Listen, this winter has been truly endless. I am in a rut and I am running out of ideas. It occurred to me that I could get creative and make a basic drive around town a learning opportunity for the littles (hey, we’ve got nothing else to do). Here are some ideas to help you get inspired to take your little Chicagoan on a home town history tour.
The great news is that much of Chicago’s history is living. With some planning, you can introduce your kids to some of their hometown history on a boring, winter afternoon.
On October 8, 1871, a terrible fire broke out in the barn behind the home of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary. The most popular theory behind this unfortunate turn of events is that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern and started the fire (you’ve probably heard this story). This fire nearly destroyed the downtown area — save for a few buildings. The Water Tower is one of the few buildings that survived the blaze. You can take a peek inside this historic building the next time you drive down Michigan Avenue. She is a real beauty.
In 1974, the much anticipated Sears Tower opened its doors to much excitement. Today, the building stands nearly 1,400 feet tall (no longer the tallest in the world, but still impressive). Visitors flock to this local landmark for a chance to visit the Sky Deck and step out on The Ledge — a glass box that extends 4.3 feet out from the Tower. This experience provides a truly one-of-a-kind view of the city. Be sure to grab a family photo at this unique destination.
If you want to get your kiddos up to speed on the history of our city, the Chicago History Museum is the place to be. This local gem aims to educate locals and visitors about Chicago’s past, present and future. You can check out recommendations for hands-on, interactive activities for kids and families here.
Iconic Chicago eats: And now for the food……
All Chicago kids need to be exposed to our local delicacies — particularly Chicago-style hot dogs and deep dish pizza. Introduce your kid to a Chicago-style dog, complete with a poppy seed bun, mustard, onion, relish and sport peppers. No ketchup allowed! Good options include Hot Doug’s and Superdawg. Or head out for a family dinner at Lou Malnati’s and dig into a piece of deep dish heaven.
And just like that, another endless winter day is in the bag!