Archive for the ‘Travel tips’ Category

Five things to do in Chicago for Spring Break

Here are some ideas of where to go and what to do whether visiting Chicago from out of town or planning to take advantage of the city if living in its metropolitan area.

 

Take an architecture tour

Chicago is known for its architecture – whether it’s the fabulous Louis  A. Sullivan Auditorium Theatre at Congress Parkway west of Michigan Avenue, the Rookery designed by Danial Burnham and John Root, with a grand atrium redesigned by  Frank Lloyd Wright on LaSalle Street or the Aqua Tower, an undulating multi use building designed by Jeanne Gang and her Gang Studios on North Columbus  Drive that includes the Radisson Blu hotel.

The Architecture Foundation does excellent art deco and other walking tours and has a good boat tour on the Chicago River. There are also other good architecture boat tours such as those done by Wendella.

The Marina Twin Towers on the Chicago River are on architecture boat tours and the Chicago Film Tour. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The Marina Twin Towers on the Chicago River are on architecture boat tours and the Chicago Film Tour. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

 

See movie and TV filming sites

Chicago is a popular movie and TV location site. A really great way to see the city is to take the Chicago Film Tour.

More than 80 movie and TV shows have been filmed in Chicago including The Dark Knight, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Sting, Spiderman, The Fugitive and North by Northwest so the tour goes from Wrigleyville on the Northside to China Town south of the loop and lots of places in between.

It takes close to two hours but while on the bus you also get movie shots on a TV monitor and background information from very knowledgeable guides.

 

Combine  Millennium Park with a lunch break

You’d never guess that any eyesore once used by the Illinois Central Railroad could be turned into the gorgeous 24 plus- acre park of gardens, walkways, remarkable sculptures, fountains, art work and public concert spaces that is Millennium Park.

The park stretches along Michigan Avenue from Randolph Street on the North to Monroe Parkway on the South. But what first catches the eye is the interesting stainless steel ribbon-like top of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry.  Its lawn is covered by an artistic sound grid.

Stroll the park to see the Lurie Gardens, the sculptures by Chaikaia Booker in the Boeing galleries section of the park (up now through April 2018, the 50-foot high towers of the Crown Fountain desiged by Jaume Plensa (the towers have changing faces of Chicago residents and the tower spits water into a wading area and the park’s famed Cloud Gate, better known as The Bean.

A 66-foot long elliptical sculpture by Anish Kapoor, The Bean is where visitors go to take selfies. Chicago’s clouds and skyline are beautifully reflected on the Bean’s polished stainless steel surface.

The Bean is a popular selfie site in Millennium Park. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The Bean is a popular selfie site in Millennium Park. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Leave the park by way of the Nichols Bridgeway, a long pedestrian bridge going from the park up to the Renzo Piano restaurant and the Bluhm Family Terrace in the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing. The restaurant, named for the architect Renzo Piano who designed the Modern Wing and the Bridgeway, is a terrific lunch spot with a view of the city. But you need a reservation.

If you haven’t snagged one go out onto the Terrace to snap photos and go back down to the park where you might be able to get a table at the Park Grill below the Bean.

 

Enjoy Chicago’s music scene

If you like blues, jazz or folk, find out who is at The House of Blues, Andy’s, Green Mill or The Hideout. For classical programs check Orchestra Hall, the Civic Opera House and the Harris Theatre. Also look up the Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park, host of the Blues Fest, for free concerts.

 

Indulge in a short but wonderful “staycation”

Lots of hotels downtown Chicago have a workout room however few have the space for a good-sized pool and a great spa. Stay and book a spa treatment at the upscale, Oriental influenced Peninsula Hotel overlooking Chicago’s Magnifenct (shopping) Mile on North Michigan Avenue and swim in its half-Olymic length pool. You can also order drinks and lunch there.

Or  stay at The Langham, a five star hotel on the Chicago River with British roots. Aside from a fine lap pool and spa, the hotel is known for its traditional tea, good services and spacious rooms. Located in a former Mies van der Rohe skyscraper on Wabash Avenue, the hotel is also well situated for downtown and Magnificent Mile exploration. When reserving ask about the room’s views.

 

Chicago really is a terrific destination even for a few days. Enjoy!

 

 

Five family activities in Chicago for spring break

See weird specimens in a new, behind the scenes exhibit at the Field Museum Photo by Jodie Jacobs

See weird specimens in a new, behind the scenes exhibit at the Field Museum.  Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The kids are saying yea, no school for a week. But what’s a parent to do when there is more to plan for than a weekend outing?

From a tomb and T Rex to penguins and planets, the Museum Campus has lots to keep families fascinated for an entire day.

Penguin antics also make visitors chuckle at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Lego is a hit at the Museum of Science and Industry and at the Legoland Discovery Center in west suburban Schaumburg.

The Centennial Wheel and musical play equipment are awesome at Navy Pier. Check them out and enjoy.

 

Explore Chicago’s Museum Campus

Youngsters don’t all like the same things but on Chicago’s Museum Campus at the south east end of the downtown, you can probably satisfy two different interests if you plan carefully.

Children fascinated by mummies, dinosaurs and native American tribal life will love the  Field Museum while adults will likely want to detour over to its gem exhibit.

Anyone who likes penguins or  pretty much anything live that moves through water will want to stop at the Shedd Aquarium across from The Field.

Budding astronomers and space explorer wannabes will want to go to the Adler Planetarium that’s further down the museum campus’ arm.

Families might be able to take in some of two places but really shouldn’t try to do all three museums on the same day.

Tip: While on the museum campus walk past the aquarium towards the planetarium .then turn around and look at the city. This is where journalists take photos of the skyline and TV broadcasters go for a super camera op of Chicago’s skyline. Your photo will look like you are out in a boat on Lake Michigan because you are on a peninsula.

 

Put on your minor’s hat or thinking cap at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry south of downtown should satisfy all interests from its coal mine experience, Lego exhibit  and futuristic thinking room to Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, the Great Train Story’s model railroads and the Mirror Maze.

Tip: On April 8 and 9 and April 15, you can also see special Robotics week events.

 

You play at Navy Pier

Ride the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Ride the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

 Navy Pier, a 3,300 foot long entertainment pier jutting into Lake Michigan from Illinois Street east of the Mag Mile is home to the Chicago Children’s Museum,  a Ferris-type ride called the Centennial Wheel that is almost 200 feet high and ethnic festivals in its Crystal Garden.

Tip: There is also an IMAX Theater so check out its film schedule. Plus do ‘Impulse: An Interactive Art Exhibit,’  in the Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier, now through May 21. It’s a light and sound experience where visitors can try out seesaws and other play equipment that produce different tones and colors when activated.

 

Watch animals play at the zoo

Stroll through Lincoln Park Zoo to see two new, polar opposite,  animal habitats: South African penguins in their cozy cove (It’s not icy) and Arctic polar bears in a coldly comfortable place.

Tip: The zoo and its Lincoln Park environment are fun places to spend a day so plan on eating at Park Place Café which has Mexican, Italian dishes and burgers or if warm enough, the roof top Café at Wild Things above the Wild Things gift store. .

 

Discover what can be done with Legos

From things to ride, play with and see in 4D to Star Wars episodes to experience, there is an entire Lego world at the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg,  Entry and experiences are ticketed so plan ahead because tickets are timed to prevent overcrowding, particularly during winter and spring vacation breaks.

Tip: Online tickets save money so check it out at Tickets.

 

 

 

 

 

Five ways to ease the change to daylight savings time

 

You know that with seasonal change you are supposed to “spring” ahead sometime really early Sunday morning, March 12, right?

Well yes, it does depend on where you live because not all places in the United States go from standard to daylight time. Your friends and relatives in Hawaii and in many Arizona locations probably remind you they just don’t do daylight time.

Are you really going to reset your clock ahead an hour sometime around 2 a.m. Sunday morning? Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Are you really going to reset your clock ahead an hour sometime around 2 a.m. Sunday morning? Photo by Jodie Jacobs

However, the US official time when clocks skip an hour is 2 a.m. whatever local time you’re at.

According to a US Navy site, Congress designated that beginning in 2007 daylight time started on the second Sunday of March and ended the first Sunday of November when clocks would “fall back” to standard time.

Mark your calendar Nov. 5 for your extra hour of sleep if you think the date applies. You can click policy act for more  information.

 

Here are five suggestions to help get through the tough change.

1.    Change different clocks at different times. Change the clock by your bed before you go to sleep. So if it’s 10 p.m. move it to 11 and tell yourself you are becoming a night owl. Change the kitchen clock in the morning and think how nice it is have slept in so that what was 8 a.m. is now 9 am.

2.    Don’t set the alarm for Sunday morning. See what time you can sleep to if given the chance (Unless you are in the church choir but maybe others will also be late).

3.     Now, go around the house to check all the other clocks you don’t always look at such as the one on the oven, microwave and coffee pot.  Even in this era of automatic computer time adjustments those don’t usually change by themselves. If you would rather not have to do this again in the fall, get a new appliance that does change automatically.

4.     If you have one of those bird clocks that sounds lovely when it tweets on the hour but which you hate when you have to take out the batteries and go back to a specific time, put batteries back in and reset, then ask a friend to come over. Tell the person you want to share the joy of learning the different bird sounds and show your friend how to turn the tiny wheel in back until the right time appears.

5.    Call a friend to see if that person is up. Say it’s a friendly wake-up call but actually misery likes company.

 

Spring training at Wrigleyville West

 

Hey Cubs fans, tickets are on sale now for home games at Sloan Park in Mesa AZ. Here are some tips if you snag a ticket for the Cubs’ Wrigleyville West location (yes, that really is the park’s nickname) or to see the Cubs at another of the Cactus League parks.

Sloan Park before the crowd enters Jodie Jacobs Photo

Sloan Park before the crowd enters
Jodie Jacobs Photo

 

1.    No matter how you feel about the cost of ball-park programs do get the Cubs official Sloan Park Spring Training 2017 program. You might even want to get an extra one for a Cub fan back home who didn’t make the trip.

It will have photos and good info on the Cubs players similar to baseball cards.

In addition, it will have the rosters of other Cactus League teams so you will be able to tell who is or is not on the field when they play opponents.

It will contain highlights from the 2016 Championship season and tell about player’s awards.

The program will also suggest where to stand for autographs and buy Cubs items. It also mentions places to dine and things to do.

 

2.    The first full-squad workout is Feb. 18. The first Cubs spring training game is Feb. 25 when a split squad will play the Oakland A’s in Sloan Park and the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium.

If going to the Scottsdale game check out the Western Spirit, downtown Scottsdale’s terrific Museum of the West. It features western paintings, sculptures and a collection of western gear from saddles and spurs to badges and rifles.

 

3.    When going to Sloan Park, prove to your friends that it is Wrigleyville West by snapping shots of its abutting street signs: Waveland Avenue on the north, Sheffield Avenue on the east side and Clark Street on the west.

A fan photo op Jodie Jacobs photo

A fan photo op
Jodie Jacobs photo

The park also looks like a somewhat smaller version of Wrigley Field. However, the famed marquee is inside here.

You can have a message light up on it or take a selfie in front of it.

 

Sloan Park is at 2330 W. Rio Salado Pkwy, Mesa, 85201. 480-668-0500.

 

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