Chicago is a child-friendly and children-oriented city with numerous parks, water parks and playgrounds spread all around the city and managed by the Chicago Park District. Each neighborhood has several playgrounds, parks and sometimes pools.
The largest park of Chicago is Lincoln Park located on the north side close to the lake with a free zoo and farm. During the summer children can play baseball and soccer in the park. During wintertime, the park becomes the place for sledding and snow fights. People of all ages benefit from this communal “backyard”.The ecosystem of the park with its two ponds (North and South) is a nice place for the youngest to discover ducks, geese, squirrels and even rabbits. Inside Lincoln Park is a Nature Museum whose main goal is to introduce children to the protection of nature and wildlife.
The proximity of Lake Michigan provides also a source of activities particularly in the summer: enjoy the beach, swimming, learn kayaking, and much more.
What also strikes expatriates with young children is that the city and its inhabitants are very children friendly. They always have a nice word or comment toward children. To go to a restaurant with children is far from being a nightmare. Every single restaurant has a children’s menu (even if after a while you will notice that they all have the same items on offer) and always give little treats to children to occupy them during the meal (coloring, games, crayons). High chairs and boosters are always available for babies and young children.
Moreover, Chicago has been ranked as one of the nicest 50 cities in which to live in the world according to a survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting (2007). It is also considered one of the best cities to raise children, as long as you live on the north side of the city or in the northern suburbs (Evanston, Wilmette, Glencoe, etc. …) where the quality of life is excellent. It is strongly advised to avoid living in the South Side of Chicago, where the violence and lack of security are dangerous for young children and teenagers. The gangs have strong rivalries and innocent children are killed regularly because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Besides this aspect, which can be avoided, Chicago is an excellent city in which to live with children for many reasons. There is an impressive choice of after school programs (Chicago Park District, private and public programs), cultural events (children’s theatres, children film festivals, museums), and sports activities (so numerous that you cannot list them all). Moreover, you can also choose between a wide range of schools: public schools managed by Chicago Public School (CPS), private schools (with religious obedience or not), and international schools.