$20 playdate


Photo: MARINA MAKROPOULOSMarina Makropoulos | Photographer Anne Marie Choy sleds the hill with Aaron Medina at Stearns Quarry Park in Chicago on Sunday February 14, 2010.

Grab the sleds, slip on the snow pants and head down to Mayor Daley’s old stomping grounds for some old-school-meets-new-cool action. Dive right into the neighborhood vibe by visiting hole-in-the-wall Bridgeport Bakery (2907 S Archer Ave, 773-523-1121) for oversized glazed doughnuts with sprinkles for the kids (70 cents each) and one of the much-lauded bacon buns for yourself (85 cents).

Enjoy your yeasty delights on your way to nearby Henry C. Palmisano Nature Park (formerly Stearns Quarry Park, 2700 S Halsted St) most recently the site of a garbage dump after time as a working quarry and (about 180 million years ago) an ancient coral reef. After zipping down the city’s newest (and least crowded) sledding hill, stroll down the metal walkway to a lagoon surrounded by the steep stone walls from the quarry.

Refuel and warm up at Ramova Grill (3510 S Halsted St, 773-847-9058), a gem of a joint that has been churning out simple diner fare since 1929. Opt for a wooden booth where the kids can chomp on grilled cheese sammies and shoestring fries ($1.40 each) while you savor a bowl of the famous housemade chili ($3.25). 

After lunch, walk north to Monster Island Toys (3335 S Halsted St, 773-247-5733) to marvel at the righteous collection of new and vintage Godzilla memorabilia. A $5 Godzilla magnet for each kid is a playful way to end the date.

Food = $8.30
Souvenirs = $10
Total for one adult, two kids = $18.30