Kids struck it big this past year in Chicago. Innovative shops opened, a new sprayground spouted off, and restaurants changed the way we think about family dining. Here are our picks for the 10 best things to arrive on the kiddie scene in 2014.
1. Monica + Andy. More than just a boutique, this oasis is also a hub of kid and grownup fun. It has adorable clothes, a milk and cookie bar, ongoing story hours, music classes and even toddler yoga.
photo: Monica & Andy
2. Prenatal Fit. The Lincoln Park gym is designed for women during and after pregnancy. It’s where you can exercise and navigate this crazy new life phase, meeting friends and bonding with baby along the way.
photo: Prenatal Fit
3. Froyo Chicago. Imagine your child’s delight when you tell them the newest froyo spot in town also has an entire playroom for kids that’s stocked with games, toys and art supplies.
photo: Froyo Chicago
4. Maggie Daley Park. Outside Millennium Park just steps from the lakeshore, the new arrival has an ice skating “ribbon,” larger-than-life climbing structures and a play garden.
photo: Eric X. via Yelp
5. iFly. The indoor skydiving center, open in Rosemont and Naperville, simulates a real skydiving experience in a vertical wind tunnel with a certified skydiver at your side. Kids as young as three years old can get suited up and give it a whirl.
6. A Baker’s Tale. A cafe themed around Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is a must-visit for families. Cool decor will get you lost in the feel of the storybook and you can also treat your senses to great pastries, coffee and more.
photo: A Baker’s Tale
7. Cat & Mouse Game Store West Loop. All hail the second location of the shop that started in Bucktown over six years ago. This location is bigger — which means there is plenty of space for old and new favorite games, puzzles and toys, plus tournaments and game nights.
photo: Cat & Mouse Game Store
8. Naper Settlement Rita (Fredenhagen) and John Harvard Early Learning Playscape. There’s no better combo than a splash pad and playground. Add a covered wagon, wildflower garden and maze of fake animal tracks, and your kid will really be a happy camper.
photo: Naper Settlement
9. Vistro. Hinsdale’s shining star features sharable dishes from an award-winning chef, mocktails for all ages, and a vibe that’s hip and relaxed despite the sea of high chairs.
10. Peek … Aren’t You Curious. Already celebrated at its locations in the north and west suburbs, the new Bucktown Peek sells clothes that make you smile. The colors are bright, the patterns are playful, and the vibe is as relaxed as a spontaneous game of hopscotch.
photo: Peek … Aren’t You Curious
It was a great year, don’t you think? What was your highlight of 2014? Let us know in the Comments!
— Kelly Aiglon