Friday, July 29, 2016

Playground: Margate Park

Though this playground doesn't appear on recent "best of" lists for Chicago - it sneaked it's way into our top 10!  The Margate Park Playground was larger than I expected with a lot of structures to climb and slide.

Though it has a bit of wear and tear, it has many more pros: two robust climbing/sliding/swinging structures, toddler area, bathrooms (when fieldhouse is open), water fountain, seating, and tables.

  • Parking (paid) available at the fieldhouse, playground is adjacent.
  • The playground is near lakefront paths and a lot of open grassy areas.
  • The Margate Park neighborhood is so picturesque, we enjoyed walking around.

Cost Savings:
Street parking is free, if you can find it. Otherwise, the playground has a small lot at the fieldhouse (fee).

Margate Park, tucked in Uptown
We drove, as it is just off of Lake Shore Drive (Lawrence exit).  The Lawrence exit has a bridge with a "tent community" -- about 25 homeless people -- and while it was unexpected and startling, we felt completely safe.

Kid's Jury: 5 stars
This park was great. I promised the boys we would be back.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Activity: Museum of Science and Industry

Our trip to the Museum of Science+Industry was a huge hit.
We were there 4 hours and could have stayed much longer because there was still so much to experience.

Stops Today:
Level 1
  • The Idea Factory - great for kids and now that the museum rotates groups in and out, we are no longer stuck there all day (!!!).  
  • Farm Tech - we just get into the two large tractors and move on.
  • U-505 Submarine - they have replicas of the living quarters and periscope
  • Circus - has some fun eye spy activities in the wall.
  • Henry Crown Space Center - there are rovers to experiment with and their gift shop has some awesome toys. Watched the National Parks movie ($). Was a bit long, and the kids didn't love it.
Level 2
  • Great Train Story - This is a must stop for our boys. City scape with Freight, Amtrak, Metra, and El trains - bonus for finding the underground Chicago Red Line stop!
  • Mirror Maze - Great! We had a great time getting lost and finding our way out.
  • Genetics - baby chicks! Always enjoy this quick stop.
  • Science Storms - Can see an avalanche, tsunami, tornado and more
- Go early to maximize your time, as the museum can get incredibly packed
- The MSI website is great, giving interesting information for each exhibit to share with your kids.

Cost Savings:
After a few paid experiences, most are not necessary nor ideal for kids. There is so much to see and do, the paid exhibits can take away from the hidden treasures.

Hyde Park
Parking is $22, but if you arrive in the morning you can find free street parking (Parknav App).

Kid's Jury: 5 stars
It's been a few days and the kids are still talking about the museum.  We loved it!

There is still so much to see (whispering wall and toy maker 3000, to name a few), we are definitely going back

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Playground: Margaret Donahue

The Margaret Donahue playground is fantastic! It has a great water area with a shower tower, water activity tables, and wall spouts.  My kids spent a majority of their time in the water (it is a Chicago summer, after all) and dabbled on the equipment.

The park was well thought out as it is fully fenced in, provides a lot of seating and shaded snack tables, has an open space  for running around, AND areas for bikes & stroller parking!

Great neighborhood: retail stores and restaurants abound.
- Coax kids to wear shoes on the equipment if the water feature is on (making things slippery)
- Southport El Stop has a quaint, enjoyable farmer's market: check here for dates and times.

Cost Savings:
Bonus: area restaurants offer free kids' meals: Crosby's Kitchen or The Butcher's Tap, to name a few.

Recommend the KidMealDeal App for kid meal deals in your area, as the above may be outdated.

Lakeview / Southport Corridor
Southport Brown Line stop is so close, I highly recommend. My boys loved being on the train.

Kid's Jury: 4.5 stars
As the playground came into view, my 5 year old excitedly called out: "it looks like the city!"

It is a beautiful playground, with the standout features being the water area and city-scape view. The equipment was good, but slippery when wet (which is always, when the water is turned on). We saw many kids (including mine) injured as a result.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Playground: Ward (Aaron Montgomery) Park

Ward Park is in a serene area nestled along the river, with a beautiful view of the city.  It has a lot of options to play on: rolling hills, monkey bars, swings, slides, teeter-totters, spinning & climbing structures, and a water feature.

- Great outdoor seating with shade umbrellas
- Dog park nearby
- Next to Erie Cafe, which has outdoor seating along the river.
- There was a little hot dog stand on the corner which provided our dinner and everyone loved sitting on a small hill with our feet in the grass.

Cost Savings:

River North
- El Stops: Chicago Brown/Purple line
- There was parking adjacent to the park, which it looked like a lot of patrons used.  Not sure on cost.

Kid's Jury: 5 stars
Great park, great location.