Chicagoans are a proud and mighty bunch — and nothing beats being a parent here. Despite unforgiving winters, we forge ahead and make the most of awesome parks and play spaces, family-friendly neighborhoods with real character, and a food scene like no other. That’s just the start. Here are 20 reasons to be thankful you’re raising your kids in the area.

sky-deckphoto: The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago

1. We have the the most outstanding architecture around, from tip-top lookout ledges and skyscraper walls that tilt, to Frank Lloyd Wright homes and a museum housed in a building from the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.

2. The clear blue of Lake Michigan is at our side, with plenty of paths for pushing that stroller. Or, when it’s warm, you can dive right in.

3. From apple orchards to pumpkin patches and corn mazes, Chicago still somehow manages to make us look forward to the colder temps.

4. Speaking of looking forward to those colder temps, the Windy City has faith in our ability to not only brace the cold, but laugh right in its face by giving us festive outdoor fests like Christkindlmarket.

5. The play spaces. Oh, the play spaces! They are all around and have everything from in-house hair salons to indoor sandboxes to bathrooms with piped in animal noises.

For Fancy Footwork: Knoch Parkphoto: Knoch Park

6. There are urban and suburban playgrounds for every type of tot, including big-time climbers and kiddos that like to get wet.

7. AND, there’s even one just steps from the lakeshore.

8. We have the best of all things outdoors and with a quick drive can easily go for a nature hike, play at the beach or even go glamping.

9. The firemen are friendly. Seriously — you can tour firehouses and learn how our local heroes do their job!

10. Our one-of-a-kind city and all it has to offer attracts some pretty amazing moms. Like you . . . and these incredible super moms!

kohler-wendy-altschulerphoto: Kohler Wisconsin via Wendy Altschuler

11. Fun family vacations are never far away – even some that don’t require a plane ticket.

12. New family entertainment spaces, indoor golf spots and sports complexes are always popping up!

13. You don’t need to stress about planning a birthday party — because so many parties come straight to you.

14. This is home to one of the nation’s only remaining free-admission zoos. Wowee-kazowee!

15. Our kids can dream big when they see top-quality theater productions meant for the small set.

Moose Mountain Aerial

 photo: Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark

16. We can whiz down water slides, make huge splashes and keep our sanity intact on a cold winter’s day at the amazing indoor waterparks.

17. There are plenty of kid-friendly coffeehouses to nurse our no-sleep-induced morning hangovers.

18. The Chicago River is a world unto itself with iconic bridges — one that you can even step inside of to watch the magic of its mechanisms up close.

19. We have world-class hotels that cater to kids in ways you have to see to believe!

20. Whether your guilty pleasure is candy, donuts, pancakes or ice cream, this city delivers the sugar like no other — and then balances all that sweetness with a great selection of juice bars.

Why are you thankful to be a Chicago parent? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments below!

—Kelly Aiglon and Maria Chambers