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TODAY

Wednesday, July 17

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Airbags

Usually, Car Seat is written with parents of newborns or toddlers in mind. If you have older children -- or even adolescents -- many of the topics here may have left you with a bit of a ho-hum. While my son is still a long way off from being a surly, embarrassed-by-his-mom teenager, I've been logging in a ton of Hours: in adolescent entertainment boot camp.

While I'd like to think I am still hip and know what's in, in the city, I recently spent time with my 13-year-old niece for a teenage view of what do and see while entertaining those of the teenage persuasion. Some of it was expected, some wasn't. If you are ever in the company of a charming teenager (maybe they are visiting, or you have one of your very own!) here are a few places in the city to check out that many teenagers agree, do not suck.

The Apple Store on Michigan Avenue -- Admittedly, most teenagers know more about computers than your average adult, so a stop at the Michigan Avenue Apple Store is a must. There you can try out the latest computers, ogle the cute candy-colored iPod Minis, and even take a workshop -- many of them are free -- on various Mac applications and products including iMovie, GarageBand (which is an application that allows you to make up your own songs) and even beginning to advanced digital photography.

H&M -- With designers from Sweden cranking out affordable items that both adults and teenagers lust after, either of the two H&Ms (one on State street and the other on Michigan Avenue) are a can't-miss. Regardless of what style your teen adheres to, from gloomy goth to hip-hop blingster, there is something for every fashion taste.

Margie's Candies -- I have yet to meet a teenager who doesn't like ice cream, even the ones who say they don't still enjoy a visit to Margie's. With its rich history (The Beatles ate there) and the granny-meets-diner decor, the kids really have fun there. Added bonus: you get free ice cream on your birthday at Margie's. And for those that really, truly do not enjoy ice cream, Margie's also offers sandwiches, soups and such on its menu.

Hard Rock Café -- I don't get it, but the kids do, so go ahead and indulge them. Sure it's a bit loud (No, really I swear -- I'm still hip) and the food isn't spectacular, but they will really appreciate it, even if they don't tell you they do. Burgers, pizza and the like are the usual fare on the menu.

Earwax Café -- If your teen is less of a hard rock-type and more of an emo type, the Ear Wax cafe on Milwaukee avenue is a long-time neighborhood staple for the literati and coffee-loving vegans. I went there as a teenager, and now I take the teenagers in my life there. In a colorful, sideshow-themed setting, Earwax also has one of the best video rentals in the city. And yes, they do have non-vegan options as well.

Joy Yee -- Located in Chinatown, at the Chinatown Square Mall. After browsing the shops in the neighborhood, where you can buy inexpensive bracelets, cool pastries and of course delicious food, top off your visit with some of Joy Yee's acclaimed Bubble Tea which is a delicious concoction of tea, fruit and chewy tapioca beads.

Reckless Records -- Assure them that before MP3s, people still bought actual CDs and that relic of our yesteryear, the album. ALBUM? Yes, album. They can listen to stuff there at the store and peruse the impressive selection of imports, rarities, 'zines and more.

Una Mae's Freak Boutique -- For cool vintage clothing, ranging in tastes from Kramer to Blondie, this Wicker Park gem offers great clothing both "ironic" and irony-free that the kids will gobble up, at prices that are just as easy to swallow. They could go to Urban Outfitters or A&F at any mall in any state, but this is unique, real stuff that no one else will have.

Other places you might want to try include The Alley, Navy Pier's IMAX, John Fluevog and Quimby's Bookstore.

One thing that will earn you cool points with kids coming in from out of town is riding the "L" to your destinations. They will find the train a slick and quick way to get from point A to point B, just don't expect them to sit next to you.

Remember, just as you would with babies, the best way to spend time with teens is with a heavy dose of patience and creativity. Have fun and good luck.

The Alley
3228 N. Clark St.
773/883-1800
Hours:
Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm
Friday 11am-midnight
Saturday 10am-midnight
Sunday noon-9pm

Apple Store
679 N. Michigan Ave.
312/981-4104
Hours:
Monday-Saturday 10am-9pm
Sunday 11am-6pm

Earwax
1561 N. Milwaukee Ave.
773/772-4019
Hours:
Daily 8am-10:30pm

H & M
840 N. Michigan Ave.
312/640-0060
Hours:
Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm
Sunday 11am-7pm

20 N. State St.
312/263-4436
Hours:
Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm
Sunday 11am-6pm

Hard Rock Cafe
63 W. Ontario St.
312/943-2252
Hours:
Monday-Thursday 11am-11pm
Friday-Saturday 11am-midnight
Sunday 11:30am-11pm

John Fluevog
1539-41 N. Milwaukee Ave.
773/ 772-1983
Hours:
Monday-Saturday 11am-7pm
Sun 12-5pm

Joy Yee Chinatown
2159 S. China Place
312/328-0001
Hours:
Daily 11am-10:30pm

Margie's Candies
1960 N. Western Ave.
773/384-1035
Hours:
Sunday-Thursday 9am-midnight
Friday-Saturday 9am-1am

Navy Pier IMAX
Navy Pier
312/595-5629
Showtimes vary

Reckless Records
1532 N. Milwaukee Ave.
773/235-3727
3161 N. Broadway Ave.
773/404-5080
Hours:
Monday-Saturday 10am-10pm
Sunday 10am-8pm

Quimby's Bookstore
1854 W. North Ave.
773/342-0910
Hours:
Monday-Friday noon-10pm
Saturday 11am-10pm
Sunday 12-6pm

Una Mae's Freak Boutique
1422 North Milwaukee Ave.
773/276-7002
Hours:
Monday-Friday noon-8pm
Saturday-Sunday 11am-7pm

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About the Author(s)

Alejandra Valera is a new mom and writer. If there's a baby- or kid-friendly place, product or event you think she should cover, email her at .

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