Visitors! A Toddler in the Big City

Last month, the most awesome visitor came all the way from Florida to see me – my 2.5 year old niece Charlotte! (Oh yeah, and my amazing big Sister too!)

I had so much fun exploring Chicago with them, from a Toddler’s point of view.  Sure, Michigan Avenue and the Sears Tower are pretty cool – but we’ll take her there when she’s older. For now, the funnest (yes, I just said ‘funnest’) places in town are simply the neighborhood Playgrounds – we visited 4 different playgrounds during her short visit. 



Us adults got in on the action too, and I think we had almost as much fun as Charlotte did.



And to Charlotte, with so many busses & trains, the city seemed like one big Amusement Park full of rides.  Though we did plenty of bus and train riding ourselves, one of our favorite activities was sitting outside and watching the trains go by.  We ate at both Margie’s Candies and City Provisions, where the Train Tracks were in plain view (and I enjoyed a Mango Italian Ice and Raw Veggie & Tofu Wrap, respectively).


We also went on a boat ride on Lake Michigan, thanks to my sister’s Father in Law who lives in town.  Charlotte fell asleep as soon as we got on the boat.  She woke up once we were back at the dock, and said “Let’s go for a boat ride!”, not realizing she’d already missed the whole thing.


To make up for our boat ride fail, we let Charlotte ride the Carousel at the Lincoln Park Zoo twice!

My favorite part of the trip, however, was a simple night at home.  Mike took my sister out for a drink while I stayed back and baby-sat.  Thanks to Spotify and some Disney classics (Part of Your World, Hakuna Matata, and Be Our Guest!), a crazy dance party ensued.  Charlotte even sought out costumes (a dress over her PJs) and props (notice her make-shift pom-poms).


Afterwards, I read to her from some children’s books I had picked up at the Library, and before long, she was sound asleep.

Now, this wouldn’t be a Veggie Next Door post if it wasn’t full of good eats, and we had plenty that weekend.  

One of our highlights was the Green City Market.  Along with our friends Krin and Etan, we found a spot on the lawn and then took turns heading into the crowded market stalls and bringing back food.


Charlotte enjoyed a Seedling Smoothie and a Grilled Cheese made with cheese from a small local farm.


I stole a delicious bite of my sister’s vegetarian tamale, and enjoyed my own veggie-full wrap on a sprouted tortilla.


And I came home with a bag overflowing with snacks for later: Raspberries, Strawberries, Tart Cherries, Red Currants, Sugar Snap Peas, Asparagus, and Fresh Tofu!

Another excellent meal we had was at the Icosium Kafe in Andersonville.  This Algerian Crepe Cafe has been a favorite of mine for YEARS for their creative crepes, with ingredients like Housemade Olive Tapenade, Fresh Pineapple, Carmelized Onions, Roasted Peppers, Nuts and Herbs.  I’ve always loved the restaurant’s attention to detail, with garnishes ranging from cucumbers in the water (sooo delicious!), fresh mint on the soup, and an every-changing variety of fresh fruits with each crepe.  

This was my first time dining there with a toddler and our server took great care of Charlotte, bringing her a complimentary plate of fruit the moment we sat down.


We started with an order of Moroccan Mint Tea for the adults, and a fresh piece of Zaatar  Bread (Zaatar is a spice blend typically made of Thyme, Oregano, Majoram, Sesame Seeds and Salt).


Every dinner crepe includes a bowl of soup.  I always get the vegetable soup which is creamy & bright thanks to Sweet Potatoes, and extra delicious with a dab of Harissa (hot sauce). And I seem to always wind up ordering the same thing – the Chicago Crepe is AMAZING and loaded with avocado, sundried tomatoes, cilantro, bell peppers, scallions and sunflower seeds.  I always order this without the cheese for a lighter option.  While the crepe batter isn’t vegan, any crepe can also be made into a salad.


We also went out to brunch one day.  Since the wait at Over Easy was far too long, we tried a new-to-me nearby spot – Marmalade.  Charlotte enjoyed the crayons and kiddie cups, and I was very impressed with their Vegan Chilaquiles.  I also loved that they had Soy Milk for my coffee!


I had so much fun with Charlotte that I already bought a plane ticket to see her again next month :-)

I’d love to hear from you!

What would you take a kid to do in Chicago or your city?