Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category

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.

 

Visit Great Smoky Mountains for fall color and terrific crafts

 

I love all parts of Tennessee but if you only have time for a color drive through one section you won’t go wrong choosing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers more than 800 miles of well-maintained hiking trails and wonderful fall color. (Tennessee Tourism photo)

Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers more than 800 miles of well-maintained hiking trails and wonderful fall color. (Tennessee Tourism photo)

BTW if you see bear cubs, pull to the side to take photos because “bear jams” instead of ordinary fall color “peeps” make it hard for people merely driving through the park from Nashville to get to Ashevill, NC.

Put Sugarlands Visitors Center (above Gatlinburg) into your GPS to start the color drive. It’s a short drive south of Gatlinburg on US 441.

Ask there about road closures. You should be able to continue up to Clingman’s Dome for an amazing view and a fun picture op

At 5,048 feet you can stand with one foot in Tennessee and the other in North Carolina. The Tower is closed but the parking lot which also has great views is open.

After going back down to Gatlinburg, drive the eight-mile Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community loop on Glades and Buckhorn Roads.

The art in the studios complement the park’s natural wonders.

You are likely to return home with great photos and probably a well-turned bowl or gorgeous painting.

For more information call (865) 436-1200 or visit the park headquarters at 107 Park Headquarters Road Gatlinburg, TN 37738.

 

For fall color drive along the other Minnesota river

 

Pair fall color with a town worth at least one overnight stay and a drive that is scenic any time of year.

Take a paddle boat excursion on the St. Croix River. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

Take a paddle boat excursion on the St. Croix River. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

A fun getaway is to drive along the St Croix National Scenic Waterway and Lake Superior’s North Shore after first starting in Stillwater, MI.

Overlooking the St. Croix River on the Minnesota side of a waterway that also borders Wisconsin, Stillwater has several historic B and B’s, antique shops and cafes.

I stayed at the Rivertown Inn for its romantic rooms, great breakfasts and charming hosts. However, there are several other good B&Bs.

A good way to see color from the town is a paddle boat excursion.

When ready to look for a long color drive, head north on Highway 95 to follow the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Both sides of the highway are state parks. The scenic byway goes from Point Douglas near Hastings to north of Sandstone, MN.

If you didn’t take a paddle boat in Stillwater you can do so from the Minnesota side of Taylors Falls. From Taylors Falls continue north on M35 and then I 35 to Duluth where you pick up M61 along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

The route takes you to Grand Marais. The North Shore is a nationally designated “All American Drive” for its scenic overlooks, fall color, hiking trails and waterfalls. Be sure to make an overnight reservation ahead of time.

A fun lodge is the Naniboujou.  Or check out the lodges at the William Obrien State Park site.  For more information visit Explore Minnesota.

Remember to charge the phone because lots of good photos await.

 

 

Five fall trips where color is just part of the draw

 

Now that leaves on a few trees are changing is the time to figure out where to go to see spectacular color in a few weeks and next month.

 

Ephraim in the fall in Door County, WI. Door County Visitors Bureau photo

Ephraim in the fall in Door County, WI.
Door County Visitors Bureau photo

But if you don’t want to merely drive some place for fall color and then head back home then consider a vacation destination with great views, hiking, biking, fun shops and lots of lodging and dining choices.

 

 

 

 

 

Where: Door County, Wisconsin, near Green Bay

 

Why:

 

    • ·         Good hiking and biking in state parks
    • ·         Really good art galleries
    • ·         Fun crafts and clothes shopping
    • ·         Excellent dining choices
    • ·         Beautiful views of Lake Michigan and Green Bay

.        Lots of lodging choices

More information at Door Vacation and Door County

 

 

Where: Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois

 

Why:

  • ·         Scenic overlooks, hilly terrain and interesting stone formations
  • ·         Good hiking, biking in Giant City State Park
  • ·         Shawnee Wine Trail tastings
  • ·         Makanda, a delightful artist comunity

More information at Shawnee National ForestShawnee Wine TrailGiant City State Park and Makanda.

Explore the back roads of Brown County in the fall. Brown County photo

Explore the back roads of Brown County in the fall. Brown County photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where: Brown County, Bloomington area

 

 

 

Why:

  • ·         Good hiking, biking and horseback riding in Brown County State Park
  • ·         Fun crafts shops in Nashville
  • ·         Scenic hills and Hoosier National Forest
  • ·         Renown architecture in nearby Columbus
  • .         Indiana University has a beautiful campus (go on a non-football weekend)

More information at Brown County State ParkHoosier National Forest and Columbus.

 

 

Where: Wisconsin Dells on the Wisconsin River

 

Why:

  • .     Good river boat scenery
  • .     Nice hikes
  • .     Fun water-parks for kids
  • .     Interesting photo museum in town
  • .     Circus World in nearby Baraboo

More information at Fall colors Wisconsin Dells, Baraboo,  and fall color advantage.

Traverse City area puts on a color show each fall. TC Visitors Bureau photo

Traverse City area puts on a color show each fall.
TC Visitors Bureau photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where: Traverse City/Sleeping Bear Dunes  in northern Michigan below the UP

 

 

Why:

  • ·         Good hiking in a scenic national park
  • ·         Excellent wine trails
  • ·         Wonderful dining choices
  • ·         Beautiful views of Lake Michigan and Traverse Bay.

More information at fall color trip, Traverse City/Sleeping Bear and Traverse

 

 

Fall color tips:  For current Midwest color reports go directly to a state’s tourism site.

Wisconsin’s suggested scenic drives are at Travel Wisconsin.

Michigan is at Michigan.org and at Fall Color Tours.

Minnesota is at MNUS and Explore Minnesota.

Illinois is at Enjoy Illinois and ILUS.

Indiana is at Visit Indiana and Hoosier fall color. http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/hoosier/docs/fallcolor.htm

 

Have a fun, safe trip!

 

 

 

 

 

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