Time for another installment in the Neighborhood Spotlight Series here on Wee Windy City! Please welcome Chicago mama Jennifer Mullman with her take on raising kids in the River West/River North neighborhood. Jennifer works full-time as the
director of development of Openlands and lives with her
husband and son, age 2.5, in River West. She
writes about her passion for food, people and city living on her blog, City Sweet. Her favorite days start with a visit to one of
Chicago's many farmers' markets and end with a houseful of
dinner guests and good wine.
building houses artists, grad students, young professionals and
newlyweds - a typical condo building in the Chicago neighborhoods of River
West and River North. My husband and I loved our loft because of the fantastic views
of downtown and the proximity to the Loop but we weren't thinking
necessarily family-friendly when we bought. Life was good in our urban neighborhood -gritty
industrial buildings reclaimed as residential dwellings and swanky art
galleries tucked beneath the rambling L.
And then my son was born.
With my tot, Jack, I have a new
perspective on this neighborhood I call home. We move at a slower pace now as we take our stroller walks to Erie
Park at Kingsbury and Erie, which borders the Chicago River. We say hello to the
who have brought their small children out to play in this beautiful,
relatively new, green space, which also features Movies
in the Park this summer. Fulton
River Park is another favorite park because of the prime dog-watching
and the heavenly chocolate smells wafting in the air from the
Chocolate Company. On Sundays throughout the summer, we sample peaches,
blueberries and salsa at the Erie Park Farmers' Market (530 W. Erie Street). And we enjoy passing by the lush
vegetable gardens at the Chicago Avenue Community Garden at Chicago and Hudson, and waving to kayakers on the Chicago River from the Chicago Avenue bridge.
A myriad of learning opportunities abound. Sprouts Academy co-hosts free monthly
"Adventurous Eaters" hands-on cooking classes with Kenmore Live Studio (678 N. Wells Street), for budding young chefs
and their families. If music is your forte, Suzuki-Orff School of Music offers a range of
classes for children as young as 6 months. And for your tween, check
out the arts
and crafts workshops at Paper
Oh, and we eat too. Yolk and Orange are family-friendly
brunch spots for a lazy Saturday morning. @spot cafe is a family-owned
coffeehouse that welcomes children, giving weary parents a cozy chair to sink into with a
cup of coffee as your child plays with the communal toys. And Scoozi! is a treat for kids and
with many menu specials for the little ones.
On that lucky night when your babysitter is tucking the
in at home, we are steps away from some great dining that brings the culinary
world to our doorstep, including Piccolo
Sogno, which features rustic Italian fare and has a fabulous patio;
the intimate French bistro Cyrano's; and, of course, the
incomparable Mexican dishes of Frontera
River West and River North appeal to all
senses. Bring your child-like wonder to explore my neighborhood this summer.
Want to write a guest post about why you love raising kids in your Chicago neighborhood? Email me.