In August, my son and I were invited to Family Night at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago. Now, I’ve been to FOC before – I was at its grand opening, in fact, and I’ve talked extensively with people involved in its creation and business plan. And I didn’t need this evening to be sold on Rosemont’s offerings, as I’ve often had opportunities to go there for food and fun. I was there just recently for the Wizard World Comic-Con. I’ve done iFly. I’ve watched beer tappings at the Hofbrauhaus, where my kid (finally) decided he liked mustard. I’ve ice-skated there. I’ve gone through the haunted house.

But, in my conversations with people involved with FOC, better ways of shopping have always been the focus, and so I’ve been viewing it mostly as a good place to get deals and maybe a bite to eat – and that’s all; basically, a dedicated shopping experience mostly for adults. FOC offers some cool perks for mall-hoppers, including its $5 Green Savings Card, which features discounts from stores around the building, and delivery to hotels and residences located within 15 miles of the mall. There are shuttles that go to downtown hotels, the airport, and the Shops at North Bridge along the Magnificent Mile. Black Friday is a big deal.

I’ve never taken my child to FOC, though. Apparently, this was an oversight. My 10-year-old son, a confirmed chocoholic, is now a big fan of this place, thanks to all the perks we were given at Family Night, including a swag bag (with lots of chocolate in it). Not to mention a free Lindt truffle he was given at the store just because he wanted a single one.

Our evening started with a visit to the Disney Store to learn how to draw Mickey. This was probably the least interesting part for my kid, who has never been an artist. Still, he created quite the masterpiece interpreting the instructions his way. This mostly involved putting Mickey’s facial features outside his head.

After that, we went to the candy store called Lolly & Pops, which was basically a child’s dream. The people who worked there told us we could try…everything. Literal kid in a candy store here. The kids – and many of the adults – took them up on it. The place was packed.

Following this, we were given some time to shop on our own. I purchased a necklace for my sister from a cute little kiosk called L.W.N. (Love it. Want it. Need it.), who had lost all her costume jewelry in a recent break-in at her new house in California, about a week after moving in. My kid got a Pokemon backpack for school from Hot Topic (a store I normally avoid). During this period of time my son requested a ride on these wheeled stuffed animals that you can ride around the mall (there’s a track painted on the floor), so we did that too.

After that, we were sent to The Sugar Factory for dinner. Now, my kid and I have eaten there before, because why wouldn’t you want to try a place called The Sugar Factory, but only once. And I’m on a budget like everyone else so we had flatbread and fondue that time. This evening, we were allowed to try a number of selections from the Appetizers and Burgers/Sandwiches menu, which were already laid out when we arrived. These included the Fried Macaroni and Cheese balls, Mini Burgers, Mini Burgers, Chicken & Waffle Sandwiches, Italian Sausage Flatbread, and 4 Cheese Flatbread.

focdessertEverything was decent, and some women from our table also got the restaurant’s signature drinks, which are huge, and come with gummy candies and a big swirled lollipop. But the main event of the meal was Sugar Factory’s World Famous King Kong Sundae, a $99 concoction – actually, we got half-sizes, worth only about $50. Think many, many scoops of ice cream topped with sauces, whipped cream, gummy bears, Oreos, brownies, chocolate chips, bananas, toasted marshmallows, chocolate cookies, a waffle cone, and giant lollipop. Served with a sparkler. Our table, which was not full, didn’t even make much of a dent in it, even with my kid volunteering to take the waffle cone. I think he was too full from all the Lolly and Pops candy, frankly. I was really sad I couldn’t just stick the whole thing in my bag and take it home for later…but, you know, ice cream and all.

In any case, it was a fun evening, and I’m sure as soon as I can, my kid and I will come back to enjoy activities at MB Financial Park (it’s HIS turn to try iFly). I’ll buy him a non-alcoholic signature drink at Sugar Factory for a ton of money, and we’ll go sledding down that big hill thing that they’re sure to have again this year, because according to my calendar my next free weekend day, after work events, social events, and parent events are factored in, is approximately November 20.

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