If you're in the mood for something funky, Wishbone is a popular option for local families. The food is diverse enough that both adults and kids can find something to their liking (you can mix and match side dishes, a big plus), and there's also a menu geared just toward children.

A fun breakfast-and-lunch spot, Toast, 746 W. Webster St., at Halsted Street in Lincoln Park (tel. 773/935-5600) and 2046 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown, serves up all-American favorites (pancakes, eggs, sandwiches) and employs an age-old restaurateur's device for keeping idle hands and minds occupied: Tables at this neighborhood spot are covered with blank canvases of butcher-block paper on which kids of all ages can doodle away with crayons. But be forewarned: This is a very popular spot for weekend brunch.

At Gino's East, the famous Chicago pizzeria, long waits can also be an issue during the prime summer tourist season. But once you get your table, the kids can let loose: Patrons are invited to scrawl all over the graffiti-strewn walls and furniture. For fun and games of the coin-operated and basement rec room variety, seek out Dave & Buster's, 1030 N. Clark St. (tel. 312/943-5151), the Chicago location of the Dallas-based mega entertainment/dining chain.

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With heaping plates of pasta and meat served up family-style, Maggiano's, 516 N. Clark St. (tel. 312/644-7700) is a good choice for budget-conscious families. 

Margie’s Candies, a family-run candy and ice-cream shop hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1921. It still offers some of the city’s finest handmade fudge, whether it comes in a box or melted over a banana split. The store is known for its turtles—chocolate-covered pecan and caramel clusters (1960 N. Western Ave., tel. 773/384-1035). El: Blue Line to Western. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.