On the west side of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, just to the south of the main entrance, there is the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo. Once you go around the corner, there is a building – inside of which is a great, funky climbing structure. It’s all free, and when my daughter was younger 3-6, I would take her there when we had the day together and let her play as long as she wanted. She loved it because the climbing structure is so cool. The kids enter one side and they climb up a series of levels, into the main/center area, then back down the other side. It can hold a lot of kids and there are a lot of of nooks and crannies. The whole thing is covered in netting so kids can’t get hurt too badly (At least that I’ve seen), but it’s also challenging and exciting for young kids. The downside is some kids get scared and retrieving them is difficult for the parent. If the parent’s lucky, a responsible older kid already inside the structure will do the dirty work and escort the kid out. I loved taking my daughter there because I could sit back and watch her play in an enclosed structure that was safe and knew she couldn’t get out without my seeing. It’s not that I’m a lazy parent, but in the city it’s hard to find places and ways to give young kids some autonomy and risk at the same time. If you’ve got young ones…check it out. It’s one of the best kept secrets in Chicago.