Yesterday morning I was fortunate to be part of a Bump Club and Beyond panel of "city moms" talking to a packed room of new mamas and their little ones about surviving a Chicago winter with a babe in tow.
We talked about everything from family-friendly restaurants to best workouts for busy moms and must-have apps for families with young children.
I spoke a little bit about finding activities that meet two important mama criteria. First, I love a free, quality activity when I can find it (if you read Wee Windy City, you already know this about me). In addition, I also love an outing where both mommy and the kids get something out of it. With those two things in mind, I recommended the following urban activities and destinations.
The Culture Club:
Take advantage of the local cultural institutions. Yes, you can do this -- even with your baby. One of the reasons that I wanted to raise my kids in the city was proximity to the many cultural opportunities and experiences. Sometimes I get lazy and I have to remind myself to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
- The Art Institute. The Art Institute offers free admission to kids under age 14 every day (and all Illinois residents receive free admission through Feb. 13th). We love the interactive, hands-on activities in the Ryan Education Center (which you can access without paying admission to the museum). If your baby is little, pop him in a carrier and cruise the halls, taking in the extraordinary view. You will feel like an actual adult for visiting a real museum!
- The Nature Museum. This lovely spot offers free admission every Thursday. I find the Butterfly Haven to be a perfect antidote for a crabby day. Toddlers can't get enough of this place.
- The Museum of Contemporary Art. This is a really underutilized resource. Try a free stroller tour. Tuesdays are free for IL residents. If everyone is behaving, grab lunch at Puck's!
- The Garfield Park Conservatory. Can't beat this spot on a cold or gray day. Strollers can be kind of difficult to deal with here, so I would use a baby carrier if you can. As your baby becomes a toddler, the Morning Glory drop-in activities on chilly winter mornings are a godsend (lots of fun plus a project to take home with you all for a $1 donation).
- The Shedd Aquarium. This excursion is definitely not normally free - but you can take advantage of tons of free days in the months of January and February (January: 7, 8, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 28, 29; February: 4, 5, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 25, 26).
- Juicebox Series. This is a hot-off-the presses, brand-spanking new free family opportunity from the City of Chicago. Juicebox, a NEW music and performance series for the “stroller set” parents and their pre-kindergarten youngsters. Performances are on alternate Fridays beginning February 1, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall (78 East Washington) except where noted. All performances are FREE. Parents and young children can enjoy Chicago’s best music, dance, and theater in a kid-friendly setting. Kids can sing-along, enjoy snacks, dance with their buddies and soak in a little culture in the meantime. The February events are both concerts.
Filed under: Art Institute of Chicago, Bubbles Academy, Bump Club and Beyond, Chicago Cultural Center, Garfield Park Conservatory, Museum of Contemporary Art, Peggy Notebaert Natuer Museum, Uncategorized