Thursdays are mom's day off around here. My babysitter comes and spirits the children away so I can work in peace and quiet, take myself to lunch, or do errands alone. On the 8th day of summer vacation, she took them to one of my favorite beach spots: Loyola Park.
Loyola Park has five things we love: easily accessible bathrooms, a family-friendly beach, a parking lot, a snack shop, and a playground.
We live close enough to ride bikes, but if you're coming from a bit farther away, it's nice to have the parking lot. The lot isn't free, but it's metered parking so it's reasonable. One warning about the parking lot: it's not very big so if you're coming on a weekend it fills up fast! We went to meet friends for a cookout one evening and decided to drive so we wouldn't be biking home in the dark with cranky kids. The lot was full, so we had to find street parking west of Sheridan Road, about four blocks away.
Sometimes, if I'm feeling really athletic and I only have the little one with me, I take the jogging stroller and run. When I do, I reward myself with something nonfat at The Growling Rabbit Cafe. This place is very child friendly and I love patronizing local, independent coffee houses.
The snack shop at Loyola Beach is run by The Heartland Cafe. Honestly, I haven't ever bought anything there other than ice cream so I can't speak to the quality of the food but it seems to be a step up from the usual hot dogs and potato chips that you get at most beach concession stands.
The playground is adjacent to the beach and a great place to play in the shade. The tricky part is negotiating when one child wants to head to the water and the other one wants to stay at the playground. They are not so close to each other that the kids can split up. I try to make a plan before we get there so everyone knows what to expect.
Like all Chicago beaches, the beach, the playground and the bathrooms are all free.
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