Summer Camp ChicagoWhile winter in Chicago doesn’t inspire thoughts of summer camp for most people, if you want to get your child signed up for some of the city’s many exciting camp programs this coming summer, now is the time to act. Whether you’re looking for a multi-day diversion or a month-long experience, there is something for everyone available. Registration is or soon will be open for most camp programs, and if past years are any indication, most of them will fill up fast. Below is an outline of some of Chicago’s most popular summer camps (though as always, consult the included links for the most up-to-date information).

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Halloween is almost here again, and as I wrote last year, the holiday’s parades, haunted houses, pumpkin carvings, fun runs, spooky mazes, and other events span more than a single day. Many of these events are cheap (or free), are geared towards children, and don’t involve the ingestion of mass amounts of candy. In others words, they make for good, wholesome family outings.

The Chicago Parks District has a list of all their Halloween offerings, and About.com has a good general summary of city-wide events (though many of the dates still read “TBD”).

For simplicity’s sake, I’ve once again created a Google map made up of all the North Side Halloween events. Use it to find the upcoming events near where you live. Blue markers are Parks District events, red markers are parades, and yellow markers are all other events.

Please click through to the website for each marker to get the most up-to-date information for each event.


View 2009 Chicago North Side Halloween Events in a larger map

If you know of any North Side events I missed, let me know with a comment or email and I’ll add them.

Movie in the ParkHow time flies! One of my first posts after starting this blog last summer was on Chicago’s annual “Movies in the Parks” program. Now, another summer is here, and that means another season to enjoy great films for free in the friendly setting of Chicago’s public parks.

The film reels start rolling as early as next week with titles like Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar 2, The Dark Knight, and Iron Man on outdoor screens across the city. Visit the Chicago Park District’s Movies in the Parks page to see which films are playing near you.

And if you live in the central Lakeview area, there’s an independent “Movie Night in the Park” event this Sunday at Hawthorne School. They will be showing cartoons followed by Disney’s animated motion picture Bolt.

So pack a picnic, grab a blanket and relax under the stars while enjoying some great movies free of charge.

Photo by BluEyedA73

Canoeing
Canoeing? No. Kayaking? Yes – at summer camp in Chicago

You read correctly. We may be in the dead of winter, but if you have children, it’s not too soon to start thinking about summer camp registration. In fact, slots for some programs fill up fast over the winter, and if you don’t act quickly, your kids could miss out on some great summer opportunities (and you on some summer peace and quiet!)

Below are some great Chicago summer camp offerings. All programs are day camps unless otherwise noted.

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Chicago may be best known for its Chicago-style hot dogs and deep dish pizza, but the Windy City can also brew an impressive cup of Joe as well.

In fact, the latest edition of the food and wine magazine Saveur highlights some of the best coffees in the world – and two of the top picks are Chicago-based brands (San Rafael Lot 1 from Metropolis Coffee Company and Hacienda La Esmeralda from Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea).

And if there’s anyone who appreciates good coffee it’s the Ames family. My own sister, fellow Realtor Nathalie Ames, founded her own coffee shop in Mesa, Colorado after finding the area to be nearly devoid of coffee venues. Now, in a place where the nearest Starbucks is 18 miles away, Mesa has a wonderful boutique coffee shop in Nathalie’s Blink Coffee.

Thankfully, here on Chicago’s North Side, one need not go to such extremes to get great coffee. In fact, even though Starbucks is still the most (in)famous name in town, there is still a rich offering of small chain and independent coffee shops here as well. Below are some that offer both the best ambience and the best coffee and tea.

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Update: This post is for 2008. For information on 2009 Halloween events on Chicago’s North Side, see here.

Halloween may be a one day event in some parts of the country, but here in Chicago, there’s nearly a month’s worth of parades, haunted houses, pumpkin carvings, fun runs, spooky mazes, and other events dedicated to the holiday. Many of these events are cheap (or free), are geared towards children, and don’t involve the ingestion of mass amounts of candy. In others words, they make for good, wholesome family outings.

The Chicago Parks District has a list of all their Halloween offerings, and About.com has a good general summary of city-wide events.

For simplicity’s sake, however, I had a Google map made up of all the North Side Halloween events. Use it to find the upcoming events near where you live. Blue markers are Parks District events, red markers are parades, and yellow markers are all other events.

Please click through to the website for each marker to get the most up-to-date information for each event.
View Larger Map

Did I miss any great Chicago Halloween events? Let me know with a comment!

As you’re probably aware, both the Cubs and the Sox have made the playoffs, presenting the incredible possibility of a Cubs vs. Sox World Series. It’s truly an exciting time to be a Chicago sports fan, and if you live near Wrigleyville, you’re in for a truly exciting amount of fan traffic as well.

Here’s how the Cubs schedule is shaping up:

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Having young kids has definitely had an impact on my husband’s and my social life. (Social life? What social life?!) The energy we once spent planning elegant cocktail and multi-course dinner events has been redirected toward birthday parties for… well… babies and toddlers! Thankfully, there are some great venues for children’s birthday parties here in Chicago. Here are some of our favorites:

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Lincoln Park farmers market

This past week, I had the pleasure of attending an event where I heard Alice Waters speak. Alice is the founder of the Chez Panisse Foundation, a not-for-profit with the mission of promoting “edible education.” Specifically, the Foundation is seeking to change school lunch programs and improve the way we care for the health of our children, our communities and our environment.

The main point Alice raised was her concern over the poor diet that Americans – particularly our children – are adopting. Low quality, highly processed foods are increasingly dominating our meal plans and taking a toll on our health as well as the environment and local economies. Furthermore, the drive-thru dinner is steadily eroding the tradition of the family sit-down meal. Alice summed up this new lifestyle with a bumper sticker she had recently seen: “If we are what we eat, I’m fast, cheap, and easy.”

As a mother raising three children, I was struck by Alice’s presentation. Finding healthier food and the time to prepare “traditional” dinners is an ongoing challenge. Between our hectic work schedules, a desire to squeeze in some exercise, and spending quality time with our kids, my husband and I have minimal time to shop and prepare homemade meals. Dining out or “dialing for dinner” (aka ordering carryout) is a tempting option in a city like Chicago, but as a daily habit, it can be expensive and fattening.

The good news is that – fueled by the organic movement, a new emphasis on buying local, and an increasing desire to eat healthier – more “green” food options are sprouting up in Chicago. Some are more practical than others (raising chickens in backyards being on the ambitious side), but increasingly, there are many tempting options for those looking to buy healthy, local food.

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Movies in the Parks

For the 7th year in a row, the Chicago Park District is hosting “Movies in the Parks” – screenings of current and classic movies in more than 170 neighborhood parks throughout the city. The schedule extends well past Labor Day to September 18th.

The showings are all free, and the lineup includes some nice titles including classics like E.T., Willy Wonka and West Side Story, as well as newer films like The Great Debaters, The Spiderwick Chronicles and Hairspray.

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