Now that more folks are vaccinated, travel and local road traffic has picked up. If traveling around your state or through other states check their department of transportation website’s for road closures and expected delays. In Illinois it is IDOT closures.
Among the latest info releases is one from the Chicago Department of Aviation regarding O’Hare international Airport.
According to the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) the Kennedy Expressway will be working on a configuration change between Harlem Avenue and Interstate 190 beginning April 15 at 5 a.m. and continuing until fall, 2021.
As a result, westbound motorists on I-90 will merge onto a new collector-distributor road just after Canfield Avenue to access the I-190 ramps to O’Hare. The merge is about one mile before the current ramp access. Motorists should expect delays or use alternate routes.
With COVID cases down and more people having received vaccines, travel has picked up. However, health officials still considered driving as a better alternative to flying.
In the Midwest a drive to Springfield, IL means following Route 66 for road buffs and finding that the Lincoln Museum is way better than a family may expect. It is something to experience.
Driving RTE 66 west to LA sounds awesome but if you’re a Midwesterner with only a long weekend or a Spring Break week, look closer to home. Think Springfield, Illinois’ state capital on historic US Rte. 66.
Getting Started – if you call Chicago ‘home’ your city marks the beginning or ending (however you see it) of Rte. 66. Just don’t try to find the number on current maps. Today’s interstates connect the road’s big cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, Tulsa, Los Angeles (remember the song) and such smaller, interesting towns as Litchfield, IL and Kingman, AZ.
To start out historically, begin near the Art Institute of Chicago (supposedly it started at Jackson Bvd. The sign is on Adams across Michigan Avenue from the museum so take Adams Street west to Joliet Road and onto Interstate 55. Or take your easiest way to the I-294 Tri-State Tollway where you can connect with I-55 (known in Chicago as the Stevenson Expressway). In Illinois, I-55 basically follows historic Rte 66. Illinois has posted Route 66 signs along the popular old road west.
Tip: Chicago to Springfield is about 197 miles so plan about 3 ½ hours. The police do patrol the highway so enjoy the scenery. Remember, you are on vacation.
Go – Springfield is about Lincoln, about state government, about historic homes.
Lincoln – Renew your acquaintance with the 16th President at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. You will be in for a remarkable two hours. Yes plan to spend that amount of time to see the movies and exhibits that peel away the myths from the man and the times.
The Old Capitol building is normally open to visitors but It is supposed to be closed for updating in 2021 so you might only get pictures outside.
Go across from it to the Springfield Visitors Center in the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office at 1 S. Old State Capitol Plaza. It may still be closed for renovations but see the building from the outside.
Drive north of downtown to the Lincoln Tomb where he, his wife and three of their four children are buried.
Back to downtown, the dome of the Illinois State Capitol, 361 feet above ground, can be seen from miles away. Go inside to see where legislation has been argued and passed from 1888 to today in the House and Senate chambers on the third floor. Some of the building may be closed to the public due to COVID restrictions.
Historic homes include a Frank Lloyd Wright. One of the best examples of his work is the Dana Thomas House in Springfield. It still has all of its original art glass and much of its original furnishings. Also put the Vachel Lindsay Home on the itinerary. Built in the late 1840’s, the house was home to Mary Todd Lincoln’s sister Ann. Vachel Lindsay’s parents bought the house in 1878. It was the poet’s home until his death in 1931.
Route 66 – Springfield loves historic Route 66. Some of the old places are gone but newly renovated stops have added to the fun. Visitors can go back in time by taking in a double feature at the Route 66 Drive In or stop for a bite at the Cozy Dog Drive In, a diner at 2935 S. Sixth St. where the Waldmire family make the famed hot dog on a stick served since 1946. More place can be found on Legendary Route 66.
Where to stay – Visit Springfield is a great resource for places to stay. If you like historic inns and B&B’s consider The Inn at 835. An early 1900’s former apartment house, the Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If retro 1950’s is more your style check out The State House Inn which recently underwent a redo. Both places feature complimentary breakfasts and free parking. The last is a plus in Springfield where visitors have to feed the meters.
Tip – Wear comfortable shoes and bring the sunscreen. This is a walking town.
Imagine teeing off on TCP Sawgrass’ famed 17th “Island Hole in Ponte Vedra, FL. It has already swallowed more than one pro’s golf ball during the Players tournament going on now, March 11-14, 2021. A major tournament, the Players was moved from May to March this year.
When the tournament is over you can play the course and see if you can land a ball on the green.
Arguably, the best way to snag the tee time you want is to stay at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort. If not staying there, call and ask about a Resort Day Pass
While visiting TCP Sawgrass, soak up the legendary atmosphere with a Storyteller’s Tour of the Clubhouse and bring your camera. The Clubhouse is TCP headquarters. It and the course were built for the tour’s players.
Plan to lunch or do dinner at the Clubhouse. When weather permits, get a table on the veranda of the casual “19” restaurant for its view of The Players’ presentation area.
If time allows, book a lesson at the Tour Academy TPC Sawgrass. You can take your lesson on a course walked by the world’s greatest players.
Or stay at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village about half an hour south of Ponte Vedra on the western outskirts of St. Augustine. You can call over to TPC Sawgrass 14 days ahead to see if you can get a tee time.
At World Golf Village, you can try to reach its version of the 17th hole. Actor Bill Murray had landed a ball on that island green when in town for the Caddyshack Tournament he has sponsored at a World Golf Village course before The Players.
Then, chow down on great hamburgers and other pub food at Murray Bros. Caddyshack Restaurant.
Be on the alert for celebrities Golfing greats occasionally drop by because it is home to the World Golf Hall of Fame and the King and Bear course Palmer designed with Jack Nicklaus (the only course they worked on together). The resort’s other course is the Slammer and Squire. Sammy Snead and Gene Sarazen were consultants to course designer Bobby Weed.
Stroll the Walk of Champions to read Hall of Famers signatures engraved on the path to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
No matter whether bedding down at the Sawgrass Marriott or the Renaissance Resort, be sure to visit the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Head upstairs to see Hall of Famers’ lockers, learn the origins of golf and attempt to swing like the pros in a bay. Take a photograph as each of you cross St. Andrews’ famed bridge. Another flight up is the trophy room.
Tip: You might think the visit can be a quick in and out but you will find yourselves spending two hours in World Golf Hall of Fame.
World Golf Village is also the place to shop or sharpen your game. On the grounds is the PGA Tour Stop, a two-level, 30,000 square-foot golf pro shop, and the PGA Tour Golf Academy.
Both resorts are a good base for visiting the old city of St. Augustine, founded 42 years before Jamestown and 55 years before pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
Walk the historic area, boat the harbor and drive over to the Alligator Farm, where hundreds of birds nest in the trees knowing that animals can’t get to their nests because of the alligators below.
If you go
Sawgrass Marriott Ponte Vedra, 1000 PGA Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. 800-577-6009 and 800-457-4653 800-457-4653
Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, 500 S. Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, Fla. 888-740-7020
Listen up baseball fans. Spring Training 2021 tickets for Chicago teams go on sale this week: Cubs 1 p.m. CT Feb. 19, White Sox, 11 a.m. CT Feb. 20.
Chicago weather is supposed to get better the last week of February, maybe even going up to 40 degrees. But imagine yourself in Phoenix, AZ where daytime temps are in the 70s and you exchange sweaters and sweats for shorts and T shirts.
The Cubs’ AZ home is Sloan Park in Mesa. A smaller version of Wrigley Field, Sloan Park is often called Wrigleyville West. It is bordered by roads named Waveland and Sheffield Avenues and Clark Street.
The Sox play at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, a Phoenix suburb known as a restaurant, entertainment and sports mecca.
It may be easier to find tickets for your team’s games at competitors’ parks so get to know the schedule.
The Cubs’ schedule starts with the Padres away on March 1 and at Sloan Park against the KC Royals, March 2. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Cubs regular season begins April 1 when they play the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.
Put Chicago on the go-to list to experience Immersive Van Gogh.
Yes, the artist is supposed to be spelled Vincent van Gogh with a lower case v but the exhibit doesn’t worry about Van vs van.
After impressing Parisians and folks in Toronto, the exhibit is now the hot ticket in Chicago where it already sold out through March.
Immersive Van Gogh is about color, movement and mood. It is presented in a way so the public will appreciate an artist who died broke and was not valued in his lifetime.
Visitors will hear Mussorgsky’s “Pictures From an Exhibtion.” But they shouldn’t expect to see “Sunflowers,” “The Bedroom in Arles,” “Starry Night” or any self-portrait hung on a wall in its museum frame.
Housed in the Germania Club Building, a just redone landmark at 108 Germania Place on Chicago’s near north side, Immersive Van Gogh totally surrounds visitors with the artist’s famed works.
As scenes change, so does accompanying music ranging from Edith Piaf singing “Non, Je ne regrette rien” (I regret nothing) and choral works to Mussorgsky and a Handel cello suite.
A multi-story, 350 degree art experience, Immersive Van Gogh is in a building refitted by Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago for it and future exhibitions.
Ticket prices start at $39.99 for adults, $24.99 for children 16 or younger. For more information about Immersive Van Gogh visit vangoghchicago.com or call 844-307-4644.
Typically, Open House Chicago is a visit in-person experience that involves entering historic and interesting places in and around Chicago.
In 2020, the year of Covid, places of architectural and historic significance are visited outside on mapped trails and sites or virtually thanks to a beautifully constructed app made available through the Chicago Architecture Center.
You could but don’t have to journey to Chicago by plane, train or auto. The app allows anyone, anywhere, to visit the places, hear narrations, read about historic sites and see what they look like inside and out.
Be warned, once started on this journey it becomes addictive. However, it only lasts 10 days, from Oct. 16 through Oct. 25, so better start now before the experience is gone.
What to expect
The app includes explorations of more than 20 Chicago neighborhoods, ranging from Oak Park, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Rogers Park and Hyde Park to Bronzeville, Chinatown, Pullman, Beverly and Evanston.
If you are interested in Open House Chicago, you likely already know that Oak Park is home to several structures designed by famed architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and George Maher. The Neighborhood section not only takes you there but it also has a trail to follow.
In Oak Park, it is the Frank Lloyd Wright; Portrait of a Young Architect Trail of seven houses he designed early in his career.. Click on the speaker to narration about the house by Adam Rubin, Chicago Architecture Foundation’s director of interpretation
In the Pullman neighborhood built by George Pullman to house his workers, you learn that its history is important from a labor and urban planning standpoint and you visit its Queen Anne Style Hotel Florence, an Illinois State Historic site.
Then check out the Tied Houses on the Pullman Trail that include the Schlitz Row Brewery Stable.
In the Evanston neighborhood, the “explore like a local” section takes you to the Mitchelll Museum of the American Indian in Evanston and the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie.
You may get the idea that you can become addicted to the app’s explorations. But for a good demo of how it all works go to zoom/rec/play. And if interested in public programs visit Programs.
There are so many choices of how to explore the city and environs that Open House Chicago really is a travel experience.
Avoid the heavy road traffic of Labor Day Weekend by taking your well-deserved escape mid-September to mid-October.
The scenery, shops hiking paths and wine trails of the northwestern edge of Michigan from Frankfort and Sleeping Bear Dunes to Leland and Traverse City are snapshot perfect. And they follow state and local Covid protection protocols.
Historic Hotel Paso del Norte, a Marriott Autograph Collection property in El Paso, TX, is installing the Plasma Air system as part of its multi-million-dollar renovation.
Built in 1912 and on the National Register of Historic Place, the hotel is known for its Tiffany-style stained glass dome, Native American carvings and a statue of Mexican General Pancho Villa.
But when age and changing guest needs required extensive renovations, the Marriott organization also decided to add a major new air system component to safeguard the health of visitors and staff.
According to Hotel Paso del Norte, Plasma Air kills 99% of bacteriophage in after 10 minutes. It will be used throughout the property from guest rooms, hallways and common areas to restaurants, spa and fitness area. .
“We are among the First Marriott Autograph hotels in the world to install a system that cleans air to this level,” said Carlos Sarmiento, Hotel Paso del Norte general manager.
“Being in the renovation process when this crisis occurred gave us the unique opportunity to implement additional safety features before opening our doors,” Sarmiento said.
He added, “When we undertook this project we were prepared to restore the 108-year-old property’s architectural elements, create stunning event spaces and amenities, and curate a distinct culinary destination—but Covid-19 gave us the need to enhance air quality in all areas of the hotel.”
Information from the hotel and Marriott explained the Plasma Air system that is being installed as HVAC-mounted ionizers that use proactive air purification technologies to safely deactivate airborne viruses.
The system incorporates bipolar ionization that creates millions of positive and negative ions. It is supposed to be a proven method for virus destruction and has been tested in simulated hospital ICUs and hotels used to house medical personnel in isolation during the pandemic.
In addition, the hotel will have sanitizing stations, and sanitize high-touch areas at a minimum of every two hours, require associates to wear personal protective equipment, and receive temperature checks prior to each shift, and complete wellness questionnaires.
Other safety measures include that vendors wear masks and have their temperature checked. guests will be required to wear masks in public areas as mandated by local and state laws and Marriott, floor signage will encourage social distancing and trays will be used to hand items to guests.
The couch now has a permanent indentation and you’re tired of virtual experiences. You have to go somewhere! But where? You don’t want to worry about where to stay for a destination that lies two days away.
Consider a nearby resort.
Located within walking distance of Lake Forest, Il’s North Line and just a 30-mile drive north of Chicago, is the historic Deer Path Inn.
Travel & Leisure readers just made it the No.1 resort hotel in the Midwest and No. 2 in the United States edging out the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI. For other winning resort hotels visit the July 2020 issue of T&L.
Built in 1929 near its former 1880’s site, Deer Path Inn is a half-timbered, stucco, Tudor-styled taste of Olde England copied from a 1453 Chiddinstone manor house in Kent.
And yes, it has a cozy downstairs pub for a casual dinner. But there is also a wonderful outdoor garden that is great for breakfast or lunch. Its bar is popular with the locals. Seating observes pandemic protocols.
After checking in (masks required) and making meal arrangements, meander north a couple of blocks to the town’s historic Market Square. Designed 1915-1916 by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, it is considered the country’s first planned shopping center.
The Inn’s restaurants are excellent but if staying a few days you might want to try Francesca Intimo (make a reservation) for a change of cuisine. It is just east across the tiny Bank Lane from the Inn. Their calamari is perfect and they have outdoor seating.
For an after dinner treat or afternoon break, stop in at Sweets for yummy ice cream. Don’t forget to get some home-made candy to take home. Sweets is on the Deerpath Street side of Market Square.
BTW, Ravinia Festival in Highland Park has often housed/recommended Deer Path Inn for its performers.
If you go Deer Path Inn is at 255 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest 847-234-2280
A vacation in Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin combines Victorian atmosphere with country and contemporary comfort.
A little over two hours from Chicago’s northern suburbs, the village is a throwback to an earlier time when it was a summer vacation destination before the turn of the 20th century.
It is a sleepy town of resorts, family-owned restaurants, small stores and a century-old railroad depot museum and Saturday Farmers Market.
However, it is also home to a popular race car track that was known as Road America. Think of it as an advantage to keep good restaurants such as Lake Street Café and the Paddock Club, in business.
An eatery with a duel personality, Lake Street Café specializes in fun atmosphere and pub food in its bar and upscale bistro in its dining room. Its wine cellar has repeatedly been recognized by Spectator Magazine.
Next door is the Paddock Club which features local seasonal ingredients served in a contemporary, casual atmosphere. Look for familiar dishes with a twist of the unusual.
Among the resorts is Osthoff. It fits in with local Victorian architecture and neighboring old-time resorts but Osthoff was built in 1995. A historic-looking charmer, the resort was updated in 2007 with 21st century fixtures from Kohler, its upscale plumbing neighbor to the south.
Aside from the races, this is a town to come to feel the muscles relax, boat on the lake or play a round of golf. Bring the tennis racquets or read while the youngsters splash in a pool or the lake.