Friday, January 16, 2015

John Hancock Center Observatory

When tourists plan to visit Chicago, they often want to visit the Willis Tower since it's the tallest building in Chicago. Sadly it lost its tallest building in the world title back in 1998. And really I have a hard time calling it the Willis Tower. Just like I sometimes still slip and say Comisky Park when referring to the ball park where the White Sox play.

Anyway, being the tallest in the city, the Willis Tower gets all the attention, but I'm going to let you in on a little secret...there's another that's just as spectacular. The views are probably even a little better. I admit I have not yet tried out the Ledge  at Willis Tower and maybe that experience will make me sing its praises, but on our first visit to the John Hancock Observatory, I thought to myself "Why have I been going to the Sears Tower all these years when this place is so awesome?"

The observation deck is on floor 94 and allows for spectacular views of the city and the shoreline and the lake. You can see the city in all directions and on a clear day you can see four different states from 1,000 feet above. Being one who loves heights, I could sit up there all day and glance out at the world below. They've also added a new attraction called "The Tilt" that kind of one-ups the Ledge. It also gives a view from a little outside the walls of the structure, but with hydraulic lifts, it slowly tilts you toward while facing foreward for a unique view of the city that you can't quite get anywhere else. I'm looking forward to giving it a try. Tickets for the Tilt are in addition to General Admission tickets. For more information on the observation deck and The Tilt, visit

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Myer's Castle: Dyer, Indiana

Meyer's Castle is tucked away just off of busy U.S. 30 in Dyer, Indiana, a complete escape back to a different time. This stunning estate modeled after a castle in Scotland was built in the late 1920's and today serves as a restaurant, banquet hall and wedding venue. I've been there many times to dine and also for a wedding and it provides a beautiful, nostalgic, romantic background. Our most recent visit was on Thanksgiving when they opened their banquet room to the public for a Thanksgiving buffet. My husband worked that day and I was planning to cook a big dinner the following day, so I thought I'd take the kids out for a nice dinner.

I've also made several visits to the Argentine Rodizio's Steakhouse, which is fabulous, offering a one-price multi-course meal including an abundance of meats brought out on swords and sliced at your table. The food is always wonderful and the venue makes a experience just that more special. A nightclub and lounge is also open in the lower level.

 Resident peacocks roam the grounds.

One back corner of the castle. It's a place you have to see for yourself. 

Meyer's Castle
1370 Joliet St.
Dyer, IN

Monday, January 12, 2015

Key Lime Cove Has Cure for the Winter Blues

These arctic temps, piles of snow and howling winds getting you down? Go to the tropics without leaving the Midwest at Key Lime Cove in Gurnee, Illinois. The indoor water park remains at 84 degrees all year long regardless of how brutal it gets outside.

With charming decor that transports you to the Florida Keys, the cheery theme continues throughout the entire venue. In our rooms, the bedspreads were bright and flowery. The artwork represents somewhere more sunny and sandy. The gift and snack shops make you feel like you are in a touristy town rather than a couple blocks off an icy interstate.

We dined at the Crazy Toucan where there were tropical drinks for the grown-ups and the kids and a menu full of seafood and spicy entrees along with some classic kid fare. There's also a killer spa that is a great way to cap off a relaxing weekend. I wasn't able to squeeze in a spa stop on this visit, but on my previous visit I stopped in for a pedicure and I totally recommend planning for an appointment for some spa services.

Fun, colorful storefront facades make you feel like you're on a touristy, tropical island.

The water park includes several slides, a wave pool, lazy river, water playground and my favorite part - the adults only hot tub. Visit for more details on this perfect family getaway, especially in the middle of this crummy Chicago winter.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Kentucky Down Under: Cave City, Kentucky

One of my favorite attractions in all our years of traveling has been to Kentucky Down Under, an Australian themed animal park. You can stroll through the Outback Walkabout where kangaroos lounge beneath trees and you have a chance to pet them. You can hand feed exotic birds in the Walk-in Aviaries. Additional shows let you get up close to more creatures. In the Woolshed area are demonstrations on sheep herding, cow milking and sheep sheering. On one of our trips, my husband got to join the demo and milk a cow. Kids can also do gem mining and there's also the Onyx Cave on the grounds that is open for tours. My kids really enjoy visiting and it's a cool way to get a glimpse of life in Australia while still here in the states. For more info, visit

The park is open year round and conveniently located right along I-65 at exit 58 in Horse Cave, Kentucky.

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 ...