Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Plan now for a Cubs spring training vacation

 

It’s not too early to make ticket and hotel arrangements for Cubs spring training games. The Cubs have already announced their opening games in Arizona.

Sloan Park before the crowd enters Jodie Jacobs Photo

Sloan Park before the crowd enters
Jodie Jacobs Photo

First up, they play Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Park in Phoenix Feb. 23. The rest of that weekend they are playing Texas Rangers in Sloan Park Feb. 24 and the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale Stadium, Feb. 25. The next week through March 1, the Cubs will be at home at Sloan against the Seattle Mariners Feb. 26, the Chicago White Sox, Feb. 27, Oakland Athletics Feb. 28 and Colorado Rockies Mar. 1.

Even though the tickets are not yet on sale, the Cubs have a spring training waiting list. So best chance to get what you want is to sign up at MLB Sloan Spring.

To be in the middle of the Cubs action, consider the Sheraton Mesa at Wrigleyville West that is right there, abutting Sloan Park.

However, there are several good chain hotels and resorts near all the spring training ball parks. Plus there are lots of excellent golf courses, good shopping and outstanding museums that turn a spring training visit into a vacation.

Check out Visit Mesa, Visit Phoenix and Experience Scottsdale and Sloan Park.

Related articles: Spring Training at Wrigleyville West (2016 dates but tips are still valid)

 

 

Fun Chicago ice rinks open

 

Work off holiday treats by ice skating. Or simply enjoy the outdoors gliding around a rink to a waltz or holiday music.  The City of Chicago, its park district and The Park at Wrigley Field have ice rinks that are fun to skate. All you need to bring are your skates or rent them there.

Skaters at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. City of Chicago photo

Skaters at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. City of Chicago photo

Millennium Park

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

Look below the Bean (Cloud Gate) sculpture on the Michigan Avenue level between Washington and Madison Streets to join skaters on the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, free of charge. Ice skate rental is $12 Monday-Thursday, $14 Friday-Sunday and holidays.

Open through March 4, 2018, the rink’s regular hours: Mondays–Thursday, noon–8 p.m., Fridays, noon–10 p.m. (ice skating lesson at 11am), Saturdays (Nov. 18–Jan. 6), 10 a.m.–10 p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.), Saturdays (Jan. 13–Mar. 3), 10 a.m.–9 p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.) and Sundays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.)

Holiday hours: Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.), Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Dec. 26 – Dec. 30, 10 a.m.–10.p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.), New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 10.a.m.–8.p.m. (ice skating lesson at 9 a.m.), New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon

Look on north side of Millennium Park at 337 E. Randolph St. to find the Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon. It really curves like a ribbon. Admission is free. Skate rental and regular hours are the same as McCormick Ice Rink except Sundays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Holiday Hours: Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Christmas Day, Dec.25, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., New Year’s Eve, Dec.31, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (During the holiday break, the Skating Ribbon will be open from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm, except for above dates).

 

Wrigley Field

The Rink at the Park

Skate in The Park at Wrigley, the public entertainment area that abuts Wrigley Field at 3637 N. Clark St. Opened Nov. 24, the 8,000 sq. foot ice rink will be open daily through Feb. 25, 2018. Entry is $5 ages 13 and older. Skate rental is $10.

If there during the holidays stop at the Christkindle Market that opened this year for the first time in the Park at Wrigley.

 

Chicago Park District

The park district operates several ice rinks. Its outdoor Warren Ice Rink at 6601 N. Western Ave. is already open as is the Maggie daley Skating Ribbon and the McFetridge Ice Rink which is indoors at 3843 N. California Ave.. Other rinks open in December depending on weather conditions.

Click Chicago Parks for locations and hours.

 

Gorgeous gardens illuminate for the holidays

 

Walk among flowers, trees and interesting plants in the winter? Yes if the garden has been transformed with lights.

From the Chicago Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum in the Chicago area to Bellingrath Gardens and Home near Mobile, AL and the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, several gardens across the United States are putting on their holiday evening finery with lights and sounds to say enjoy the season no matter what the temps.

Whether you take a a “staycation” or go out of town, there’s likely to be a garden near by dressed up for the holidays.

Delightful lights and scenes are around every corner at Bellingrath Gardens outside Movile, AL. Jodie Jacobs photo

Delightful lights and scenes are around every corner at Bellingrath Gardens outside Movile, AL. Jodie Jacobs photo

 

Bellingrath

If near Mobile, AL do get tickets to explore Bellingrath Gardens and Home. The 65-acre estate of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath treats visitors to breathtaking light displays and the home is decorated for the holidays.

Called Magic Christmas in Lights, and running Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, 2017, the holiday event has  about 15 scenes, 1,100 displays and three million lights to surprise visitors around every corner and off in the distance.. Weekends feature choral groups on the home’s South Terrace.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home is at 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Rd., Theodore, AL. For tickets, hours and more information call 800) 247 8420 and visit Bellingrath Magic.

 

Chicago Botanic Gardens

In the Chicago area trees sparkle with thousands of lights outside and trains toot around city landmarks inside during the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Wonderland Express celebration, Nov. 24, 2017 through Jan. 7, 2018. BTW there is gently falling snow in the main train area and poinsettias in the greenhouses.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe. For tickets and other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit Chicago Botanic Wonderland.

 

Morton Arboretum 

Illumination at Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL is stunning and fun. Morton Arboretum photo

Illumination at Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL is stunning and fun. Morton Arboretum photo

Also, go over to the Morton Arboretum where colored lights spectacularly light up the grounds during Illumination Nov. 17, 2017 through Jan. 1, 2018. The lights are interactive with some lights moving to music and some trees changing color with a hug or song. A medallion will also be sold that reacts to the sights and sounds.

The Morton Arboretum is at 4100 IL Hwy, 53, Lisle. For tickets and other information call (630) 968-0074 and visit Morton Arb Illumination.

Tip: Tickets to the Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum holiday shows need to be bought in advance because they are time and date specific and sell-out early.

 

Desert Botanical Garden

If vacationing in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area go over to the Desert Botanical Garden for Las Noches de las Luminarias, Nov. 24 through Dec. 30, 2017. Wander the paths lit by thousands of luminaria bags and twinkling lights. In addition the garden will be featuring the work of Japanese American sculptor Jun Kaneko.

The Desert Botanical Garden is at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ. For tickets and other information call 480-941-1225 and visit DBG Luminarias.

 

Next in the holiday series will be zoo lights but if you have a favorite holiday garden visit not mentioned here please tell us in Leave a Reply.

 

Be a happy Chicago Marathon spectator

It’s hard to believe the Chicago Marathon will turn 40 when thousands of runners step across the start line in Grant Park Oct. 11, 2017. I remember when a neighbor (three houses ago) helped with the planning and ran in it and his wife was a spectator for the first one in 1977. They were excited that it attracted over 4,000 runners.

Add a zero for 2017. In 2016 there were more than 40,000 runners. Visit race history for more background info.

Chicago Marathon starts and ends in Grant Park but runs through 29 Chicago neighborhoods. (Bank of America photo)

Chicago Marathon starts and ends in Grant Park but runs through 29 Chicago neighborhoods.
(Bank of America photo)

Part of the popularity lies in the course. It’s ideal for runners who like a flat terrain (say opposed to the last hill in the Boston Marathon). However, the course also has the travel-lover’s bonus of showing off 29, diverse Chicago neighborhoods filled with different residential, business and ecclesiastic architectural styles, sculptures and murals.

So, the question is where to watch the race.

General spectators won’t be able to go near the race’s start and finish areas in Grant Park on race day. These area are for participants with bib numbers, event and credentialed staff plus a few ticketed individuals. The Post-Race Party and runner reunite area of Grant Park will open to spectators at 9:30 a.m. but with heavy safety measures in place including personal and bag screening.

With an expected 1.7 million spectators, standing in a crowd near the beginning and end of the race will be tough to watch for someone or cheer that person on. Checking other course sites makes more sense.

First, here are the neighborhoods along the 26.2 mile course. Bridgeport, Bronzeville, Central Station, Chinatown, East Pilsen, (The) Gap, Greektown, Illinois Medical District, Lakeview East, Lincoln Park, Little Italy, Loop, Magnificent Mile, Near North, Near West Side, New East Side, Old Town, Old Town Triangle, Park Boulevard, Park West, Pilsen, Prairie District, River North, South Commons, South Loop, Streeterville, University Village, West Loop and West Loop Gate.

Secondly, click Spectator Guide to download a pdf that can help you decide where to go and what time you’ll want to be there.

You can drive if you stay west of the course’s street closures but Chicago’s public transportation system is excellent. The “L” is the best choice for getting around the city during the marathon because buses will be impacted by street closures.

One veteran Chicago Marathon runner recommended the Mile 14 area near the University of Illinois Chicago Campus. The Blue Line UIC-Halsted Station is near miles 13.5 to 16.5. When exiting use the Halsted Street or Morgan Street exit then walk two blocks north on Morgan Street to Adams Street (Mile 13.5). Exiting at Halsted Street gets you to Mile 16.5.

Runners are expected to reach this area from 8:27 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As to safety, Chicago Marathon officials working with the City of Chicago, added safety rules and features following the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. such as screening of participants,  clear plastic bags for gear checks and access only to Grant Park just for runners. Security rules only allow ticketed finish line viewing.

More meetings were held with the city following the recent horrific Las Vegas shooting.

Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said, ” As we enter the final week of preparations for the 40th running of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the horrible events that took place in Las Vegas are weighing heavily on our hearts.  We extend our deepest condolences to the victims, their families and all who have been affected by this national tragedy. We also understand how many who plan to participate in Sunday’s celebration may have some concerns about public safety in the wake of Sunday’s events. ‘

Pinkowski added, “We are constantly examining, modifying and enhancing our public safety and security plan based on input from our law enforcement partners.  This week, we will be discussing what adjustments will be made given Sunday’s tragedy.  And, on race day, we will be working alongside the Chicago Police Department and many others in the law enforcement community, as we do every year, to keep our event, our participants and our city safe.”

She re-uttered the mantra heard on TV since the shooting about seeing something, saying something. “We remind everyone on race day to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately.”

Both marathon and city officials emphasize that participating in the race as runners and cheerers show is still important.

“Wwe encourage all participants to join us on Sunday for what is always an uplifting, joyous celebration of the human spirit,” said Pinkowski.

For more guide information visit Spectator.

 

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