No fireworks, but more kid-friendly bites at Taste of Chicago


By Liz DeCarlo

Senior Editor

Taste of Chicago has always been a great place to introduce kids to new foods and flavors, and this year, fest organizers have made it even more family-friendly.

At this summer's fest, in addition to the Family Village, which has been a part of the Taste for years, there will also be The Playground-a kids' area complete with a giant sandbox and activities just for kids. Best of all, both sites are free.

[The Taste is one of our 10 Best Summer Fests. Check out the other nine.]

"The Playground is an area at Balbo and Columbus where there's going to be family-focused activities and different sports activities like fitness, tumbling, dance, and art and culture demonstrations and displays," says Mary Slowik, Taste of Chicago manager.

When you go further north through the event, you'll come to the Family Village at Columbus and Jackson, which is a perennial family favorite, Slowik says.

"It has activities from museums and different vendors do promotions."

If you're caught short and need an emergency diaper change, Family Village has free diaper supplies.

New this year also will be a big top where Midnight Circus will perform four 45-minute shows throughout the day. There may be an additional fee.

Of course, it wouldn't be the Taste without sampling some food.

"Keep in mind, every restaurant has two taste portions, which are just made for children," Slowik says. "They are two smaller servings and nothing is more than four tickets, which is $2."

[Bored kids? We've got 100 things to do this summer]

This year there will be 60 restaurants serving food at the Taste, with everything from ethnic food to classic American favorites.

"This is a great opportunity to sample your family's favorite items, as well as explore all the different cuisine that Chicago has to offer," Slowik says.

If you're visiting the Taste with kids and don't want to try to navigate strollers through large crowds or wait in line for food, Slowik recommends coming at 11 a.m. when the event first opens and is less crowded. This year there will also be reduced-price parking at lots near Soldier Field, with free trolleys.

To save money, visit a Dominick's grocery store from June 16-23 where you can buy food and beverage tickets for $6 for a strip of 12 50-cent tickets (limit of four strips). Tickets at the Taste are $8 a strip.


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