For the past few months, I’ve been wondering where all of the Chicago-area daddy bloggers are. There have to be some dads out there who are writing about their parenting experiences, right?
Well, these elusive online dads aren’t easy to come by, but I found one. His name is Alan Kercinik. Alan is a Chicago native and publicist/dad. You can read his blog Always Jacked or follow him on Twitter.
I’ve been desperate to get some daddy perspective around here so I asked Alan to write about the things he likes to do with his son. Here is what he had to say.
When you have a son
younger than two years old, excursions fall in three categories. Places
you go for yourself, under the guise of “sharing something with the
boy.” Places you take him where he can use his developing motor skills,
which is a nice way of saying run around and climb like a maniac. Or
places where you don’t get grief from either the owners or patrons for
having a child.
wife and I are lucky in that Jack is a pretty flexible kid who likes
being outside — a lot — and is more than willing to look out the
window while we drive around and run errands. But dragging the boy to
Home Depot isn’t exactly my idea of a fun afternoon, so here’s my six
favorite Chicago places I’ve taken Jack so far, all of which fall under
one or more of the above categories.
Lincoln Park Zoo (2001
Jack likes animals.
Jack really likes dinosaurs. This is the only reason I can come up with
for his fascination with the rhino who did nothing more than stink up
the place. That aside, this is a great strolling zoo, with plenty of
wide paths for kids like mine who don’t have the concept of
point-to-point walking down and just like to roam. The Regenstein
African Journey exhibit is a highlight, because it’s built to make you
feel like you’re on safari instead of just looking at animals in cages.
Challengers Comics and
Conversation (1845 North Western Avenue)
I’ve been reading
comic books for a
long time. The trouble is that most of the stores that sell comic books
feel like Steven King’s attic. Not exactly welcoming for kids. This
place is different. Well-lit. Clean. Couches and chairs if you want to
grab a book off a shelf and check it out before buying. And a big white
(!) wall behind the register that is slowly being covered in
marker-drawn doodles by artists who visit the store. I’m looking forward
to nurturing Jack’s growing interest in Spider-Man here.
Kid City (1837 West
Growing up, one of my
cousins had a truly outstanding basement. Pool table. Ping pong table.
Pachinko machine. And it was huge. We spent hours there. This place is
ten times better. There’s every kind of toy imaginable, including pedal
cars, desktop train sets, a small house kids can crawl into, a room set
up like a miniature grocery store and a slide. We were there for a
birthday party and Jack was so excited, he didn’t know where to run
first. Take your kids there and let them go nuts while you sit in the
parental “den”, hooked up with a big screen television.
Chalkboard (4343 North
terms “nice restaurant” and “kid-friendly” are about as compatible as
“ethical” and “BP”. But the owner is a dad and he makes you feel like an
honored guest to his home, even as your boy is dropping squares of
fruit onto the floor and laughing. Plus, the people who usually eat
there aren’t the kind to give you a dirty look for walking in with
someone under the age of ten. The menu is always changing, written on a
long, low chalkboard that runs along the back wall. Dinner is great, but
Sunday brunch is even better. Worth trying just for the fried chicken,
which is the one item always on the menu and served over waffles for
breakfast. (Jack prefers the cassoulet.)
Whole Foods (1550
North Kingsbury Street)
food mecca everyone raves about and a surprisingly fun place to take
kids. (I mean, the place is great, but buying groceries is, at the end
of the day, buying groceries, not a religious or Disney-esque
experience.) He likes looking at all the food on display, especially the
produce and seafood; they have squid and crabs on ice, which he finds
kind of fascinating, for good reason. There’s also a food court with
tastier food than you’d expect from a grocer. Jack likes the chips and
guac, chicken tacos on corn tortillas and washes it down with a
watermelon aqua fresca. Seriously. The kid loves tacos.
Lincoln Square (4700
North Lincoln Avenue)
is the closest thing to an Italian piazza in Chicago. The two block
stretch of retail, restaurants and bars is centered by a fountain and
small court, which is usually packed with parents and kids. We like to
take Jack for a walk on Saturday mornings, grab a coffee and snack from
The Grind and sit in the square, letting him run around with other
neighborhood kids. Added bonus: Book Cellar across the street has a
pretty great kids’ book section and serves wine to moms and dads. Not
that any parent needs a drink on Saturday morning. *cough cough*
Are you a Chicago-area parent with an interesting perspective to share? Email me and we can chat about a guest post on Wee Windy City.