My Neighborhood: Family Fun in Kenwood & Hyde Park

Written by: Geri Redd

NPN connects families in neighborhoods across Chicago.  Get inspired to check out a new part of the city or discover something fabulous just around the corner.  This stop:  Kenwood & Hyde Park with Geri - All aboard!  And then explore our other NPN Neighborhoods

Our family has spent the last ten years in and about the neighboring communities of Kenwood and Hyde Park.  The Hyde Park area spans north to 51st Street, south to 60th street, east to the lake and west to Washington Park.  Kenwood stretches from 51st on the south to 43rd st. on the north, the lake on the east and Drexel Blvd. to the west.  In addition to being the home of our current President, Barak Obama, this historical area has a lot to offer families.  We have a great mix of tree lined residential neighborhoods sprinkled with a nice number of independently owned businesses and restaurants, museums,  and great public and private schools.  The dominant presence of the University of Chicago helps to make this one of the more diverse and culturally rich neighborhoods in the city.

On a typical day in the area we might begin with breakfast at Bonjour Bakery, a traditional French bakery that has delicious coffee, pastries, quiche and breads.  Cross the courtyard and pick up a great toy for the kid in your life at Toys Et Cetera, comfortable shoes for the whole family at Wesley’s Shoe Corral, or unique gifts for yourself at What the Traveler Saw.  The area is sprinkled with several parks and playgrounds which keep the kids busy for hours.  Our favorites are Kenwood Community Park and Bixler Playlot on 57th Street.  When it gets cold, we head over to the Midway Plaisance Park Ice Rink for free ice skating (small charge for skate rental).  This rink is one of the best kept secrets in the city. 

Once everyone has worked up an appetite, there is no lack of good, family friendly restaurants in the area.  My family’s favorites include Pizza Capri, Chant, Noodles Etc., The Sit Down Café, Z&H Market Café and Medeci on 57th.  Of course, I can’t forget to mention my children’s new favorite place for frozen treats….Zberry.  This do-it-yourself frozen yogurt spot offers tasty yogurt choices and has a toppings bar that delights both young and old.

Hyde Park’s 57th street is another popular destination with several great independently owned bookstores such as Powell’s and 57th Street Books.  There are also many other popular cultural destinations in the area such as the Little Black Pearl Art Center, Dusable Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Hyde Park Art Center, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, and the Court Theater.

As if that is not enough to keep you coming back, the area has become known for its community festivals.  Be sure to check out Oktoberfest celebration on October 1st along 53rd street.  The event features live music, a beer garden, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors and dancing in the streets!  The kids are included in this celebration with a pumpkin patch held at Nichols Park (Chicago Park District) complete with bounce houses, a petting zoo and a pumpkin patch. 


       Insider tips to kid-sized Chicago:  In addition to the great events mentioned above, a few of the areas museums have some fabulous family-friendly activities coming up. Here are a few more ways to have fun with the kiddos in Hyde Park this Fall and Winter:

Hyde Park Farmers Market runs every Sunday through October from 9:30am-1:30pm.  Farmers markets are a great way to shop local and teach your kids a thing or two about where there food comes from.  Enjoy live music at the market on October 16th.

Enjoy the Fall weather and take a stroll through the historic Osaka Garden in Jackson Park. There is plenty of metered parking just East of the park, next to the Museum of Science and Industry.

Inspire your budding architects’ creativity at the Robie House’s LEGO Architects event on October 15th and November 19th.  Your little ones can use LEGOs to create a 3D model of their own floor plan design, which they can then take home.

Drop by the Smart Museum on Sunday, November 6th for their Family Day: Artistic Visions.   You can create your own abstract collages, take part in a photomontage workshop, and collaborate with others to make one giant work of art. The event is geared towards kids 4-12 years-old, and best of all it is FREE.

For more tips on where to go eat, play, learn and shop in Chicago, visit!

Posted on September 20, 2011 at 9:00 AM