Archive for the ‘Illinois’ Category

Last gasp of summer vacations within four hours of Chicago

 

Before becoming engulfed in everything fall from cool nights to school schedules, take a few days for one last summer break. Within four hours of Chicago there are restaurants and resorts with lake-side views, good spas and shopping, plus scenic boating and biking choices.

Gaze out from Peninsula State Park after hiking, biking or taking a trolley ride there. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

Gaze out from Peninsula State Park after hiking, biking or taking a trolley ride there. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

 

Door County, WI

About 3.5 hours north of Chicago is a finger-like peninsula that sticks so far out into Green Bay on one side and Lake Michigan on the other that there are almost too many scenic views for one trip.

The Door, as visitors and residents call it, begins halfway up in the fleshier part of the finger but the vacation destination begins at the Sturgeon Bay knuckle and continues  up the finger to Gills Rock. Some folks even cross the choppy waters north by ferry to Washington Island, an interesting day trip when time allows.

To make the most of your vacation, first nail down where to stay. The sailing, hiking, biking and the Door’s specialties of art gallery hopping and lighthouse touring can wait. But accommodations fill quickly.

Before deciding, you should know that the Lake Michigan side is known as the “quiet side” because the small towns are nestled further apart among the forests. The Green Bay side is dotted with small bustling villages, restaurants, shops and inns.

But it doesn’t take long to cross The Door’s farmland in between so neither side is a bad choice. Both sides have state parks.

To stay amid the action, look at places on the Bay side from Fish Creek to Ephraim to Sister Bay. For quiet side accommodations, look at Baileys Harbor.

The best way to find lodging is to go to Door County, click Availability or Stay. If still not sure call the bureau at 800-527-3529 because they are very helpful.

“One of our primary things to do is help people find a place to stay,” said Communications Director Jon Jarosh.

The web site lists lots of activities but if you want a map and brochures stop at the Visitors Bureau after where WI Highways 57 and 42 connect at 1015 Green Bay Rd. on the south end of Sturgeon Bay.

 

Galena, IL

Downtown Galena is a historic and yummy place to be.

Downtown Galena is a historic and yummy place to be.

 

Tucked into the northwest corner of Illinois about three hours from Chicago are the scenic rolling hills of the Galena Territory and the historic town of Galena, home to Ulysses S. Grant with tie-ins to Abraham Lincoln.

Indeed more than 80 percent of Galena has historic district designations.

But a trip here isn’t just about going back in time. Situated on the Galena River and near the Mississippi, it’s a picturesque river-town edged with steep, photo-op streets.

Shopping its main street is delicious because there are wine-tasting places and yummy ice cream and candy shops.

Nearby, are the stage coach trail, fort and scenic vistas of Galena’s Jo Davies County. There is usually balloon or Wine or other festival taking place in the area.

Accommodations here range from charming B&Bs and inns to resorts.

If interested in combining golf, spa treatment or hiking, a good place to stay is the Eagle Ridge Resort on the outskirts of town at  444 Eagle Ridge Drive, Galena and at (800) 892-2269.

If interested in a Labor Day Weekend stay check out its special events and guest rate package.

To learn more about the area and find other lodging choices visit Galena.

 

Lake Geneva, WI  

Boats pull up at piers around Geneva Lake.

Boats pull up at piers around Geneva Lake.

 

Closer to Chicago is the town and lake where some of the city’s elite used to vacation and where some urbanites still have homes and cottages. It’s Lake Geneva on Geneva Lake and the small towns nearby.

From Chicago’s northern suburbs, the drive is about 1.5 hours but don’t try to make it faster than the posted speed limit. Some of the small towns along the route add to their coffers with speeding tickets.

However, Lake Geneva is an easy, fun getaway for folks who like to hike, bike, golf or enjoy water sports.

A great way to hear about the estates around the lake is to take the mail boat which pauses, sort-of, at some piers for postal deliveries.

Because the Lake Geneva area has been a vacation destination since before the turn of the last century, there are lots of lodging choices from contemporary to vintage and from resorts and B&Bs to inns and condos. To fit in golf or a spa treatment, consider the Grand Geneva outside of town.

For accommodation availability visit Lake Geneva and enter your arrival and departure dates.

 

So, instead of looking at the calendar with dismay that summer is just about gone, fit in a getaway. You deserve it.

 

 

 

Chicago hosts World Roller Derby where it all began

 

If you remember when you used to roller skate in the neighborhood or go to a local rink to roller skate, or if you like things retro, then mark down Aug. 19, when the World Roller Derby game will be played in south suburban Summit using 1970s rules and classic uniforms.

Joan Weston, L, of the Westerners and Cathie Read of the Bombers compete back in mid last century. Roller Derby Hall of Fame photo.

Joan Weston, L, of the Westerners and Cathie Read of the Bombers compete back in mid last century. Roller Derby Hall of Fame photo.

If you like the idea of celebrating a sport in the city where it began, then head to the former site of the Chicago Coliseum on Aug. 13

Roller Derby athletes and fans will be there to mark Chicagoan Leo Seltzer’s organizing the first Roller Derby Race where it first took place, Aug. 13, 1935.

 

Event Info

For the Aug. 13 celebration, go from 12:30 to 2 p.m. to Coliseum Park at 1513 S. Wabash Ave.

To see the retro roller derby game, a double header from 2  to 6 p.m., go to the Fleetwood Roller Rink, at 7231 W. Archer Ave. in Summit (south of Brookfield and I 55), Aug. 19.

Participants  will be wearing the classic uniforms of the Midwest Pioneers and the Chicago Westerners using the 1970s rules. There will also be a Junior Roller Derby game.

Tickets are needed and limited so contact Brown Paper Tickets, a World Roller Derby Week partner, at Time Hop.

”We want to look back at our roots, pay respect to its founding members and to the city of Chicago, to celebrate our beginnings and progress, and give back to the community through service,” said World Roller Derby Week organizer Cheryl Cryer. “The roller derby story should be shared broadly as we look to our future in our juniors, who will no doubt carry us further than we could ever imagine.” Cryer said.

The event is also partnering with the American Red Cross for a national blood drive. Donor Pledges will be available at the events.

 

Hall of Fame

Raise you hands if you knew there is a Roller Derby Hall of Fame. You can find out about the sport and who is inducted there by clicking Roller Derby.

It was housed at NYC’s  Madison Square Garden in the early 70s, closed. But the sport hasn’t disappeared. There are nearly two thousand women’s, men’s and junior leagues skating and competing.  The Hall of fame reopened in Brooklyn in the early 2000s and will be moving to southern California soon.

 

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Where to be August 21 in 2017

 

If standing in the right place at the right time, your world will start to get cooler as the sun seems to disappear. Then, it will be dark and chilly. And no, you won’t be watching a sci-fi movie or be experiencing the end of the world as described in mythology. You will be experiencing a total solar eclipse.

The Adler Planetarium's "Chasing Eclipses" exhibit simulates a total solar eclipse that includes the cooling air and sounds. Jodie Jacobs photos

The Adler Planetarium’s “Chasing Eclipses” exhibit simulates a total solar eclipse that includes the cooling air and sounds. Jodie Jacobs photos

Unless you plan to be in the south Pacific or South America on Dec. 14, 2020 or in Dallas, Indianapolis or Cleveland, April 8, 2024, your best bet to experience a total solar eclipse is in the United States Aug. 21, 2017 along a diagonal path from  Salem, Oregon in the northwest through Carbondale, IL in the Midwest to Charleston, South Carolina in the southeast.

 

Direct Time and Place

In the Midwest, people who travel to Carbondale in southern Illinois will see the moon totally blocking the sun for about 2 minutes and 41.6 sec. It’s actually safe to look when the sun is totally covered then. but not before or afterwards. If you don’t think that’s a long time to be in the dark try watching a clock tick off the seconds.

Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University,  is one of the best places to go to because of the long blockage beginning at 1:20 p.m. CDT and because it is one of NASA’s official sites. The Adler will have an event in Carbondale where astronomers and eclipse chasers will converge. Total coverage last about 2 minutes and 42 seconds.

You can draw your own line on a map from Salem, OR to Charleston, SC to see what other towns are in the eclipse path. Even though the blockage won’t be as long as in Carbonadale they will have a total eclipse. The towns along the path are all expecting visitors so are hosting eclipse events.

For example for Oregon visit Salem, Madras and Oregon for festivals, where to stay and what to do. If near Salem the eclipse is at 10:19 a.m. PDT and lasts 2 min, 4 sec.

For Carbondale, go to SIU. Totality there happens at 1:20 CDT.  Also check out Charleston where the eclipse ends on US soil. Charleston is in the dark for about one minute, 40 seconds. For other places in South Carolina visit Great American Eclipse SC .

Accommodations have been going fast along the eclipse path so if planning to travel to a city where there will be total darkness don’t wait to find a place to stay whether camping or looking for an inn.

 

Chicago

Those places mentioned are dead center on the path but that doesn’t mean you wont have a great eclipse moment several miles away.

At the Adler's "Chasing Eclipses" exhibit, astronomer Larry Ciupik points out where Carbondale is on the 2017 eclipse path that goes from left to right. It is bisected by the eclipse path that will run from southeast to north west in 2024.

At the Adler’s “Chasing Eclipses” exhibit, astronomer Larry Ciupik points out where Carbondale is on the 2017 eclipse path that goes from left to right. It is bisected by the eclipse path that will run from southeast to north west in 2024.

In Chicago, the moon will begin blocking the sun about 11:54 a.m.CDT,  reach maximum coverage about 1:30 p.m. and be all the way through by 2:30 p.m.

“While it won’t be absolute total blockage in Chicago, the city will experience a 90 percent eclipse,” said Adler Planetarium astronomer Larry Ciupik. And that is with Chicago located about a six and a half hour drive north of Carbondale.

Thousands of people are expected to join the Adler’s watching party, according to Ciupik. Proper glasses will be handed out until the supply is gone. For the Adler’s big eclipse bash visit Adler Eclipse. For official NASA viewing sites visit NASA Event Locations.

 

Safety

It’s not OK to look while the moon is moving across the sun even when a little bit of the sun is peeking out. Looking at the sun when there is not total blockage will damage the eyes. See NASA for more eclipse information and NASA Safety for viewing tips.

You have to use certified glasses to watch. Another way is to look at the events shadow on the ground by turning your back to the sun and making a peep hole with your hands, one in front of the other as described on the NASA safety site.

 

So take advantage of the event by making it a summer vacation but don’t wait to make arrangements.

 

 

 

 

Five favorite Chicago area alfresco spaces

How picky are you when it comes to eating outdoors when you want to take advantage of Chicago’s often too -short summer season?

If not at all picky, you might not mind cars pulling into the spaces close to your sidewalk café table. After all, sidewalk cafés are not just a Parisian thing. As soon as the weather turns balmy, lots of restaurants set out tables. Sometimes the space is marked off by planters.

However, here are a few places to consider if looking for a bumper-free, emissions-free  outdoor experience when you want to relax over brunch lunch, dinner or cocktails. in or around Chicago . The places may not be what you would expect but they’re nice for relaxing, meeting friends, lovely views and good food.

 

Lake Forest

At Market House on the Square in north suburban Lake Forest, guests favor the historic building’s (former fire station) British-style bar and dining room when there is a chill in the air. But when summer comes, it’s all about lunching or dining out on the patio. Nothing is typical here. From a tempura fish sandwich and a “griddled” burger with wild mushrooms and red pepper ranch or a poached pear salad at lunch to PEI mussels with frites or a short ribs shepherd’s pie for supper, the offerings are delish and creative. Many of the menu items come from Executive Chef Dan Marquis’ Mill Road Farms.

Market House on the Square is at 655 Forest Ave., Lake Forest, IL. For reservations call (847) 234-8800 and visit Market House.

Chicago Botanic Garden features three places to eat with relaxing views. Jacobs photo

Chicago Botanic Garden features three places to eat with relaxing views.
Jacobs photo

 

Glencoe

Instead of only going to the Chicago Botanic Garden to walk among the flowers or visit the Brazilian butterflies that are there now, plan to do breakfast, brunch or lunch ton the outdoor deck of the Garden View Café.  There is also the Garden Grille for burgers and brats and the new Rose Terrace Beer Garden that has craft beers when looking for a place to lunch or for later dining and relaxing with a garden view.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe just east of the Edens Expressway. For more information call (847) 835-5440 and visit CBG  and Chicago Botanic Outdoor Dining.

 

Chicago’s Mag Mile

Walk into Shanghai Terrace at the Peninsula Chicago and relax outdoors with a terrific cocktail and wonderful dim sum (think shrimp, Peking duck and barbecue pork). The restaurant a few floors above North Michigan Avenue, spreads outside with comfortable seating and tables as soon as weather permits.

The Peninusla Chicago is at 108 E. Superior St., Chicabgo. For reservations and other information call (312) 573- 6695 or 312-337-288 and visit Peninsula.

 

Wheaton

Who would have thought a public golf course would also be known as an event venue or for its cuisine or for its wonderful patio. But if in the Wheaton area at meal time, stop at the Arrowhead Golf Club and ask for an outside table. The club ss a public facility operated  by the Wheaton Park District that just happens to have great food and views of the course from its terrace like patio.

Arrowhead Golf Club is at 26W151 Butterfield Rd.,  Wheaton, IL  For other information call (630) 653-5800) and visit Arrowhead Golf Club.

Enjoy good food and views from the terrace like patio at Arrowhead Golf Club, a public venue. Jacobs photo

Enjoy good food and views from the terrace like patio at Arrowhead Golf Club, a public venue. Jacobs photo

 

Geneva

There often is a wait list to sit on Fiora’s patio overlooking the town but people who go early and during the week can usually snag an outdoor  table. The restaurant is in a historic building where food and ambiance make it a popular choice.

Fiora’s is at 317 Third St., Geneva, IL. For reservations and more information call 630-262-1317 and visit Fiora’s.

 

BTW Please feel free to add your own favorite Chicago area place for dining outside.

 

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