Showing posts from 2014

Lansing Historical Society Festival of Lights to open

One of the highlights of the season for me is the Festival of Lights exhibit at the Lansing Historical Society. I'm vice president of the society, which means I am the program director and I always enjoy selecting the program for November when our Festival of Lights exhibits opens. For several of the programs, I have booked musical groups that have performed holiday songs. This year the entertainment comes from veteran actor Terry Lynch, who will perform as St. Nick in "The Legend of St. Nicholas." Following the family-friendly program, the museum will be open for viewing of the trees. The exhibit includes nearly 3 dozen trees and holiday scenes.

The Lansing Historical Museum is located in the lower level of the Lansing Public Library at School Street and Indiana Ave. in Lansing, Illinois. For more information, go to

Dine with Santa on the Spirit of Chicago

Santa will be trading in his sleigh on December 13 in favor of a cruise ship and he's inviting his young fans to sail along with him on a lunch cruise. A newly designed menu will feature a variety of fresh, organic dishes and kid favorites (like meatballs and mini desserts) on the two-hour tour. Check out the press release below for further details.

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO LAKE MICHIGAN Enjoy a Special Family Day Aboard the Spirit of Chicago with Santa
CHICAGO, IL (Nov. 20, 2014) - Christmas is coming early to the Spirit of Chicago. On Saturday, December 13, families are welcome aboard the Spirit of Chicago for a day of Christmas fun on the Santa Lunch Cruise. This cruise is the perfect start to a season full of holiday cheer with DJ entertainment and, of course, a visit from the big man in red. Guests can admire breathtaking views of Chicago's skyline on the Spirit of Chicago's climate-controlled ship and children will make lasting memories with a photo opportunity with Sa…

South Shore Arts hosts Family Arts Festival

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, South Shore Arts will host a variety of activities at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts as part of the Family Arts Festival, which will include music activities for infants and toddlers, back stage tours, musical performances and more. An artist reception from noon to 3 p.m. also takes place for the center's new art exhibit, Baby Boom or Bust! featuring the work of Brian J. Sullivan. A free photo exhibit will also be on display in the atrium titled "Dunes and Blooms"by Pete Doherty and Joanne Markiewicz. Face painting, theatre games and an ice carving demonstration are also part of the fun. Several of the day's activities are free.

Also enjoy brunch and a performance of The Princess Show. For all the details of the event, go to

The Center for Visual and Performing Arts is located at 1040 Ridge Road in Munster, Indiana.

Kenosha Area Convention and Visitors Bureau shares 101 Things to See and Do in Kenosha area!

My friends at the Kenosha Area Convention and Visitors Bureau sent me this extensive list of fun to be had in the Kenosha area this summer. Our family has visited the area many times and there's never a shortage of fun. It's also great that so many of these activities are free. Take a look at the list and pick out some fun for the summer!

101 Things to See & Do for Under $10in the Kenosha Area: Many are FREE!
Located in Southeast Wisconsin on the Lake Michigan shore, the Kenosha Area is gaining a reputation as being the very affordable and fun travel destination that it is. The area is extremely accessible and close to Chicago and Milwaukee, off Interstate-94. Parking is free at Lake Michigan and in Downtown Kenosha. Coupons, military discounts, and hotel packages are available On the same website is the very popular FUN101 list: 101 Things to See & Do for Under $10 in the Kenosha Area: Many are FREE! Updated twice each year, here’s a sampling of this …

Indianapolis Zoo

Although I live in Chicago where we have two wonderful zoos, I always like to check out zoos when we travel to see something new and see animals in different environments.

We have one zoo that offers quite a bit, but is so massive in size and so spread out that it's almost impossible to get through the whole place in one day. Our other zoo is smaller and much more compact with the advantage of being free, but parking is always a challenge and sometimes it's hard to get around with the large crowds.

The Indianapolis Zoo falls somewhere in between. It's big enough to offer a good variety of exhibits, but not so large that you log a dozen miles on a visit. It's easy to manuever and there's a lot to see and do.

Just outside the entrance is the White River Gardens, which you can visit with your zoo admission. There are some fun opportunities of upgrades you can add to your day, some of which are feeding giraffes, being a Jr. Dolphin Trainer or taking a train ride.

Some of…

Soldiers and Sailors Monument: Indianapolis, Indiana

Central to downtown Indianapolis is Monument Circle, with the focal point being the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which was dedicated in 1902. The structure is built on a site originally laid out for the Governor's Mansion, which was completed in 1827. That building was later demolished and during the Civil War it was first suggested that a memorial be built on the site to honor those who were dying while protecting the Union.

The cornerstone was laid in 1889 and completed at a cost of $600,000, built of gray oolitic limestone from the quarries of Owen County, Indiana. The foundation is 30 feet in depth while the height from street level to top of the Victory statue is just 15 feet shorter the Statue of Liberty.

Among the ornate statues that decorate the tower are  bronze statues of James Whitcomb, Indiana's Governor during the Mexican War and Oliver P. Morton, Governor during the Civil War and a statue of George Rogers Clark. Additional limestone figures of a calvary scout …

Jelly Belly Center: Kenosha, Wisconsin

One of our family's favorite getaway spots is the Kenosha, Wisconsin area. For those living in the Chicago area, it's a quick little jaunt that makes for a great day trip, but it's also an awesome destination for a weekend getaway with lots of accessible lakefront, free museums, great eateries, superb shopping and other fun attractions.

When traveling with the family, it's always a plus when you can spend time somewhere that the kids enjoy and it's free. Jelly Belly Center is one of those places. I don't think we've ever been to the Kenosha area without making a stop there. Free tours are available daily  through the distribution facility on a cute little train with stops along the way for a video history of the company and to admire some awesome jelly bean art that hangs on the walls.

The tour naturally exits out the store. So, although the tour is free, it is pretty hard to make it out of the place without purchasing a few edible souvenirs. However, if you…

International Orangutan Center opens today at Indianapolis Zoo

Eight orangutans have taken up residence in some new digs at the Indianapolis Zoo. The new Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center opens today, giving visitors a close look at this amazing species that is on the verge of extinction. 

I was able to preview the exhibit earlier this month as part of a media tour and was enthralled by watching the orangutans play and interact with one another, but also get up face to face with visitors at the glass. Kids can go online to research each of the orangutans before the visit or follow up afterwards by learning more if they go to

The center allows for lots of opportunity for outdoor climbing and spectators can watch from a sky ride that extends around the exhibit allowing for a birds eye view of the center.

Also part of the exhibit is the Nina Mason Pulliam Beacon of Hope, which stretches 150 feet into the sky and will transform the Indianapolis skyline. At night it is illuminated by lights the orangutans turn on themselves, …

Lansing to host first cruise night June 14

For classic car fans, there's a full season ahead of car shows and cruise nights to pull that antique out of the garage to show it off or to simply stroll along and admire the automotive designs of the past. South Suburban Lansing, Illinois has three cruise nights scheduled for the season. They all take place on Ridge Road between Burnham and Wentworth Avenues.

Dates for 2014 are:

June 14
July 12
August 2

Each cruise begins at 6 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m.

Dinosphere at Children's Museum of Indianapolis celebrates 10 years

One of the most popular portions of the massive Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the Dinosphere, which turns 10 years old this year. The museum hosted several special activities during spring break and the highlight of the exhibit during this anniversary year is the arrival of Leonardo, the best preserved dinosaur remains ever found. Leonardo is a juvenile Brachylophosaurus that roamed the earth about 77 million years ago.

Also part of the exhibit is the dome (featuring Bucky the teenage T. Rex) that gives the sense of transition from morning to night with special lighting, a dinosaur dig and Dracorex howartsia, a recent discovery that was named in honor of the Harry Potter series.

The Dinosphere is included in regular admission to the museum.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis 3000 N. Meridian  Indianapolis, IN

Indiana Beach Camping: Monticello, Indiana (with 50% off discount information for Memorial Day weekend)

Indiana Beach Amusement Resort holds fond memories for me as it was one of the first trips I took with my husband. We're going way back to the late 1980's when we had been dating for a year or two, so it was really fun to take our family there this past summer for a couple days at the campground and a day spent at the amusement park.

Camping facilities near the park have primitive sites, sites for RV hook-ups and rental cabins with swimming facilities, arcades, mini golf and other activities. Our rental cabin was the perfect size for our family. Six of us went on the trip and it was roomy enough for us to move around while providing accommodations above the "roughin' it" style of camping.

We didn't really spend much time at the site, but we were at the end of a row facing forest, so it was a nice quiet spot. I wish we'd had time to build a fire and make smores and just hang out.

The boys were fascinated by the tree frogs that came out at night and climbed…

Fly a kite at New Buffalo City Beach and Lakefront Park: New Buffalo, Michigan

It's just been in the past few years that we've discovered New Buffalo's public beach. For years we'd head up and spend time in Galien and Three Oaks, but never ventured over to New Buffalo. Now, it's a frequent summer destination for us as there are a lot of good eateries in addition to the fabulous beach.

And we don't always go there intending to go in the water. Sometimes in the off season we stop there just to take a walk and to take some pictures and enjoy the beautiful shoreline. We've also been there several times with the kids to fly kites. This time of year is a great time to visit when parking is free and the summer crowds haven't made their way there yet.

The beach is free but after Memorial Day there is a $10 parking fee, unless visiting before 9 a.m. or after 8 p.m.  Sometimes we'll spend the day in the area to pick fruit or shop or check out the Flag Day Parade and later in the day, once it hits 8 p.m., we'll head over and spend a l…

See vintage wedding dresses at Lansing Historical Society's June Brides exhibit

Wedding fashions have changed drastically over the decades and an annual exhibit at the Lansing Historical Society gives a chronological look at what local brides have worn over the years. Running throughout the month of June, the June Brides exhibit includes dresses that date back to the late 1800's made from a variety of materials along with an exhibit of wedding accessories and trinkets.

The all-volunteer museum has limited hours - Monday from 6 - 8 p.m., Wednesday from 3 - 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. - noon. The museum is located in the lower level of the Lansing Public Library at Indiana Ave. and School Street in Lansing, IL