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Kids’ Play: The best places to take children in Chicago

MaggieDaley3From the Saturday, Sept. 19, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …

The WISCH LIST

By Dave Wischnowsky

Your kids have probably already motored about the Museum of Science & Industry. Odds are they’ve pressed their faces up against the glass at Shedd Aquarium to watch the underwater wildlife. And they may have marveled at the stars spread across the ceiling at Adler Planetarium.

Perhaps they want to do all again.

Or maybe they’d like to try something different in Chicago – and you would too. If that’s the case, here are a few of the best places to take kids in the city, some of which you may not know about.

Maggie Daley Park

My wife and I don’t have kids. But we do have nephews. And on Labor Day weekend, we took them, along my brother and sister-in-law, to Chicago’s new downtown playground covering the swath of land between Millennium Park and Lake Shore Drive.

Maggie Daley Park (337 E. Randolph St.) is quite the wondrous space, especially for kids, as it offers a Play Garden with attractions designed for ages 2-5 (The Watering Hole and The Harbor), ages 5-12 (The Sea and The Slide Crater) and all ages (The Wave Lawn and Enchanted Forest). There’s also a climbing wall and a roller skating ribbon that becomes an ice rink during wintertime. With wide green spaces, a food cart and incredible views of the Chicago skyline, your family could easily while away an entire afternoon.

For more information, visit maggiedaleypark.com.

Chicago Riverwalk

With its outdoor seating, relaxing atmosphere and trendy food and drink hotspots, I’ve written before that Chicago’s newly extended Riverwalk is a great place for adults. And it is.

But it’s fun for kids too, as the intimacy with the water allows youngsters to get close-up views of docked boats and those passing by – my 2-year-old nephew pointed just about all of them out. Additionally, if you head east on the Riverwalk to Cyrano’s on the River or Island Party Hut, there’s also plenty of grassy space for young kids to scamper about.
Just be sure to keep an eye on them, as the river is nice to look at, but not a place anyone wants to end up in.

For more information, visit cityofchicago.org.

Farm in the Zoo & Canopy Climbing Adventure

You know about Lincoln Park Zoo, of course. But what you might not know is that it offers not just exotic animals, but also the barnyard variety.

Farm in the Zoo gives kids a taste of country life in the city with demonstrations, interactive learning stations and the ever-popular goat station. There are also plenty of other farm animals afoot, and the exhibit’s edible garden teaches kids the basics of the origins of food.

Lincoln Park Zoo is also home to the Canopy Climbing Adventure, considered one of Chicago’s best indoor play spaces (and still a secret to many parents). Located within the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo area, the Canopy Climbing Adventure free and offers a mass of ropes and bridges that can entertain kids for hours. If they tire, they can also watch through windows as sea otters play in their own habitat on one side of the space, while beavers keep themselves busy on the other.

For more information, visit lpzoo.org.

Robot City Workshop

If your children are mechanically inclined, Robot City Workshop (3226 N. Sheffield Ave.) in the Lakeview neighborhood was built for them.

Billing itself as grounded in education and entertainment for kids, Robot City offers everything from robot-building camps and workshops to robot-themed birthday parties to construction kits to put together at home.

To learn more, visit robotcityworkshop.com.