Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Chicago's lakefront: a 5 hour staycation guide

Yes, Chicago has a lakefront. And yes, I'm embarrassed to admit August arrived before I finally took my family to the beach. Check out our day in the sun over at the Chicago Moms Blog.

From the Chicago Moms Blog:

This past weekend I took my family to the beach. Foster Beach, to be precise. It is the first time this summer that I've taken my family to the beach, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that the last time my girls dipped their toes in Lake Michigan we were 90 miles away from Chicago--in Michigan!

We left Oak Park at 8:30am for breakfast at Andersonville's Tre Kroner. After washing down our Swedish pancakes, French toast and a Stockholm omelets with goblets of too-weak coffee, we drove east on Foster Avenue to the sprawling Margate Park, named one of the country's best playgrounds by Cookie magazine (although they get the address wrong). My 4 year old loved the imaginary fishing pier and monkey bars while my 24 month old monopolized the truck--which is fortunately equipped with two steering wheels.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, we loaded the stroller up with beach towels and rolled under Lake Shore Drive for the walk south to Foster Beach. We passed families setting up elaborate picnics, couples on blankets and lots and lots of dogs. Which makes sense when you see that the entire north end of the beach is a dedicated dog beach. We abandoned our stroller and shoes just south of the doggie dividing line and headed across the sand, shovels and buckets in hand.

You'd think I'd taken my kids to the Bahamas, they were so excited. Waves to jump in! Sand to squelch! Water to carry! They wore themselves out with delight, working up an appetite for more food.

Lunch was coal-fired pizzas at Spacca Napoli, about 10 minutes away by car. My toddler put away two pieces of Pizza Margherita and acquainted herself with the restaurant's restrooms, which she visited three times in 40 minutes (two pees and a poop, for those who care).

By 1:15 we were on our way back to the western suburbs, two kids dozing off in the backseat. We'd had a morning filled with good food, good fun and zero temper tantrums. If Z hadn't skinned her knee tripping over the curb on the way back to the car, we could have claimed no tears as well. I looked over at my husband as we merged onto the Eisenhower. "That was fun."

"Yes, it really was," he agreed.

A note for fellow suburbanites: One of the great things about Foster Beach that there is plentiful free parking. There's also a parking lot next to Margate Park, right behind the Field House. We had no problems finding street parking within a block of Tre Kroner or Spacca Napoli and both places welcomed our kids.