Two smart winter ideas near Chicago

 

When Chicago’s winter gets going that’s the time to head to the Morton Arboretum for an indoor miniature train exhibit and an outdoor husky sledding event or to the Chicago Botanic Garden to breath moist air in its greenhouses or enjoy Asian orchids.

Visit Husky Heroes at the Morton Arboretum. Morton Arb photo
Visit Husky Heroes at the Morton Arboretum. Morton Arb photoMorton Arboretum

 

Morton Arboretum

An Enchanted Railroad is zipping around at family-friendly height at the Morton Arboretum now through Feb. 19, 2018. Viewing is ticketed so if at the Arboretum during those days stop at the Visitor Center Desk to get a timed ticket. The event is weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Or go over to the Arboretum Jan. 27-28 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to see Husky Heroes. Siberian dogs will be pulling sleds and posing for pictures. Demos are typically 11:30 a.m., 12:45, 2 and 3:15 p.m.  Also visit Adopt a Husky.

The Morton Arboretum is at 4100 IL Hwy 53, Lisle. For other information call (630) 968-0074  and visit Morton Arb.

 

Chicago Botanic Garden

A favorite place for people in the know who can’t fly to warmer climes is the desert or one of the other greenhouses at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Others dress for the outdoors and exercise by exploring the Botanic Garden’s paths.

However, orchid lovers will likely be heading there beginning Feb. 10 to see 10,000 of those exotic plants in the Asian Orchid Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. The show goes through March 25, 2018. For a special treat plan on Orchids After Hours on Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m. For tickets and more information visit CBG Orchid. Or go to Chicago Botanic Garden and call (847) 835-5440 (or 6801)

Visit the greenhouses at the Chicago Botanic Garden for a breath of warm air. Chicago Botanic Garden photo.
Visit the greenhouses at the Chicago Botanic Garden for a breath of warm air. Chicago Botanic Garden photo.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd.,  Glencoe.

Parks and Recreation, not the sitcom

 

From Cubs Spring Training to spring festivals, Chicago area parks and gardens are celebrating the season with fun shows and events

 

Celebrate the World Series Cubs at Garfield Park conservatory's Spring Training show. Chicago Park District photo
Celebrate the World Series Cubs at Garfield Park Conservatory’s Spring Training show. Chicago Park District photo

Cubs Spring Training

Mesa isn’t the only place to find Cubs logos and icons. The Chicago Park District’ has turned its  historic Garfield Park Conservatory’s Show House into a celebration of baseball and the World Series Champions for its annual Spring Flower Show.

This year the theme is Spring Training. Visitors will see Wrigley Field’s marquee, bleachers, ivy-covered wall and a huge World Series trophy. The “Spring Training” show even includes an icon scavenger hunt.

Opened February 18, the show continues through May 14, 2017. Garfield Park Conservatory is at 300 N. Central. For more information visit Garfield Park Conservatory or call (312) 746-5100.

 

Orchid Show

You can still wander among thousands of gorgeous orchids at Chicago Botanic Garden. The annual Orchid Show continues through March 26, 2017. The Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., east of Edens Expressway,  Glencoe. Admission is free. Non-member parking is $25 per car. For more information visit CBG and call (847) 835-5440

 

Chicago Flower and Garden Show

You can find inspiration for your garden whether it’s a handkerchief-sized patch, a walkway or a personal hide-away at Chicago’s annual Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier, March 18-26, 2017. The theme is Chicago Neighborhoods. There are 20 gardens to walk around  including some with water features and others with sculptures. In addition the show has seminars, a market section, workshops and family activities.

The show is upstairs in festival Hall A and B. Tickets are $5 children, $15 weekdays and $17 weekends.  Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. For more information visit Flower Show.

 

Maple Syrup Festival at NPV

Watch the magic that turns sap tapped from a maple tree into maple syrup at the North Park village Nature center March 25, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. North Park Village Nature Center.  A free event, the festival also includes crafts, storytelling and music. North Park Village Nature center is at 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.  For more information visit NPV or call (312) 744-5472.

 

Holiday Happenings when not interested in Black Friday or Cyber Monday

Macy’s Windows, Walnut Room Tree and SantaLand

Macy's Great Tree Photo by Debbie Jacobs
Macy’s Great Tree
Photo by Debbie Jacobs

Youngsters and adults press their noses to the windows of Macy’s on State Street to see holiday stories and wonderful winter animation scenes. Already attracting passers by, the scenes will be up through Jan. 8, 2017. While there go up to the 7th floor to see the Great Tree in the Walnut Room. It’s a dazzling two-story-high tree emblazened with 6,600 lights and 2,000 ornaments. Walnut Room lines can be long but there is quicker seating in the bar area where you still can see the tree. Youngsters who want to visit Santa at his Cozy Cloud Cottage, go to SantaLand on the 5th floor. It’s open until Dec. 24, 2016.

Macy’s on State is 111 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60602. For other information call (312) 781-1000 and see visit Chicago Macy’s.

 

Art Institute Thorne Rooms

First take a selfie outside the museum with the museum’s famous lions. They are wreathed for the holidays. Inside, go downstairs to peek into 68 tiny, doll-house-sized rooms. Holiday decorations added to nearly a dozen of them on Nov. 22, 2016 will stay there through Jan. 8, 2017.. Constructed to mirror different styles and periods in Europe and the United States, furnishings are sized one inch to the foot. Tip: Look for Frank Lloyd Wright’s William Martin House’s breakfast room that is included for the first time this year.

The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 South Michigan Ave.,  Chicago, Illinois 60603. For other information call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC Thorne Rooms.

 

Wonderland  Express

See millions of lights glistening as you approach the Chicago Botanic Garden from Lake Cook Road in north suburban Glencoe. Inside the Regenstein Center, tiny trains pass through miniature villages in the first room. But save lots of time for the great room where trains rush overhead and ground level past Chicago landmarks. Gently falling snow indoors sets a festive, winter mood. Continue through to see more trains and landmarks in what looks like a train station. But don’t forget the greenhouses. Decorated with gorgeous poinsiettas they are back by the Wonderland’s entrance. Everything is up from Nov. 25- Jan. 2, 2017. However, for special events go to hear caroling mornings Nov. 25-27 and see ice sculpting mid-day Dec. 11.

Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland Express. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland Express. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022. For other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit Wonderland Express.

 

Botanic Garden hosts “Jack-o-Lanterns” now and “Trains, Tricks, Treats, next weekend

Go to the Chicago Botanic Garden for a really unusual night time path walk, this weekend or go next weekend to see the Model Railroad Garden turn ghostly for its seasonal farewell.

Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns

For a different Halloween experience you can still snag a ticket to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Jack-o’-Lantern celebration. That is if you and your kids don’t mind going late. Tickets still available tonight, Oct. 22, from 10 to 11 p.m. and Sunday Oct. 23 from 9:30 to 11 p.m.

Celebrate Halloween this weekend and next at the Chicago Botanic Garden. CBG Photo
Celebrate Halloween this weekend and next at the Chicago Botanic Garden. CBG Photo

More than a thousand pumpkins, all hand-carved as Chicago places, Halloween characters and garden “oh, ohs” (think Willis tower, Dracula and Venus flytrap) plus Day of the Dead-style artwork, will line a festival path. The path also passes Halloween dressed characters and goes through the Model Railroad garden where there are ghostly trains. Goodies can be bought on the Esplanade before taking the path. More food is available at the Fruit and Vegetable Garden.

Best plan is to buy tickets online ahead of time and bring the confirmation with you. The website says “sold out” but a call to the garden revealed that some tickets were still available at this printing. But tickets may be purchased at the Garden’s Information desk if still available.

Tickets are $14 adult members, $16 nonmembers, children ages three to 12 are $12 and $14, free to children age 2 and under. Parking is free to members. Nonmember parking can be bought in advance. Visit Night for 1000 Jack-o’-Lantern for more info.

Trains, Tricks and Treats

Or celebrate Halloween at the Botanic Garden next weekend, Oct. 29-30. The event marks the last chance to visit the Model Railroad Garden this year. Expect more than the usual trains. It will be decked out with spider webs, ghosts and goblins. Look for tiny trick-or-treaters and even bats in the scenery. Families can dress for trick or treat and find treats and treasures along the way.

Adults $ 6, seniors $5, children 3–12 yrs $4 age 2 and under, free. Members get $1 discount. For other information visit Trains. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022. For other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit CBG

 

Another reason to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden

Drive into the Chicago botanic Garden on Lake Cook Road in Glencoe but instead of trying to park in the lot closest to the Information entrance, turn left into Lot 6. That’s because the Garden, a 385-acre fun destination any time of year, has a new attraction worth exploring as of Sept. 10, 2016.

Youngsters climb, roll and explore a new nature play area at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo: Jodie Jacobs
Youngsters climb, roll and explore a new nature play area at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo: Jodie Jacobs

Its  new, three-plus acre area bears the lofty title of Regenstein Learning Campus, however, the grounds are a place to play and explore.

Youngsters roll down grassy mounds, wriggle through tree trunk tunnels and splash along a  shallow, winding rivulet in the Nature Play Garden reminiscent of  TV’s “Teletubby” landscape.

Other connected outside areas can be visited but are used for pre-school and older activities and for aquatic learning. Inside the Learning Campus building are preschool spaces, a room outfitted with microscopes and a kitchen for food demonstrations.

This is where some of the family drop-in activities will happen Saturdays and Sundays Sept. 17 through Oct. 23, 2016 and probably the family weekend classes that  make gingerbread and coca in December.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022. For parking and other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit CBG.

 

How to beat January cabin fever blues

Wait until Groundhog Day Feb. 2 to find out when Spring will come or try one of these four remedies.

Cabin fever? It’s early January but cold and snow have already moved Spring up high on the wish list.

We can wait with fingers crossed until Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, 2015, to hear what Punxsutawney Phil has to say in Pennsylvania or Woodstock Willie in Illinois when they predict Spring’s coming. Or we can bring spring closer with these steps.

Woodstock Willie predicted lots more winter last year
Woodstock Willie predicted lots more winter last year

1. Go to the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show Jan. 17-18 to collect ideas and colorful brochures on places to go for spring or summer vacation. The show is in the west suburban Donald E, Stephens convention center in Rosemont. Turn it into a mini break by staying at the nearby Loews Hotel near the upscale Fashion Outlet mall.

2. Breath deeply a botanic garden’s indoor spaces. The Chicago area has the historic impressive Garfield Park Conservatory west of the downtown Loop and the lovely Lincoln Park Conservatory north of the Loop.  In the northern burbs there are lush tropical and flowering desert plants in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s greenhouses in Glencoe.

Feast the eyes on colorful plants and breath warm air inside a greenhouse when outside temps dips way below freezing.
Feast the eyes on colorful plants and breath warm air inside a greenhouse when outside temps dips way below freezing.

3. Host a Super Bowl party with a desert theme. NFL’s Super Bowl XLIX is February 1 in sunny Arizona at the U Of Phoenix stadium, Glendale. Turn up the heat, wear shorts, serve margaritas and be inspired by some of Phoenix’s Mexican restaurant menus.

4. Or just celebrate winter with a trip to Lake Geneva, WI for the National Snow Sculpting Championship the last weekend in January. Teams come from across the United State to sculpt amazing, fantastical forms and vignettes.  The town will be celebrating Winterfest with lots of food and fun. Stay the weekend at the Grand Geneva Resort for its ski slopes and spa.

Extend summer by doing something special Labor Day weekend

Take advantage of that extra day off work for a last-minute vacation.

Take advantage of that extra day off work for a last-minute vacation.

Fit in a Door County vacation to end the summer
Fit in a Door County vacation to end the summer

Door County, a Wisconsin peninsula separating Green Bay from Lake Michigan, is about 3 ½ hours north of Chicago. This is a place to just kick back, hike and bike the state parks and visit art galleries.

However, for a special treat, try to snag a ticket to “Grand Eloquence,” the peninsula’s last classical chamber concert of the summer season, Sept. 2 at 3 p.m. and plan to return home late Monday afternoon.

The concert is a repeat of one that sold out early in the series that is held in a fabulous, Gatsby-style, 35,000 square foot Ellison Bay estate.  The program is Gustav Mahler’s Quartet Movement in A minor for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano.

A dressy casual  (no shorts or flip flops) event, catered by Alexander’s of Door County, the concert benefits United Way of Door County and Midsummer’s Music Festival. Tickets are $150. For more information call 920-854-7088 and visit Midsummer Music.

Or, for summer’s waning days, plan trips to the northern suburbs of Chicago.

Check out butterflies or stroll the paths at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Check out butterflies or stroll the paths at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Visit the Chicago Botanic Garden. A butterfly is sure to land on your shoulder at “Butterflies and Blooms” in the garden’s net-enclosure. But the happening ends Sept. 2.

Fit in a visit to Long Grove. A historic village, settled in the mid-1800s, the town is home to such tasty shops as Long Grove Confectionery. However, it also has stores that carry wares from Italy, Ireland and other countries. Labor Day weekend features “Long Grove Around the World” to celebrate those shops.

Cap the weekend off with a picnic on the lawn and  concert at Ravinia Festival.

You can still picnic under the trees at Ravinia or get a dinner music package on Labor Day Weekend
You can still picnic under the trees at Ravinia or get a dinner music package on Labor Day Weekend

At Ravinia, hear violinist Johnny Gandelsman  play selections by Bach, Stravinsky, Glass and Biber Sept. 1 or pianist David Fung play Ravel, Scarlatti, Rachmaninoff Beethoven Sept. 2. Both concerts are 6 p.m. in Bennett Gordon Hall. Dinner packages are available. For tickets and more information visit Ravinia.

Photos (C) Jodie Jacobs