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Friday, October 30, 2015

Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm

Twenty-one years ago we made our first trip to Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm when my son was a baby. We went for several consecutive years and missed the past three years, so I thought it was time that we return to the place that held so many fall memories for our family. My in-laws went with us every year and two years ago my father-in-law passed away and last year my mother-in-law moved to Missouri to live near her sister and mother, so this was the first trip without them, which made it kind of bittersweet. I look forward to one day bringing grandkids of my own there.

The place is such a fun magical place, especially when you have very little ones. Every year the kids looked forward to returning to the haunted house and the fun barn, taking a hay ride and watching the pig races. It's expanded a bit in recent years and now has rides, a petting zoo and more. It's a great way to spend a fall day.

There are still a few days left in the season, so if you have yet to pick out pumpkins or you're looking for an alternative to trick-or-treating this weekend, make plans for a visit. Visit pumpkinfarm.com for more information.

The pig races are always fun to watch.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Get your Cubs haircut at ACME Hotel

Chicago is an exciting place to be this October as the history-making Chicago Cubs team has made its way to the NLCS. And as the city looks to welcome the team back for a three-game home stretch in the series before heading back to New York, ACME Hotel is offering up something for those who bleed Cubbie Blue. 

There are Cubs fans. And there are Cubs fans who get an image of Jake Arrieta shaved into their head. Miguel Rosas, whose cut went viral earlier this month will be available for cuts before the big games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Rosas' Jake Arrieta haircut became world famous during the Cubs postseason. He'll be at the hotel for a pop-up barbershop on October 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Fans can stop by the hotel to get their own Cubs-themed haircut from Rosas before heading out to watch the Cubs take on the Mets in the NLCS. Rosas is owner of Moline's  New Style Barbershop

The famous haircut that set social media abuzz belongs to Isaiss Duarte, the son of one of Rosas' close friends. Duarte will also be there for the event.

Rosas will offer Cubs-themed haircuts from his custom barber chair at ACME. Appointments are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"Our whole motto at ACME is Do Your Thing, so when we saw Miguel's photo we were so impressed with his individuality and artistry that we had to reach out and see if we could do something fun and creative together," says Brent Hinton, Director of Sales and Marketing for ACME. For more info on ACME Hotel, 15 E. Ohio Street, visit www.acmehotelcompany.com or call 312-894-0900.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Santa's Village: East Dundee, Illinois

For years and years I remember hearing radio commercials for Santa's Village in East Dundee and it sounded like such a fun place. However, it wasn't until last year that I finally made it there for a visit. My sister-in-law and my youngest boys went there to check it out.

Santa's Village celebrated 55 years of family fun and I really love the nostalgic feel of the place that takes you back a few decades. We went in the gate and were immediately greeted by Santa - which, of course, called for a selfie.

Once inside, the first thing we hit was the classic carousel before moving on to some of the other fun rides. Most of them are probably ideal for 10 and under. Some have restrictions for kids being under 54 inches. Others require adults with the little riders. There were so many fun old-school rides there that I remember riding at our local carnival and at Kiddieland in Melrose Park.

My boys had a fun time. I think their favorite ride was the fire truck, where each rider had a real hose to spray water and a mock house with a real flame. The bumper cars were also a popular ride with them. I also loved the animal element. If you have kids who aren't big on rides or who love the zoo, they'll have a great time checking out the reindeer, camels and other animals and feeding some of them out of their hands.

Visit SantasVillageDundee.com for information on rides, rates and more for the 2015 season, which kicked off earlier this month. The park is currently open on weekends.

**Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the park to enable me to write an accurate post. All opinions are my own.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wendella Boat Rides

For those visiting the city and for those who call the city home, a Wendella Tour is a must. Seeing the city from the roads and sidewalks as you make your way through downtown is cool and seeing it from way above in a skyscraper is awesome, but seeing the city from the water is just a whole different ballgame.

Narrated tours give you a bit of history and some insight into what makes the city of Chicago so spectacular. I fell in love with the Wendella rides when I went on one for a school field trip as a young kid. And I still love going on them. A view of the Chicago skyline from the water is something you can never get enough of.

Visit wendellaboats.com for schedules and rates.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Tyler's Tender: Schererville, Indiana

If you have some young train fans in your family, Tyler's Tender is a place to definitely add to your itinerary. With an adorable train theme, kids have an opportunity to ride a kiddie train, push buttons to operate a train display in the dining room and have their meal delivered to they via train at the counter seats. There's also a connected arcade with a few video games and pinball machines, air hockey and my personal favorite - skee ball.

Oh, and the food is quite good, especially for a place centered around kids. I've tried a lot of their wraps and sandwiches and burgers, which really exceeded expectations. The homemade potato chips are a favorite of mine. The kid menu includes most of the standard kid fare with plenty of options. The kids also give the milkshakes high marks.

We've been going there for years and I had a few birthday parties there for my kids when they were younger. On this visit, I took my 8-year-old niece - and also my dad who I had told about the restaurant. He was intrigued and wanted to come along. A good time was had by young, old and in between. :)

Tyler's Tender
350 U.S. 30
Schererville, IN
50 U.S. 30, Schererville, IN 46375(219) 322-5590

Monday, February 2, 2015

Children's Museum in Oak Lawn

One thing I've always sought out when we have traveled is a children's museum to take the kids to. I love such attractions where there are hands-on opportunities at every turn and that I enjoy as much as they do. If you are visiting the Chicago area or live in the Chicago area, the Children's Museum in Oak Lawn is an amazing place to take your little ones where they are sure to be entertained for hours.

I recently had a new children's book released and me and my good friend Michelle, who did the illustrations for me, went there to host a program for the Happy Noon Year event, which included a noon balloon drop. I read the children's book and then Michelle led the visitors in an art lesson where she showed them how to draw the owl on the cover of the book. It was a fun program and something that was free to kids visiting that day. We had a blast! Here's a shot of us at the museum. :)

The museum has two floors with most of the exhibit space on the upper floor. The museum includes a dedicated infant area. My personal favorite in the museum is the water table and the life-size Operation game. Take a peek at the fun below!

5100 Museum Drive

Oak Lawn, Illinois  60453

(708) 423-6709


Friday, January 16, 2015

John Hancock Center Observatory

When tourists plan to visit Chicago, they often want to visit the Willis Tower since it's the tallest building in Chicago. Sadly it lost its tallest building in the world title back in 1998. And really I have a hard time calling it the Willis Tower. Just like I sometimes still slip and say Comisky Park when referring to the ball park where the White Sox play.

Anyway, being the tallest in the city, the Willis Tower gets all the attention, but I'm going to let you in on a little secret...there's another that's just as spectacular. The views are probably even a little better. I admit I have not yet tried out the Ledge  at Willis Tower and maybe that experience will make me sing its praises, but on our first visit to the John Hancock Observatory, I thought to myself "Why have I been going to the Sears Tower all these years when this place is so awesome?"

The observation deck is on floor 94 and allows for spectacular views of the city and the shoreline and the lake. You can see the city in all directions and on a clear day you can see four different states from 1,000 feet above. Being one who loves heights, I could sit up there all day and glance out at the world below. They've also added a new attraction called "The Tilt" that kind of one-ups the Ledge. It also gives a view from a little outside the walls of the structure, but with hydraulic lifts, it slowly tilts you toward while facing foreward for a unique view of the city that you can't quite get anywhere else. I'm looking forward to giving it a try. Tickets for the Tilt are in addition to General Admission tickets. For more information on the observation deck and The Tilt, visit 360chicago.com.