Saturday, October 15, 2016

Annual Event: Open House Chicago

Embarrassed to admit, after living in Chicago for over 1.5 decades, this is the first year I learned of the Chicago Architectural Foundation's ("CAF") Open House Chicago.

It is an annual event in the city, taking place over 2 days with 200 buildings participating.  No matter what neighborhood you are in, or if you want to see a new one - there are options for you:  The buildings this year were as far North as Northwestern University (Evanston), West for Frank Lloyd Wright Homes (Oak Park), and South for WGN Flag & Decorating (South Shore).

The CAF event website is spectacular, giving a map of all the locations and the neighboring Divvy stations if you prefer to bike around in order to squeeze in more sites.

With the kids in tow, we focused on locations more with their attention span in mind:

  • Jay Pritzker Pavilion - cool photo op
  • Chicago Architectural Foundation - mini Chicago replica in the main lobby 
  • LondonHouse - rooftop with views of the river and lake
  • Marquee at Block 37 - nice rooftop views 
  • Chicago Cultural Museum and Chic-fil-A - both not on the official tour, but hey, we love em. 
Tomorrow we are targeting McCormick Place Rooftop Farm, GEMS World Academy, and Zap Props

  • A few locations are incredibly popular, so the long lines were a deterrent (AON is an example). Though we skipped those, you can purchase a CAF membership to gain priority access and skip the lines.  Most locations were no issue.
  • Some locations have docents or activities
  • The kids loved the rooftops and the mini city replication

Cost Savings:

Something in essentially every neighborhood!  Get out there!!

Kid's Jury: 5 stars
The kids' attention span is a little short, so we have to pace ourselves.  I am already counting the days until this comes around again next year!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Playground: Horner Park

Horner Park has been recently renovated and it is gorgeous.

The climbing options are great, and ones we had never seen before.  As the park was (literally) crawling with families, it was hard to get photos.  Just know you need to find your way to this park if your kids like climbing, tunnels, twists, bridges, slides, merry-go-rounds, or small zip lines!


  • The fieldhouse is next to the playground, so bathrooms are only a few steps away.
  • Playground has a sitting zipline feature - kids were lined up to ride
  • Small toddler area available (see below)
  • Other amenities: tennis, running path, baseball fields, fieldhouse

Cost Savings: Free!

Albany Park at Montrose & California
We drove as parking is plentiful along the street and there is a parking lot (free).

Kid's Jury: 5 stars
SO Great.  Although it isn't too close, we will definitely be coming back!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Activity: Home Depot Kids Workshop

This adventure day is most likely an option for you, no matter where you live!

The Home Depot Kids Workshop is offered at each* of their stores and has continued to impress this family!

On the first Saturday of the month, Home Depot provides a DIY kit for each child with the instructions and tools - typically involves wood glue, hammer, stickers, and paint. You take home the project, Home Depot apron, pin memento, and probably a little paint on your hands (please note the photo above where the table and hammer appear to have seen better, cleaner days).


  • No registration or sign up required - the workshop is available anytime between 9 am - noon.
  • Workshop is located in the store (at the Chicago South Loop, it is in the lumber aisle)
  • Depending on your child's skill level, man-on-man may work best to ensure no one is hammering their finger (or most likely their sibling's finger)
  • Speaking of hammers - recommend using the floor to hammer the nails instead of the provided tables (our family is not a handy people, so this may be obvious to most).  The ground is concrete, so hammering works a lot better on the floor.

Cost Savings:
And you receive a Home Depot apron on your first visit, and it doesn't stop there - little project specific memento pins are given for each project completed!

Any Home Depot*

Kid's Jury: 5 stars
We love it!  Will definitely become regulars over the winter months ahead!

*Please call your local Home Depot to confirm they host this workshop, as well as the dates and times.