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The Just-Say-No-to-Boredom Guide to the City and Beyond

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Lincoln

Where's Abe?

Search for seven well-known statues of the 16th president.

1. The statue of Lincoln as a young man is in Senn Park, at 1550 West Thorndale Avenue, alongside Ridge Avenue, in Edgewater. It was donated by the City of Chicago in 1997 to mark a spot where Lincoln might have stopped during his bid for the presidency in 1860.

2. In Lincoln Square, The Chicago Lincoln (1956) stands at the busy corner of Western and Lawrence and depicts Lincoln as a lawyer, beardless, stovepipe hat in hand.

3. Look for Lincoln standing in front of a large wraparound bench just north of North Avenue, directly behind the Chicago History Museum. Designed by the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, with help from the architect Stanford White, this monument was built in 1887, 22 years after Lincoln's assassination.

4. Another Saint-Gaudens Lincoln, a stern, seated likeness finished in 1908, can be found in Grant Park, to the northwest of Buckingham Fountain.

5. Lincoln the Railsplitter (1911) lives in Garfield Park, just south of the conservatory.

6. In the northwest section of Oak Woods Cemetery, at 1035 East 67th Street on the South Side, look for Lincoln the Orator (1905), hand aloft.

7. At the Lincoln Middle School in Berwyn, you'll find Lincoln the Friendly Neighbor (1959).

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Fishing

Fishing

When fishing with children, keep the equipment list light, advises Steve Palmisano, co-owner of Henry's Sports/Marine (3130 S. Canal St.; 312-225-8538). He started his two teenagers fishing when they were just toddlers and recommends taking youngsters out for only an hour or so at first so they don't get bored. "The key is a little bit of success," Palmisano says. "All it takes is one fish for a youngster to get hooked on fishing for life." Bluegill are easy for children to catch and are abundant in Chicago lagoons and forest preserve ponds. Here's what you'll need to catch your own.

A lightweight, entry-level rod and reel, which can be had for as little as $15

Lightweight fishing line. Palmisano says this is key and suggests six-pound test line.

Small hooks, such as size 8 Aberdeen

A small pair of pliers. This is an optional safety precaution; you can use it to flatten the barbs on the ends of the hooks.

A lightweight float. Nothing fancy; its purpose is to keep the bait off the bottom and out of the weeds.

Split shot, a small weight for casting the line out far enough

Small earthworms or wax worms. If your bait is too large, the fish can nibble it without touching the hook.

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The Unvacation

These downtown hotels offer suites and indoor pools

The historic InterContinental Chicago (505 N. Michigan Ave.; 866-210-8811, iccchicagohotel.com), built in 1929 as an athletic club, is famous for its gorgeous art deco pool.

With room rates starting at just $107 online (check travel.yahoo.com), Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-922-4400, hilton.com) is one of the more affordable downtown hotels.

The penthouse pool at the Swissôtel (323 E. Wacker Dr.; 312-565-0565, swissotelchicago.com) is on the 42nd floor, offering a beautiful view of Navy Pier and Grant Park.

 

   
 
One room of the Art Institute guaranteed to positively fascinate the girls in your family The 68 intricately detailed, dollhouse-size interiors lining the Art Institute's Thorne Miniature Rooms gallery (111 S. Michigan Ave., basement level; 312-443-3600, artic.edu/aic)
 
   

 

Chess

Chess board

Memorize the Two Knights Defense, which is a great way to start any game: First, bring out the pawn in front of the king by moving it forward two spaces (1). On your next move, move the king-side knight to the spot two spaces in front of the bishop (2). Then move your bishop out to the same line as your pawn, but two spaces over (3). In this setup, your knight and bishop are out on the board but close enough to home that you can protect or withdraw them. Now you can make another offensive strike by, say, advancing a new pawn or moving the other knight, or you can withdraw by castling your king (the king moves toward the rook two spaces and the rook hops over the king).

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Juggling

Children as young as five can juggle, says Bruce Bailey, an instructor and member of the Chicago Juggling Club. He recommends starting kids with beanbags, or scarves for the very young. Begin by tossing a beanbag from hand to hand to develop coordination and to get used to throwing and catching with both hands. Keeping their elbows at their sides as they throw will help children toss to the same height each time, and as they progress, this will make it easier for them to form patterns. As you toss the bag from hand to hand, aim with your right hand to a point above your left hand, and vice versa. Once you've mastered this basic skill, add a clap between catches. Then add a second bag. Then, a third. For inspiration, kids are welcome at the Chicago Juggling Club, which meets on Tuesday nights from 8 to 11 p.m. at Alternatives, Inc. (4730 N. Sheridan Rd.), and on Thursday nights from 9 to midnight at the Lakeshore Athletic Club in LIncoln Park (1320 W. Fullerton Ave.).

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Paddling

Paddling

As soon as children can reliably stay seated in the boat, they're old enough to go canoeing, says Sherri Graham, chair of Prairie State Canoeists, a nonprofit club for enthusiasts. Waterside liveries rent life jackets and paddles, although you should call to make sure it has child-size paddles available (if not, they cost about $15 each at a sporting goods store). Canoers should pick a tandem boat, which has seats in the front and back for adults and enough space in between them for one or two young children to sit on the floor. But kayaking may be the better choice: Graham says many kids feel safer sitting low in a kayak, rather than high up on a canoe seat. "Also, for an absolute beginner, it's more intuitive to paddle using a double blade," she explains.

Graham says there's no rule for how long to make your first forays—but err on the short side. To make the trip more fun, take an old soccer ball, toss it into the water, and push it along with the nose of the boat. Pack some garbage bags and see how much trash you can collect. Say you'll break out the snacks once you've paddled past that bridge up ahead. Count how many unfamiliar plants and animals you can spot. "The concept here," Graham says, "is just getting out on the water, being safe, and having fun."

PLACES TO PADDLE
Blackwell Forest Preserve, Mack Rd. just east of Rte. 59, Warrenville; 630-933-7200, dupageforest.com/preserves/blackwell.html
C & M Canoe Rental,
3401 E. 2062nd Rd., Ottawa; 815-434-6690, cmcanoerental.com
Chicago River Canoe & Kayak,
3400 N. Rockwell St.; 773-704-2663, chicagoriverpaddle.com
Reed's Canoe Trips, 907 N. Indiana Ave., Route 50, Kankakee; 815-932-2663, reedscanoetrips.com
Schmidt's Canoeing Service,
1232 Ridgeway Dr., Elgin; 847-697-1678, canoetrips.net

 

   
 
Real Pluck On March 1st, stringed instruments take center stage at Northwestern University's Saturday morning Kids Fare concert (Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston; 847-467-4000, pickstaiger.com).
 
   

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