Music floats on summer breezes in southeastern Highland Park, a suburb in Lake County, IL north of Chicago and on the North Metra train line. That is where you will find Ravinia Festival, summer host of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and dozens of concerts from classical and folk to pop and jazz.
But if summer won’t work plan to go this fall when “Hamilton” returns in mid-September. See more schedule info at Chicago Theater and Arts.
Either way, summer and fall are good times to yell and gobble hotdogs and cheesy fries or nachos at Wrigley field for a Cubs game or at Guaranteed Rate Field for a White Sox game.
Chicago’s museums also are interesting destinations this year.
The Art Institute of Chicago is holding a blockbuster van Gogh exhibit. called “Van Gogh and the Avant Garde: The Modern Landscape,” it runs May 14 to September 4. If you are driving, Route 66 actually starts on the south side of the museum but the sign for it faces the Art Institute across Michigan Avenue. AIC is at 111 S. Michigan Avenue.
With the recent change of England’s royal family, now is perfect to see “First Kings of Europe at the Field Museum. It’s 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive on the city’s Museum Campus with the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium.
BTW, Lake Shore Drive is now called Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive to honor its first non-native settler.
Three must stops:
TheChicago Cultural Center, covering a Michigan Avenue block from Randolph to Washington Street, was once the city’s main library and called the “People’s Palace.” its marble staircase and mosaic walls at the Washington Street entrance and cultural information room at the Randolph Street entrance, plus art exhibits on almost every floor are all worth stopping time.
Millenium Park sits across Michigan Avenue from the Cultural Center. This is where you find the city’s famed Bean., also called Cloud Gate, the Pritzker Pavillion/lawn with Frank Gehry’s sculptural bandshell and the Crown Fountain of Jaume Plensa’s interactive, “spitting” water. There is also a stairway to an upper floor of the Art Institute’s Modern Wing.
The location of the Chicago Architecture Center on the Chicago River just south of Michigan Avenue is great for taking its famous river boat tour. but it is also a building to visit for a build-out of the Chicago Fire and the upstairs exhibits.
Tip: Don’t try to do everything in one or two days.
Remember when about half dozen years ago there was a solar eclipse Aug. 21 in 2017 and places to stay near group watch locations filled fast?
NASA is already making plans on where to send experts for watch parties for the next solar eclipse. It’s less than a year, April 8, 2024.
If interested make plans to travel to Kerrville, TX, Indianapolis, IN and Cleveland, OH. NASA will set up group watching places with experts to talk about what is happening. And they are likely to have the special glasses and equipment needed to safely watch.
However, there will be an Annular Eclipse to watch this fall, Oct. 14, 2023. Although the sun will appear as a ring around the Moon, it still is dangerous to watch without precautionary measures.
The moon will appear small because its orbit has it near its farthest distance from Earth. But it will not be safe to watch this eclipse without good protection for the eyes because the Earth will not be blocking the Sun.
NASA will be broadcasting the Annular Eclipse from Kerrville, TX and Albuquerque, NM.
Even though spring vacation is mostly over travel how-to decisions still lie ahead. It seems there is more than one way than the family car or name airlines to get to your destination.
Go by bus in the Midwest
There are now more options than the family car for students to get back and forth from campuses in the Midwest and for vacationers to visit some Midwest cities without worrying about construction hassles and rising gas prices.
As of April 3, 2023, Megabus now partners with Indian Trails to expand service between cities in Illinois such as Chicago and Michigan, such as Ann Arbor, plus Wisconsin to include Milwaukee and Green Bay, and to Minneapolis in Minnesota.
“We are delighted to be expanding our service offerings once again in the Midwest,” said Megabus Vice President Colin Emberson. “This partnership will allow us to expand travel opportunities for customers in some existing cities in our network like Detroit and Chicago while also welcoming customers in a plethora of new cities.”
Take advantage of Presidents Day, Monday Feb. 20, 2023, to get to know Abe Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. A federal holiday when schools and some businesses are closed, the extra day off is a chance to sightsee everything Lincoln all at one time in historic Springfield, IL.
Among items recently added to the museum is Lincoln’s definition of democracy found on a piece of paper among the artifacts: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”
Either way, Springfield, IL and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum are worth a visit.
What to see
Visitors Center – located in the building that housed the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office, 1 S. Old State Capitol Plaza, it’s a good place to choose where to go, get advice on how much time to spend at each place and where to park or walk. Count on staying in Springfield for at least two days because the town has a lot to see and do including stuff for Route 66 aficionados. As its address implies, the Plaza also has the Old State Capitol building where politicians, including Barak Obama, stood on its historic steps to speak to the world.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum – Way more than just a holding place for Lincoln artifacts, the Presidential Museum, located at 212 N. 6th St., has live, you-are-there shows, interesting movies and period characters including Abe, wandering the halls. The museum has interactivevignettes from his early years, political life and Civil War. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library is across the street. Both buildings need tickets.
Lincoln’s Home – A good place to see the furnishings of the period, the home is at 426 S. 7th St. Take a tour and learn more about his and his family’s years in the house.
Lincoln’s New Salem – A re-constructed historic village at 15588 History Ln. (Rt 97) Petersburg 20 miles northwest of Springfield, it portrays the life and times of Lincoln’s early years before turning to politics.
Illinois State Capitol – an imposing structure at 401 S. 2nd St,, its dome can be seen from the highway. See the rotunda and tour the legislative assembly rooms open between sessions.
Because Springfield is both the state capital and home to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the town is “packed” with places to stay ranging from B&Bs and popular chains to large hotels.
Two of my favorites are The State House inn, a smallish, mid-last century hotel at 101 E. Adams St. It is across from the Illinois State Capitol and six blocks from the Presidential Museum, and the Inn at 835 Boutique Hotel, at 835 S. 2nd Street, a historic inn convenient to the Dana Thomas House and Lincoln’s Home.
Why two weekend dates
Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is a state holiday on Feb. 12th in California, Connecticut, Missouri, and Illinois. Presidents’ Day was originally celebrating the birthday of George Washington Feb. 22, 1732 in Virginia. It was celebrated as a Federal holiday in the 1880s. The short story is that following lots of haggling and changes of mind, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill that moved holiday celebrations to Monday. Thus Washington’s Birthday celebration became Presidents’ Day in honor of Washington and Lincoln.
The other show is in Chicago Jan. 14-15, 2023, at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (Hall F) at 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont, IL (847) 692-2220). Jan 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jan 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT.
It’s a fun show with entertainment, food, expert speakers and lots of handouts.
If you have time, you may want to start out at the virtual show to pick up some ideas in December and then attend the in-person show in January.
Come to Chicago this weekend to cheer runners on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. it’s an annual happening.
The official Bank of America Chicago Marathon website describes the event as the 44th running of this marathon. Articles refer to it as the 45th Chicago Marathon.
Well, the current format was OK’d by Mayor Richard J Daley but did start with Michael Bilandic as the city’s mayor Sept. 25, 1977 and was called the Mayor Daley Marathon.
That would make it a 45th anniversary in 2022, but COVID interfered. The race was canceled in 2020. So yes, 2022 is the 44th running of the Chicago Marathon as the official website says.
Come but don’t drive downtown. Go to a show at the Lyric Opera or a downtown theater while in town but take public transportation.
The field is estimated at 40,000 runners going through 29 Chicago neighborhoods. Roads around the marathon’s start and finish at Grant Park have already closed while many more will be blocked later this week and then along the route on Sunday, the day of the marathon.
A basically flat, fast route, its 26.2 miles is considered prime for runners hoping to qualify for such marathons as Boston. It’s also known as crowd friendly with good cheering stations.
If you haven’t asked a participant where to cheer, go to one already set up. Cheering participants helps them get through the marathon.
The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle Cheer Zone will be in Lincoln Park at the 8K mark. Then, the Bank of America Chicago 13.1 Cheer Zone will be half-way through the race. This stop reminds folks there will be a Bank of America Chicago 13.1 on June 4, 2023 through the parks and boulevards of Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and Douglass Park.
At Mile 15 is a block party to recognize that participants often run for causes. The Charity Block Party will be at Adams and Loomis Streets near Whitney Young High School.
Finally, cheer with noisemakers at the Bank of America Cheer Zone near Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road.
The race starts at 7:20 a.m. with many participants finishing more than four hours later and some through at five hours.
Among the best rewards of being a travel writer is discovering that an area known as a scenic destination is also a food and/or wine destination.
When getting off I90 in northeastern Ohio to check out some Lake Erie marinas for a boating magazine and follow a covered bridge trail near Geneva and Ashtabula as a bonus “while in the area” side feature I found myself driving back roads lined with grape vines.
I love covered bridges but on the fertile lands south of Lake Erie and along the valley cut by the Grand River east of Cleveland, one vineyard bumped into another, and another.
Never one to pass up a tasting or two or more, I found Harpersfield, a family-operated winery just south of I90 at the southern edge of Geneva, had an amazing chardonnay and has since expanded its offerings.
Don’t worry about town locations. The Grand River’s valley is along the south side of I90. So, when looking for Debonné Vineyards with a Madison address remember you are at a Grand River winery at the southern edge of Madison. Debonné is a European-style estate-bottled winery in operation since1916 that is known for its Reisling, Pinot Gris and ice wine.
While near Madison, look for the St. Joseph Vineyard and its award-winning pinot noirs.
My timing couldn’t have been better because the vineyards I visited were talking up Vintage Ohio, an annual wine festival the first week of August that coincided with my assignment.
That visit was in 2013. Now, nine years later, I learned that Vintage Ohio, is still going on and is back after a short COVID hiatus with 18 wineries, some from the Vines and Wines Trail but others from other Ohio regions.
Some of them, such Buccia from Conneaut, are new to the festival. Others, such as Gervasi from Canton, are Vintage Ohio veterans. There will be 18 vineyards at the festival, plus some breweries, bands and craft venders, cooking demonstrations and wine seminars plus food trucks.
Formed in 1997 to familiarize the public with Ohio wines, the festival is also a good excuse to visit an interesting area, do the Vines and Wines Trail, explore the towns along Lake Erie east of Cleveland, and yes, see some covered bridges.
Vintage Ohio is at Metroparks Farmpark in Kirkland, OH. The festival runs Aug 5 and 6 in 2022 from noon to 9 p.m. For tickets and other information visit Vintage Ohio.
Memorial Day signals summer even if just for the long weekend or for a whole week if school is already out. But that vacation should be in the planning stage now to get the accommodations and restaurants wanted. (Note: If going before Memorial Day check hours. Some shops, galleries, restaurants are only open Thursday through Sunday)
With gas prices looking more and more like highway robbery a one-day drive there may better budget cents. (Note: If going before Memorial Day check hours. Some shops, galleries, restaurants are only open Thursday through Sunday)
Here are three destinations, each within a different state, that are an easy day’s drive from Chicago. They all have historic roots. First is a Wisconsin peninsula that is basically an island with several small villages. Second is a Michigan town paired with two good neighbors. Third is a historic Illinois town near the Mississippi River.
A finger separating the calmer waters of Green Bay from the often more turbulent waves of Lake Michigan, the Wisconsin peninsula home to Door County draws vacationers looking for relaxing seascapes, fine art and pottery galleries, delicious food, trails to bike and hike and lighthouses.
Although The Door, as it is often called, begins halfway up the peninsula south of Brussels for drivers taking Hwy 57, the tourist destination starts further north across a bridge at Sturgeon Bay that is about a four-hour, fifteen-minute drive from Chicago.
Stop before crossing the bridge to get a map, dining and gallery brochures and expert information at the Visitor Center, 1015 Green Bay Road, Sturgeon Bay.
Best plan is to make accommodation reservations before leaving home. Destination Door County/Stay lists inns, B and Bs, cabins, guest houses, motels, resorts and condos.
You might want a place near the center of The Door in Ephraim such as the Eagle Harbor Inn or a place with water views such as Harbor House in Fish Creek or the Yacht Club in Sister Bay or a place known for its good breakfast such as the Church Hill Inn.
Settle in, check the map you now have to see all the towns and crossroads from bay side to lake side and figure what kind of food you want that first night, casual, pizza, fine dining or one of The Door’s noted “fish boil.” experience.
More than one restaurant does an excellent fish boil. The historic White Gull Inn in Fish Creek is among the most popular. Fish boils are fun to watch but you have to like white fish to eat the dish and not worry about bones (for most of them).
When in the mood for home-made root beer, a hamburger and a picture-worthy sundae, stop at historic Wilson’s, a local ice cream parlor in Ephraim.
Door County is fruit country, particularly cherries, so be sure to pick up a cherry pie, chocolate covered cherries and a selection of preserves while there or before you leave. Couple of suggestions: Schartner’s Farm Market on Hwy42 south of Egg Harbor and Seaquist Orchards, north on Hwy 42 past Sister Bay have yummy products.
Other items to bring back are a painting and pottery. Door County is home to several artists and artisans. Also, indulge your inner artist at Hands On Art Studio on Peninsula Players Road in Fish Creek. A complex of small buildings, Hands On has the tools, materials and experts to help with ceramics or create a glass, clay, mosaic or jewelry item.
Or stop in any way to see what is there and then go up Peninsula Players Road to Edgewood Orchard Galleries to walk its sculpture trail.
BTW, bringing back food and art is part of a driving trip vacation.
At about 139 miles from Chicago, Saugatuck, its twin town of Douglas and neighboring town of Fennville are an easy two-hour, 14-minute drive north on Interstate 196.
Saugatuck is on the north side of the Kalamazoo River with Douglas across the way on the river’s south side.. Fenville is south and slightly east of Douglas. They all have attractive stops when on a driving trip to what is known as Michigan’s Art Coast.
Gallery hopping is as much an attraction and pursuit as climbing the area’s dunes and dune riding. A popular art stop is the J. Petter Galleries on the Blue coast Hwy in Douglas just before crossing the bridge and turning into Saugatuck.
Artists have been coming here for at least 100 years when the Art Institute of Chicago opened Ox-Bow School. The school still has workshops and classes and the Art Barn in Fennville has drop-in times for anyone interested in creating something.
Inns and B and B’s on the lake, across from the river and near downtown Saugatuck offer comfortable rooms, friendly hosts and in many cases, breakfasts.
Walk along the river in Saugatuck but for something different take the Saugatuck Chain Ferry across the river then climb Mt. Baldy dune’s 302 steps for great views of the surrounding area.
Galena, IL a 19th century former lead mining town and once popular 1850s political stop for both Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, the town rises on hills above the Mississippi River in northwest Illinois.
The area’s fall color is enough to make Galena a seasonal destination but many vacationers come in winter to ski or summer for fun shopping in a historic town. About 800 buildings, comprising 85 percent of the downtown and surrounding area, make up a historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Among them is the home of Ulysses S. Grant where he was living when he heard he was elected the 18th President of the United States, and the Desota House Hotel where Lincoln spoke in 1856 for John Fremont’s bid for the presidency.
Along with Desota House, there are several B and B’s. If looking for luxury consider the Select Registry inns of Goldmoor and Jail Hill (really). For hiking, biking, golf and spa look just outside of Galena’s downtown at Eagle Ridge.
After checking in or dropping off overnight bags, start the visit at the Galena Country Visitor Center. Located in a former train depot near the Grant house, it is on the south side of the Galena River across old rail tracks at 101 Bouthiller St.
Ask for a map of the downtown and area and get ready to shop and explore..\
Galena has lots of restaurants but the one that needs a reservation more than others is Fried Green Tomatoes. So, make you dining reservation before you arrive in town.
But don’t forget to cross the street and head up towards the highway and beginning of the shopping area for a true treasure store called Red’s Iron Yard and Wholesale Barn . Indulge in your inner farmyard, antique shopping persona. After all, driving here means room in the car for collectibles.
One more tip: check the department of transportation website whichever state and trip you choose to find out about construction.
Think about a getaway for movie stars close enough for call backs and retakes but far enough from Hollywood to really be a home away from home and you have a star-studded neighborhood in the Palm Springs, CA area.
Now picture several home groupings that boast mid-century modern architecture zoned similarly to 1800s historic designated areas so that changes have to conform with the period and you’ll have more than 30 neighborhoods in and near Palm Springs.
The area welcomes visitors to tour the neighborhoods by bus, bike and double-decker streetcar during Modernism Week, an annual festival celebrating mid-century design, architecture and culture. The event includes talks, a featured home tour and parties.
BTW, the outside of Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms home on East Alejo Rd. that backs up to Dinah Shore’s back yard is typically on one of the tours. It is in what is considered the Movie Colony/El Mirador neighborhood. And there is a tour that goes to Sunnylands, the former Annenberg Estate in Rancho Mirage.
Modernism Week is Feb. 17-27, 2022. Find tickets and more information at modernismweek.