Maybe you’ve noticed: Hyde Park is on the rise. With more shops and restaurants than ever before, including a The Red Balloon pop-up shop opening in time for back-to-school, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon — kids included. Find out why the home of University of Chicago and President Obama is so fun for families. This is where to explore, eat, shop, play and have a total blast.


photo: The Red Balloon Co.


The Red Balloon Pop-Up Shop
Bucktown and Andersonville’s favorite children’s shop just opened a pop-up in Hyde Park’s Harper Court. And, oh, what timing: Back-to-school fashions, including many Chicago-themed items, are up for grabs, along with comfy basics. The 1,400-square-foot space will be more gift-focused than The Red Balloon’s other two locations; you’ll find infant items and layette, toys and customized initial merchandise.

1504 E. 53rd St. in Harper Court

57th Street Books / Seminary Co-op Bookstore
If you want to hang with the locals, hit up this old-school bookstore with one of the largest selections you’ve ever seen, including an impressive kids’ section. A free children’s story hour takes place every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Interestingly, the shop is a co-op with more than 50,000 members, including President Obama and the First Lady.

1301 E. 57th St.

U-505 Submarine @ the Museum of Science+Industry Chicago photo: Museum of Science and Industry / J.B. Spector


Museum of Science and Industry
A Chicago landmark since 1933 and the largest science museum in the U.S., both your two-year-old and your ten-year-old will be wowed by the exhibits and artifacts on display. See how tornadoes are created at the live Vortex Show, tour the Coal Mine or a U-505 Submarine, cheer on the Model Trains, or discover the dreamy Fairy Castle. Don’t miss “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives,” a trove of Disney costumes, set pieces and more that runs through January 4, 2015. Admission varies, depending on the exhibits or IMAX shows you plan to hit.

5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.

The Garden of the Phoenix
This hidden gem, formerly known as Osaka Garden, is a serene place to picnic or just wander around. Set up like a traditional Japanese “stroll garden,” in which a path leads to from one photo-worthy vista to the next, it was built back in 1893 as a symbol of friendship between Chicago and Japan. Prepare to be wowed by waterfalls, fountains, bridges, statuary and hanging Japanese lanterns. Admission is free.

5800 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Located at the north end of Jackson Park & south end of the Museum of Science and Industry


photo: Hyde Park Art Center

Hyde Park Art Center
This nonprofit visual arts center celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. View works by local artists as well as rotating galleries. In the summer, the center runs an arts camp for children ages 4 to 16. During the school year, take part in free family art workshops, held every other Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free.

5020 S. Cornell Ave.

Smart Museum of Art
Set on the University of Chicago campus, the museum may be compact yet it contains more than 10,000 works of art, including paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Rothko. Go for Family Day on the first Saturday of every month; you and your mini artist can create projects like papier mâché sculptures inspired by masterpieces. Admission is free.

5550 S. Greenwood Ave.

Music in the Park Sunday Concert Series
Pack a picnic and enjoy an afternoon in Nichols Park while listening to live music, from reggae to blues. Concerts run every Sunday from 4-6 p.m. through September 14, 2014, at the North Fountain.

1355 E. 53rd St.


photo: Medici on 57th


Medici on 57th
It’s not new, but it definitely keeps the neighborhood hot. Considered an institution by Hyde Park residents and U of C students, the lively atmosphere, friendly staff and reasonable prices make this restaurant and bakery the perfect spot to bring your kiddos. “The Med” has something for everyone on the enormous menu; try signature dishes like the garbage pizza, Mexicana milkshake or apple-cinnamon croissant.

1227 E. 57th St.

The Sit Down Café & Sushi Bar
Where else can you order a delicious thin crust pizza and a fresh sushi roll? The menu has a variety of options as well as a separate kid’s menu. Bonus: They take reservations and outdoor seating is available.

1312 E. 53rd St.


photo: Z&H Market Café

Z&H Market Café
This bustling, family-owned spot is much more than your average deli. A long list of fresh sandwiches made with organic fixings and local ingredients will make you an instant fan. Your little one can chow on kid-sized sammies, served with a healthy side and organic milk. Don’t forget to peruse the range of unique food items in the market section of the café.

1323 E. 57th St

Hyde Park Farmers Market
Shop for produce and flowers from local purveyors every Thursday from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. thru October 30, 2015.

53rd St. & Hyde Park Blvd. (Harold Washington Park)


Getting There by Public Transportation
The CTA #6 Jackson Park/Hyde Park Express bus takes you from downtown Chicago to Hyde Park. Get on the bus going southbound on State Street in the Loop and exit at 57th or 59th Street. Take the #171 bus if you’re traveling between the University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Take the Metra train and exit at 57th or 59th Street. Upon exiting the train, walk west towards the campus.

Free street parking and metered parking is available.

Accessing the Museum of Science and Industry
If you’re driving, parking is available in the underground garage located at the northwest corner of the building and costs $20.

The #10 CTA bus runs along Michigan Avenue and State Street and will drop you off at the front entrance of the museum. The #2 and #6 busses also have stops one block from the museum.

The Metra train runs to and from the 55th/56th/57th Street station, two blocks from the museum’s north entrance.

What is your favorite thing to do in Hyde Park? Let us know in the Comments!

— Jenny Muslin