Spring Vacation Destination Part Two: Presidential location

Rte 66 sign across from the Art Institute of Chicago at Adams Street and Michigan Avenue. ( J Jacobs photo)
Rte 66 sign across from the Art Institute of Chicago at Adams Street and Michigan Avenue. ( J Jacobs photo)

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.


Springfield, IL

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.

Visitors join the Lincoln family at the museum in Springfield. 9J Jacobs photo)
Visitors join the Lincoln family at the museum in Springfield. 9J Jacobs photo)

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.

Yes it's OK to touch Lincoln's nose at his tomb. ( Jacobs photo)
Yes it’s OK to touch Lincoln’s nose at his tomb. ( Jacobs photo)

Lincoln’s home, operated by the National Park Service, is currently available virtually but the neighborhood can be toured.

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.

Springfield is home to a fine example of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture. (J Jacobs photo)s
Springfield is home to a fine example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. (J Jacobs photo)

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.

Lincoln's New Salem. (J Jacobs photo)
Lincoln’s New Salem. (J Jacobs photo)

Save time to see Lincoln’s New Salem.  It is a terrific reconstructed village about 20 minutes northwest of Springfield on IL Hwy 97.  Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site has been recreated with the timbered homes and stores that existed when a young Abe Lincoln worked there.

Where to stayVisit 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.

For more information see Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau and  State Historic Sites Springfield.

 

 

 

Spring Vacation Destination Part One: Golf

Famed 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. (J Jacobs photo)
Famed 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. (J Jacobs photo)

If watching The Players Championship, a major golf tournamentheld at TPC Sawgrass this weekend, you will constantly see shots of its famous island hole. Ponte Vedra, FL,

A place to try a copycat hole is a short distance west at the World Golf Village near St. Augustine. WGV is akin to Hollywood for movie buffs.

The island hole replicated at the World Golf Village. (J Jacobs photo)
The island hole replicated at the World Golf Village. (J Jacobs photo)

 

If playing golf, picking up anecdotes about golf and walking where legendary golfers have walked gets the adrenalin going, put the Sawgrass Marriott Resort Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. or Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fla. on your vacation list.

Sawgrass Clubhouse may not look as you expected. It's worth a visit. ( J Jacobs photo)
Sawgrass Clubhouse may not look as you expected. It’s worth a visit. ( J Jacobs photo)

TPC Sawgrass

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.

Visiting the Golf Hall of Fame at the World Golf Village ( J Jacobs photo)
Visiting the Golf Hall of Fame at the World Golf Village ( J Jacobs photo)

World Golf Village

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.

Exploring the Golf Hall of Fame (J Jacobs photo)
Exploring the Golf Hall of Fame (J Jacobs photo)

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.

Visit St. Augustine, FL (J Jacobs photo)
Visit St. Augustine, FL (J Jacobs photo)

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.

Birds flock to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine ( J Jacobs photo)
Birds flock to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine ( J Jacobs photo)

 

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

 

Go to AZ for MLB spring training and warm weather

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.

Chicago Cubs (J Jacpbs photo)
Chicago Cubs (J Jacpbs photo)

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.

Go to spring training and wave your Chiago Whtie Sox cap. (M Temkin photo)
Go to spring training and wave your Chicago Whtie Sox cap. (M Temkin photo)

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 mesa@cubs.com. The Cubs regular season begins April 1 when they play the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.

White Sox  open at home against the Brewers, Feb. 28 then away against the Angels March 1.  For help in getting there visit Trip Planner. For more ticket, protocols and other information visit White Sox Spring Training.

The Sox play their first game away against the Angels on April 1 and are away until they play KC at home on April 8. For the regular season information visit White Sox Tickets. and Schedule.

Related 2020 articles with town and stadium color:

Take a spring training vacation

Spring training at Wrigleyville-West

Enjoy spring at Camelback Ranch or Sloan Park

 

Go to van Gogh

Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)
Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)

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.

Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)
Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)

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.

Open House Chicago becomes a travel experience in person or from home

Pui Tok Center Chinatown. (Photo courtesy of Flicker Acct Jasmeet)
Pui Tok Center Chinatown. (Photo courtesy of Flicker Acct Jasmeet)

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.

Givins Castle in Beverly (Photo by Eric Allix Rogers)
Givins Castle in Beverly (Photo by Eric Allix Rogers)

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.

Enjoy!

 

 

Fall getaway tips to Northwest Michigan coast

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (J Jacobs photo)
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (J Jacobs photo)

It’s not too early to plan a fall getaway.

When

Avoid the heavy road traffic of Labor Day Weekend by taking your well-deserved escape mid-September to mid-October.

Where

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.

What

Some of the best snapshots can be found at the region’s lighthouses: Frankfort North Breakwater,  Grand Traverse and Mission Point.

Old Mission Lighthouse is on the 45th parallel. (J Jacobs photo)
Old Mission Lighthouse is on the 45th parallel. (J Jacobs photo)

Some of the best driving and hiking trails are at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Some of the best fun shops are at Leland and Fishtown on the west side of the Leelanau Peninsula on Lake Michigan and Suttons Bay on that peninsula’s east side on Grand Traverse Bay.

Historic Fishtown at Leland on the Leelanau Peninsula. (J Jacobs photo)
Historic Fishtown at Leland on the Leelanau Peninsula. (J Jacobs photo)

Save time to do: Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail and Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail.

Lodging

To be near and actually at the Sleeping Bear Dunes I like the Homestead, a condo and lodge style resort with great views and beach and wonderful sunsets.

To spend time on the Leelanau Peninsula I recommend Black Star Farms. It’s a combo winery and B&B with gourmet breakfasts and wine before going out for dinner.

For more lodging choices and things to do visit Traverse City.com.

 

Related: Vines and vistas make a great fall getaway

Cabin fever relief

Deer Path Inn, a historic Tudor style resort hotel in north suburban Lake Forest. (J Jacobs photo)
Deer Path Inn, a historic Tudor style resort hotel in north suburban Lake Forest. (J Jacobs photo)

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

 

Travel updates for Chicago park and Galena ice cream and National Civil Rights Museum

Now is a good time to plan a visit close to home, a day’s drive out or a little further away because lots of travel destinations are beginning to open and gas is still in the budget range.

"Coud Gate" (The Bean) reflects people and skyline in Millennium Park. (J Jacobs photo)
“Cloud Gate” (The Bean) reflects people and skyline in Millennium Park. (J Jacobs photo)

Chicago

Restaurants and bars have opened their outdoor seating areas. Among them is The Loyalist at 177 N. Ada Street near Randolph Row. It has had walk-ins but will likely be taking reservations beginning Wednesday, June 24,2020. If you go: expect more French style choices.

Millennium Park and Lakefront

Yes, you can visit Cloud Gate (The Bean). If you go: take selfies and don’t touch it. Most of Millennium Park is open but masks are encouraged as is social distancing.

The same goes for the lakefront which isopen as of today, June 22, 2020 to movers, not sitters. that means walkers, joggers, cyclists.

 

The historic town of Galena, IL has yummy shops and good festivals. (J Jacobs photo)
The historic town of Galena, IL has yummy shops and good festivals. (J Jacobs photo)

Galena

Tucked into northwestern Illinois near the Wisconsin and Iowa borders is the charming town of Galena. There are lots of good B&B and restaurant choices because rolling hills, historic homes and fun shops make the town a popular summer (and fall) destination.

If you go:  stop at the American Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, the Fried Green Tomatoes  restaurant and Galena Cellars.

Lorraine Hotel site of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. (J Jacobs photo)
Lorraine Hotel site of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. (J Jacobs photo)

National Civil Rights Museum

Memphis, TN has a lot to offer as vacation destination. However, if interested in understanding more about the global Black Lives Matter movement  then  visit to the famed museum based at the Lorraine Motel, 450 Mulberry St, where Martin Luther King Jr was shot. The museum plans to reopen July 1, 2020.

If you go: you will need a timed ticket and have to wear a face covering. For tickets and other information visit National Civil Rights Museum.

 

 

See great American museums from very old to new and historic to live

 

T-Rex Susie and other dinosaurs reside at the Field Museum. (J Jacobs photo)
T-Rex Susie and other dinosaurs reside at the Field Museum. (J Jacobs photo)

Settle in for an unusual video that takes viewers from the Charleston Museum founded in 1773 to when Chicago’s Field Museum obtained Sue in 1990.

Thanks to “Riches Rivals and Radicals: 100 Years of Museums in America”  a part of the Great Museums film series, you can travel from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “live” museum to the 2004 Smithsonian Museum of The American Indian with stopovers at the National Museum of Air and Space, The Isabella Stewart Gardener in Boston, the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio and the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Add in NYC’s Met and MOMA, Pittsburgh’s  Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Boston’s Children’s Museum, Michigan’s Greenfield Village, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, the US Memorial Holocaust Museum in D.C., New York’s Botanical Garden, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the National Zoo to see the breadth of the definition of museum and how museum architecture has changed.

It’s all on You Tube, so, refill the morning beverage cup, get comfortable, and visit youtube/watch/feature.

 

 

Visit Chicago to see a zoo or travel by L or see it back in the Forties

 

This animal and others from the Hamill Family Wild Encounters section of Brookfield Zoo are in videos of Bringing the Animals to You. (Brookfield Zoo photo(
This animal and others from the Hamill Family Wild Encounters section of Brookfield Zoo are in videos of Bringing the Animals to You. (Brookfield Zoo photo)

Some Chicago institutions have put terrific videos on Facebook. Here are some videos sure to entertain and are worth sharing.

At Brookfield Zoo, the “Screaming Hairy Armadillo” sounds ferocious but be surprised by it and other zoo inmates. The zoo has several animal video visits on Facebook. Also check Bringing the Zoo to You..

 

Chicago Architecture Foundation uses First Lady for its river tour. (Photo courtesy of CAC)
Chicago Architecture Foundation uses First Lady for its river tour. (Photo courtesy of CAC)

The Chicago Architecture Center also has several good videos ranging from a WTTW Geoffrey Baer L visit and its architecture boat ride to an old film of the city in the 1940s.  

Chicago’s ‘L,’ the nickname for the city’s elevated tracks (although not all are elevated,) takes riders through colorful neighborhoods.

It’s fun to see the trailer of the recently released documentary, “Geoffrey Baer’s Chicago” (WTTW). Find the trailer at the Chicago Architecture Center’s facebook page or go to Geoffrey Baer’s Chicago or WTTW-Chicago PBS or interactive WTTW.

Of course CAC is known for its Chicago River Cruise. So hop on board at this chiarchitecture/video.

Another good CAC site has a  Metro Goldwyn Mayer film of Chicago in the 1940s. Go back in time to  this chiarchitecture video site.

For youtube videos of the city visit Chicago Architecture Center/videos.

 Enjoy!