Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sable Points Lighthouse Tours

I've always been fascinated by lighthouses and they always look stunning with the blue water and blue sky as a backdrop. I've had the opportunity to climb a lighthouse and peer out from the inside and it was amazing. 

I was recently in Ludington, Michigan where there are two lighthouses (with others not far away), but I was too early in the season to have a chance to get inside. However, there are four lighthouses that are run by the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association that can each be toured. They are:

BIG SABLE LIGHTHOUSE

LUDINGTON NORTH BREAKWATER LIGHT

LITTLE SABLE POINT LIGHTHOUSE

WHITE RIVER LIGHT STATION

You can climb each lighthouse for $5 for adults and $2 for children. 

The Big Sable Point Lighthouse will open for the season May 8 and it will be open daily from 10 a.m - 5 p.m. through November 4. This year it turns 150 and you can celebrate during the Michigan Lighthouse Festival in Ludington August 15 - 27.

The other three lighthouses open May 26 and each is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each with different closing dates for the season.

The Ludington Light is visible from downtown Ludington and accessible by pier. We had hoped to walk out on the pier for a closer look, but the winds that day were pretty brutal and waves were crashing over the pier, so we weren't able to walk out close to it. It still made for some pretty pictures from the shore.

For more info on the lighthouses, visit splka.org. 


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Antique Archeology, LeClaire, Iowa


Last summer as we were visiting the Quad Cities, we took a little side trip one day to historic LeClaire, Iowa, It's an adorable river town along the Mississippi that has a main street with quaint eateries, boutiques, wineries, rental houses, shops and more. For those who are into antiquing, it's also a great spot to hunt for some unique finds.

A big draw to the town is that it's home of Antique Archeology, the antique store that the cable show American Pickers is based on. The show, which airs on the History Channel, debuted in 2010 and follows antique and collectible pickers,  Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, as they make their way around the country searching for treasures to bring back to their home base.

The main building houses some antiques and unique items along with American Pickers merchandise - lots of t-shirts, mugs, etc. - and an outbuilding has larger items. You can't miss the place, which has a rusty car placed out in front with the business logo on the side.

While the antique store draws in a lot of visitors, there's much more to see and do and if you're heading there to stop, I'd definitely recommend making it an overnighter. Spend the day sampling wine and spirits in the tasting rooms, shopping for unique gifts, visiting the Buffalo Bill Museum and grabbing a bite and a downtown eatery. For more info on Le Claire, visitleclarie.com.


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Monday, April 9, 2018

Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL

For anyone who is a fan of baseball - or sports in general - a visit the Friendly Confines known as Wrigley Field should definitely land high on the bucket list. One of the oldest major league ballparks in the county - second only to Fenway Park in Boston - Wrigley Field opened in 1914. Until the Cubs finally won the World Series in 2016, the ball park had not been the home of a championship team.

Being a life-long die hard, I know I am biased, but there's just this wonderful old-school charm about Wrigley Field that you don't quite get in other ballparks. It's what makes it overall such a fun experience - the hand-operated scoreboard, the ivy on the bricks, the jazz band that makes it's way through the stands, the very mature employees who stand guard at each section checking tickets. There's been a lot of modernization in the past two or three years - the additional of big screens in the outfield, the addition of metal detectors, the move of the bullpen off the field and indoors. There was also the big investment in the Park at Wrigley, which was added last year and the newly-opened Hotel Zachary -- and of course, investments in big contacts and acquisition of big names that finally led them to that title that we'd all been waiting for for so, so long. 


But aside from the renovations and the title, it's just a darn fun place to spend an afternoon -- I'm still an old-fashioned day game gal who attended her first game back before they added lights in 1988. My sister is a season ticket holder and for most games I attend I'm parked in that same upper deck seat under the canopy where I don't need to wear sunblock and I don't get wet if it starts to rain. There's not too many other places I'd rather be on a late spring or summer or early fall day. So, put on your Cubbie blue, grab some peanuts and get out to the old ball game - it's one you'll never forget.




Saturday, April 7, 2018

Newport on the Levee


On a trip through Ohio with two of my boys, we decided to take the bridge from Cincinnati over the river into Kentucky and check out Newport on the Levee. It was a very warm winter day that was great for spending time outside. We took time to walk around and check out the shops and restaurants, walk the Purple People Bridge, a pedestrian only bridge across the river and visit the Newport Aquarium, which was a highlight of the day. 

Take a train ride along Newport on the Levee
The Newport Aquarium is absolutely worth the trip if you are anywhere in the vicinity and are mesmerized by under water creatures. The aquarium includes a tide touch pool where you can put your hands in and touch starfish, a Coral Reef, the Surrounded by Sharks tank where you can get an upclose look at sharks all around you, the Stingray Hideaway with above and below water viewing and an opportunity to touch them and a 75-foot long suspended bridge that you can walk over and see sharks below. The Newport Aquarium is absolutely one of the coolest places I have visited and it's sure to wow your whole family. Consider getting your tickets ahead online as the place fills up quickly and time slots sell out. For more info, visit newportaquarium.com.

Newport at the Levee features live music during the summer months. It's a lovely space to gather to listen to some tunes and look out onto and across the river and the beautiful city of Cincinnati. For more info, visit newportonthelevee.com


We finished our day across the street for dinner at Hofbrauhaus Newport for some big pretzels, schnitzels and a pint of German brew along with some lively entertainment.

For more info on Newport and the Cincinnati area, go to cincyusa.org or cincinnatiusa.org.



Friday, April 6, 2018

Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Indiana


Being the big baseball fan I am, I love to visit ballparks of minor league and independent league teams as we travel. Late last summer on a trip with my kids to Fort Wayne, Indiana, we took in a game of the Fort Wayne Tin Caps (well, a couple innings of a game, anyway, before the rain came pouring down).

The Tin Caps are a Class A team affiliated with the San Diego Padres playing in the Midwest League.  The park is a beautiful one that is less than a decade old and was a short walk from our hotel. With a roomy concourse, suite level lounge and several private events spaces, it's an amazing venue. It has several times been awarded "No. 1 Ballpark Experience in Minor League Baseball" by Stadium Journey.

Since I am a big foodie and also do a food blog (ChicagoFoodieSisters.com), I'm always anxious to see what the food options are at big venues and this one had a lot of the typical baseball fare that you'd expect, but also some fun surprises. I loved being able to enjoy a jumbo pork tenderloin sandwich while watching the game.

The franchise is actually the oldest in the Midwest League having changed names a half-dozen times over the years, originating in Mattoon, Illinois in 1947. With many years to come of entertaining families with America's pastime in this beautiful ballpark, it's a place to put on your summer travel list as you pack up and hit the road with your family. For more info, visit parkviewfield.com

Visit Hamlin Lake in Ludington, Michigan this summer


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 size groups. We stayed in cottage #6 - the Chalet - which sleeps up to 10 and was very comfortable for our group of five. It had two downstairs bedrooms with queen beds, two bathrooms, a kitchen and living room and an upstairs loft area with two double beds and two twin beds. Sauble Resort’s cottages range from one to four bedrooms and the resort stays open all year.

The Chalet - which sleeps 10 and has two bathrooms.

On the resort are tennis courts, basketball hoops, a playground, a heated outdoor pool and pontoon and jet ski rentals. Boat rental rates for luxury pontoons range from $200 for 2 hours to $1250 for six days (discounted to $900 for resort guests). Deluxe luxury pontoons are available for 2 hours at $250 up to a day at $510. Cottages are rented by the week and it’s a lovely area to make your home base for a week and spend time together connecting as a family, fishing, boating and exploring the area and the Ludington State Park.

Photo: Sauble Resort Facebook Page

For more information on the resort, visit saubleresort.com. Hamlin Lake and the Sauble Resort are just about a ten minute drive from downtown Ludington. For more information on the Ludington area, visit pureludington.com. 

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