Friday, May 29, 2009

Monday 6/15 - Sunday 6/21

I hope everyone had a chance to hit the Kids Square at Ribfest. Although it was crowded, it was the best kiddie festival I've been to this summer. While not as extensive, Andersonville's Midsommarfest had an entertaining family stage and it was certainly easier to walk with a stroller and fill up on funnel cakes and $5 lemonades. All in all, a fantastic festival weekend.

Thought of the Week: In the Closet with Gymbo
I want to hate it. I want to ruthlessly make fun of it. I want snicker behind the backs of all my friends that go there. But I can't. I'm an in-the-closet-Gymboree-fan (ITCGF). I remember our first time. I was completely freaked out by the overly-bubbly, constantly crooning girls whose previous ambitions of becoming Broadway singers had died a slow death. I was appalled by the shameless Gymboree self-promotion (the word Gymboree incorporated into every song, every game, emblazoned on every toy and book they sell). After singing some Gymboree version of "There are bubbles in the air" ending inevitably with " at Gym-boar-eeee" followed by (readers, please start humming We Will, We Will, ROCK YOU) toddlers chanting "We Want, We Want, Gym-BO" until the creepy clown made his way out of the closet, I figured that this was our first and last time. So what sucked me in? Of course my son loved it so I figured I could suck it up for a one month trial period. What has kept me coming back? I just can't deny how great their Summer Passport program is. From mid-May until mid-August, members can come to as many classes they want as many times as they want. You pay for one class, you can go to a zillion of them. And you don't have to call ahead of time. You just show up! The weather in this town has absolutely sucked over the last few weeks and as a result, my child went to five Gymboree classes last week. One morning he went to an art class, it was still raining, so he stayed for the play class. Still raining later that afternoon, back for open gym. So, Gymbo and I are officially out of the closet. I will sing their cheesy songs loud and proud (unfortunately my son does as well even when we are out of the colorful confines). If you sign up for one class this summer, I swear it is the best thing going.
And no, Gymboree doesn't pay me to endorse their classes. I swear, I'm just a closet fan like so many others.


Shedd Aquarium Free Days: Mon-Fri this week are free admission days at the aquarium. It is a great time to hit the Shedd as the $100 million renovation project was just completed in May. Included in the rehab is the new Polar Play Zone. This exhibit, which was designed with 2- to 7-year-olds in mind, allows kids to explore the North and South Poles through touch pools, dress-up areas, a playscape, and a submarine. Kids can climb rocks and crawl through caves while learning about the Poles. There is a also a new food court and an lakefront terrace where visitors can enjoy lunch. Although general admission is free this week, you'll still pay to see the Wild Reef portion of the museum.
Where: 1200 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago
When: Mon-Sun 9a-6p • Free days this week are Mon-Fri

Toddlers, Tunes, and Turtles: this Park District program will make its way to various Chicago parks throughout the summer. Kids will be able to interact with animals, participate in nature-themed art projects, and listen to live performances by artists from Old Town School of Folk Music. FREE.
Where: Gompers Park • 4222 W Foster Ave
When: Wednesday • 5p-7p

Ralph's World Performs at Kohl: You could certainly see worse live kiddie-music shows than Ralph's World (I would rather have a 40 hour labor sans epidural than see a Doodlebops live). On the plus side, this performance is outdoors in the newly renovated Habitat Park at the Children's Museum. Get there early so that you have time to explore the slate water-painting wall, butterfly garden, sensory garden, and climbing structures. There is also an Imagination Hut allowing kids to play in a fort-like environment full of tunnels, passages, and hiding places. Its a bit of a bummer that Kohl is not letting concert goers to pack a picnic like Ravinia does. Parents, prepare to hide your contraband wine bottles in the bottom of the diaper bag. Tickets are $25 per person for the lawn and include admission to the museum and all its exhibits.
Where: Kohl Children's Museum • 2100 Patriot Blvd
When: Opening band at 5:30p • Ralph's World at 6:30p

Super Zoo Picnic: This event is for Lincoln Park Zoo members only. Not a member? Why not become one now so that you can take your kids to this fun Friday night event. If you are an avid reader of Windy City Tot, you know that I'm a huge fan of the Zoo membership. Yes, Lincoln Park Zoo is free, but membership has its privileges. The free parking in the Zoo parking lot is reason enough (not to mention that membership is tax deductible). Use the parking lot when you go to the Green City Market, the Nature Museum, the beach, the LP fest listed below, etc. But I digress. The Zoo Picnic will have a meet and greet with mascots such as Clifford and Curious George, an inflatable obstacle course, train rides, crafts, dancing, and interaction with animals.
Where: Lincoln Park Zoo • 2200 N Canon Drive, Chicago
When: Fri 6:30p-9p

Naper Days Festival: Naperville goes all out for this three day annual fest. It is a festival dream come true for the wee-ones as there will be a rock climbing wall, inflatables, slides, a petting zoo, trolley rides, a train, plus performances by Scribblemonster and many other children's bands. Parents can rock out to The Smithereens and Matthew Sweet. Bring a blanket or chairs for the big bands. The main stage is in the grass so you will be able to chill out on the lawn and enjoy.
Where: Naper Settlement • 523 S Webster Street, Naperville
When: Fri 5p-10p • Sat 11a-10p • Sun 11a-6p

Taste of Randolph: I was hesitant to list this fest as a family friendly event. Really, it is not. The only reason to take your kids to this fest is on Sunday the Main Stage area turns into a Baby Loves Disco party. If you are bringing the strollers and the little ones, I recommend going for this show and then getting the hell out of there. Or bring the grandparents/aunts/uncles who don't care about good food and good music and are willing to take your kids home while you stay to enjoy some sushi, beer, and The Hold Steady on Sunday night.
Where: Randolph Street between Racine and Peoria Streets, Chicago
When: Fri 5p-11p • Sat 2p-11p • Sun 2p-10p

Chicago Summerfest Lincoln Park Yes, this festival includes the same cover bands you've already seen at almost every festival thus far this year. But on the plus side, I love a street fest which is actually a park fest (festival is in the park near Green City Market) and the kids' entertainment area looks like it is well done. Unless you have the zoo membership which includes parking (my favorite tax deductible membership), make sure to ride your bike or take public transportation. You'll never find a parking spot for this fest. Suggested $5 donation per person.
Where: 2045 N Lincoln Park West
When: Sat 12n-10p • Sun 12n-9p

Children's Memorial Hospital Race for the Kids: The whole family can get some exercise while raising money for Children's Memorial race along the lake. Participants can enjoy food, beverages, live music, and entertainment after the event. Deadline for registration is Tuesday at noon. Click on the link above to register.
Where: Soldier Field • 1410 S Museum Campus Drive, Chicago
When: Race starts promptly at 8a on Sat

Dairy Breakfast and Farm Day: June is Dairy Month (who knew?) so don't wait until it is time to pick pumpkins and apples to visit a local farm! Hit Wagner Farm for a hardy farm breakfast, hay rides, tours, milking demos, and more. $10 for adults and $5 for children 2-10.
Where: Wagner Farm • 1510 Wagner Road, Glenview
When: Sat 8a-1p

Family Day at Arlington Racecourse: Treat dad to a day at the races for Father's Day. Every Sunday is Family Day at the tracks featuring a petting zoo and pony rides plus a different theme each week. The theme this Sunday Father's Day Crafts. Let the kiddies enjoy the family area while dad gets to wager on the ponies.
Where: 2200 W. Euclid Ave, Arlington Heights
: Sundays 11a-6p


The Alder Planetarium The Planetarium is currently showing One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure in which Big Bird, Elmo, and a friend from China, discover fun facts about the stars, planets, sun and moon. Weekday shows are at 1p and 2:30p and weekend shows are 12n and 3p. The cost of entry plus the show is $19 for adults and $15 for kids ages 3-14.
Where: 1300 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago.
When: Mon-Fri 10a-4p • Sat-Sun 10a-4:30p

Barnes and Noble Story Time: Are you looking for a free activity for a rainy day? You can enjoy a latte while your kids enjoy story time at one of the Barnes and Noble city locations. 2-3 times a week the city locations offers a story time activity for children ages 0-3 years.
Where: Webster Place (1441 W. Webster) or State and Elm (1130 N. State)
When: Webster- Every Mon, Tues, Thurs 10am / State- Every Mon & Sat 10am

Brookfield Zoo: In the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit, the Brookfield Zoo has created a Jurassic Park experience minus all the scary stuff. Kids can touch and control the movement of life-sized dinosaurs along a wooded path in an outdoor forest setting. The exhibit also features a dig site that allows visitors to find replica dinosaur fossils. General zoo admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children 3-11. Admission for Dinosaurs Alive! is an additional $5 for adults and $3 for children 3-11. The exhibit runs through October.

Chicago Botanic Garden -Model Railroad Garden: Starting this week, the Botanic Garden is featuring an area devoted to model trains. Seventeen trains travel across bridges, through tunnels, and around various American landmarks in a miniature garden setting. Admission to the Botanic Garden is free but there is a $20 per car parking fee. There is an additional fee of $5 for adults and $3 for kids for the Railroad exhibit.
Where: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
When: Daily 5/9-10/25 • 10a-8p

Chicago Children's Museum: The first Sunday of the month is always a free day at the Children's Museum and a perfect time to check out the new Block Party exhibit. Block Party is a kids-sized replica of Chicago's neighborhood festivals. Kids will have the chance to get on stage to perform in a rock band, prepare meals in food booths for the festival goers, use the cash registers, or just chill out on the lawn for some people watching and live music.
Where: Navy Pier • 700 E. Grand Ave, Chicago
When: M-W/F-Sun 10a-5p and Th 10a-8p

Garfield Park Conservatory: Every Wednesday through the fall is Little Green Thumb Wednesdays at the conservatory. Little gardeners can unite to dig in the soil, plant pretend veggies, play with wheel barrels, and other gardening activities. No registration required. FREE!
Where: 300 N. Central Park Avenue, Chicago • Outside in the Demonstration Garden (moves indoors to the Children's Garden in bad weather)
When: Every Wednesday through 10/28 • 3p-6p

Green City Market: Visit Chicago's largest Farmer's Market in the heart of Lincoln Park every Wed and Sat through October 31st. Be sure to stop by the Growing Home booth for your organic produce. My son loves to run around the park and boogie to the live music while I shop for our groceries.
Tip: if you are not a zoo member, consider becoming one. why would i pay to join a free zoo, you ask? zoo membership gives you free parking adjacent to the zoo and a short walk to the farmer's market (as well as a short walk to the nature museum, the beach, etc). plus zoo membership is tax deductible. we usually get an early start on saturday mornings and hit the farmer's market and then make a stop at the zoo. this makes for a full morning of outdoor activities that the entire family can enjoy!
Where: The south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton.
When: Every Wednesday and Saturday 7a-1p

The Kids' Table offers cooking classes for 2-3 year olds almost every day of the week. Classes for 4-6 year olds, 7-10 year olds, and 11-16 year olds are offered several days a week as well. The classes for toddlers and kids are one hour and cost $25. The classes for teens are 1.5 hours and are $110 for a series of four. 2337 W. North Avenue.

Museum of Science and Industry: Bring your kids to see the Harry Potter exhibit, the Green Home exhibit, and to see live science experiments. June through October the museum will host a free farmers market on the first and third Fridays of the month from 7a-2p. The museum will always have free admission on farmers market Fridays. Otherwise, general admission is $13 for adults and $9 for kids ages 3-11.
Where: 5700 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago
When: Mon-Sat 9:30a-5:3op / Sun 11a-5:30p

The Pig Pen: Pig Pen is half clothing store and half arts and crafts studio. While you shop for locally made, organic, and gently used children's clothes and accessories, your kids will paint, glue, glitter, sticker, and stamp their little hearts out. Kids under age 4 can spend an hour crafting for $5 while kids 4 and older are $10 for an hour. Tara, Pig Pen's owner, throws a great birthday party at a great price.
Where: 1536 W. Jarvis • Rogers Park
When: Tue-Sat 10a-5p / Sun 10a-3p

Pump It Up: when it is too hot or cold to play outside, Pump It Up offers indoor play in Chicago and the suburbs. Kids can jump, slide, and climb on giant inflatables during Pop-in Playtime on the weekdays. The city location also has a separate area designed for little kids age 1-4. Pop-in playtime is $8 -$10 for 1.5 hours. Hit their website for hours and the address of the location nearest you. Locations include: Chicago, Glenview, Elmhurst, and Vernon Hills. Don't forget socks!

Tots on Tuesdays at the Shedd: Every Tuesday the Shedd Aquarium offers activities devoted to toddlers and pre-schoolers. There are story times, crafts, animal touch programs, videos and costumed characters.
Where: The Shedd Aquarium • 1200 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago
When: Tuesdays • 9a-5p

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