As a kid, one of my favorite events of the year was our annual girl's trip up to Long Grove, Ill. All the men in the family went off to golf or watch a game together and my sisters, sisters-in-law, mother and I set off for a day of shopping and chatting in the charming, historic area complete with a covered bridge.
There were huge chocolate-covered strawberries from the confectionery, little trinkets and Christmas ornaments we'd pick up. And we'd always end with a good meal at the local tavern.
Today, you can still visit the Long Grove Confectionery Co., where the sight of the gourmet goodies can send you into a sugar coma. Among the treats are those oversized strawberries dipped in rich chocolate that I remember from childhood.
And the sweet, red little fruit now has a whole weekend festival to celebrate it. The annual Strawberry Fest takes place June 25 to 27.
The fest features strawberry treats of all kinds – strawberry drinks, ice cream, strawberry donuts, fruit smoothies and more. Each day, free live entertainment is provided.
Several of the shops follow suit with special strawberry-themed merchandise and foods. Kiddie rides, face painting and activity tents are also part of the fun.
The historic village of Long Grove hosts several festivals throughout the year, with the Strawberry fest considered the "granddaddy" of them all. A blues fest took place in March and there was a Chocolate Fest in May. Coming up is the Great Tastes Fine Art Festival on Aug.14 and 15 and Applefest on Oct. 1 to 3.
The weekly Long Grove Farmer's Market runs 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Sunday through Oct. 17. On Father's Day, the Porsche Club Concours takes place, where you can bring Dad out to admire about three dozen of the automotive marvels.
The historic shopping area was first settled in the 1830s. By 1880 it was a thriving village with several businesses, schools, blacksmith shops, churches and a hotel. There was also a tavern, which still operates today called the Village Tavern. If you stop in Long Grove, be sure to pay the place a visit as the interior woodwork is quite a sight. It's also a great place to wind down after a busy day hopping from shop to shop.
On a recent media visit to the Quad Cities, we did a day trip to LeClaire, Iowa. It's a river town just north of the Davenport that was about a 20 minute drive for our hotel. The main street through town runs adjacent to the river, divided by a railroad with several blocks of eateries, shopping and other attractions.
Dotted with specialty shops, you'll find clothing boutiques, salvage/antique stores and gourmet shops galore, most notably Antique Archeology, which is the store that spurred the "American Pickers" show on the History Channel. You'll find a canning company, olive oil company, popcorn shop and chocolate store.
If you like wine, beer and spirits, you can try all three within a three block area. The Mississippi River Distilling Co. has been in business for 7 years and you can find their products in more than 20 states. As the Iowa liquor laws will change starting July 1, they'll finally be able to offer more than just tastings and products sales and w…
As a mother of five sons and with a husband who has always had an interest in cars, I always get excited if I notice that there is an automobile museum near our destination when we travel. After hours of boys complaining in the car that they are bored, it is something I know they will enjoy. Over the years we've been to museums where we've seen sport cars, sedans, truck, motorcycles, wagons and lots of other vintage vehicles. One such museum we've been to that has amazed my kids in the Hostetler's Hudson Auto Museum in Shipshewana.
This museum isn't as huge in scale as some of the car museums we have visited, but it has a very impressive collection - a collection amassed by one man who fell in love with Hudsons as a 14-year-old when he had a chance to drive an automatic model around a farm he worked on. Eldon Hostetler's first car was a 1938 Hudson. From then on, he continued collecting and restoring Hudsons as well as Essex, Terraplane, Dover and other Hudson-p…
The Ludington area is a popular spot during the busy travel season. The downtown is full of quaint shoppes and eateries. There’s a nice craft beer scene. The S.S. Badger sails out of the harbor daily during peak season taking passengers and their vehicles across Lake Michigan to Manitowac, Wisconsin. There’s also a lot of fun to be had on the area’s inland lakes, including the large Hamlin Lake located just north of downtown.
On a recent visit to the area, we stayed at Suable Resort, which is located on the east side of Lower Hamlin Lake. The western part of Hamlin Lake is bordered by the Ludington State Park as is the north shore of Upper Hamlin Lake.
We were there in the off-season, visiting while my kids were on their spring break and things were very quiet and laid back. It was actually snowing during our trip, which was pretty unexpected (at least to me) in April and kept us inside a little more than we had planned.
The resort has a number of cottages to accommodate different si…