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.
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.
Take a fall color break. Green is a fine summer color but to celebrate the change of season to autumn, drive to northern Wisconsin now or wait a couple of weeks to mid October. That’s when the scenery in southeast Wisconsin blends gold with copper and ruby reds.
But you need to make room or camp reservations now because places such as Door County and even Bay Field further north that are both only beginning to change, are already putting up “sold out” signs. Another popular destination is Eagle River.
The Iron River area Three Lakes show Land O Lakes and Minocqua already have high color
Don’t wait until you can’t reserve a room or camp site in Michigan. The state’s fall color map is already showing blazing color in the UP and rapidly changing leaves from the middle of the state north.
Here are just a couple of ideas to get you started.
The state, in itself, is a travel destination so you hardly can go wrong no matter where you decide to go but consider where you want to headquarter and when you can go.
Local volunteers have been taking visitors and residents through neighborhoods, popular tour sites and lesser known gem locations since 2002.
To celebrate them on the 6th Annual International Greeter Day the city is inviting the public to Explore Chicago Sept 18, 2021 with any of three personalized guided classic tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT.
The tours: The Loop, Historic Chinatown and Chicago Riverwalk, will meet at Millennium Park at the southwest tent that borders the great lawn. Scavenger hunt experiences will be included at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. Tours are free and pre-registration is not required. Walk-ups are welcome.
In addition to the International Greeters Day event, Chicago Greeters have launched three new initiatives 2021.
Welcome to Our Neighborhood Walks
Led by diverse groups and organizations, the tours highlight community’s unique stories, top attractions and under-the-radar finds.
Instagreeter Downtown Meet Ups
Designed to offer visitors a quick, flexible tour option, these one-hour tours of Chicago’s downtown Loop neighborhood depart from the Chicago Cultural Center’s Welcome Center on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with no reservation required.
Self-Guided Greeter Tours
Presented by Bank of America, these self-guided itineraries provide visitors and locals with curated, virtual tours designed by local experts to showcase each neighborhood’s unique history, culture and hidden gems. Through video, blog, and social content, this series spotlights six Chicago neighborhoods.
For more information about the Chicago Greeters program, visit Chicago Greeter.
If not interested in flying or taking a long driving trip this Labor Day Weekend, consider making Navy Pier your destination.
Now that Hilton has built The Sable Hotel on Navy Pier, it makes sense to stay where fireworks fill the sky Wednesdays and Saturdays through Labor Day Weekend, delicious dishes please all ages, music and entertainment is free on the Lake Stage and the Beer Garden, movies are shown at the Lake Stage Lawn in Polk Park across the Pier’s entrance through \August, and the Centennial Wheel is a ride you’ll want to take each day of the stay.
After dining at Harry Carey’s Tavern or Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Bar and Grill, take in the views and while sipping well-crafted cocktails at the Offshore Rooftop and Bar, possibly the country’s larges rooftop terrace.
If there Aug. 28, 2021 spend the evening at Navy Pier’s Lake Stage to watch Resurgence, a program showcasing Chicago’s black dance companies. Look for times, tickets and other entertainment options at Cultural Attractions & Public Spaces.
If getting out on the water that lies just outside your door is too tempting to miss while staying so close, check the cruises that pull right up to the Pier.