The Run Down

As kids, do you remember those mornings after a big snowstorm when you'd peer out the window and your ten-year-old brain would analyze road conditions and constantly calculate the probability of a snow day like it was the NY Times Election Needle? Then, when school was finally called off, you'd fill your days with snowball fights, sledding, and drinking hot chocolate. This guide is our attempt to help you create some of those childhood memories for your kids. You'll be barreling down a steep sledding hill with the skyline as your backdrop. After that, you'll end things with with Japanese souffle pancakes, ramen, and hot chocolate.

1. Sledding @ Soldier Field Hill

2. Pancakes @ Hanabusa Cafe

1. Sledding Hill at Soldier Field

Our sledding adventures start at this officially sanctioned 35-foot-tall sledding hill on the Museum Campus near Soldier Field. It’s right on the Lakefront Trail, so even if you’re not familiar with the hill, odds are you’ve passed this a time or two if you’ve walked the trail in the past. Here are some notes to help get you going.

– If you’re driving, once you get on the Museum Campus, follow signs to the free parking lot next to the hill.

– The slope extends about 2oo feet and you can pick up some serious speed.

– There are a lot of families and kids on the weekends. It’s a bit of a free-for-all so keep an eye out for little human projectiles when you’re at the bottom of the hill.

– If you have younger kids (2 – 3 years old), you’ll see smaller hills in the same area that are less hectic and probably just as fun for them.

Once we’re into the full winter season, the Park District usually has haystacks lined up on both sides of the hill that serve as barriers. They also double as a walking path to the top of the hill. Once you’re at the top, you’ve got a clear view of the downtown skyline.

While it it can get a bit crowded during the weekend, the adults, dogs, and kids were all fairly orderly in launching themselves down the hill.

2. Hanabusa Cafe

Our next stop has you going to the Loop and stopping by Hanabusa Cafe for some post-sledding hot chocolate, ramen, and pillow-y soft Japanese souffle pancakes that have gone from a food trend to a food mainstay.

Here’s a fun fact for you architecture buffs: the café is located at the bottom of the historic Heyworth Building, a designated Chicago landmark famous for its distinctive and ornate cornice surrounding the building’s façade.

If you ignore the H&R Block and Panda Express signs, you can sort of imagine what this street might have looked like when jewelers and watchmakers originally occupied this building.

Back to the café. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your visit.

– The most important thing you need to make Japanese souffle pancakes is time. So be prepared wait 30+ minutes as each are made-to-order. Here’s a good NY Times article for an in-depth explanation of the history and technique behind this dish.

– For something savory, they’ve got a couple of ramen options on the menu. Ramen comes out faster and by the time you finish, your pancakes will be ready.

Yes, hot chocolate and ramen go together.

Here’s an order of their taro pancake in all its glory. It’s a masterpiece in decadence with taro puree and whipping cream layered over the top. How’s that for an end to your snow day?