The creativity of Chicago families—with the help of museums, playspaces and local business—with home-schooling solutions and stay-at-home adventuring has been quite impressive. But truth be told, we’re missing being hands-on with our city, a ton. Here are the things that top our agenda when the gates swing open and we can hit the city streets once again.

There are zero doubts to be had, we are a sports town. We've got massive spirit . . . and infinite amounts of patience. Soaking up the sun at the historic Wrigley Field, cheering on the south side at a Sox game, standing for the iconic National Anthem performed at a Hawks game (no one does it better), bundled up and shivering in the seats at a Bears game and sitting on the edge of our seats at a Bulls showdown—we want to do it all!

Imagine one of those Chicago summer days that are perfection—the ones we mentally hold on to all 6 months of winter.

Cruising Lake Shore Drive with the windows in the down position, music on as max as the kids will allow it, singing-along-ish to the lyrics we know well enough to butcher, legs sticking to the leather seats from the sweltering heat. Warm breeze tangling your hair made wretched by the humidity, sun's rays skipping off the lake, bikers, walkers and runners bringing life to the path, beach volleyball game in full swing, families with day camps set up in the sand, the city's flowers along the drive in full glory bringing vibrance to LSD. . . heaven at its best. 

photo: River Roast

Such a simple pleasure, but we really just can't wait to sit outside on a patio and linger over a meal, sipping a cocktail at dinner or mimosa at brunch. People-watching, or boat-watching at the riverwalk restaurants, and in no hurry to be anywhere but in that exact moment.

Chicago has consistently been ranked as one of the most fun places to spend St. Patrick's Day, and deservedly so. Every single Chicagoan is Irish on March 17 (and many days before and after). Covid-19 robbed us of our celebrations this year, but we like to think the luck of the Irish is on our side and we'll be back at it next year with pop-up Irish bars, green beer, corned beef and cabbage, Irish festivals and parades, and our super fancy green river. 

photo: Chicago Children's Museum

Hit up a local library, book store, museum or shop—wherever you prefer to get in touch with your literary side—for a storytime. 

photo: Maggie Daley Park, City of Chicago

Raise your hand if you thought you'd ever see a day where parks were off-limits? Bueller? Bueller? No one? Necessary craziness, but, holy moly. Skip over to your favorite park, hop on a swing, squeal down the slide and cherish hearing your kid plead for just 5 more minutes as the sun sets on the day. 

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo, Maria Chambers

Netflix's Tiger King has us all appreciating the integrity of legit zoos, and we can't wait until our two favorites swing open the gates again. Brookfield Zoo welcomed two new male African lions, Brutus and Titus, that we can't wait to meet in person and meandering the Lincoln Park Zoo paths that sit in view of the city skyline and sing-a-longs with Mr. Singer are family-memory-making highlights. 

Grab your highest-capacity reusable bag and head to your favorite neighborhood farmers market—or try a new one! Some favorites of farmers market connoisseur are the ones in Andersonville, Lincoln Square, Logan Square, Green City Market, Wicker Park and Chicago French Market. Try 'em all!

photo: SafeHouse

Chicago's culinary game is so dang strong. It rivals any city in the world for the quality and diversity of restaurants.

Never again will we take for granted physically eating in a restaurant. Having someone else prepare a meal enjoyed as a family—or on a date night. We'll even overlook the sibling arguments over which restaurant to go to and the noisiness and over-the-top-ness of the ones the kids typically prefer. 

photo: Adler Planetarium

Space, dinosaurs, science, art, aquatic life—no matter your kid's interest, a day exploring at a Chicago museum is a day very well spent! The creative forces behind Adler Planetarium, Field Museum, MSI, Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium give us access to so much coolness and we can't wait to get back at it!

photo: wndr

Speaking of museums. We've seen a wave of experiential pop-up museums come through Chicago and they're oh, so fun for the family! We can't wait to visit a favorite that's made themselves a permanent fixture in the West Loop, wndr. 

We're hoping for a sweltering hot summer where neighborhood pools and splash pads can welcome us for a much-needed cooldown. 

Featured photo: Maria Chambers

— Maria Chambers

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