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Showing posts from 2016

Blue Gate Garden Inn

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Several years ago we planned a short family trip to Shipshewana right after Christmas while the kids were off school for the holiday break. The area was breathtaking with a substantial blanket of snow. That year, late fall and early winter had been mild and we hadn't seen any snow yet, so when we arrived to all that freshly fallen white stuff, the kids were excited and mesmerized. As we arrived in town, we noticed beautifully carved blocks of ice in some of the parking lots of the businesses. We just happened to be visiting during the annual Shipshewana Ice Festival. Throughout town we got to see several more sculptures and got to watch some being carved.

So, this year when I wanted to plan a short getaway between Christmas and New Year's, I immediately looked up the ice festival dates and decided it would be a great place to visit. On our previous visit, we stayed at a hotel that had a small water park. It has since changed ownership and become the Blue Gate Garden Inn and t…

Potawatomi Inn in Angola, Indiana

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One fun thing we've discovered in years of traveling is that it's always nice to forego the chain hotels and stay somewhere more interesting. It doesn't always turn out to be amazing. We've had a few crazy  stories where it didn't turn out as well as we'd hoped. In the majority of cases, we've been pleased and often the bed and breakfasts, historic hotels, independently-owned cabins or other overnight spots have exceeded expectations.

I have loved finding inns located at state parks that may not be decorated in the most modern fashion or equipped with the most modern technology, but are full of history and style and just so cozy and inviting.

We stopped recently in Pokagon State Park in Angola, Indiana to check out the toboggan run and visited the Potawatomi Inn while we were there. The toboggan run is a huge draw in the winter months, but the grounds and lake look like they're pretty stunning and fun during the warmer months. Throughout the inn are li…

Navy Pier's Winter WonderFest

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Chicago is a beautiful place to be around the holidays. Christkindl Market in Daley Plaza. Shop windows to explore on the Magnificent Mile. The tree lit up at Millennium Park and the snow-capped Bean. But...if you want to enjoy lights and trees and holiday merriment while staying warm, Navy Pier is the place to be for the Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest running through January 8 (closed on Christmas Day.)

I went to check it out with two of my boys recently and we pulled into the east parking garage, walked in to the Pier, went up the escalator and never had to feel one cold burst of wind. That's my kind of holiday fun.

If you're breathing a sigh of relief now that Christmas is done, but wondering what to do with the kids while they're home for the next week-and-a-half, the Winter WonderFest is a perfect way to spend a day. With an indoor ice skating rink, climbing wall, bounce houses and slides and lots of rides (including a carousel and Ferris Wheel), there's someth…

City of Chicago to hold Victory Parade and Rally on Friday

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For the first time in 108 years, the Chicago Cubs are the World Series Champions and the city is preparing for an epic party to be held less than 36 hours after the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in a  10-inning, game 7 battle at Progressive Field.

The team buses are scheduled to leave Wrigley Field around 10 a.m. on Friday for a downtown parade and noon rally at Lower Hutchinson Field in Grant Park. The parade is expected to travel from Addison and Sheffield to Pine Grove and likely downtown via Lake Shore drive. The parade downtown is expected to begin at Michigan Avenue at Oak, then south to Ohio Street before moving to Grant Park for the rally. The event is open to the public.

Edwards Place in Springfield, IL

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For those who love history, Springfield, Illinois should be at the top of your Midwest travel list. Besides the very obvious reasons of there being a current and former state capitol as well as so many attractions related to Abraham Lincoln, there are several historic homes in the city that give a glimpse into life in Springfield's early days.

On a recent visit to Springfield, I was able to visit some of those historic homes, including Edwards Place, which is the oldest home in the city that has remained in the same location. Built in 1833, the home was occupied by Benjamin and Helen Edwards and was a social hub of the area. Benjamin Edwards was the youngest son of Governor Ninian Edwards. The Edwards hosted parties and political events, including a rally for Stephen A. Douglas, which wouldn't seem all that unusual for a prominent family in early Springfield. However, the sister of Edwards' brothers' wife happened to be Mary Todd Lincoln.

Within the home are priceless …

UNLOCKaLOCK Escape Room opens Friday

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I've been hearing a lot of buzz in recent months about Escape Room destinations. They may be a little hard to wrap your head around if you have never been to one. These businesses, which have popped up in several spots in Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana offer a fun activity for groups where they are locked in a room and have to work together to solve clues to get out of the room before their time expires.

One is set to open this Friday and my husband and I were among the first people to get to try to successfully escape from a room last weekend as the owners were doing a preview and some test runs.

UnlockaLock in Lansing offers two themed rooms - the Pirate Room and the Throne Room. I was in the first group to do the Throne Room. Besides my husband and I, there was another couple and their two young adult daughters. The other male in our group and my husband hit it off and their humor made the challenge that much more fun. Groups can go up to 8 in a room. It's neat that in w…

White Sox U.S. Cellular Field to get new name

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Even though I'm a big Cubs fan, announcement of a name change of the White Sox home field is big news. In my mind and many others in the Chicago area, it will always be Comiskey Park. In 1990, the old Comiskey Park was used for its last White Sox season and a new ballpark was built beside it. The new park, which opened in 1991, was knows as Comiskey Park until it was renamed U.S. Cellular Field (a.k.a. "The Cell") in 1993. It was announced today that the ball park will get a new name starting November 1st.

Even being a die-hard Cubs fan, Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field have created pleasant memories. My first Sox games were at Old Comiskey and I've attended several games at the new park, which has some great family friendly features and promotions. If you ever have a chance to attend a patio party at The Cell, it's a blast. Your group enjoys a buffet and beer and you have a chance to pregame onsite before the game.

Here's the details announced in a press re…

HarborPark: Kenosha, WI

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During the summer months, there are a lot of fun events that happen at HarborPark in Kenosha, including the recent Border Wars Beer Fest and the annual Taste of Wisconsin, which we have attended several times. And even when there's not something going on, it's a lovely place for a stroll with beautiful views.
Just steps away from the park are the Kenosha Public Museum and the Civil War Museum as well as the tracks for the electric streetcar system. Anytime we are near the Kenosha lakefront, my kids love to hop on and take a ride. We also love all the free and easily accessible beachfront that you can spend time at. There's a lot to love about Kenosha and the lakefront is at the top of the list. For more info on events at HarborPark and within Kenosha, go to VisitKenosha.com


Caboose Lake: Remington, IN

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On several trips over the years to Indiana Beach we'd pass Caboose Lake Campground in Remington, IN and it looked like a fun place for the kids. So, as we planned our most recent visit to Monticello to visit the amusement park, we decided to make it into a little getaway. We spent a full day at Indiana Beach and then a full day at the campground where there's a lot to do.

I had been wanting to do camping with the kids for a while. We'd stayed at a lot of campgrounds, but always in RVs or cabins, not actually "roughin' it." And we had a sizable tent that hadn't been used other than for backyard campouts and a once a year cub scout camp.

So, we set-up our tent and slept under the stars that night. I'm glad we experienced it, but I learned that I am no longer into roughin' it. I hadn't done that since I was a teenager. It was muggy. My inflatable mattress deflated in the middle of the night. Bugs were buzzing. My kids snored and kicked. The neighb…

Locavore Farm offers Dine-on-the-Land Dinners

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Summer is a lovely season for dining, whether it's on a trendy downtown rooftop or al fresco on a patio or enjoying a picnic at a scenic park. But, for the ultimate in outdoor dining, you need to pay a visit to Locavore Farms in Grant Park, Illinois.

There's so much to love about this place, including the backstory. A busy professional suburban couple, Chris and Rachael Jones, tired of their hectic life and grabbing easy, but not so healthy food made a conscious decision not only to make a move with their two children to live a quieter more rural lifestyle, but to grow their own food and focus on sharing that bounty with others while also bringing in other local farmers with a similar philosophy of wanting to provide good food for people and providing an opportunity for them to slow down and really appreciate where it comes from.

They open up their farm, which has just begun season two, several times a year for visitors to come enjoy life on their small family farm. The events…

Mushroom Hunting in Galena

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Earlier this month, I was invited to an exclusive media event at Galena's Eagle Ridge Resort. It had been a good 15 years since I had been to Galena, so I was excited for this little getaway. I had never been hunting for morels before, so it was a fun experience. We had the opportunity to be taken to a top secret spot by Eagle Ridge's executive chef and food and beverage director where we received tips on what to look for and how to spot them. Though I only found a couple, it was quite a thrill to search and finally come one.

Along with our hunt, we were treated to creative meals that featured morels (more to come on that on my food blog - chicagofoodiesisters.com)

Eagle Ridge is a top rated luxury resort with some of the most beautiful, lush surroundings for golfers. In 2014, Midwest Living rated Eagle Ridge as one of the "45 Midwest Resorts We Love." As part of the 6,800-acre Galena Territory, it includes 80 rustic, elegant rooms and over 200 homes and villas, a 60…