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Samantha Lande

Samantha Lande

Samantha is Time Out Chicago's kids contributor. When she isn't telling you fun stuff to do with your kids, she's trying to find ways to entertain her own. You can follow her on Twitter @thepetitefilet.

Articles (29)

The best family winter vacation ideas in the Midwest

The best family winter vacation ideas in the Midwest

Don’t believe the hate. Despite oftentimes brutally cold weather, there are plenty of fun activities to do in Chicago all winter long. But if you’ve already hit Christkindlmarket, the city’s best ice rinks and all of the nearby sledding hills, it might be time to branch out a little bit. Why not look outside of the city for some winter excitement? The Midwest is home to plenty of great getaways, with several big cities and countless small towns that make for perfect wintertime family destinations. From sledding on dunes to visiting ice caves in the Great Lakes, here are some of the best family-friendly winter vacation destinations. RECOMMENDED: The best day trips from Chicago 

The best family weekend getaways from Chicago

The best family weekend getaways from Chicago

Chicago boasts plenty of kid-friendly activities, but if you're planning a family vacation out of town, there are plenty of approachable, fun and memorable destinations close by for a weekend away. Cities, state parks, and lakes across the region are full of hiking for all ages and engaging, hands-on ways to learn about history, ecology and wildlife. Along the way, find quirky shops and hidden gems, kid-friendly restaurants with decadent desserts and recreational activities that kids of all ages will enjoy. From the wacky and weird the to active and relaxing, here are the best family weekend getaways from Chicago (all within four hours of the city).

8 ways to support Chicago restaurants and bars right now

8 ways to support Chicago restaurants and bars right now

As restaurants and bars across the city close their doors to dine-in guests this week, you might be wondering what you can do to help. Good on you. After all, these are the folks who have always welcomed us in for date night, birthday celebrations and late-night shenanigans. Now it’s our turn to show up, and thankfully there are plenty of ways to support Chicago restaurants and bars over the next couple of weeks. From ordering delivery and stocking up on gift cards to grabbing beer from Chicago breweries on your next grocery run, these are eight easy ways to show love to Chicago’s best restaurants and bars during this uncertain time. Editor’s note: Things are changing by the second, and many restaurants are still figuring out what works best for them. We’ll keep this article updated, but please be safe, use your best judgement and call ahead if you’re uncertain. RECOMMENDED: Why we changed our logo to Time In—for now

The craziest things people steal from Chicago restaurants and bars

The craziest things people steal from Chicago restaurants and bars

Restaurateurs and designers spend countless hours (and plenty of money) picking out the perfect decor—right down to the cutlery on the table and the artwork in the bathroom to the tiny knickknacks above the bar. They love it when patrons admire their stylist approach, but they can’t stand it when kleptos pocket their prized possessions. If you’ve ever swiped a bottle of hot sauce or stuffed a tiki mug from one of the best cocktail bars in Chicago in your bag, we’re looking at you. But no matter how sneaky you think you are, personnel behind the best restaurants in Chicago take notice. Here’s what they see go missing on a regular basis—from leather-bound menus and embroidered napkins to photos of celebrities on the toilet.

What to do in Corktown, Detroit's coolest neighborhood

What to do in Corktown, Detroit's coolest neighborhood

What’s the deal with Corktown?  Corktown has seen many iterations, from its origin as a haven for Irish immigrants to the era as the home of the Detroit Tigers (the city's major-league baseball team who moved downtown 20 years ago). But the neighborhood’s latest iteration is perhaps the most exciting yet, with boundary-pushing chefs, unique vintage finds, and a burgeoning cocktail scene waiting to be explored. More changes are already on the horizon: Ford Motor Company has purchased the old Michigan Central station as a campus to develop electric vehicles, and alongside retail and housing it’s investing $10 million into the Corktown community. There’s already plenty of new construction happening. But through it all, you’ll still find the creativity and grit that defines Detroit. Visit the new and trendy, but don’t forget about the stalwarts—this is an important and historic part of the city, and the people who live here don’t want you to forget it. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the world If you only do one thing
 Eldorado General Store. Photograph: Courtesy Eldorado General Store Hit up Eldorado General Store, which is like a collection of all of the best finds from the ultimate road trip. You’ll find everything vintage here, from killer suede boots to funky crystals. Get cultured Let us not forget the rich musical history of Detroit. The Motown Museum takes you through the history of Hitsville, and will become even more comprehensive after i

Chicago summer camp guide: academic camps

Chicago summer camp guide: academic camps

There's no way your little Einstein is going to spend his or her summer lazing at the beach. No, they'd much rather be exploring Chicago's top museums, studying the stars or learning how to code. Don't waste a single second of the summer on anything less—these academic camps offer interactive workshops and fun field trips that will expose your tots to cool new skills. Your kids can master the French language, learn how to program a robot, study insects and butterflies and even learn how to use a 3-D printer. What are you waiting for? RECOMMENDED: Chicago summer camp guide

Chicago summer camp guide: sports camps

Chicago summer camp guide: sports camps

Summer sports camps are the perfect way to keep active kids from going stir-crazy when they're not busy with school or away on a family day trip. Chicago has no shortage of great athletic camps, from some sponsored by the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls to camps featuring schoolyard sports like kickball and capture the flag. You should have no problem getting the little ones off the couch this season.  RECOMMENDED: Chicago summer camp guide

Chicago summer camp guide: art camps

Chicago summer camp guide: art camps

The right art camp can be a great way to nurture your child's creative ambitions this summer. Is your kid always playing air guitar in the car? Find a camp for future rockstars, complete with a live performance at a rock music venue. More of a budding scene stealer? One of the city's top theater camps will inspire them to stand in the spotlight. There's even a camp for amateur authors. From acting and filmmaking to dance and music, there's an arts-focused summer camp out there that'll help your kiddo explore a new scene. RECOMMENDED: Chicago summer camp guide

Chicago summer camp guide: sleepaway camps

Chicago summer camp guide: sleepaway camps

Could your city kid use some fresh air? A sleepaway camp could be just what your little one needs this summer. These overnight experiences deliver with swimming lessons, nature walks, karaoke nights, water skiing and craft projects. Plus, each camp is tailored to a different kind of kid, allowing you to pick the perfect fit for your tiny explorer. As a built-in perk, you'll get to enjoy your own summer vacation for a week or more. May we suggest checking out the best cocktail bars, going to summer music festivals or spending lazy days on Chicago beaches? RECOMMENDED: Chicago summer camp guide

The best things to do with kids on and around the 606

The best things to do with kids on and around the 606

While the 606 is a beloved stretch for Chicago’s runners and bikers, it’s also a haven for the city’s smallest set. With a car-free place to toddle, plenty of parks and playgrounds to monkey around in, and tons of programming for the whole family, the Chicago park space is a little one’s dream. Here are some of the kid-friendly highlights of the Bloomingdale Trail.  RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the 606

Places to get kids’ haircuts in Chicago

Places to get kids’ haircuts in Chicago

Whether it's their very first haircut or a routine trim, taking your kiddos to the hair salon can be quite the ordeal. But if you toss in a fun atmosphere, patient hair dressers and toys galore, things get exponentially easier. Chicago is home to a handful of fantastic kid-focused, scissor-toting shops that make haircuts a breeze. When the little ones need a new 'do, check out these salons.

Art classes for kids

Art classes for kids

The world is a canvas to your mini Monets—the proof is in the colorful marks all over your walls and floors (and on tables at Chicago restaurants). It's time to channel that artistic energy into a less damaging direction by checking out one of these art classes for kids in Chicago. Whether you have a budding fashion designer who wants to learn sewing or a pint-sized Picasso whose paintings you think are worthy of Chicago museums (in your totally unbiased opinion), these art studios will help them get the creative juices flowing. Plus, many of these spots offer great birthday party ideas.  

News (6)

Take your kids on a progressive playdate

Take your kids on a progressive playdate

Sometimes being a parent is like being a cruise director. Always planning the next activity to take your kids to, jam-packing the day to make sure your kids sleep oh-so soundly once they hit the pillow. That’s why I was so excited to hear about a new initiative called #playdateproject—essentially a progressive playdate through some of Chicago’s coolest kid-friendly venues. Think progressive dinner sans booze, but with an abundance of activities for kids. The genius idea comes from Candice Blansett-Cummins of Lakeview kids' art studio The Wishcraft Workshop, and she hopes to make the progressive playdates a regular thing with plans to mix up the target ages, businesses and neighborhoods. Subsequent playdates will also include an element of exploration or transportation (perhaps all by the CTA or by bike). The first playdate on Sunday, June 7, is free and targets kids 3 and up. The goal is to get families to hit as many of the places as possible—an interactive map will be provided. Here's the schedule: Noon–1pm The Laboratory1–2pm Bucktown Music2–3pm Easel Art Studio3–4pm The Kids' Table 4–5pm Wishcraft Workshop Families that attend at least three of the five spots will receive a virtual goodie bag filled with deals from other surrounding independent businesses. This also assures parents don’t come home with the dreaded bag of crap, but rather something they can put to good use for future activities (and provide a win-win to the local businesses!). There will also be snacks fro

The Kids' Table's new Lakeview location includes sundae-making classes

The Kids' Table's new Lakeview location includes sundae-making classes

Kids are notoriously picky eaters, but you’d be amazed what happens when they help create their own meals. That's part of the idea behind The Kids’ Table, which has been operating in Wicker Park since 2007, and just opened a second, larger location in Lakeview. The new location can accommodate two classes at once, allowing for more programming throughout the year. Classes are generally separated by age group and start at 2 years and up. One of the focuses of the new spot is family cooking classes that give families the skills and tools to recreate what they learned in class in their own kitchen. The Kids' Table is kicking it off with an international series—each week focuses on a different cuisine, such as Mexican night with make-your-own nachos and coconut horchata and Chinese night with vegetable fried rice and baked egg rolls. Everything is relatively healthy, vegetarian and made from scratch.  And since every kid (okay, adults, too) loves indulging in ice cream during the summer, the “Sundae Funday” family workshop, on Sundays from 6–7pm starting June 7, is sure to be a hit. Families can make their own ice cream sundaes, which includes hand-whipping the whipped cream and making hot fudge from scratch. (We had the opportunity to try this out as a family and it was amazing!) Also on the docket is "Make and Take Meatless Mondays," where a parent can come in with their child and make a meal to-go that serves up to six. Current menus include black bean, sweet potato and cheese

A new play space will take care of your kids when you're in a bind

A new play space will take care of your kids when you're in a bind

As a parent you likely have been faced with one of these dilemmas. You're getting ready to head out the door to work when your nanny calls to tell you she [insert excuse here] and can’t make it today; you snagged a coveted reservation for date night with no sitter; school is cancelled at the last minute; the list goes on
. Lakeview’s new Take a Break Playcare aims to mitigate these childcare woes. The combination play space–daycare is designed specifically for those random hours or last-minute moments where you need a helping hand. Just call before you go to make sure there's space available (capacity is 75), and if there is, you can drop off your child for whatever amount of time you desire (though there's a two-hour minimum). Kids ages 0–13 are welcome, and there are tailored activities for each age group. For the biggest kids, there's a video game lounge and air hockey table, as well as brand new iMac computers and iPads in a computer room. The multi-purpose sports room that can be converted for older or younger kid, and toddlers spend their time in a large play space complete with a slide, dress-up station, dollhouses and an array of toys. Infants have their own spaces—one room filled with portable cribs for napping, and another with soft toys and a swing. Take a Break may offer a few classes down the road, like arts and crafts or music. A staff member will be keeping a watchful eye on the infant and toddler rooms at all times, and someone periodically checks in on the ol

A first look at The Laboratory, a new kids' learning space in Bucktown

A first look at The Laboratory, a new kids' learning space in Bucktown

Thanks to people like Neil deGrasse Tyson, science has never been cooler, making it a great time for the debut of Bucktown's The Laboratory, a learning space where kids can take classes on fun topics like how to make a robotic monster.  Ed and Amy Kang, both National Board Certified Chicago Public School teachers, have taken their individual strengths (him a Ph.D. in neuroscience and a science teacher, her a focus on the language arts) and developed fun and creative classes based on the principles of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and many of the standards expected in schools. The result are courses like "Frozen: Welcome to Arendelle," where kids will do experiments that connect to the beloved movie Frozen, and "Spa Chemist," where kids can learn about fragrances and make their own bath bombs. Most classes will run as a series but there may be individual drop-in classes based on interest. Classes will start on March 7. The space itself is bright and open with chalkboard and dry-erase walls where doodling is encouraged and high top butcher block tables that encourage teamwork. Kids even get to wear tiny lab coats and see things like a 3D printer in action. Because the Kangs are still teaching, classes for kids will be weekends only and during CPS school breaks (check out their Hogwarts spring break camp!). Most classes are geared toward elementary school age, but they plan to add toddler classes as they see a desire in the neighborhood. Don't worry, gr

Evanston's Little Beans Cafe opens tomorrow and it's amazing

Evanston's Little Beans Cafe opens tomorrow and it's amazing

One of the coolest kids' indoor play spaces I've ever seen is opening in Evanston on February 13. Little Beans Cafe's first location in Lincoln Park has long been a favorite for kids with cabin fever and, based on my sneak peek of the new Evanston location, the trek north of the border is well worth it. The new 14,500-square-foot Little Beans is filled with activities for kids of all ages. The play area is broken up into two sides: Little Beans (0-4) and Big Beans (5-12). The Little Beans side of the space is similar to the fun little village at the Lincoln Park location, but this time with a camp theme. Little campers can climb their way through a tree house, visit the ranger station and, of course, ride on toy cars and push grocery carts around the space. There is plenty of seating around the perimeter for parents to watch their kids explore. The Big Beans side is unlike any activities offered at other play spaces in the Chicago area. The main event is the ninja warrior obstacle course that kids can climb, run and jump through (with staff assistance on hand). The best part? A zip-line that glides over a foam-filled pit. The course will be open during after-school hours and on the weekends. There is also half-court gym open for all ages that will host a variety of drop-in activities as well as open play for kids to practice their skills. Adjacent to that is a karaoke room where kids can dress up, get on stage and perform their greatest hits. There is also a pin- pong table a

What to do with your kids when school is canceled

What to do with your kids when school is canceled

This week, working parents learned the hard way that when school is abruptly canceled, it's tough to figure out what to do with your kids—other than to call in sick to work. Certainly you'd like to keep your job, so here are programs across the city that offer drop-off childcare, from a few hours to a full day, so next time school is canceled due to weather (and surely there will be a next time) or for any other reason, you can still go to work. YMCAThe Y's School Days Out Program's instructor-led activities range from arts and crafts to sports. Prices vary, so contact your local center. The Irving Park, Lakeview, McCormick Tribune, South Side, Naperville, Des Plaines, High Ridge and Downers Grove YMCAs all participate. Bright Horizons and Chalk PreschoolBright Horizons and Chalk preschool offer emergency drop-ins at some of its centers for infants to pre-K kids  Find your closest location as rules vary whether it's a benefit from your employer or open to the community. JCCWhen school is a no-go, JCC offers "vacation days" for kids 5-11 years old in Chicago, Skokie and Northbrook. Sports, swimming and tons of creative programming will make your kids truly feel like they are on vacation. Depending on the location and time of year, the group may also go on nearby field trips. Lifetime FitnessAlthough you may have to skip the workout this time around, select Lifetime Fitness gyms offer programs—half or full day—when your kids are on a break from school as part of its Snowonder p

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