Jul 15, 2022 - Things to Do

Best Day Ever: Justin Roberts

Guy in a space suit
Justin Roberts celebrates the 25th anniversary of his first kids album. Photo courtesy of Justin Roberts

👋 Hey, it's Monica. Like a lot of Chicago parents, I sang and danced around the living room to Justin Roberts songs for years.

  • Most of the time, I was with my children.

Why it matters: The stellar singer-songwriter celebrates his 25th year in kids music today with the release of his 16th album, "Space Cadet."

  • With power-pop gems about fire trucks, dance parties and a "Whole Lotta Love in This World," the album delivers a mix of fun and reassurance that goodness still exists.

As the longtime Chicagoan — now Evanstonian — gears up for an Aug. 20 concert at Ravinia, he took the time to describe his perfect day in the city.

🍳 Breakfast: "At home frying eggs a la Jacques Pépin served with toasted Hewn bread and meticulously made pour-over coffee with JBC Coffee beans from Wisconsin."

  • "I made so much pour-over during the pandemic that my son Eli thought it was a game and started making coffee (with cold water) for fun."

🚲 Morning activity: "Bike ride down Lake Michigan. Miniature golfing at Millennium Park or a visit to the Art Institute."

  • "I also love kayaking down the Chicago River. It feels pretty incredible to be in the middle of downtown with nothing but a paddle to propel yourself through the city."
Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

🌮 Lunch: "We would magically be back in our neighborhood in Evanston and order some carnitas tacos and a salad from La Principal and sit outside."

  • "They've been blocking off Custer street (near Main Street) lately and there is outdoor seating at three Main Street restaurants."
  • "In the evenings, there is always someone DJing amazing records from Squeezebox Books and it's a lovely vibe that makes you appreciate the summer."

🕹 Afternoon activity: "A stop by Logan Arcade when they first open at 3pm to play a bunch of pinball."

  • "They have an amazing collection of machines from vintage stuff to the latest Stern …. The staff are always willing to give you a tip on how to play a game better. They have super fun leagues, and everyone is supportive no matter your skill level."

🥗 Dinner: "We'd go to Gather and split a bunch of things. The crispy brussels sprouts, a chilled asparagus salad, some roasted salmon, and a glass or rosé sounds pretty good."

🎶 Evening activity: "Catch a concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music."

  • "Laura Viers, Nick Lowe, and Josh Rouse are all playing there soon. I’ve seen so many amazing concerts there from Loudon Wainwright to Salif Keita to Robbie Fulks and Sons of the Never Wrong. The sound is pristine, and every seat feels like you are in your own living room."
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