Showing posts from 2013

10 things to see and do in Springfield, IL

1) Lincoln Home National Historic Site - Get a tour inside the home Lincoln and his family lived in before he became president and stroll through the restored neighborhood. Tours are free, but be sure to get there early for a ticket. We made the mistake on our last visit of planning to tour the home later in the afternoon and were disappointed when all the tickets for that day were gone.
2) Union Square Park - Step inside the visitor center, a stunning restored train depot and walk around the big open space that hosts various events. You'll also find one of many Abe statues around the city where you can snap a photo with him.
3) Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum - This is an absolute must see if you visit Springfield. You enter to a round atrium area where you have several options of exhibits, which includes a large fascade resembling the White House, a recreated long cabin and two state-of-the-art theatres that do a great job of taking you back in time and feeling …

Cypress Cove Family Aquatic Park, Woodridge, IL

My kids really enjoy visiting water parks and this nice park district-run one in suburban Woodridge, Illinois is probably the closest to my home. We've been there at least once each summer for the past few years. It's a well-laid out park with fun for all ages. It's not so huge that you have a long hike from place to place, but it's big enough to offer several attractions in one spot.

My favorite part of most water parks is lounging on a lazy river and Cypress Cove has a 600-foot lazy river that loops around Crocodile Isle.  Bullfrog Bayou is an area for kids under 42' with a spray playground, dumping water and water guns as well as a mini-body slide. A zero-depth pool is also great for the little ones. It also deepens at the other end and there are diving boards.

There's three long body slides as well as a short tube slide that dumps into the lazy river and a six-lane lap pool tucked in the back for swimming. The food in the concession area is reasonable and d…

Chicago Fire game at Toyota Park

I'm a big baseball fan. That's the sport I like to watch. I visit Wrigley Field several times a year to see the Cubs play. Other than that I have never really been to other sporting events. I'm a Bears fan. I watch the games on television, but the only time I've been to Soldier Field is to watch a concert. I watch the Bulls on television ocassionally, but I've only been to the United Center to see the circus.

Up until last week, I had never seen a Chicago Fire game on television or in person. I had been to Toyota Park in the past, but it was for concerts and a press conference. My 11-year-old (who plays in a youth soccer league) and I ended up going to a game with a group and had a fun time.

Here's the tailgating fun in the parking lot.

And here are some shots from the game. While I didn't take time to go through and look around, there was a section of the parking lot with sponsor tents and it appeared that there were some games and family activities. One p…

Eastern Illinois University Campus, Charleston, IL

I recently decided to take my dad on a road trip to revisit the town he (and my mom) grew up in - Charleston, Ilinois. He was born there and lived there until the mid-1960's when he and my mom relocated to the Chicago area.

First we visited the house Dad was born in. Next we had lunch with two cousins who still live there. Then we hit the EIU campus. At the time my dad lived there, EIU had a grammar school and high school on campus and it was a teaching college. He attended grades 1 - 8 in what is now Blair Hall. High School classes were on the second floor of "Old Main" the big building close to the road on Lincoln St. that resembles a castle. Then he went to college on the campus, too, to earn his accounting degree.

We had fun checking out Old Main, which is mostly offices now. There were a few classrooms at one end of the second floor where my dad once attended classes. I'm not sure what the rooms are used for now, but one peek and you felt like you were back in 1…

Strawberry Picking at Johnson's Farm Produce in Hobart, IN

For the past few years, our family has gone on an outing to pick strawberries at Johnson's Farm Produce in Hobart, IN. Picking your own is significantly cheaper than buying pre-picked. You also can pick the ones you like, as many as you like and it is a nice activity to do as a family. The U-Pick fields opened on June 15, so there aren't too many days left as strawberry season is short. Get out there and hit the field before they're gone!  

Paxton, Illinois

On a trip down to Charleston recently with my dad, we made a stop in Paxton, Illinois. I'd remembered making a stop there on a previous trip and that there was a cute downtown business area with historic buildings.

The first thing of interest I stopped at was an old train depot with some train cars along side it. Everything was locked up, but if you like trains and are going to be on I-57, you might want to call ahead to find out hours for the Illinois Central Railroad Historical Society.

I love to check out old courthouses. This is smaller than most that I've seen. It's the Ford County Courthouse in Paxton.

It has a beautiful entryway and dome.

Being the foodie I am (in case you didn't know I also blog at Chicago Foodie Sisters), I would have loved to have checked out this place that sold locally raised meats, but it was the first stop on our journey and I knew it would sit and bake in the care for the next 12 hours.

The downtown was quaint and charming and nostalgic …

Lincoln's Tomb

If you find yourself in Springfield, you'll likely find time to stop at a number of Lincoln attractions and Lincoln's Tomb is one that should definitely make it into your itinerary. Oak Ridge Cemetery is the largest cemetary in Illinois and the second most visited (after Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.)

The tomb was completed nine years after Lincoln's death and contains several statues inside as well as the bust outdoors that has been worn at the nose, where it is tradition for visitors to rub the nose for good luck. Lincoln, his wife and three of his four sons are buried there. (Robert is buried at Arlington) The architecture is stunning and makes for beautiful photographs. Tours are available.

Lincoln's Tomb Oak Ridge Cemetery 1500 Monument Avenue Springfield, Illinois 217-782-2717

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

I'm a big history buff, so whenever we travel, I like to take in a historic site or tour a historic mansion or stop in a local historical society. Springfield, Illinois is paradise for history buffs like me with many of the attractions related to our nation's beloved 16th president. However, don't think that everything Lincoln related is old.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is a state-of-the-art facility that brings Lincoln's time to today's generation through not only artifacts, but through technology. Not every aspect of the museum utilizes technology, like the replica of Lincoln's boyhood home - a modest log cabin or Mrs. Lincoln's Attic, a playroom full of toys of the area and activities that give children a taste of what life was like during Lincoln's time.

A circular lobby offers entrance into several exhibits or presentations, one of them being a facade of the 1861 White House.

In the 250-seat Union Theatre, a 17-minute show called "…

Get an eagle eyeful in Quad Cities

Sharing this One Tank Trip Story I wrote for the Northwest Indiana Times about eagle spotting in the Quad Cities. It printed 1/2/10.

Enjoy an eyeful of migrating eagles in the Quad Cities ONE-TANK TRIP: QUAD CITIES, IOWA-ILLINOIS Print

Shopping in Shipshewana

I recently took a trip with my family to Shipshewana, Indiana. It was my third time in the area, but it was the first time I’d done any shopping. One previous trip was in the summer where we had a fun visit to Amish Acres in Nappanee then stayed overnight and moved on early the next day to Michigan. The other trip was in the winter time where we got in to town, visited the Hostetler Hudson Museum and then spent the night at Splash Universe where we splashed in the water the next day and then left for home.

This time we spent a little time checking out the town. As we arrived in mid-afternoon, we noticed an ice sculpture being carved outside Yoder’s Hardware. I didn’t realize when we started planning our trip that there was an Ice Festival going on a it was a nice bonus. We ended up browsing a little and my husband picked up a nice pair of moccasins to keep his feet warm around the house this winter. After checking into our hotel, we decided to go have dinner at the Blue Gate Restaurant …

Shipshewana Ice Festival

While the kids were out of school, I wanted to work in a little getaway. I thought back on a trip we'd taken a couple years ago to Shipshewana to visit the Splash Universe Water Park and figured it would be a perfect trip for right after Christmas. It's not too far away and it would give the kids a chance to play in the water park and maybe I could get a little shopping in and find some edible goodies to write about on my food blog.

I didn't realize what a perfect time of year it would be. We happened to be visiting when the annual Ice Festival was happening. I had no clue until just before we left when I logged onto a Shipshewana Facebook Page to see a post about the Ice Festival.

As we pulled into to town, we noticed a big block of ice being carved with a chainsaw outside Yoder's General Store and Hardware Store. It was pretty cool to see one of the ice sculptures being made.

Next door was the Visitors Center, where I picked up a brochure showing each of the spots …