I am just going to come right out and say it -- I don't really like the Taste of Chicago. I know, I know. It is a terrible thing for a life-long Chicagoan to say, but it is true.
I worked at the Taste of Chicago back when I was in college and let's just say that I am not rushing down to Grant Park to eat turkey legs and cheesecake in the hot sun with thousands of other people.
But I also know that Chicagoans truly love the Taste of Chicago and lots of you are planning to trek down to Grant Park over the next few days to partake in this culinary extravaganza. The truth is that the Taste actually does have lots of to offer kids and families. That being said, this can be a tricky family outing to successfully execute. If you are thinking about making a trip to the Taste with your kids, keep these tips in mind.
Take advantage of the family-friendly programming and events. The Taste offers a dizzying array of kid's activities each day in the Family Village. Before you go, check the website for the full schedule. Some stand-outs include hands-on activities with the Shedd Aquarium and Museum of Science and Industry, kitemaking, and recycled crafts. Purple Asparagus will be making basil seed bookmarks (sounds fun, right?). The Fun Time Stage also features some pretty cool performers like Ella Jenkins and Little Miss Ann.
Find the kid-friendly food. Taking a big group to the Taste of Chicago can be really pricey. If possible, purchase your tickets in advance from Dominicks (12 tickets for $8). Stick to the Taste portions. Your kid may swear that he can eat an entire plate of ribs, but you should start small to avoid wasting lots of food and money.This year, all vendors are offering two taste portions rather than one so you have a larger selection of smaller-sized items to choose from. Some vendors also offer healthier options like corn on the cob, fresh fruit, or salad.
Be smart. A little bit of advance planning goes a long way. Avoid making a trip down to the Taste on a busy weekend. Make your visit on a weekday when the crowds aren't as intense. Try to keep your kid gear to a minimum (this is hard, I know). The Taste probably isn't the best place for your double stroller. If you have a backpack or other baby carrier that you like, this is a great time to use it. Obviously, using public transportation will save you a big parking headache.
On a very serious note -- talk to your kids about sticking close to mom and dad in big crowds and what to do if they do become separated from you.
The Taste of Chicago runs from June 26th through July 5th. Check out the website for a complete listing of vendors and events.