Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bullish on Hyde Park

Today, Saturday, is warm again. This January heatwave might be a great time to take a leisurely ride to one of our favorite places. Hyde Park.  It's almost a suburb, and it's almost part of town.
The smaller museums and cultural centers in Hyde Park are perfect for families to get close to great culture and art in small intimate atmospheres.
Here is a little list of our favorite Hyde Park spots.  It starts with description of today's family day at the Smart museum with more much tucked down afterwards.

On Saturday the Smart  Museum of Art at the University of Chicago is having the first of a winter series of free family days.  Smart family days are amazing. They're always fun and exciting and free with great materials and patient docents leading the way. The museum is small so the tours are always just a little nibble, not too long.
And this winter they will hold one every month.

Family Day: Knot Your Average Art Materials

Download this event iCal Event Info
When:Saturday, January 7, 2012 1:00 pm
Where:Smart Museum of Art external link
5550 South Greenwood Avenue, Chicago, IL
The Smart now offers free family activities on the first Saturday of every month!

This Saturday, drop by and get inspired by contemporary artists who use materials like string, chord, and yarn in their work.

Learn to weave on a flat loom you can build yourself and create your own cloth. Then, explore unusual art materials during a docent-led tour of the Smart's contemporary gallery.

All ages welcome. Activities are designed for children 4–12. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Website: external link
Contact:Smart Museum of Art
Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the event sponsor for assistance. For events on, please contact ORCSA at (773) 702-8787.
Information on Assistive Listening Device external link

To get to Hyde Park we take the Lake Front Path down to Promontory Point since we haven't found a good route on city streets.  We go through the tunnel westward under Lakeshore Drive just before the Museum of Science and Industry, at 56th street. From here you can ride straight across 56th to Greenwood where the museum is just a bit north of you, but it goes against traffic for part of the way. You can take 57th for a good part of the way instead, where there is coffee at Z & H (never at Medici, home of the worst coffee in Chicago, including vending machines). Smart has a cafe with OK coffee and little snacks too.
lots of bikes in Hyde Park - there's still no snow!

Promontory Point, at roughly 55th street, is great for cook outs if you can fit all the things on your bike! They have fire circles so you don't need a grill, just a rack or sticks to hold the food above the fire. OK, not really the right time of year for this information, but a winter fire can be really fun too.

The Skating Rink on the Midway Plaisance is one of our favorites, free if you have your own skates and $6 to rent a pair from them. It's been open despite the lack of snow. They have a terrific warming house and little cafe. 312 745 2470.

Robie House on 58th and Woodlawn is a famous wonderful restored Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece and they offer kids tours based on the book The Wright 3, a mystery solved by kids who live in Hyde Park. They also have a free self guided neighborhod map you can get at the visitor's center of the important places in the book- just ask at the desk. The tour of the house is not cheap but it is special for kids who love the books. The Robie house is a great first visit for a kid learning about FLW.

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago is amazing, the perfect size for kids and lots of impressive statues and Egyptian, Abyssinian, Mesopotamian, etc things to see. The Museum atmosphere is  magical and mysterious. We find it is easy for the kids to get close to beautiful ancient  objects here without getting overwhelmed. There are small interactive computer kiosks scattered in each exhibit with fun games and information about the collection. Movies about the Middle East and Levant are screened on Sundays.Donation requested.
tut tut.

SHoP- Southside hub of Production, in the house just north of the Unitarian Church on Woodlawn, has ever-changing projects and events and a project room for kids. They are housed in the old Fenn mansion with oodles of room to explore. They have quirky innovative kid programs that are really fun.

Bonjour French Bakery has good sandwiches and little baked things across from DJs Bike Doctor (Raleigh parts) in the Treasure Island mall on Lake Park Avenue just north of 55th st (Lake Park parallels the Metra tracks).

Z and H is the only place with drinkable coffee on 57th st.

Hyde Park Art Center, S Hyde Park Blvd between 55 and 56th, also has a good cafe.

Blackstone Bikes refurbishes bikes and has a youth program.

57th Street bookstore has a great children department. It has a lovely quiet feeling for browsing that is very comfortable. The children's section is hidden away in the back of the shop.We find they have an especially strong selection of children's books and graphic novels for every kid. They have our favorite selection in the city for middle readers about eight to twelve years old. It's probably our favorite store in Hyde Park.

Rajun Cajun is our favorite place to eat in Hyde Park, with a little soul food and lots of fresh Indian dishes in a fast food atmosphere. It's on 53rd near Harper. Try the chai.

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