My Neighborhood - Family Fun in Lincoln Square, Chicago

Written by: Amy Johnson

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.  First stop: Lincoln Square with Amy - All aboard!  And then explore our other NPN Neighborhoods.

I love living in Lincoln Square!  We have lived here for more than eight years and there is always something new to do or see. 

My boys always enjoy Tuesday morning trips to the farmer’s market (at 4700 N. Lincoln Ave.).  We’d stock up on fresh produce and then head over to Giddings Plaza to play or grab a treat or drink from Café Selmarie (4729 N. Lincoln).  Bring some pennies to throw in the fountain and some chalk, bubbles, or a toy for kids to play with in the plaza! You can relax and watch from one of the benches.

Thursday night farmer’s market & concert series in Giddings Plaza: grab dinner from Pizza D.O.C. (whose restaurant is at 2251 W. Lawrence Ave.) or any of the other vendors at the market and head over to the plaza to listen to the music.  Bring a blanket to sit on, a wagon for the kids or your lawn chairs and it’s a perfect summer night with the family.

One of our new indulgences is the gelato at Paciugo (2324 W. Giddings).  They are super-friendly and encourage sampling.  Our boys love the little spoons!

Another fun stop while you are in the square is Timeless Toys (4749 N. Lincoln).  The helpful staff is full of suggestions and guidance for that perfect present.  They have a train table for keeping little ones busy—while you browse.  

If you are looking for musical enrichment, look no further than the Old Town School of Folk Music (4544 N. Lincoln).  Great music options for kids and families, such as Wiggleworms classes, concerts, group lessons, and more.

A few other great places to stop while visiting the square include The Book Cellar (weekly story time, café, nice selection), Marbles the Brain Store (great selection of memory, critical thinking, and other games for kids and adults), The Chopping Block (cooking classes for adults, kids and families; plus a great storefront); Enjoy, an Urban General Store (A specialty gift shop featuring gifts for everyone from youngsters to oldsters); and Merz Apothecary (unique and natural health, bath and personal care products from around the world). 

Not too far from the square, just west of Western, is another great area to visit.  Take the Brown Line El to the Rockwell stop, a street-level stop that makes it really easy to navigate with kids!

One of our favorite places here is Rockwell’s Grill (4632 N. Rockwell).  They have a great outdoor patio for the warmer months, really good food, and if you are there around 5pm you’ll feel right at home with the tables full of other families too.   Also, Bloom Yoga (4663 N. Rockwell) offers yoga classes for expectant parents, new moms, families and more!

Don't miss our wonderful neighborhood parks:

  • Welles Park (2333 W. Sunnyside) was recently renovated; instead of tearing down the existing park, they kept it and added a new playlot that borders Sunnyside and is closer to the field house.  The new park has a water spray area, cushy ground, a teeter totter and much more.  In the summer, there is a concert series in the park, at the gazebo. The large gazebo is a magnet for kids too – when there isn’t a concert, you’ll see kids running and playing in it.
  • Winnemac Park (5100 N. Damen) is another favorite.  It’s a large park with a playground, tennis courts, open fields and really good climbing trees (for older kids).  When our oldest son was able to ride a two-wheel bike, we would often head to this park.  There is a great walking path through this park that is also perfect for younger bike riders.  There is a “loop” of the path that is visible from the playground and my oldest son loves to ride loops while his brother and I are at the playground. 

On those rainy, too cold or too hot days, there is Pickle’s Playroom (2315 W. Lawrence), a new interactive playroom, which also has a café and a fun children's salon—a half-hour of play time is free with a haircut.

A few tips for navigating YOUR neighborhood:

  • Check to see if your alderman has a Facebook page and if so, “like it.”  You’ll find out about upcoming events in your area.  The previous Lincoln Square area alderman, Gene Schulter, organized a fabulous “kids club” with movies at the Davis Theatre, holiday events, bonfires, etc. 
  • I just discovered Center Square Journal (thanks to NPN) and now subscribe to their weekly newsletter and have liked them on Facebook.  They are an online-only news publication that focuses exclusively on Northcenter, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood Manor.  I was thrilled to get the 2011 Movies in the Park Schedule and learn that Gene’s Sausage Shop (4750 N. Lincoln Ave.) has a rooftop deck.   If you haven’t yet been to Gene’s, I highly recommend it.     
  • Stop in at your local Chicago Park District office.  Welles Park offers tons of great programs. 
  • Check to see if you have a local Chamber of Commerce.  They often have a great calendar of upcoming events for you and your family - Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce
  • Don’t forget to check out your NPN neighborhood group! Visit the Lincoln Square-North Center page or email with questions, ideas or to help plan an event!


     Insider tips to kid-sized Chicago:  Lincoln Square is a Mecca for family fun! In addition to all of Amy’s fabulous suggestions, here are a few of our favorite places to eat, play and shop with the wee ones:

  • Costellos Sandwich (4647 N. Lincoln) is a great place to grab a yummy sandwich or salad.  This stroller friendly restaurant offers inexpensive kid’s meals and live music every day at lunch.
  • Little Green Baby (4654 Rockwell) is an eco-friendly, socially conscious store that carries clothing, toys and gear from birth to 5 years.
  • Piggy Toes (4548 N. Western) stocks a gorgeous selection of children’s shoes.  Don’t miss the small sale section in the back.
  • Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln) has been in Lincoln Square for 80 years.  Check out their Camp Hollywood Children Film Series every Tuesday and Wednesday starting June 14.  Movies start at 10am and admission is only $1!
  • Chicago Brauhaus (4732 N. Lincoln) has been serving up Bavarian fare and beer for over 40 years. Don’t miss their house oompah band, the Brauhaus Trio, each night at 7pm.

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

Posted on June 06, 2011 at 10:28 AM