As your toddler's next birthday approaches, finding the right venue for the party can cause a certain amount of stress. While some venues are kid-friendly, they're not necessarily ideal for the toddler set. The good news for Chicago moms of tots is that there are plenty of toddler-friendly venue options available, from the downtown area to the city's many neighborhoods. Choose the right venue based on your child's interests and favorite activities.
The Field Museum of Natural History, in the South Loop neighborhood, offers party packages for tots who love to explore. The museum includes The Crown Family Playlab, a play space where younger children can dress up as animals, bang on an African drum or dig up dinosaur bones. Party packages include admission to the whole museum, a craft project and a party space. At the Wonder Works children's museum in Oak Park, kids can explore five different interactive exhibits, including an organic garden and an exhibit that puts the kids in the spotlight on center stage. Birthday party packages include the use of a party room, a party host and full access to the museum for all the kids.
Indoor Play Centers
Chicago has no shortage of toddler-friendly play centers where kids can play and pretend, dance, sing and tumble. Bubbles Academy, near the north side of Chicago, offers a wide range of enrichment classes for infants and toddlers, including music, dance, art and preschool prep. It offers birthday party themes tailored by age, including a music dance party and climbing party. Parents who are avid coffee drinks will love Little Beans Cafe in Bucktown, which combines a kids play space with a coffee shop. It offers several birthday packages, including some that provide tableware, food and goody bags.
Nature and Outdoor
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in the Lincoln Park neighborhood offers children's nature classes where kids can interact with animals and explore the outdoor area around the museum. Its birthday party packages include a decorated private room, museum admission, a hands-on animal experience and optional additional activities. For a more relaxed or low-key outdoor party, the Chicago Park District has 580 parks where you can find a field house to rent for the party, or just claim an available picnic table. Notable parks to consider for toddlers include Harold Washington Playlot Park in Hyde Park, Adams Playground in Lincoln Park and Seneca Park in Streeterville, all of which include toddler-sized playgrounds.
Art Venues and More
For the artistic tot, Chicago has several child-focused art centers that offer birthday party packages. Lillstreet Arts Center in Ravenswood focuses on teaching children aspects of the visual arts. Its birthday party packages include a clay or metal art project for toddlers, invitations and goody bags. Easel Art Studio in Bucktown is another art studio that offers children's art classes and hosts birthday parties. Birthday party packages include an art project customized around the birthday child's interests. For tots who love to be in the kitchen, a venue to consider is The Kid's Table, which provides cooking classes for toddlers, kids and teens. They customize birthday party packages according to a child's age and food preferences.