You already knew that Chicago’s home to celebs like John Cusack and Oprah, as well as architectural gems like the Sears Tower. But the Windy City’s also loaded with cool nabes for families to explore (and shop, naturellement). From Wicker Park and Bucktown with their artsy galleries and chic boutiques, to the kitschy charm of Chinatown, the city’s got style. Here’s the lowdown on what to do and where to go.
In case of emergency
Fix boo-boos big and small at Children’s Memorial Hospital, the best place in the city to get kid-focused medical care
Where to wander
Wicker Park and Bucktown. PsychoBaby (psychobabyonline.com) sells Ramones diaper bags and sassy tees. Buy a custom bib from The T-Shirt Deli (tshirtdeli.com), then fuel up at the Earwax Cafe
Scarf dim sum in Chinatown, then visit the playground at Ping Tom Memorial Park, by the Chicago River (chicagochinatown.org).
Best ways to unwind
Leave the kids in the capable hands of American ChildCare Services
(americanchildcare.com) and show off your spicy salsa moves at Nacional 27 (nacional27.net) on a Friday or Saturday night.
Hit the Victor Hotel (victorhotelchicago.com), a club featuring dance beats and mod Eames and Mies van der Rohe furniture.
Splurge at the W Chicago City Center (starwoodhotels.com) for luxe bedding and Bliss bath products.
Book an apartment or family suite at the artist-run House of Two Urns (twourns.com), a B&B housed in a turn-of-the-century Wicker Park brownstone.
Bunk at the J. Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel (hichicago.org) for roomy and private family rooms in a prime South Loop locale.
Fun stuff for kids and parents
Join the Family Drop In at Lillstreet Art Center (lillstreet.com) on Saturday mornings and create a pottery masterpiece together.
Groove at Baby Loves Disco (babylovesdisco.com), an afternoon family dance party held the second Sunday of every month at the Park West concert theatre.
See movies, docs and animated shorts from around the world at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (cicff.org), October 19-29.
Check out That’s Weird, Grandma a series of silly skits adapted from stories by Chicago public school students and presented every Monday night by Barrel of Monkeys (barrelofmonkeys.org) at The Neo-Futurarium.
Get down in the basement of the Blue Chicago Store (bluechicago.com) on Saturday evenings with an all-ages live blues music show.
Get around in style
Buy a Chicago Transit Authority (transitchicago.org) Visitor Pass. One- to-five- day passes ($5 to $18) offer unlimited rides.