My Neighborhood - Family Fun in Portage Park

Written by: Lisa Falconer

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: Portage Park with Lisa - All aboard!  And then explore our other NPN Neighborhoods.

My husband and I moved to Portage Park ten years ago, a good five years before we had kids.  We moved here because we liked the safe, quiet neighborhood, the affordable housing, the easy parking and the access to Metra and the Blue Line, as well as I-90/94.  We hadn’t thought about how the neighborhood would suit kids. 

Luckily, it’s turning out to be a great place to raise kids and it’s only getting better!  One of the factors in our decision to move here, the huge Portage Park itself (4100 N. Long Ave.), is turning out to be a wonderful resource for our whole family.  During the winter, our kids swim and take lessons at the indoor pool.  During the summer, the gigantic outdoor pool, along with the separate kiddie pool area is the perfect urban oasis.  The park has several tennis courts and baseball fields, a roller hockey rink and two field houses.  The playground areas are being renovated this summer and we’re looking forward to the results!

Dickinson Playlot (4101 N. Lavergne Ave.) was recently renovated and has a great splash park area. 

During warmer months, our local farmers markets are held at Portage Park, Independence Park (3945 N. Springfield Ave.) and in Jefferson Park at the Copernicus Center (5216 W. Lawrence Ave.).

Portage Park has a couple of great old movie theaters.  There’s The Portage theater (4050 N. Milwaukee), which shows a variety of movies: independent films, film noir, classics, etc. and the newly restored Patio Theater (6008 W. Irving Park Rd.) which just reopened this month and shows newer movies.  Movies at The Patio are all $5.

Come Halloween, you can’t go wrong with Fantasy Costume (4065 N. Milwaukee Ave.).  With a store that fills an entire city block, they’ve got every type of costume you can imagine. 

For some fun, quirky finds, take the kids to American Science and Surplus (5316 N. Milwaukee Ave.).  You’ll find all sorts of inspiration for projects!

ABC Dance Academy (4200 N. Central) has lively Mommy & Me classes and owner Alina couldn’t be more welcoming and enthusiastic in getting little ones moving and dancing. 

As for dining, The Portage restaurant (3938 N. Central Ave.) is a gastropub that was recognized as one of Chicago’s best new restaurants by Chicago Magazine.  Trattoria Porretta (3656 N. Central) has delicious Italian food.  Try the gnocchi and don’t forget to get some cannoli for dessert!  Oh, and the meatballs are perfection!  For delicious coffee and homemade food, try Café Soroni (4945 N. Milwaukee), which just opened in December.  They also have fantastic smoothies.  Gale Street Inn (4914 N. Milwaukee Ave.) is known for their ribs, but their entire menu is worth a try and just as good.  On Sunday evenings they have a magician who’s truly amazing and will come around to each table, not only to perform magic but to craft balloon animals for children.  Hagen’s Fish Market (5635 W. Montrose Ave.) has been around for over 60 years and makes some terrific seafood.

Over the years we’ve noticed more and more families moving into Portage Park and a revitalization of businesses.  We’re looking forward to what the coming years bring to our corner of Chicago!


Insider tips to kid-sized Chicago:  In addition to the great suggestions above, here are a few more family-friendly places to shop, play and learn with the wee ones in Portage Park:

Chicago Kids Company(4050 N. Milwaukee) was founded in 1992 to introduce Chicago’s children to the magic of live theatre.  CKC's productions are original musicals adapted from Fairy Tales, and are geared towards children 2-12 years old.  They also offer classes and amazing summer camps.

Irving Park Bowling Lanes(5708 W. Irving Park Rd.) is a great place for your little one to learn to bowl.  On Wednesdays it is only $1 a game.

Eli’s Cheesecake World(6701 E. Forest Preserve Dr.) was named the #1 Food Factory Tour.  For only $3 per person Monday through Friday you can get a sneak peek of their cheesecake factory.  On the weekend, you can view and taste at 1pm for FREE.

Chicago Costume Warehouse(4727 W. Montrose) has been outfitting Chicago in brilliant costumes since 1976.  From masks and wigs to elaborate rental costumes, they have a vast selection and family-owned service to ensure you find just what you are looking for.

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

Posted on July 11, 2011 at 10:42 PM