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Thursday, March 27, 2014

InterContinental Chicago goes dark for Earth Hour

This is something I love. In recognition of Earth Hour, the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile will be drastically reducing their lighting from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m. on March 29. Large hurricane lanterns will be placed throughout the lobby. Can you imagine how lovely it will look by candlelight?

There will also be a fun, historic flashlight tour and the building's dome will go dark for the hour.

Read more on the event below:







Candlelit Lobby:  The hotel team will significantly lower the lighting in the lobby and check-in desks.  Large hurricane lanterns will decorate the lobby, conserving energy and enveloping the area in a candlit glow.

Historic Tour in the Dark:  For the hour, InterContinental's Historic Guided IPod Tour, where guests can explore the history of King Arthur Court, the famed Olympic-sized Pool, and Ball Room while enjoying the essence of the hotel's architectural details will be dark. Guests will be given battery-operated flashlights to guide their way.

Darken the Dome:  The famed InterContinental Dome, which sits upon the 42-story hotel and rotates over 70 colorful shades throughout the year, will go dark for the hour.

Additionally, those looking to celebrate Earth Hour with a cocktail can visit Michael Jordan's Steak House, located inside the hotel, to enjoy their Lights Out cocktail with Brovo #14 Amoro, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Death's Door Gin and lime juice.

The InterContinental Chicago was the first hotel to receive an Energy Star rating, as well as a silver certification from Green Seal and StayGreen recognition from the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association. The property continues its commitment to "green" performance by modernizing its programming with innovative, energy-conserving technology and eco-friendly beauty products.
 

InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile
505 N. Michigan Ave.



Sunday, March 9, 2014

Kentucky Action Park: Cave City, Kentucky

Some of our favorite times on our family vacations have been spent in Kentucky. We love the Cave City area where we've visited several times. There's a big variety of things to do - from exploring caves to visiting Dinosaur World and seeing life size replicas to watching actors stage a gunfight on Guntown Mountain to petting a kangaroo at Kentucky Down Under. It's such a beautiful area, too, and I enjoy just taking in the landscape and enjoying nature.

One spot we have visited twice on our visits in Kentucky Action Park. They've added a lot since our initial visit, but it's the kind of place, where there's something for everyone - horseback riding, cave tours, zip line, alpine slide, go karts, mini golf, arcade games, old thyme photos and bumper boats, which you can tell from the photo below my kids thoroughly enjoyed.

It's a place where you can stop for a few hours to kill some time or you can plan a full day to try it all out. They also have primitive campsites and now have cabins, as well.  Cabin rentals are available starting in March. Horseback riding is available starting in March and additional attractions open later in the season. For more information, visit www.kentuckyactionpark.com.




Here's a listing of activities and rates (2013 prices):


ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY FREE IN PARK W/PROPER ID.
ALL DAY PASSARMBAND—(10am6pm)‐‐‐‐‐‐‐$24.95 ea.
(6 yr & up) 5 and under FREE w/pd adult.
Includes unlimited riding on Chairlift,
Alpine Slide, Go Carts, Bumper Cars, Trampoline Thing, Climbing Wall, Bumper Boats (open in May) 18
Hole Mini Golf and a FREE Outlaw Cave Tour (30min). Does Not include horses or zipline.
FAMILY PASS (10tickets) 1ticket per person per activityGood for Any rides EXCEPT Horses & Zipline‐‐‐‐‐‐‐$35.00
SINGLE TICKETS: Alpine Slide‐‐‐$5.00, Other rides ‐‐$4.00 ea.
ZIPLINE: ‐‐‐‐‐One Ride‐‐$45.00 or 3 for $99.95 (70 lbs & up) (under 70 lbs rides Tandem with adult or guide, same price)
MINI GOLF: Adults‐‐$5 Children ‐‐$4 (5 & under FREE w/pd adult)
OUTLAW CAVE TOUR (30 min tour)
Adults
‐‐$6.95 Children‐‐$4.95 (5 & under FREE w/pd adult)
JESSE JAMES RIDING STABLES: (9am6pm til Labor Day)
6 & up ride own horse 2
5 rides w /adult & $2 extra on 1/2 & 1hr. 1⁄2 hr‐‐$14 One hr‐‐$18 2hr‐‐$34 (8 yr & no doubles)
CABINS: $89.95 per night MarLabor Day ($79.95 Labor DayMar)
Sleeps up to 6 people if some are children, not 6 adults.
PETS are not allowed. Open floor plan, 1
full size bed, set of bunk beds, futon & loft for kids (no beds in loft) Full bath, TV, WiFi, heat, air, small frig, microwave,
coffee pot, toaster, 2
burner hotplate, picnic table, grill & fire pit.
CAMPGROUNDS: No Bath HousePort a Potty only.
Full hookup (water
electricsewer) ‐‐$35 per night
Water & Electric:
‐‐$25 per night Primitive sites (2tents) ‐‐$15 per night
OLD TIME PHOTOS: First Photo‐‐2people (1(8 x 10) or 2(5 x 7’s)‐‐$15.95 & $5.00 for each additional person or each additional photo (18 x 10 or 25 x 7’s). 

College of DuPage has waterside upscale dining and lodging

I'm sharing a post here that went up on the food blog I do with my sister and niece, Chicago Foodie Sisters. I'm sharing it not only because the dining establishment was lovely and top notch, but because travelers might be surprised to know that there's also a 6-room hotel that sits above the restaurant, making it a great spot for romantic overnight. Although it's on a college campus, the floor is accessible by key access only. All rooms have a view of the water, which from what I told is beautiful in spring time (it was covered in snow on our visit) with floating flower beds and a fountain. If you are looking for a nice couples weekend, this is a perfect spot. There are also joining rooms, so if multiple family members are staying they can also be accommodated. A complimentary continental breakfast is included.

Photo from www.cod.edu

Read on to learn more about the restaurant in the Chicago Foodie Sister post.

Waterleaf: Glen Ellyn, Illinois

I had an opportunity recently to try out Waterleaf, offering a fine dining experience in a beautiful waterside setting on the campus of the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. It's definitely a hidden gem that must make its way onto your foodie bucket list. A variety of classic French dishes with creative, contemporary presentations are available for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch, with prix fixe menus that enable you to enjoy multiple courses at a great value. It's elegant and inviting, and the fact that is a somewhat unexpected makes it all the more charming.

An extensive list of imported wines completes your meal. Waterleaf's wine selections have earned the restaurant multiple awards, including being named one of Wine Spectator Magazine's 2103 Awards of Excellence winners.

My husband and I visited for lunch on a quiet, sunny day that was just getting the thaw going. With the pond and exterior grounds covered in snow, we committed to coming back in the warmer months when the pond is visible with floating flower beds and the outdoor fireplaces are lit. With a menu that changes seasonally, there's also that incentive to revisit frequently.

Our meal was nothing short of magnificent. I started with the cheese selection of the day, sampling three domestic and imported soft cheeses and an bleu cheese that was enjoyed on toast points with accompanying cumquat chutney and almonds.

My husband selected Ratatoullie with poached egg. He knows the deal. He has to order something different than what I order and a sample is required. The wonderful blend of stewed vegetables was a perfect start (and I was almost sorry I wasn't the one who ordered it.)


Next up was my Baby Field Greens, with French beans and Parmesan crisp. I selected bleu cheese dressing, a wise and delicious choice. The hazelnuts weren't mentioned on the menu, so it was a lovely surprise. I absolutely adore hazelnuts and am convinced that the lack of them in American cooking is one of our most blatant errors. Anyway, back to the salad. A tad of freshly ground black pepper topped it and the salad was divine.

Hubby opted for French Onion Soup, a suburb burst of flavor beneath a covering of Swiss, Parmesan and Gruyere with hints of sherry and brandy and herb-crusted croutons.

My entree was a a medium-well salmon filet over an exquisite mushroom sauce complimented with bok choy and gluten free buckwheat noodles paired with a Martin Rey Pinot Noir. I loved the Asian infusion of flavors in this dish.

Hubby gave extremely high marks to his Amish Chicken Breast in a natural au jus reduction with roasted elephant garlic and cipollini onions with potato puree. I was in complete agreement.

I'm always tempted to skip dessert when dining out and I am so glad that I did not on this trip. It is truly not to be missed. I spied intently as a table of four females beside us had their dessert brought out. They opted to try four of the five desserts with sharing plates. I am glad I got a glimpse because as soon as I got a peek at the Vanilla Bavarian, I knew it was a definite winner. I took the liberty of ordering it for hubby and the orange creme brûlée for myself.

The desserts are unequivocally heavenly and such artistic specimens ~ you know, the kind that are so beautiful that you feel terribly guilty taking a bite of.  The Vanilla Bavarian with winter fruits (pomegranate, gooseberry and mandarin orange) included a hidden surprise as there was an enclosed dab of currant reduction.


I've found myself on a custard kick lately, so I was so excited to find creme brûlée on the menu. The addition of citrus flavor with a chocolate layer on the bottom put this over to the top in such a grand way.

We couldn't have been more pleased with our lunch. Of course, I love places that embrace the farm-to-table concept as does Chef Nadia Tilkian. A server also plays such a big part in the overall experience and Jennifer was friendly and knowledgable.

We also learned in chatting with staff that the Culinary and Hospitality Center at COD includes a six-room hotel that sits over the Waterleaf, called the Inn at Water's Edge. Rates are reasonable and packages are available that include a credit towards dinner at the Waterleaf. We took a moment for a tour and although the snowy landscape was beautiful, I'm just kind of done with the white stuff. I can just imagine how lovely it will look two months from now. It makes for a great setting for a romantic overnight getaway in the burbs. For more details on the Waterleaf, visit https://www.cod.edu/w/waterleaf.htm.

Waterleaf
425 Fawell Blvd.
Glen Ellyn, IL
630-942-6881