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Chicago Like a Local Blog

Unique perspectives on the city from the people who live here.

Category - Family

Autumn has arrived in the city of Chicago! The leaves are just beginning to transform into their fall best, farmers markets are filling up with the fruits of the harvest and the evening air is cool and crisp — perfect for enjoying an evening walk with a pumpkin spice latte in hand. Autumn ushers in a new season of fun in the city, with new performances hitting stages, new museum exhibits opening their doors, and fun festivals and outdoor events that embrace everything fall. 

Here are four things we're looking forward to this autumn in Chicago.

Bookworms big and small will want to make a beeline to Chicago's brand-new, amazing American Writers Museum (AWM) and its Children’s Literature Gallery. As the first and only museum of its kind in the nation, this word-filled museum celebrates diverse American writers while also exploring their influence on our cultural identity.

If you're raising a reader, here are seven things kids can see and do at the must-visit American Writers Museum.

You'll know you've arrived at Chicago's American Girl outpost when you spot the gaggles of giggling girls clutching their dolls as they excitedly making their way towards Michigan Avenue's Water Tower Place. This upscale, specialty doll store is a little girl's dream come true: a doll-friendly cafe, bakery, and even an in-house doll hair salon make American Girl Place a Chicago tourist destination in and of itself. At the end of August, American Girl Place Chicago will roll out the red carpet for the official debut of its newest BeForever character, Nanea Mitchell. 

Have you ever dreamed of waddling with a penguin, sharing a tasty bite of kale with a giraffe, or kissing... a beluga? Three new animal experiences will give you the chance to do all of the above and more. Make all your wildest dreams come true with new animal encounters at Chicagoland's best zoos and stellar aquarium. 

On Monday, August 21, at about 11:52 a.m., the moon over Chicago will begin passing between the sun and the Earth, making for the first total solar eclipse to travel across the entire contiguous United States in 99 years. At approximately 1:19 p.m., the city will experience a maximum solar eclipse. Celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence in Chicago on the lakefront at the city's premier planetarium, on the high seas of Lake Michigan, or 94 floors above the city. 

The Chicago Air & Water Show, one of the summer's most thrilling spectacles, is coming up on August 19–20 (10 a.m.–3 p.m.). The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and many more experts in speed will hit the skies over our fair city in this, the largest free air-and-water-focused show in the U.S. While you can always catch the Air & Water Show from pretty much anywhere on the lakefront between Fullerton Avenue and Oak Street, here are four ways to view the show in comfort and style:

When it comes to our family dog, Gizmo, sometimes we wonder who rescued whom. Saved from an unhealthy living situation by a local dog rescue organization, he arrived at our doorstep five years ago. Timid and sad at first, he fast became a beloved member of our family. He's our No. 1 squirrel protector and our best walking buddy, and he's always there to offer a warm cuddle and unconditional love. So naturally our family has been delighted to discover two amazing Chicago brunch venues—and even a luxe hotel—that welcome humans and their animal friends with open arms! 

As we head into the final stretch of summer, it's time to pack in everything on your bucket list. Spend a long day building sandcastles on Oak Street Beach, hit up the museums you've missed, and enjoy dinner al fresco with a scenic view. While you're at it, why not run away and join the circus? Or hang out with your animal pals from Madagascar... wait—what?!

Here are two whimsical, family-friendly shows you won't want to miss this summer in Chicago: Cirque du Soleil's Luzia and Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Madagascar – A Musical Adventure.

A trip to Navy Pier always promises a day of fun; but this summer, Chicago's No.1 tourist attraction ups the ante with a brand-new, 13-acre green outdoor space that's packed with amazing (and free!) programming. Polk Bros Park will now serve as the Pier’s gateway and the city’s unofficial front yard. Two performance and picnic-friendly lawns, located at the south end of the park, will offer free arts and cultural programming throughout the summer and beyond.

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