Spend an afternoon with your kids on Chicago’s near south side in Bronzeville: a historically African-American neighborhood that has seen its share of American history. Gwendolyn Brooks, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Coleman and scores of other influential African-Americans once roamed its streets – now its your turn to catch its vibe up close.
Start your afternoon with a visit to the DuSable Museum of African American History (740 E. 56th Place; dusablemuseum.org), a unique museum named after Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, the first permanent settler in Chicago. Special exhibits are subject to change, but try to catch Black Wings, an exhibit that captures the courageous spirits of African American aviation pioneers.
You’ll want to pack a picnic to enjoy on the grassy fields of Washington Park (adjacent to the DuSable Museum), designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Alternatively, since I can’t think of one kid (or adult!) that can resist the combo, head to Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles (3497 S. King Drive) for – yep, you guessed it! – delectable fried chicken with a side of fluffy waffles.
Take a book-browsing break at the Chicago Bee Library (3647 S. State St.), a branch of the Chicago Public Library system housed in a historic Art Deco building, once the home to a thriving Bronzeville newspaper.
Strolling down Martin Luther King Drive, from 24th to 35th streets, you’ll see examples of outstanding Chicago-style architecture dotted with plaques and statues, including Gregg LeFevre’s 14-foot bronze map of the neighborhood’s history (Martin Luther King Drive at 35th Street) and Alison Saar’s Monument to the Great Northern Migration statue (Martin Luther King Drive at 24th Street), which commemorates the thousands of African Americans who came to Chicago in the early 20th century in search of freedom and opportunity.
The best way to reach Bronzeville is via CTA: From the Red and Green lines, exit at Garfield and board bus 55 east to Cottage Grove. Walk one and a half blocks south on Cottage Grove.
Better yet, travel by bike: hop onto Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, exiting at 55th Street via the Lake Shore Drive underpass and head west to Washington Park, where you’ll find the DuSable Museum.