I know its been awhile since I’ve added a new installment to th Neighborhood Spotlight Series (busy summer), but today I am thrilled to welcome Sara Youngblood-Ochoa, the editor of the popular site Macaroni Kid Chicago Loop and the mother of one super cute little boy. When her son was born, Sara learned just how fabulous and family-friendly the South Loop neighborhood can be. Listen and learn.
After growing up in Amarillo, TX and then living places like small-town North Carolina and Nashville, TN, when my husband and I moved to Chicago 3 1/2 years ago we knew wanted to live like true urban city folk! So we were really excited to find a great place in the South Loop. Surrounded by restaurants, bars and just a few blocks walk from great shopping on State Street, we were in heaven.
And then I got pregnant.
And to our delight, the South Loop was even better once we had a kiddo in tow! Let’s take a little tour through child-friendly South Loop….
Grant Park. So we didn’t have a yard. So what? We had this giant “backyard” just a block or 2 away from our condo. With lovely gardens, Chicago summer dances, fountains and statues, my son had a blast exploring Grant Park.
He especially loved the hill and General John Logan statue at 9th and Michigan. Perfect for sledding in the winter and great for climbing up and running down in the warmer weather, the hill was a big hit for my family. We moved to Bucktown this summer and recently drove past Grant Park. As we drove by, my son started shrieking “The hill! The hill!” Yeah, we liked it there.
And we can’t forget Museum Park. Having the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium blocks from where we lived was fantastic! We took advantage of the great kid-friendly spaces in all of these museums. My son especially enjoyed exploring outer space in the Planet Explorers exhibit at the planetarium.
Once you’ve finished touring the museums and parks, you’ve gotta have a snack, right? So stop by Canady Le Chocolatier at 824 S Wabash Ave. Not only are these handmade chocolates gorgeous, they are also delicious! Need something to cool you off? Try one of their yummy gelatos.
And now for our favorite South Loop business, Sherwood, the Community Music School at Columbia College Chicago. About 3 months into new mommyhood, I was desperate to get out of the house and meet some other mommies, so I signed us up for a Music Together class at Sherwood. That may very well be the best parenting decision I’ve ever made! My son had a blast and I feel like the music classes really did a lot for his development. He loves music, is very rhythmic and super verbal and I thank Music Together for that. We still take Music Together although since moving we are now at a location in Wicker Park. But we will always love Ms. Sandra and Ms. Kristen at Sherwood! I can not say enough nice things about Sherwood and their awesome teachers and classes!
So, lots to do in the South Loop! And this is only the tip of the iceberg. For those nights when you’ve scored a sitter, there are awesome “grown-up” places to go too, but I will forever love the South Loop for how easy it made my life as a new mom!
Are you interested in writing a guest post about why you love raising kids in your Chicago neighborhood (Roscoe Village, Lakeview, Lincoln Square parents — where are you at!)? Email me and we can chat about it.