Fabulous snow sculptures created by championship state teams from Alaska to Wisconsin are entered in the annual National Snow Sculpting Championship as part of Winterfest.
It starts with snow delivered to 15 team sites on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at Riviera Plaza and Flat Iron Park.
Many visitors drive over on Feb. 2 or 3 to watch the sculpting and see the winners on Saturday when work stops and judges rate the sculptures. Visitors can also pick their favorites as People’s Choice. They fill in the time by seeing ice sculptures downtown, shopping and enjoying live entertainment
Many folks are ready to say goodbye to January’s below freezing temps and heavy snow shoveling. So here are some events to put on the calendar to help.
Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva Winterfest Jen 31-Feb 4
Amazing snow sculptures will be created along Geneva Lake during Lake Geneva, Wi’s US National Snow Sculpting Championship. It is part of the town’s 29th Annual Winterfest that includes several activities.
Although it begins Jan. 31, visitors won’t see the completed sculptures until that first Saturday in February. It takes a while to have the snow delivered to each sculpting team’s worksite and it takes time for them to carve out their masterpieces.
There will be 15 state championship teams competing from all over the US. Look for them sculpting at Riviera Plaza and Flat Iron Park Judges will rate the work at about 1 p.m. Saturday. In past years, visitors also had a chance to vote for their favorites.
Strolling the downtown to shop, see ice sculptures, watch snow sculpting and enjoy live entertainment fills out the days until the winners are announced. Sculptures are still up on Sunday, weather permitting.
Groundhog Day is back in Woodstock, IL (but also in Punxsutawney, PA)
Events surrounding the famed 1993 film start Feb. 1 but are celebrated with a redo of the weather predicting creature in Woodstock, IL on Feb 2. Suppposedly, film director Harold Ramis chose Woodstock for filming because the story-line location in Pennsylvania was far from his North Shore home in Illinois.
To see where weather forecaster Bill Murray and his station co-worker, Andie MacDowell fell in love, go to Woodstock, not Pennsylvania, a tourist destination northwest of Chicago with a picturesque square featured in the movie.
If in town early in the morning Feb. 2, you hear groundhog Woodstock Willie say when spring will come. But stay to tour the film’s sites and see the movie.
Although called Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, the festival is also celebrated in other countries such as Vietnam and Korea.
Here, in the Chicago area, there are dragon parades and other events in a couple of neighborhoods such as Argyle Feb. 17 and Chinatown Feb. 18, plus lots of red decorations (for good luck) in Asian restaurants. This year is the Year of the Dragon.
Football’s Superbowl Sunday Feb 11, 2024
The event will be at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, but the game doesn’t matter unless you are a fan of one of the teams. But the commercials are usually worth watching. Check top 10 for 2023 on UTube to see what was good last year. Peanuts (the edible kind) and M and Ms were still around.
Headquartered at the Puppet Hub in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building, 433 S. Michigan Ave., Festival events and shows are held at venues across the city. It also includes free neighborhood tours co-sponsored by the festival, Chicago Park District, Navy Pier and neighborhood organizations.
Considered the largest puppetry event in North America, the Fest draws artists from across the globe and features more than 100 activities ranging from performances and symposium to workshops and a Pop-Up Store.
Where to stay.
Chicago has lots of options but there is an official hotel for the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. It is the Warwick Allerton Hotel, 701 N. Michigan Ave. which has a discounted rate during festival dates. Use the promo code, Puppetfest24. Visit Warwick Allerton or call (312) 440-1500 to reserve. This is where all of the artists stay and many visitors in town for the Chicago Intl Puppet Theater Festival.
It’s not too late for a fall color getaway in the Midwest.
Depending on where you want to drive you will find trees beginning to dress in golden hues and adding scarlet to their fringe.
Wisconsin: When viewing the latest fall report you see that Door County, a popular vacation destination in the northeastern part of the state is now at its peak color.
From good eating and fish boils to fun shopping and festivals, there is always something going on in the Door’s charming villages. Before crossing the bridge onto the main part of the Door Peninsula, stop at or call Destination Door County for a map and suggestions.
Illinois: If looking for an Illinois destination, consider historic Galena in the state’s north-eastern tip. The downtown boasts candy, ice cream and wine, restaurant stops and cute shops. Plus, it’s buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Start at the visitor center in the old RR Depot where you see the town rising, step-like across a small river.
Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park has a fall color trail destination. It is also near the wine trails of the Traverse City area. Both are worth visiting for views of Lake Michigan, Traverse Bay and snacking on Michigan cherries and apples.
Open House Chicago, a free glimpse inside historically, architecturally and culturally significant buildings, churches, homes theaters and museums not normally open free to the public, will have open doors this weekend, Oct. 14 and 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., thanks to the Chicago Architecture Center.
What to expect: Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. The sites open this weekend are in neighborhoods ranging from Andersonville/ Edgewater and Beverly/Morgan Park through Bronzeville/Downtown and Hyde Park to Logan Square, Pullman and Uptown.
This festival is an extraordinary opportunity to explore some of the city’s great places in more that 20 neighborhoods.
Among the sites is the Pullman National Historical Park and the historic Fine Arts Building 410 S. Michigan Ave. that has been featured this week in the Sun Times and Chicago Tribune
Tip: many places will have lines but Chicago Architecture Center Members will receive a priority access pass so of living in the area or have plans to return and take its fame boat or an architecture tour, membership is a good deal.
For a downloadable Open House guide visit Site guide.
*Ed note: The following article is a slightly condensed version of writer/ theater critic/ videographer Reno Lovison’s Podcast on becoming more familiar with Asians in Chicago. After hearing all the misunderstandings that occurred during and after COVID I believe more people should try to get to know their local Asian communities. Consider exploring their areas abroad. But also think local for a travel treat. Reno has included some of his favorite Asian eating spots in Chicago.
Asian is a rather broad term whose nations encompass all of the Asian continent including Eastern Asia with China, Mongolia, Japan, North and South Korea. South-East Asia includes the area of the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, and others.
South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia, defined in both geographical and ethnic-cultural terms that commonly includes Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, with Afghanistan also often included.
Central Asia includes what are sometimes remembered as the “stan” countries of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, while Western Asia generally includes the countries referred to as the Middle-East with Turkey, Israel, Armenia and all of the Arabian Peninsula.
The Pacific Islands refer to all of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia including our own Hawaiian Islands.
Forgive me for any omissions, this is not intended to be a comprehensive list rather I encourage you to do some research of your own as you consider your exploration of how the Asian culture has manifested itself within the Chicago experience.
The first Chinese who were mainly Cantonese speakers arrived in Chicago around the time the transcontinental railroad was completed on May 10, 1869. This was because a majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants. Now, 43,228 individuals in Chicago identified as Chinese according to the 2010 census, represent 1.6% of the city’s population. About 10,000 ethnic Chinese reside within the historic Chinatown area.
I encourage you to look into the Asian American historical record by visiting the Chinese American Museum of Chicago at 238 West 23rd St. The museum can be a great jumping off point to explore the Chinatown area.
If you really feel adventurous, consider taking the Chicago Water Taxi from Michigan Avenue downtown to Ping Tom Park. There are spectacular views of the riverwalk and historic buildings along the way including the Willis Tower and the Opera House.
Now, I am no expert on Chicago’s Asian Community but I would like to share some of my own experiences from the point-of-view of a lifelong Chicago resident who has a relationship with the South-East Asia Center in Uptown.
This relationship has been an opportunity to appreciate the struggles of immigrants in general as well as the various cultures the organization serves.
Established about 40 years ago with a mission to help resettle individuals from South-East Asia after the Vietnamese conflict, the center has grown to serve not only South-East Asians but also other newly arrived immigrants including those from Russia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Latin America and more.
The Center currently has more than 40 languages spoken among staff and clients. Its ESL classes are an essential service that helps newly arrived immigrants learn, practice and improve their English language skills.
Becoming a volunteer ESL tutor only requires about two weekends of training and is an excellent way to get beyond the tourist approach and become more personally involved with people from other cultures. I have done it myself and have really enjoyed the interactions with my students and what I learned from them.
For those over 60, the South-East Asia Center hosts a Golden Diners Lunch Program Monday through Friday from about 11:30 to 1:30. This is one of a number of dining locations around the city that provide a pay-as-you-please lunch option for seniors.
The spirit of the program is not to provide low-cost meals but rather to encourage seniors to get out into their communities and interact with one another.
By the way, the building that houses the South-East Asia Center’s Golden Diners Program at 5120 North Broadway is a local landmark that was originally built as a German Beer Garden and stands as a testament to the ethnic changes that have taken place around the city. At this location you’ll typically be treated to a very traditional Vietnamese style meal.
There are also Asian meals offered in Chinatown at the Chinese Community Center, Korean faire on north Kedzie, and Indian and Pakistani options on Devon and on North California. The city’s Golden Diners website provides addresses and details.
While we are talking about this part of the city, I must mention the Argyle Street commercial area just east of Broadway that is easily accessible by the Redline.
Known as “Little Saigon,” this street is inviting to anyone who wants to experience South-East Asian culture with local stores and (no-kidding) about 20 restaurants that either feature Pho or have Pho in their name
For the uninitiated Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a kind of broth with vegetables and meat typically served in a surprisingly large bowl. On a cold day you will manage to eat it all.
Other things to try might be Banh mi , a delicious baguette sandwich that reflects the country’s French colonial influence or steamed Bao, a pillowy soft steamed dumpling folded and filled with meat and veggies.
One of my favorites is the Vietnamese crispy savory crepe which is a cross between an omelet and French crepe folded and garnished with ample quantities of fresh herbs and greens accompanied by a sweet and pungent sauce.
Argyle Night Market, held every Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. through August is a perfect time to experience the neighborhood and rub shoulders with the locals. Check out Explore Uptown.
Heading north and a bit west to Devon and Western will take you into the heart of “Little India,” the South Asian or Indo Pakistan area of the city where you can enjoy the sights and smells of this rich culture.
The street is festooned with nearly a mile of colorful sari shops and local markets where you can pick up fresh spices like saffron, turmeric and more.
This area is purported to have some of the best Indian restaurants in the country. Ask virtually any person throughout the South Indian diaspora and they will likely tell you they have a brother or cousin who lives here.
Food is of course the gateway to experiencing any culture so I’ll just give you a few of my favorite spots. I am not saying they are necessarily the best in category but they will provide a place for you to begin your personal exploration and encourage you to get out into some of Chicago’s northside ethnic neighborhoods. I have often said you can explore the world by exploring Chicago.
For Thai cuisine we typically default to Tiparo’s just south of North Avenue on Clark Street. We usually split one Tofu Pad Thai and one Crazy Noodles with Chicken. The portions are big enough for us to get two meals apiece out of an order of each to go.
Reza’s in Andersonville, a popular spot for Persian dining, features various skewers of grilled meat served on a bed of dill rice. Next door, Andie’s Mediterranean, has a large menu with a number of delicious vegetarian options.
At Foster and Clark is the Middle East Market where you can pick up an assortment of foods ideal for tasty lunches or light suppers. My stop there recently included a few spinach and cheese pies, a few parsley and cheese pies with kalamata olives, some veggie topped flat bread, a half-dozen falafel, hummus with roasted garlic, and some pita, feta cheese and kalamata olives to supplement other home cooked meals.
Staying within the western Asian cuisine, a little to the west on the other side of Rosehill Cemetery at a point known as the bend at the corner of Maplewood and Lincoln, is the Shawarma Inn purported to have the best (and in this case I agree) shawarma in the area.
If you are not familiar, shawarma is sirloin beef cooked rotisserie tyle and thinly shaved, served over rice or as a pita sandwich. Their hummus is also exceptional.
For the record this area is home to a large Assyrian population. The Assyrian civilization at one time incorporated the entire Near East, most notably the area of the Fertile Crescent or Northern Mesopotamia.
The heartland of Assyria lies in present-day northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northeastern Syria, and northwestern Iran. The remains of the ancient capital of Assyria, Nineveh, lies within Mosul in northern Iraq.
It is not far from the Museum of Science and Industry where you will find Japanese Gardens along the lagoon. This stunning spot with its iconic bridge and cheery trees was originally created by the government of Japan for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Reconstructed and renamed officially as the Garden of the Phoenix. A prominent feature as of 2016 is a sculpture entitled “Sky Landing” by acclaimed artist Yoko Ono.
Back up north, Bryn Mawr between Kedzie and Kimball, is traditionally the Korean neighborhood, but I have enjoyed Midori for Japanese food in this neighborhood at 3310 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
When it comes to Korean food, I have to give the nod to Soon at Noon Hour Grill at 6930 N. Glenwood in Rogers Park. Soon introduced me to bi bim bop about 30 years ago and I have judged every experience with that dish against hers ever since. This restaurant also has easy access via the red line Morse stop.
For some quick casual Filipino food, I like Merla’s Kitchen at Foster and Kimball. Her chicken adobo is well respected and her handmade empanadas made to order are large fresh, fried on the spot and delicious. It may take a little time but it will be worth the wait.
I believe a little-known gem is Jibek Jolu, a casual, family-run Kyrgyzstan eatery at 5047 N. Lincoln Ave. which serves hearty Central Asian fare. In my opinion this is literally where East meets West and those of us with Eastern European traditions will find some familiar looking and tasting options with a distinct Asian twist.
This Chicago Asian community overview is hardly comprehensive but I hope it will whet your appetite and encourage you to experience some new or different cultures.
Please go beyond the simple tourist approach of eating and gawking. Find some way to get involved in the important process of connecting with other people. Invite a friend or neighbor from a different ethnic group to join you on your expedition or be your guide. Do the same for them. Enjoy your differences but pay attention to your similarities and make note of the many things we all have in common.
Reno Lovison is the executive producer of Chicago Broadcasting Network.
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.
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.
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.
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.