Friday, December 4, 2015

Macy's Holiday Window Displays

For kids in the Chicago area, a trip to State Street to view the window displays at Macy's (formerly Marshall Fields) is often an annual holiday tradition. This year, Macy's window's include an ode to Charlie Brown and the Peanuts and also a space/planet themed series. Strolling down State Street at Christmastime is a truly magical experience, no matter how old you are. Complete your visit with a stop in the food court, the purchase of some Frango Mints and lunch in the Walnut Room.

You can also take a short jaunt down Washington to Daley Plaza and visit Christkindlmarket while you're in the Loop. It's another holiday happening that is a must if you live in or around the city.

Festival of Lights returns to Lansing Historical Museum

Why head all the way to the Museum of Science and Industry to see trees of different countries and cultures when there's a significant exhibit in the burbs? The Lansing Historical Society's annual Festival of Lights is open for the season featuring about 30 trees, most of them representing different cultures around the world, with a few locally-focused trees added to the mix. The big undertaking of moving out regular displays and setting up and decorating trees is about a 4-week project and the results are amazing.

Admission to the exhibit is free and a special guided tour can also be set up for groups interested in visiting. Call (708) 474-7497 if you are interested in a tour. The Lansing Historical Museum has extended hours for the holiday season:

Monday and Tuesday: 6 - 8 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday:  3 - 5 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

*Also, the museum is open for viewing on Dec. 12 from 5 - 6:30 p.m. prior to the library's Legacy Girl's Concert.

Lansing Historical Museum
(housed in the lower level of the Lansing Public Library)
2750 Indiana Avenue
Lansing, IL

Chicago's ChristkindleMarket

If you have never visited Chicago's Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza, it's a fun holiday tradition that need to be on your itinerary. Modeled after Nuremberg's traditional holiday market which originated in Germany in the 1500's, Christkindlmarket came to Chicago in 1996 and was moved to it's current spot at Daley Plaza in 1997. It's Chicago's largest open-air Christmas market.

It opens daily at 11 a.m., so you can pay a visit in the daytime hours when you're likely to see less of a crowd and have a little warmth from the sun.

The plaza is lined with little booths with most of the vendors coming from Germany and it's region selling beautiful handcrafted wares - jewelry, clocks, ornaments and more. You'll also find German entertainment and lots of hearty, German food and spiced wine in adorable commemorative boot mugs. There's activities for kids that you can pursue online - scavenger hunts and a passport for stamping.

My friends, Debbie and Lynn joined me for a visit to Christkindlmarket on opening day - on a surprisingly and pleasantly warm evening before our first snowfall.

Unfortunately we had just come from a tasting at a newly-opened restaurant and were too full to enjoy a meal, but I did grab some potato pancakes to take home.

The skyline of Chicago was a beautiful background. The only think I missed was the big Christmas tree, which was moved to Millennium Park this year.

Also, there's a Christkindlmarket that has been added in Oakbrook this year, so if you'd rather visit a market in the burbs, stop there for some of the same vendors. Visit for info on both locations.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm

Twenty-one years ago we made our first trip to Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm when my son was a baby. We went for several consecutive years and missed the past three years, so I thought it was time that we return to the place that held so many fall memories for our family. My in-laws went with us every year and two years ago my father-in-law passed away and last year my mother-in-law moved to Missouri to live near her sister and mother, so this was the first trip without them, which made it kind of bittersweet. I look forward to one day bringing grandkids of my own there.

The place is such a fun magical place, especially when you have very little ones. Every year the kids looked forward to returning to the haunted house and the fun barn, taking a hay ride and watching the pig races. It's expanded a bit in recent years and now has rides, a petting zoo and more. It's a great way to spend a fall day.

There are still a few days left in the season, so if you have yet to pick out pumpkins or you're looking for an alternative to trick-or-treating this weekend, make plans for a visit. Visit for more information.

The pig races are always fun to watch.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Get your Cubs haircut at ACME Hotel

Chicago is an exciting place to be this October as the history-making Chicago Cubs team has made its way to the NLCS. And as the city looks to welcome the team back for a three-game home stretch in the series before heading back to New York, ACME Hotel is offering up something for those who bleed Cubbie Blue. 

There are Cubs fans. And there are Cubs fans who get an image of Jake Arrieta shaved into their head. Miguel Rosas, whose cut went viral earlier this month will be available for cuts before the big games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Rosas' Jake Arrieta haircut became world famous during the Cubs postseason. He'll be at the hotel for a pop-up barbershop on October 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Fans can stop by the hotel to get their own Cubs-themed haircut from Rosas before heading out to watch the Cubs take on the Mets in the NLCS. Rosas is owner of Moline's  New Style Barbershop

The famous haircut that set social media abuzz belongs to Isaiss Duarte, the son of one of Rosas' close friends. Duarte will also be there for the event.

Rosas will offer Cubs-themed haircuts from his custom barber chair at ACME. Appointments are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"Our whole motto at ACME is Do Your Thing, so when we saw Miguel's photo we were so impressed with his individuality and artistry that we had to reach out and see if we could do something fun and creative together," says Brent Hinton, Director of Sales and Marketing for ACME. For more info on ACME Hotel, 15 E. Ohio Street, visit or call 312-894-0900.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Santa's Village: East Dundee, Illinois

For years and years I remember hearing radio commercials for Santa's Village in East Dundee and it sounded like such a fun place. However, it wasn't until last year that I finally made it there for a visit. My sister-in-law and my youngest boys went there to check it out.

Santa's Village celebrated 55 years of family fun and I really love the nostalgic feel of the place that takes you back a few decades. We went in the gate and were immediately greeted by Santa - which, of course, called for a selfie.

Once inside, the first thing we hit was the classic carousel before moving on to some of the other fun rides. Most of them are probably ideal for 10 and under. Some have restrictions for kids being under 54 inches. Others require adults with the little riders. There were so many fun old-school rides there that I remember riding at our local carnival and at Kiddieland in Melrose Park.

My boys had a fun time. I think their favorite ride was the fire truck, where each rider had a real hose to spray water and a mock house with a real flame. The bumper cars were also a popular ride with them. I also loved the animal element. If you have kids who aren't big on rides or who love the zoo, they'll have a great time checking out the reindeer, camels and other animals and feeding some of them out of their hands.

Visit for information on rides, rates and more for the 2015 season, which kicked off earlier this month. The park is currently open on weekends.

**Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the park to enable me to write an accurate post. All opinions are my own.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wendella Boat Rides

For those visiting the city and for those who call the city home, a Wendella Tour is a must. Seeing the city from the roads and sidewalks as you make your way through downtown is cool and seeing it from way above in a skyscraper is awesome, but seeing the city from the water is just a whole different ballgame.

Narrated tours give you a bit of history and some insight into what makes the city of Chicago so spectacular. I fell in love with the Wendella rides when I went on one for a school field trip as a young kid. And I still love going on them. A view of the Chicago skyline from the water is something you can never get enough of.

Visit for schedules and rates.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Tyler's Tender: Schererville, Indiana

If you have some young train fans in your family, Tyler's Tender is a place to definitely add to your itinerary. With an adorable train theme, kids have an opportunity to ride a kiddie train, push buttons to operate a train display in the dining room and have their meal delivered to they via train at the counter seats. There's also a connected arcade with a few video games and pinball machines, air hockey and my personal favorite - skee ball.

Oh, and the food is quite good, especially for a place centered around kids. I've tried a lot of their wraps and sandwiches and burgers, which really exceeded expectations. The homemade potato chips are a favorite of mine. The kid menu includes most of the standard kid fare with plenty of options. The kids also give the milkshakes high marks.

We've been going there for years and I had a few birthday parties there for my kids when they were younger. On this visit, I took my 8-year-old niece - and also my dad who I had told about the restaurant. He was intrigued and wanted to come along. A good time was had by young, old and in between. :)

Tyler's Tender
350 U.S. 30
Schererville, IN
50 U.S. 30, Schererville, IN 46375(219) 322-5590

Prairie Guest House, Fishers Indiana

On a recent media trip in Indianapolis, I spent a little time in Hamilton County, staying at the Prairie Guest House Bed & Breakfast in ...