Warm weather has arrived! We adventure year-round, but spring and summer are my favorite because there are so many gorgeous outdoor things to do in Chicago. In fact, thanks to Chicco, I’m sharing some of the best places to visit with your family.
Chicco is now offering a brand new travel system called the Viaro which includes the Chicco Viaro 3-wheel stroller, Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat, and the Keyfit Base. The Viaro Travel System is available at ChiccoShop.com and Babies “R” Us for a suggested retail price of $349.99. The stand-alone stroller can be purchased for $199.99.
Having a travel system is basically required when you have a baby. It’s so nice to be able to slip back and forth between the car and stroller, especially when you have a sleeping baby.
None of my kids are small enough for the infant seat, but my new niece Harmony is the perfect size. The five point harness has a one-hand center pull adjustment and was really easy to secure and adjust. My sister-in-law has been using the Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and the Keyfit Base in her car and she reports she loves it and it’s really easy to use.
(P.S. How amazingly cute is this little one?!)
My youngest is 3 years old, which means when I go one way, he runs in the opposite direction. Luckily, the Chicco Viaro stroller keeps me and the threenager happy. He get a comfortable ride with a great view and a tray to hold his water and snacks, and I get to keep him where I can see him while I’m keeping an eye on his older brothers.
The Chicco Viaro stroller has some really great features:
The three-wheel design makes it very easy to steer. I can steer with one hand while using my phone, eating or drinking, or holding hands with one of the other kids.
We’ve taken the Chicco Viaro stroller on our adventures lately and I wanted to share our favorite Chicago area spots for families:
1. Millennium Park
I just can’t get enough of Millennium Park. I love it. It’s right in the middle of the city, with gorgeous flowers and plants, fascinating art pieces, and breathtaking views of the skyline. Can a place be both exciting and relaxing at the same time? Normally I’d say no, but that’s how I feel about Millennium Park.
There’s plenty of space to run around or lounge in the grass and people watch. No matter how many times we visit the kids (and I!) are always delighted by Cloudgate (a.k.a. “The Bean”) and the Crown Fountain. We take at least a zillion photos every time we visit and the kids love exploring the Bean to see what kind of crazy reflections they’ll see and splashing around in the Crown Fountain.
The Chicco Viaro is so easy to steer you can easily just use one hand. Campbell really appreciated the adjustable canopy because it was really sunny.
It’s still a little early in the year, but soon Millennium Park will host the Family Fun Festival (June 20 through August 21, 2016) daily for FREE. I wrote about one of our visits to the Family Fun Festival a few years ago.
If it’s warm, be sure you have a change of clothes for the kids – they’ll love playing in the water and standing under the spout at the Crown Fountain.
And when you’re done at Millennium Park you can take a short walk across the gorgeous and windy BP Bridge to the other side of Columbus Drive to another one of the best places to visit with kids:
2. Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park has been open for less than a year, but it’s hard to imagine Chicago without it now. Campbell was really excited to visit and about riding around in his new stroller.
The Maggie Daley Park has something for everyone – climbing walls, a skating ribbon, fieldhouse, picnic areas, mini golf, and – best of all – the Play Garden. The Play Garden is three acres of playgrounds and play areas for children of all ages and abilities.
There are independent playgrounds in Maggie Daley Park for kids of different ages offering swings, slides, play structures, and even a splash pad, but the meandering paths and landscaping connect them all together and lead to what I think is the highlight of the park – the Wave Lawn and Slide Crater. This mega-playground has a giant suspension bridge, plenty of ladders and slides, and lots of opportunities for climbing. The soft surface and stroller-friendly paths make it really easy to visit with little ones.
Of course, Campbell didn’t spend a lot of time in the stroller during our visit; he opted to run and climb, but it was great having a “home base” for the kids to be able to find me and each other, and hold their water bottles, my camera, and diaper bag essentials.
All that running and playing wore Campbell out so enjoyed the smooth stroller ride when we left the park and took the long walk through the parks and eventually to our car in the parking garage.
3. Legoland Discovery Center
Where can you find 3 million LEGO bricks (and no, I’m not talking about your child’s room) that you don’t have to clean up? Legoland Discovery Center! It’s a little outside of Chicago in Schaumburg, but it’s an awesome attraction for toddlers, kids, and even tweens. In fact, it’s there’s a pretty good chance parents will like it too.
At the door you’ll be greeted by Le-La, a giant giraffe made from LEGO bricks. Le-La’s accessories even change for the season.
We’ve been regular visitors to Legoland Discovery Center since Cooper was about 2 (so 6 years) and the kids never get bored of it. There are two floors that include tons of impressive LEGO creations, including a Jungle Expedition and Miniland, a scaled down version of downtown Chicago landmarks. You can take a Factory Tour to see how LEGO bricks are made and participate in the Master Builder Academy.
Of course, throughout Legoland there will be plenty of opportunities to get your hands on some bricks to build and play. Campbell was able to do some building from his stroller.
Legoland has updated the upstairs cafe and play area with a pirate theme. Kids will love climbing and playing in the giant play structure and parents can watch from seats at cafe tables or the counter. They’ve also added a water table for splashing and racing boats you can build with LEGO blocks.
Our favorite attractions at Legoland are the 4-D movies where you not only wear 3-D glasses, but also get misted with water or surrounded by bubbles when the movie characters do, and the two rides. Merlin’s Apprentice Ride has bikes you can pedal to make them fly up into the air. The Kingdom Quest Laser Ride lets you zap skeletons and targets while you ride a dragon car through a LEGO forest. Your car keeps track of the number of targets and skeletons you hit so you can compete against the rest of your family. The movies are short (about 15 or 20 minutes) so they’re perfect for younger kids and the rides are for kids who are at least 3 feet tall to adults.
As with many attractions, you exit Legoland through the gift shop, which every parent knows is a dangerous time. Luckily, I can let Campbell look from his stroller, but still keep him more than an arm’s reach from the toys.
4. Brookfield Zoo
We started visiting Brookfield Zoo when the kids were infants; in fact, Dexter had been there three times by the time he was three weeks old! It’s a beautiful place to walk around and there are several buildings that offer protection if the weather is too warm, cold, rainy, sunny, etc.
The kids love seeing all the animals and learning about the animals and the things they can do to help protect them. Giraffes, bears, penguins, and hippos are some of our favorites, but we also love to visit the new Wild Encounters exhibit where we can pet emus, get close to wallabies, and feed the parakeets.
For younger kids, the Hamill Family Play Zoo is a must. Outside there is a nature play area where kids can learn about animal habitats, and a variety of fun garden areas to explore. Indoors, kids can see small animals like spiders, snakes, and bunnies, explore habitats and learn about animal care, and do special craft projects.
During the summer, the Festival of Flight show is performed three times daily and it’s free. The show features 20 species of birds, free flight demonstrations, and audience interaction.
There are several attractions at Brookfield Zoo that do not allow strollers, like the goat petting area, but they offer stroller parking outside all of these places. There are some buildings that do allow strollers, like the The Swamp and The Living Coast.
Brookfield Zoo offers free days and they allow you to bring your own food it can be a nice outing for a family on a budget.
5. Morton Arboretum
I never visited the Morton Arboretum until I had kids and I realized it’s a treasure I’d been missing all my life. The Morton Arboretum in Lisle describes itself as a 1,700-acre living museum and it is. You can hike or bike through the Arboretum and see everything from birch and crabapple trees to flowering trees, rare plants, and trees from China and Japan.
We haven’t made it through the 1.700 acres in all of our visits so we still have plenty left to explore, but we spend most of our time in the Children’s Garden. Not only do we get to see a variety of trees and plants, but there are fun signs and interactive elements to teach the kids about them. There are also fountains, play structures, and plenty of rocks to climb. The climbing spider web is always fun and I get to relax on a nearby bench and enjoy nature while the kids climb.
Toward the end of our visit, Campbell enjoyed the sights from his stroller, and judging by the long stare here I think he was pretty worn out!
Thanks to Chicco for sponsoring this guide and introducing us to the Chicco Viaro.
Now, best of all, I get to give away a Chicco Viaro Travel System!!
Enter below for your chance to win a Chicco Viaro Stroller, Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat, and Keyfit Base.