When I bought my first home in Logan Square back in 2005, the neighborhood was more edgy than hip. I found an old fixer-upper I could afford, crowdsourced a roommate on Craigslist, and called it a day. I was 27, single, and could not tell you the name of the school down the street.
A decade later, with a husband and new baby in tow, my starter home on a busy street wasn’t ideal. Still, we knew we wanted to stay in leafy, low-key Logan Square. Our neighbors, mostly in their 60s, were moving to make way for younger families, and the neighborhood schools were growing as a result. Restaurants and retail were popping up like crazy, but the wide boulevards and squares kept the ’hood from feeling crowded. We saw the writing on the wall: If we didn’t upgrade within Logan ASAP, we’d get priced out by the time our daughter was in kindergarten.
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In the end, we landed within walking distance of our first-choice school and our favorite restaurant, and found an incredible daycare up the block. As much as Logan Square has changed since my 20s, I’ve changed with it — and can’t imagine raising my daughter anywhere else. Here’s why.
With two separate playgrounds, Unity Park is great for toddlers and big kids alike. There’s a splash pad there, too, plus a big grassy area for lounging. Palmer Square has only a few little climbing sculptures, but it’s massive and features a half-mile track, great for beginning bike riders. Haas Park has a pristine soccer pitch and playground, and tiny Grape Park is, well, tiny! Just a short drive south is Humboldt Park, second only to Lincoln Park in size and beauty.
We’re a Brentano family, and love its Cinderella story: It survived the chopping block of mass school closures in 2013 thanks to the community’s involvement to help it grow. Darwin and Goethe are also good elementary schools in the neighborhood, while St. John Berchmans is a popular parochial school.
Thanks to its wide, shady boulevards, Logan Square is incredibly walkable and stroller-friendly. It’s a large neighborhood with lots of little pockets, which means quiet residential streets far outnumber the noisier ones. The main “square” surrounding Centennial Monument and the Blue Line station is on deck for a major pedestrian-friendly redesign, and traffic-calming measures are implemented along the boulevard during the summer months.
[Related: Family neighborhood guide to Old Irving Park]
Though gentrified portions of Logan Square have caught a lot of flack from the Latinx community that’s dominated the neighborhood for the past generation, many newer residents have added to its diversity. In recent years, Centennial Monument has become a hub for all walks of community groups to make their voices heard to the Mayor, who lives a few blocks west.
Restaurants & Sweets
Lula Cafe, one of the country’s o.g. farm-to-table spots, is still serving the community 20 years in, and yes, it has a colorable kids’ menu. For treats, Pretty Cool Ice Cream, Black Dog Gelato, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams are open year-round, while Miko’s Italian Ice and The Freeze are popular summer spots. For pizza, we favor Dante’s for slices and Paulie Gee’s for pies; Parson’s Chicken & Fish on the Humboldt border is great for brunch and dinner. Unfortunately, there isn’t a centrally located grocery store, so we shop around: Cermak Fresh Market on the west side for produce and pantry staples, Fresh Market Place on the east side for incredible meats, and Dill Pickle in the heart of the ’hood for staples and specialties.
Arts, Culture & Other Fun Stuff
Our family loves the handful of street fests that take over MIlwaukee Avenue during the warmer months, and the farmers’ market on the boulevard is one of the biggest in the city. During the summer, there’s almost always some kind of band performing at the monument, and the nonprofit–led Comfort Station across the square hosts everything from record swaps to avant-garde jazz and book fairs. The local library is pretty fantastic, and there's an incredible Halloween Parade down the boulevard every year.
For all of the ways that Logan Square has changed over the past several decades, it feels like it's just becoming more and more family-friendly.