"It's got the opportunities of a big city with the friendly spirit of a small community," Liz Zorek says of Chicago. After giving birth to Marie, she left a corporate job to start a business as a children's photographer, and she loves being a parent in the Windy City.
Tour Guides: Liz Zorek, 33, with Anna, 2, and Marie, 6 months
Chi-town parents go for the charm of colorful wooden toys ($34; landofnod.com).
The Land of Nod has four stores in the area. How dreamy!
First Lady Michelle Obama is a proud Chicago mom.
Sure, winters are cold (and snowy!), but families get to play at the beaches and in Millenium Park in town come summer. Anna loves this funny fountain!
"With all the parks and world-class museums, plus Lake Michigan, we can keep ourselves busy!"
The first-ever Ferris wheel debuted in 1893, at the Chicago World's Fair. To mark that, there's still a giant wheel you can ride on Navy Pier, which also houses the Chicago Children's Museum (free the first Sunday of every month).
Kristen Min and Jee Kim were friends and Chicago at-home moms when they launched Innobaby, a line that has this stainless-steel dish ($18; innobaby.com).
"Everything is accessible by trains," Zorek says. "Kids love riding them." To go downtown from their Hyde Park home, the Zoreks take the Metra. In the city center, they hop onto the El.
Originally published in the April 2011 issue of American Baby magazine.