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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Splash Universe: The peace of Amish Country and fun of an indoor water park

I've always loved traveling to Amish Country. It just evokes such a sense of peace and slows the pace so you don't feel so hurried and life doesn't feel so hectic. I've enjoyed taking trips to the Arcola and Arthur area in Illinois for many years and a couple years ago paid a visit to the Shipshewana and Nappanee, Indiana area, which I also love.



A trip to Amish Country might not be the first pick for children, but in Shipshewana there's a great kid-friendly attraction among the Amish attractions and small Amish-run businesses, the Splash Universe Indoor Water Park. It's the best of both worlds. The adults can enjoy shopping and the low-tech charm of the area and the kids can splash away in the water playground, zip down the water slides and glide down the lazy river. The resort also has special activities for kids as well as an arcade and ice cream parlor. For this time of year especially, it's a great getaway while we wait for summer to arrive and the outdoor pools and water parks to open. Learn more at www.splashuniverse.com. Be sure to go online and sign up for their e-mail list for notification of specials.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spend a day (or two) in South Bend

I took a day trip with my husband this past week to South Bend with the purpose of visiting Copshaholm for a tour. Copshaholm is a 38-room mansion that was built for J.D. Oliver and his family. His father was the founder of the Oliver Chilled Plow Works.

See my Northwest Indiana Times article on Copshaholm here -
http://www.nwitimes.com/lifestyles/travel/article_b9617d7d-b969-5734-90af-e4e3bee5b8f3.html

On the grounds next to the mansion is the Center for History, which houses exhibits on local history along with a children's museum. The Studebaker Museum also relocated in recent years to a new home attached to the center. Anyone who loves automobiles will love the Studebaker Museum. And even if you're not particularly enthusiastic about automobiles, it's a neat history lesson told through vehicles of all kinds. Here's an article I wrote last fall on the Studebaker Museum for the Times -
http://www.nwitimes.com/lifestyles/travel/article_dc105b3e-75a4-508b-b9fe-0c5b7bc6cc70.html

and another I did recently on auto museum in  Indiana that mentions the Studebaker Museum -
http://www.nwitimes.com/lifestyles/leisure/article_ddb5b7c0-d86b-5ca8-b852-bf18e9565165.html

Another fun stop if you're town is the South Bend Chocolate Company's Chocolate Museum. Here's an old article about the South Bend Chocolate Factory, which has seen more growth since this article appeared -
http://www.nwitimes.com/uncategorized/article_94b27310-c975-512f-a476-cf9540c4f156.html

On our a trip there last fall, we went downtown for lunch and stumbled across Chicory Cafe, a cute New Orleans-style cafe and coffee house with awesome Po' Boy sandwiches, gumbo, jambalaya and more. So on this past trip, we re-visited for lunch. Try the roast beef with cheddar po' boy -- sooo good! We walked down a few doors for chocolates at the Chocolate Cafe and then a couple blocks the other way for some treats from Dainty Maid Bake Shop.



Among the other attractions are the College Football Hall of Fame, Potawatomi Zoo and tours of the University of Notre Dame. For more on South Bend, visit exploresouthbend.org.

As we were heading back to the car for the trip home, I realized I had never even gotten my camera out. So, I pulled it out as we passed this gorilla on the sidewalk and my husband snapped a shot. I have no idea what he's doing there. I'll have to check into that.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wendella's boat tour season begins next week


A boat tour on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River is something I feel everyone needs to do at least once, whether you're visiting from out of town or local folk. Even if you live in the area and have been up and down the Chicago streets many times, you get a view of the city and all its beauty that you just can't capture from the seat of a cab or while rushing down Michigan Avenue.

Wendella offers combined river and lake tours, architectural tours, sunset tours and the Chicago Water Taxi. The 90-minute river and lake tour is a favorite of local school kids who get their first taste of the river and lake on school field trips -- just like I did and then my son's class did. In a few short days, tours will return for the 2011 season.

Check out this link http://www.wendellaboats.com/media/news/article.aspx?ArticleId=38 for information on the St. Patrick's Day tours, where you can float down a GREEN Chicago River.

The company dates back to 1935 and has a neat history of its own. Learn more on their website:
http://www.wendellaboats.com/. Book your tour online for discounted tickets.

Here's an article I wrote a few years back about the boat tours for the Northwest Indiana Times: