ahead of time for 2-hour blocks on Mon-Fri at 9:00 or 11:00; or on Saturday at 8:30, 10:30 or 12:30. It's $5.95 for adults & children (crawlers/walkers) You can also drop in to play on Mondays - Fridays between 1-6pm, and the fee is $10.95 for the first child (crawlers & up), $5.95 sibling rate (crawlers & up), with non-crawling infants free with a $4 minimum purchase. Parents are free.

Little Beans Cafe
1809 W. Webster, Chicago
Parents can enjoy their coffee in the separate cafe, or at one of the tables inside the play area. The play area is a cute little village with a grocery story, service station, playhouse, school and more, with a corner for kids to cozy up with their favorite books, puzzles or games. The play area is large, so there's plenty of room for running around. Little Beans also offers a wide range of classes like Music & Movement, Mom & Tot Yoga, and even an upcoming Spanish class with Multilingual Chicago.

Little Beans is open Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm; Saturday 9am - 3pm, and Sunday 9am - 11am. A daily pass is $12 with a sibling pass for $7. Supervised Play is also available for $20 for up to 1.5 hours, M-F from 2-5pm.

Little Monkey Bizness
229 Rice Lake Square, Wheaton and 4700 Gilbert Ave, Suite 51, Western Springs
Little Monkey Bizness offers a full-service gourmet coffee bar, and a wide assortment of delicious and healthy choices of food. The seating area overlooks a 3,000+ square foot play area, where kids enjoy playhouses, dance floors, educational computer games, and a separate area for babies and crawlers. A separate art area provides activities during special art sessions and open art time.

Play hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 9am - 6pm; Tuesday and Friday 9am - 8pm; and Saturday and Sunday from 9am - noon. Open play admission is $7.50 per child over the age of 1, and $5.00 per child for crawlers between 6 months and 1 year. Infants and parents are free.

Nibbles Play Cafe
13 Huntington Lane, Wheeling
Parents will delight in the bistro-style menu and kids will enjoy a great selection of kids entrees after they've built up an appetite playing. Play areas at Nibbles include an area for non-walkers, trains and tracks, a construction zone, small toy area and arts and crafts. Nibbles also has hosts fun family events on a regular basis, with concerts, storytelling, and other themed activities.

Hours are 9:30am-8:00pm weekdays and 9:30-3:00 on weekends. Admission is $5 for kids age 1-7, with additional siblings $3.00. Older children and adults are free.

Pickle's Playroom
2315 W. Lawrence Ave, Chicago
Pickle's Playroom opened its doors just about a month ago, so it's the newest play cafe to hit Chicago. The cafe offers Metropolis brand coffee and organic baked goods from local favorite Bleeding Heart Bakery, plus a lunch menu with basic kids fare and a few selections for the grownups. The play area includes a kiddie rock climbing wall, factory control room, large tunnel slide, grocery store, towering dollhouse, and a separate area for crawlers/tiny tots. Classes and events are said to be coming soon. There's also a kids' hair salon on site, so for an additional $20, your little one can walk out with a new 'do.

Open play is $12, and siblings are $9, with multi-visit and monthly passes available. Hours are Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm; Saturday 9am - 3pm; Sunday 10am - 3pm.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Take me out to the ballgame - in Chicago!

Baseball season is in full swing, and whether you cheer for the Cubs or the White Sox, there's plenty of family fun to be had at both of Chicago's stadiums.

Chicago Cubs Family Days/Promotions:
  • Tuesday, August 9: Cubs Plush Bear (First 5,000 children 13 & younger)
  • Friday, September 2: American Girl Doll-sized Cubs Apparel (First 4,000 children 14 & younger)
Click here for the Cub's entire schedule of promotions, giveaways, special days, and links to purchase tickets.

Chicago White Sox Family Days/Promotions:
  • Sunday, April 17: Kids Day-Celebration of spring
  • Sunday, May 1: Mother Son Day
  • Sunday, May 22: Kids Day-Sox Expo
  • Sunday, June 5: White Sox Kid's Jersey Giveaway
  • Sunday, June 12: Father Daughter Day
  • Sunday, June 26: Kids Day-Southpaw's Birthday
  • Sunday, July 10: Kids Day-Wild about the Sox
  • Sunday, August 21: Kids Day-Back to School Carnival
Click here for the White Sox's entire schedule of promotions, giveaways, special days, and links to purchase tickets.

Tips for Enjoying Your Baseball Outing

Once you've picked a date and are ready to go, here are some tips to help your family enjoy the game:

  • Get the whole family into some team colors and team gear!
  • Bring a baseball glove - you never know when a fly ball could head your way!
  • Bring the camera for family photos - you'll always remember the big day.
  • Enjoy some hotdogs, pizza, popcorn, peanuts and more - it's a baseball tradition. And you can bring your own bottled water at long as it's sealed.
  • Arrive early to watch team batting practice and warm ups - both parks open 2 hours before the game starts. Bring a permanent marker, something to write on, and ask for autographs!
  • Protect yourself from the sun! Bring sun block, hats, and sunglasses.
  • Stay through the 7th inning so you can sing "take me out to the ballgame."
  • Find a fun spot to eat before or after the game.
Cubs Game Dining Suggestions:

Vines on Clark
3554 N Clark Street, Chicago, (773) 327-8572
Located just 1/2 block from Wrigley, Vines has a spacious dining area with an outdoor patio. Options include sandwiches, salads, wraps, burgers, & pizza, and there are brunch options for early games.

Goose Island Brewpub
3535 N Clark St., Chicago, (773) 832-9040
This kid friendly pub has patio seating, is smoke free, and offers American traditional food. It's a Chicago landmark, so it can be part of your family Chicago experience.

Pat's Pizza
2679 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, (773) 248-0168
Pat's Pizza is known for their thin crust pizza and is only a short walk from Wrigley Field.

Ann Sather Café
3416 N Southport Ave., Chicago, (773) 404-4475
This famous local spot has great breakfast and brunch options ranging from omelettes to pancakes to french toast.

Sox Game Dining Suggestions:

Connie's Pizza
2373 S. Archer Avenue Chicago, IL, 60616, (312) 326-3443
A few miles from US Cellular field, their pizza is delicious and easy to split among the family. Picky eaters will easily find something on this Italian menu that will make them happy too!

Bongo Room
1152 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, (312) 291-0100
Located in the South Loop, this restaurant has great breakfast and brunch menus as well as a large lunch menu.

Leona's Restaurant
1419 W Taylor St., Chicago, (312) 850-2222
Leona's is a family friendly spot in Little Italy, not too far from Cellular Field. Pizzas, pastas and sandwiches will keep the whole family happy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chicagoland Easter Event Highlights

The Easter Bunny is quite busy this month, making appearances all over town. ChicagoKids.com has put together a list of many Easter events taking place in Chicago and the suburbs, and here are some highlights below.

Breakfast with the Bunny at Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield
April 9, 10, 17 and 23
An all-you-can-eat breakfast with a special appearance from Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, with opportunities for photos and visit from some of Children’s Zoo’s furry critters. Seatings at 9am and 11am. $38 for adults and $26.50 for children 3-11. Registration required.

Doggie Easter Egg Hunt at Horner Park, Chicago
April 16
Meet the Easter Bunny and enjoy a family-friendly event that includes a Doggie egg hunt, bonnet parade, obstacle course, raffle. 10:00am - 12:00pm. $5 per dog.

Easter Eggstravaganza at Chase Park, Chicago
April 16
Kids will experience an unforgettable time with friends and the Bunny! Event includes an egg hunt, craft project, face painting, entertainment, goodie bag, and more. 10:00am - 12:00pm. Free.

Soldier Field Spring Egg-Stravaganza, Chicago
April 17
Come out for the largest candy grab in the city! The stadium opens at 9am for family friendly activities including face painters, fun inflatables, balloon artists, and a Radio Disney Show. At 10am the first group of kids can collect all the goodies they can on the field. Free.

Egg Hunt at Frontier Sports Complex, Naperville
April 23
A colorful egg hunt and a special visit from the Easter Bunny. The egg hunt begins at 10:00 a.m. sharp. Only children age 2 or younger may have help from a parent. Bring a donation of non-perishable food items for the Jaycees. Ages 1-8. Free.

Visit our Easter Highlights page to find more events.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Earth Day Celebrations in April

It's April, and while Earth Day is still a few weeks away, there are plenty of events taking place throughout the month of April to celebrate. We've compiled a list of events on our web site - click here to view - and here are some highlights:

April 16
Green Metropolis Fair at Irish American Heritage Center
Hands-on family-friendly activities with farm animals, composting, showings of Dirt! The Movie & Vanishing of the Bees, a retail market, a food market, presentations and more. 10am-4pm. All ages. Bring a non-perishable food donation for free entry!

April 23
11th Annual Earth Day at North Pond Nature Sanctuary
Bring the whole family and spend a day making a difference and helping clean up and beautify the sanctuary. Registration required. 10 a.m. to Noon. Ages 12 and up. Free!

April 23
Party for the Planet at Brookfield Zoo
This special day highlights polar bears and the effects climate change has on them. Tour the Eco Expo, record your wish for the planet, ride on the "Poop Tram" and enjoy a variety of family entertainment. 11am - 4pm. All ages. Regular admission applies.

April 23
Earth Day Festival at Armstrong Park in Carol Stream
Enjoy Earth Day Festival & Farmers’ market, with an annual eco-fest. Volunteer for the park clean up, explore the farmers market or get hands on with eco-friendly gadgets, rain barrel workshops, Recycle Kids Craft Corner and more. 9am - 1pm. All ages. Free!

April 30
REI Earth Day Service Project at Heller Nature Center
A great project for the whole family! Help by bringing your own tools: shovels, bow rakes and wheelbarrows. Dress for the weather and prepare to get dirty! Volunteers receive a free T-shirt and other giveaways while supplies last. 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. All ages. Free!

April 30
Green and Growing Fair at Garfield Park Conservatory
The fair, sponsored by GreenNet, features a variety of vendors, workshops, demonstrations, and family activities to get your rusty green thumb up and running. Gather resources for your own garden, and participate in family take home planting activities. All ages. 10am - 2pm. Free!

View more Earth Day events and activities on the ChicagoKids.com web site.