The Wright trip for stage and scenery

Peck's Farm Market is a definite stop when visiting Spring Green in Wisconsin. (J Jacobs photo)
Peck’s Farm Market is a definite stop when visiting Spring Green in Wisconsin. (J Jacobs photo)

A fall vacation that is not the same-old, same-old awaits 189 miles (about 3 hrs., 20 min.) northwest of Chicago in Spring Green, WI.

Water bottles, check. pillow ( I like mine), check. Phone, cords and bathing suit, check. Well, there is a lap pool at The House on the Rock Resort, my weekend retreat.

On the agenda is see a show at American Players Theatre which everyone calls APT,  tour Wright’s Taliesin, explore the hilly countryside and stop at Peck’s Farm Market East on the way home for yummy, fresh corn. The town is surrounded by farmland so visitors will be treated to true farm-to-table products that are not just a nod to today’s popular menu phrases. Continue reading “The Wright trip for stage and scenery”

Vines and Vistas make a great fall getaway

Think Traverse City for a fall getaway.
Think Traverse City for a fall getaway.

 

Maybe it’s the talk of the Chicago Bears’ training camp. Or maybe it’s the ads for back-to-school supplies and end-of-summer sales. All of a sudden I’m thinking about where to go for a fall getaway that is withing six hours of Chicago.  Planning the trip now helps get through the “dog days” of summer.

Continue reading “Vines and Vistas make a great fall getaway”

Five fall getaway tips

A back road drive in Door County.
A back road drive in Door County.

The itch to getaway to a colorful scenic vista is upon us. The weather is showing signs of fall with warm days and cool nights and some trees in the neighborhood are beginning to show tinges of gold and orange. But before you throw a suitcase in the car and drive off there are a few tips that could up the fall color experience.

 

1.Don’t use your neighborhood color changes as the definitive guide. Colors in states or area of your state to the north and west may be in full fall color palette or just beginning to change south or east. In the US check fall foliage map or weather map for where the foliage is turning. Some states have color reports. Among the best in the Midwest is Wisconsin.

2.Make accommodation reservations ahead of time. You’re not alone when looking for a fall destination but to avoid bumper-to bumper traffic go during the week, not om the weekend.

3. Take advantage of local Visitors Bureaus to find the best place for what you want. . As an example, Door County in northeastern Wisconsin, and Traverse City in northern Michigan (below the Upper Peninsula) and Brown County (Bloomington and Nashville) in central Indiana keep tabs on what is available and know price points and type. The visitors centers’ websites also show where pets are welcome. Also stop at the Visitors Center for a map, brochures and suggestions because GPS will work some places but not all.

4. Because you are driving, not flying, throw those extra boots, hiking shoes, jackets, sun protector hats and sprays, water bottles, first-aid kits and backpacks into the car. Don’t be afraid to bring your own pillow for a good night’s sleep.

5. Don’t forget chargers for phones, ipads, cameras or whatever other electronics you take everywhere. Also check your accommodations before you leave, they already have enough chargers from previous visitors.

Enjoy!

Jodie Jacobs

 

An unexpectedly grand trip

 

Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids reconnects the past. (Photos by Jodie Jacobs
Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids reconnects the past. (Photos by Jodie Jacobs

 

Picture a Midwestern river town that celebrates a favorite son with a presidential museum, its furniture history with a public museum, its appreciation of sculpture with an amazing garden and appreciation of art with a mega fall fair that awards half a million dollars in prizes.

Grand Rapids, Mi., a former U.S. furniture hub on the Grand River and childhood home of Gerald R. Ford is fun to visit year round. But come in the fall when the colors paint the scenery and  ArtPrize paints the town. An art fair where the public gets to votes and thus, choose where some of the prize money goes, ArtPrize attracts artists from across the globe and visitors from across North America.

 

Sometimes ArtPrize works can be seen in the Grand River and on its bridges.
Sometimes ArtPrize works can be seen in the Grand River and on its bridges.

 

Unlike fine art exhibits that are confined indoors to one museum or outside to a single city plaza or street, ArtPrize blankets Grand Rapids from banks to bistros and breweries to bridges.

Because works are displayed throughout the city visitors walk through buildings and neighborhoods they may not normally get to on a brief vacation.

For ArtPrize 2018, the numbers as of mid-August were 1,417 artists working on 1,271 entries at 166 venues. The event runs from Sept. 19 through Oct. 7.

Among the places that have been venues in past years but are destinations anyway to put on the must visit list are the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the Public Museum across the road from it downtown on the river and the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on the eastern outskirts of town.

 

This opera house is on an old Grand Rapids street inside the PUblic Museum
This opera house is on an old Grand Rapids street inside the Public Museum.

 

At the Ford Presidential Museum learn more about Watergate and Ford’s time in Congress, in the White House and at the University of Michigan. The museum is at 303 Pearl St. NW. Gerald Ford and wife Betty are buried on the grounds.

Cross the road to the Public Museum, 272 Pearl St., NW  to browse through rooms of native American artifacts, treasured examples from when the town was the US furniture hub, stroll through some old Grand Rapids streets, sit at consoles as an astronaut and ride a 1928 Spillman Carousel.

Save time to visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

 

Sown a Sculpture Park path look for a Henry Moore.
Sown a Sculpture Park path look for a Henry Moore.

 

Amble through the Sculpture Park and inside the main building to discover more than 200 pieces by well-known artists. Around every curve in the path come across works by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Jean Arp, Richard Hunt Anish Kapoor, Claes Oldenburg, Jaume Plensa and other pieces to photograph and put on Facebook or Instagram.

There is also a terrific children’s garden that adults would love and a peaceful Japanese Garden.  The Meijer Gardens are at 1000 East Beltline Ave NE.

 

BTW Grand Rapids is a good stop on the way up to Traverse City or when doing a triangle that includes Holland and Grand Haven, MI.

 

 

 

 

Visit Great Smoky Mountains for fall color and terrific crafts

 

I love all parts of Tennessee but if you only have time for a color drive through one section you won’t go wrong choosing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers more than 800 miles of well-maintained hiking trails and wonderful fall color. (Tennessee Tourism photo)
Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers more than 800 miles of well-maintained hiking trails and wonderful fall color. (Tennessee Tourism photo)

BTW if you see bear cubs, pull to the side to take photos because “bear jams” instead of ordinary fall color “peeps” make it hard for people merely driving through the park from Nashville to get to Ashevill, NC.

Put Sugarlands Visitors Center (above Gatlinburg) into your GPS to start the color drive. It’s a short drive south of Gatlinburg on US 441.

Ask there about road closures. You should be able to continue up to Clingman’s Dome for an amazing view and a fun picture op

At 5,048 feet you can stand with one foot in Tennessee and the other in North Carolina. The Tower is closed but the parking lot which also has great views is open.

After going back down to Gatlinburg, drive the eight-mile Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community loop on Glades and Buckhorn Roads.

The art in the studios complement the park’s natural wonders.

You are likely to return home with great photos and probably a well-turned bowl or gorgeous painting.

For more information call (865) 436-1200 or visit the park headquarters at 107 Park Headquarters Road Gatlinburg, TN 37738.

 

For fall color drive along the other Minnesota river

 

Pair fall color with a town worth at least one overnight stay and a drive that is scenic any time of year.

Take a paddle boat excursion on the St. Croix River. (Jodie Jacobs photo)
Take a paddle boat excursion on the St. Croix River. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

A fun getaway is to drive along the St Croix National Scenic Waterway and Lake Superior’s North Shore after first starting in Stillwater, MI.

Overlooking the St. Croix River on the Minnesota side of a waterway that also borders Wisconsin, Stillwater has several historic B and B’s, antique shops and cafes.

I stayed at the Rivertown Inn for its romantic rooms, great breakfasts and charming hosts. However, there are several other good B&Bs.

A good way to see color from the town is a paddle boat excursion.

When ready to look for a long color drive, head north on Highway 95 to follow the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Both sides of the highway are state parks. The scenic byway goes from Point Douglas near Hastings to north of Sandstone, MN.

If you didn’t take a paddle boat in Stillwater you can do so from the Minnesota side of Taylors Falls. From Taylors Falls continue north on M35 and then I 35 to Duluth where you pick up M61 along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

The route takes you to Grand Marais. The North Shore is a nationally designated “All American Drive” for its scenic overlooks, fall color, hiking trails and waterfalls. Be sure to make an overnight reservation ahead of time.

A fun lodge is the Naniboujou.  Or check out the lodges at the William Obrien State Park site.  For more information visit Explore Minnesota.

Remember to charge the phone because lots of good photos await.

 

 

Five fall trips where color is just part of the draw

 

Now that leaves on a few trees are changing is the time to figure out where to go to see spectacular color in a few weeks and next month.

 

Ephraim in the fall in Door County, WI. Door County Visitors Bureau photo
Ephraim in the fall in Door County, WI.
Door County Visitors Bureau photo

But if you don’t want to merely drive some place for fall color and then head back home then consider a vacation destination with great views, hiking, biking, fun shops and lots of lodging and dining choices.

 

 

 

 

 

Where: Door County, Wisconsin, near Green Bay

 

Why:

 

    • ·         Good hiking and biking in state parks
    • ·         Really good art galleries
    • ·         Fun crafts and clothes shopping
    • ·         Excellent dining choices
    • ·         Beautiful views of Lake Michigan and Green Bay

.        Lots of lodging choices

More information at Door Vacation and Door County

 

 

Where: Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois

 

Why:

  • ·         Scenic overlooks, hilly terrain and interesting stone formations
  • ·         Good hiking, biking in Giant City State Park
  • ·         Shawnee Wine Trail tastings
  • ·         Makanda, a delightful artist comunity

More information at Shawnee National ForestShawnee Wine TrailGiant City State Park and Makanda.

Explore the back roads of Brown County in the fall. Brown County photo
Explore the back roads of Brown County in the fall. Brown County photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where: Brown County, Bloomington area

 

 

 

Why:

  • ·         Good hiking, biking and horseback riding in Brown County State Park
  • ·         Fun crafts shops in Nashville
  • ·         Scenic hills and Hoosier National Forest
  • ·         Renown architecture in nearby Columbus
  • .         Indiana University has a beautiful campus (go on a non-football weekend)

More information at Brown County State ParkHoosier National Forest and Columbus.

 

 

Where: Wisconsin Dells on the Wisconsin River

 

Why:

  • .     Good river boat scenery
  • .     Nice hikes
  • .     Fun water-parks for kids
  • .     Interesting photo museum in town
  • .     Circus World in nearby Baraboo

More information at Fall colors Wisconsin Dells, Baraboo,  and fall color advantage.

Traverse City area puts on a color show each fall. TC Visitors Bureau photo
Traverse City area puts on a color show each fall.
TC Visitors Bureau photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where: Traverse City/Sleeping Bear Dunes  in northern Michigan below the UP

 

 

Why:

  • ·         Good hiking in a scenic national park
  • ·         Excellent wine trails
  • ·         Wonderful dining choices
  • ·         Beautiful views of Lake Michigan and Traverse Bay.

More information at fall color trip, Traverse City/Sleeping Bear and Traverse

 

 

Fall color tips:  For current Midwest color reports go directly to a state’s tourism site.

Wisconsin’s suggested scenic drives are at Travel Wisconsin.

Michigan is at Michigan.org and at Fall Color Tours.

Minnesota is at MNUS and Explore Minnesota.

Illinois is at Enjoy Illinois and ILUS.

Indiana is at Visit Indiana and Hoosier fall color. http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/hoosier/docs/fallcolor.htm

 

Have a fun, safe trip!

 

 

 

 

 

Fall color information and trip

Even though leaves are already beginning to change, only a few places on the US border with Canada reach peak color in September. The problem is that when trees are ablaze with reds and golds in mid-October the roads are often clogged with what some locals in famed fall states call “leaf peepers.”

Fall is a wonderful time to take a drive. Traverse City Tourism photo
Fall is a wonderful time to take a drive. Traverse City Tourism photo

One way to avoid some of the traffic and find a place to stay is to go during the week, not the weekend. Another, is to go early or late in October instead of the middle weeks.

To help you on your way here are  some sites to check for color and a couple of color drives to take.

 

Sites that monitor fall color

Keep checking these sites for color changes:

Weather fall foliage is at weather maps.

The Federal Forest Service is at Forest Service fall colors

The University of Illinois Extension site has links to several states’ fall color reports and some suggested drives at Extension Illinois

Leaves are just beginning to change color in the Traverse City area of Michigan.
Leaves are just beginning to change color in the Traverse City area of Michigan. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

 

Color drives and wine tasting await in Traverse City, MI

Called TC by residents and frequent vacationers to the  Grand Traverse Bay area, Traverse City is known as the Cherry Capital  in spring and summer. So if you go up there pick up some chocolate covered ones or the preserves.

However, in fall go for the color, the apples and the wine. Michigan, and particularly the Traverse City area, is known for all three.

All the drives around TC are spectacular as you motor north from the city up the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas because much of that area has OMG hill top views of Traverse Bay’s bright blue water.

But this is also an area of wonderful drives west through forested areas across the Leelanau Peninsula over to Lake Michigan and its Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Among the National Lakeshore routes is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

A great place to stay in the middle of the National Lakeshore is The Homestead, a full service resort with wonderful views and a great location.

If thinking of staying on the Leelanau Peninsula check out Black Star Farms. Its rooms fill quickly with return guests so try to decide early.

Basically a B&B style inn with gourmet breakfasts and a glass of wine to welcome guests, the place is nicely located to drive north to shop and eat in Suttons Bay, explore Northport further up and the lighthouse up at the point. Black Star Farms also has its own wine and is near several other wineries.

Go west from Suttons Bay to the cute town of Leland and its historic Fishtown.

Stop at the General Store on Old Mission Peninsula
Stop at the General Store on Old Mission Peninsula. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The Leelanau Peninsual has several excellent wineries so take the wine trail there. Pause to look across the vineyards towards the bay to snap a photo.

Over on the Old Mission Peninsula, two fun places to stop while doing wine tastings there is the old General Store and the lighthouse. Be sure to have the camera or cell phone ready because, well, just go, you’ll see.

 

Thoughts on where to stay

Some of the wineries on Old Mission  have accommodations but there are several good adult lodging choices in TC Including the Wellington Inn B&B  and the Park Place Hotel. Families might like the Sugar Beach Resort Hotel because it has an indoor pool, game room and comp’d breakfast. But the TC area has enough different type accommodations to suit every budget and lifestyle. Same is true for restaurants because the area is a year-round destination.

Start planning now for your fall getaway. Have fun!

 

 

Enjoy fall color as a day trip from Chicago

Stroll among paths of gold. Hike where every turn reveals another photo op. See the countryside on an old train or find a new scenic vista. Just go. Get out there where the leaves are still changing color and the weather isn’t too frosty.

Elegant Farmer

See fall color by boat in Lake Geneva. Photo compliments of Visit Lake Geneva
See fall color by boat in Lake Geneva. Photo compliments of Visit Lake Geneva

Maybe you have seen and tasted delicious apple pies in your grocery store from the Elegant Farmer. But the farm and its bakery, about 90 miles north of Chicago in Mukwonago, WI, is also a fun destination during its Autumn Harvest Festival. Festival hours are Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. now through Oct. 23, 2016.  Along with picking up yummy treats from its store, apples and pumpkins from its fields or taking a hay ride, the Elegant Farmer is one end of the turn-of–the-century’s East Troy Electric Railroad.  The train is a remnant of Wisconsin’s Interurban rail system. Train tickets are $12.50 adults, $10.50 seniors, $8 children age 3-11 and free to under 3. The Elegant Farmer is at 1545 Main Street · Mukwonago, WI 53149 at the crossroad of County Highways ES and J. For other information visit Elegant Farmer and call (262) 363-6770.

Lake Geneva

Cruise Geneva Lake or float over its town of Lake Geneva and the surrounding area in a hot-air balloon. Hike the path around the lake or do the zip line across a colorful tree canopy. There are so many ways to see fall color in Lake Geneva, WI you might decide to stay overnight. However, if you go, you might want to tie it in to the Canopy Tours Fall Festival, Oct. 22 or 23 where you get music, food, pumpkin painting and other activities and can watch the Pumpkin Drop from zip liners  (or participate if you do the zip line event). Lake Geneva is about 90 minutes north west of Chicago. For other information visit Lake Geneva or call (262) 248-9271.

Morton Arboretum

Golden paths await at Morton Arboretum. Photo compliments of Morton Arboretum
Golden paths await at Morton Arboretum. Photo compliments of Morton Arboretum

The Arboretum in west suburban Lisle is coming alive with color. Maples and oaks near parking lots 7 and 8 began changing two weeks ago as have the maples near parking lots 14 and 15. To find out more about the color changes and what’s blooming click on Fall Color Report. Or ask when you arrive. For fun take the Scarecrow Trail on the Meadow Lake Trail. The Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Illinois Highway 53, Lisle, IL 60532. For other information visit Morton Arb and call (630) 968-0074.