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.

 

 

 

 

Where to be August 21 in 2017

 

If standing in the right place at the right time, your world will start to get cooler as the sun seems to disappear. Then, it will be dark and chilly. And no, you won’t be watching a sci-fi movie or be experiencing the end of the world as described in mythology. You will be experiencing a total solar eclipse.

The Adler Planetarium's "Chasing Eclipses" exhibit simulates a total solar eclipse that includes the cooling air and sounds. Jodie Jacobs photos
The Adler Planetarium’s “Chasing Eclipses” exhibit simulates a total solar eclipse that includes the cooling air and sounds. Jodie Jacobs photos

Unless you plan to be in the south Pacific or South America on Dec. 14, 2020 or in Dallas, Indianapolis or Cleveland, April 8, 2024, your best bet to experience a total solar eclipse is in the United States Aug. 21, 2017 along a diagonal path from  Salem, Oregon in the northwest through Carbondale, IL in the Midwest to Charleston, South Carolina in the southeast.

 

Direct Time and Place

In the Midwest, people who travel to Carbondale in southern Illinois will see the moon totally blocking the sun for about 2 minutes and 41.6 sec. It’s actually safe to look when the sun is totally covered then. but not before or afterwards. If you don’t think that’s a long time to be in the dark try watching a clock tick off the seconds.

Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University,  is one of the best places to go to because of the long blockage beginning at 1:20 p.m. CDT and because it is one of NASA’s official sites. The Adler will have an event in Carbondale where astronomers and eclipse chasers will converge. Total coverage last about 2 minutes and 42 seconds.

You can draw your own line on a map from Salem, OR to Charleston, SC to see what other towns are in the eclipse path. Even though the blockage won’t be as long as in Carbonadale they will have a total eclipse. The towns along the path are all expecting visitors so are hosting eclipse events.

For example for Oregon visit Salem, Madras and Oregon for festivals, where to stay and what to do. If near Salem the eclipse is at 10:19 a.m. PDT and lasts 2 min, 4 sec.

For Carbondale, go to SIU. Totality there happens at 1:20 CDT.  Also check out Charleston where the eclipse ends on US soil. Charleston is in the dark for about one minute, 40 seconds. For other places in South Carolina visit Great American Eclipse SC .

Accommodations have been going fast along the eclipse path so if planning to travel to a city where there will be total darkness don’t wait to find a place to stay whether camping or looking for an inn.

 

Chicago

Those places mentioned are dead center on the path but that doesn’t mean you wont have a great eclipse moment several miles away.

At the Adler's "Chasing Eclipses" exhibit, astronomer Larry Ciupik points out where Carbondale is on the 2017 eclipse path that goes from left to right. It is bisected by the eclipse path that will run from southeast to north west in 2024.
At the Adler’s “Chasing Eclipses” exhibit, astronomer Larry Ciupik points out where Carbondale is on the 2017 eclipse path that goes from left to right. It is bisected by the eclipse path that will run from southeast to north west in 2024.

In Chicago, the moon will begin blocking the sun about 11:54 a.m.CDT,  reach maximum coverage about 1:30 p.m. and be all the way through by 2:30 p.m.

“While it won’t be absolute total blockage in Chicago, the city will experience a 90 percent eclipse,” said Adler Planetarium astronomer Larry Ciupik. And that is with Chicago located about a six and a half hour drive north of Carbondale.

Thousands of people are expected to join the Adler’s watching party, according to Ciupik. Proper glasses will be handed out until the supply is gone. For the Adler’s big eclipse bash visit Adler Eclipse. For official NASA viewing sites visit NASA Event Locations.

 

Safety

It’s not OK to look while the moon is moving across the sun even when a little bit of the sun is peeking out. Looking at the sun when there is not total blockage will damage the eyes. See NASA for more eclipse information and NASA Safety for viewing tips.

You have to use certified glasses to watch. Another way is to look at the events shadow on the ground by turning your back to the sun and making a peep hole with your hands, one in front of the other as described on the NASA safety site.

 

So take advantage of the event by making it a summer vacation but don’t wait to make arrangements.

 

 

 

 

Five Memorial Day Weekend ideas

Chicago Memorial Day Parade is on State Street May 27. City of Chicago photo
Chicago Memorial Day Parade is on State Street May 27. City of Chicago photo

Say Memorial Day to some folks and the response is it’s the time to commemorate people who died while in military service. To others it signifies the beginning of summer vacation.

On some town’s websites are parades, ceremonies and even a history note explaining that Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day and started shortly after the Civil War.

On others, it begins the period from the end of May through Labor Day when beaches are open, lifeguards are on duty, several outdoor fests and tourist activities take place and bus routes are added.

Five suggested Memorial Day Weekend activities in the Chicago area range from fireworks and festivals to a parade and party plus there’s a bus route bonus.

 

Parade

The City of Chicago is holding a Wreath Laying ceremony in Daley Plaza at Dearborn and Washington Streets at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 27, 2017.  It will be followed by a parade that starts at noon from nearby State and Lake Streets and travels south on State to Van Buren Street. The Grand Marshal is Marine Corps Commanding General Robert S. Walsh. The parade, among the country’s largest, includes veterans’ groups, marching bands and antique military vehicles. Visit Chicago for more info. The national Memorial Day remembrance is 3 p.m. Monday, May 29, 2017.   For an excellent government-based web-site with history and other info visit Government.

 

Parties

View the city while partying at Roof on the Wit Memorial Day Weekend. Mike Reeves photo
View the city while partying at Roof on the Wit Memorial Day Weekend. Mike Reeves photo

Chicago House Party – DJs and performers take over Millennium Park,’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion and North Chase Promenade Tent May 27, 2017, from 2 to 9 p.m. Expect a variety of “house music” a style started in Chicago that is danced to throughout the country. The grassy areas are good for picnics or dancing. For performer schedules check City of Chicago. Millennium Park is at Randolph through Monroe Parkways along Michigan Avenue.

 

ROOF on theWit, a fun space with great cocktails and views of the city is starting its JETSET s series May 26-27, 2017. The party transports  guests to Barcelona, Spain  minus the airline hassle. ROOF on theWit is 27 stories above the Wit Hotel at 201 N. State St. at Lake Street, Chicago. For reservations visit Roof. JetSet weekends start at 2pm.  For more information and reservations, visit Roof or call  (312) 239-9502.

 

 

Festivals

The Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest runs from noon to 10 p.m. May 27 and May 28, 2017. A street party that has been going on for more than 20 years, the fest attracts excellent bands, good food, beer and wine booths and also features arts and crafts. A $5 entry donation benefits the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. Entry is at 3200 N. Sheffield, Chicago. Vist Chicago Events for more information.

Dovetail owners Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink welcome visitors to their brewery.
Dovetail owners Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink welcome visitors to their brewery.

 

Celebrate “Mayfestiversary,” a block party at and around Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine Rd. Dovetail is celebrating its first anniversary with Begyle Brewing which is marking the second  anniversary of its taproom. There will be food trucks,  live music and games. B elle Plaine Avenue will be closed from Ravensood to the CTA line. Part of proceeds benefit Foundations of Music.The festival goes from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 27 and 28, 2017. For more information visit at Dovetail or call (773) 683-1414.

 

Fireworks

Navy Pier is always good for a holiday outing but the Chicago attraction restarts its summer fireworks display Saturday, May 27 at 10:15 p.m. Among the ways to celebrate the weekend is to cruise on the Spirit of Chicago or Odyssey or stop in at the Miller Lite Beer Garden to hear Hot Rocks do Rolling Stones tributes from 2 to 11:30 p.m. BTW the Rolling Stones Exhibitionism upstairs at Navy Pier is worth seeing.  Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. , Chicago, IL 800 )595-PIER (7437) For more information visit Navy Pier or call (800) 595-PIER (7437).

 

Bonus

The CTA’s No 10 Bus that goes to the Museum of Science and Industry starts again Memorial Day weekend. That means it will be easier to get there from downtown Chicago to see the terrific Robots  exhibit.

 

Three ways to take advantage of a long weekend

 

All of a sudden the long weekend that includes Presidents’ Day, the third Monday of February when schools and banks are close, is only a few days away.

What would have been a good time to fly south for a short, sunny break is likely going to be too difficult to book now. Airline flights and hotel rooms in places such as south Florida are typically at a premium that weekend, if still available.

However, instead of playing the “should-have” game, think of the weekend as a fun opportunity. The following suggestions work anywhere even though the examples given are for the Chicago area.

The Field has free general admission for Illinois residents Presidents' Day Weekend. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
The Field has free general admission for Illinois residents Presidents’ Day Weekend. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

 

Take a “staycation”

Nowadays all hotels have a fitness center so that would no longer be a deciding point on where to take your weekend vacation. Think about what you most want to do. Shop? Visit museums? See art and architecture? Go to the theater? Do it all?

Next, how important is a pool? Few downtown Chicago hotels have pools but some have indoor lap pools. Even fewer have a pool where children can swim all year round.

You can keep the bathing suits in the suitcase you planned for a trip south if spending the weekend at The Intercontinental on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent (Shopping) Mile. It not only has a pool, it is historic and large. The spa and fitness area is now a part of the hotel pool area.

The hotel is nicely placed for a “staycation.” Walk north from the hotel for Michigan Avenue shops. Walk south and cross the Chicago River a few blocks to Millennium Park for ice skating and “Cloud Gate” better known as “The Bean.”  A little further south is the Art Institute of Chicago. You are in a great spot to appreciate downtown art and architecture.

Cross Michigan Avenue from the hotel to take a bus to the Museum Campus’ Field Museum,  Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium at the south end of Grant Park. All of February is free general admission for Illinois residents at the Field.  Presidents’ Day,  Feb. 20, is free admission to the Adler Planetarium and the Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park.

The city is at you doorstep when you take a “staycation” downtown. Enjoy

 

Binge on Oscar nominated movies

Get a jump start on Oscar night, Feb. 26, 2017 by seeing the nominated movies at your local theater.

For the kids there are the animated features: “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “Moana,” “My Life as a Zucchini,” The Red Turtle” and “Zootopia.”
Best Picture nominees are: “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “La La Land, ”Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.” Most theaters offer advance tickets. The AMC theaters at Northbrook Court were recently remodeled with really comfortable seats and a bar to get drinks and food.

Or settle in with popcorn or pizza at home as you check Netflix or On Demand for past Oscar winners. Some are oldies. Others are just goodies.

 

Make a penguin and cupcake play date with friends

Lincoln Park Zoo Penguin Cove opens. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo Penguin Cove opens. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo

 

Go to a zoo or aquarium then forget the diet and splurge on cupcakes at places you’ve been meaning to try.

In Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo has a wonderful, new penguin center.  Or watch the penguins in their Polar Play Zone at the Shedd Aquarium.

For a dessert break pick up cupcakes at Sprinkles Cupcakes at 50 E Walton St. west of the Magnificent Mile. Or stop in at the Magnolia Bakery  at 108 N State St at Block 37.

 

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Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Some Chicago area options

 

From top museums to university programs and volunteer projects there are lots of places to spend time off work or school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 16, 2017.

MLK Day celebrates the birthday of the famed civil rights leader (Jan. 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) on the third Monday of January. It is a federal holiday so most schools and banks are closed and there won’t be any U. S. Postal deliveries.

 

The Field and most other Chicago museums have free general admission for Illinois residents On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
The Field and most other Chicago museums have free general admission for Illinois residents On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Museums

However, Chicago’s museums are open and several are offering free general admission to Illinois residents. In addition, some of them have extended free general admission to other days the third week of January.

On the Museum Campus, that arm sticking out from Lake Shore Drive in Lake Michigan at 12th Street, look for the Adler Planetarium at the far eastern end at 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.

The Shedd Aquarium sits  in the middle of the arm  at 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive and The Field Museum is  by the entrance to the campus at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive.

The Art Institute of Chicago has free programs in its Ryan Learning Center from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.. They range from performances and stories to art projects. Check out the day’s schedule here. Visitors for these programs enter the Modern Wing entrance at 159 E. Monroe St. to go to the Learning Center.  The museum is also free all day for Illinois Residents. Main entrance is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

The Museum of Science and Industry also has free general admission. MSI is in the Hyde Park neighborhood at 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637

 

Community projects

Several suburbs have volunteer projects taking place on MLK Day. Check your  suburb.

On the North Shore, Highland Park has invited Illinois Secretary of State Jess White who was a student of Dr. King, and the Jesse White Tumblers to appear. In addition, the town has several service projects. The Recreation Center of Highland Park is the headquarters for the events. They run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. See HP for details.

The Village of Deerfield  is collecting supplies for the homeless  and has organized service projects. The Deerfield  Village Hall is headquarters for a Day of Service from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For details click Deerfield.

 

Northwestern University

The university has programs at its Evanston and Chicago Campuses

In Evanston
A play by Allie Woodson about what it means to be young, gifted and black is performed Jan. 13 at  7:30pm and Jan. 14 at  2and 7:30 p.m. at Shanley Pavilion,  2031 Sheridan Rd.

“Social Movements for Racial Justice: From the Chicago Freedom Movement to Black Lives Matter” is Jan. 21, 10  a.m. in Fisk Hall 217, 1845 Sheridan Rd. The program is an intergenerational presentation and discussion about racial justice movements in Chicago over the last 50 years. Authors of the book The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King and Civil Rights Activism in the North will share personal experiences marching with Dr. King..

NASA astronaut Mae Jamison, a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, gives  a keynote address Jan. 23, at 6 p.m.p.m. in the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive.

 

Chicago Campus

NASA astronaut Mae Jamison will speak Jan. at noon at the Hughes Auditorium, 303 E. Superior St.

 

A Day in LA

 

Sometimes you go to a city to visit relatives or friends. Other times you are passing through on the way to a vacation spot. Then there are those times the city is your vacation destination but there are so many things to do you’re not sure how much to fit into one day.

To help you start out the year on a you-can-do-it note, here is a Day In series for towns that ought to be on your  bucket list or when visiting friends and family. Don’t be surprised if the people you visit say they’ve been meaning to go there. People who live in an area often don’t  play tourist in their own city.

The recently redone Petersen Automotive Museum. A subway system is currently being extended just outside and below the museum.
The recently redone Petersen Automotive Museum. A subway system is currently being extended just outside and below the museum.

The Day In series spotlights two main places and a restaurant, however, one or two alternatives are also included. Tip: no matter what the reason for the trip or what you do – plan some down time.

 

First in the series: A Day in LA

A red building wrapped with a chrome-like grill, rises from one corner.  Across the road, another modern art structure seems to beckon you to go over there and see what’s inside. You’re at Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles,

Park the car within the red building’s garage and you are ready to go exploring.  You don’t have to try this building first. Both corner buildings are filled with treasures.

Inside the eye-catching striped structure is the newly remodeled  Petersen Automotive Museum. You don’t have to be a car buff to fall in love with the beautifully designed Bugatti, silver “gullwing” Corvette, Steve McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS or the Batmobile, all currently on exhibit.

Start on the third floor and then head down. You might come across a car your parents or grandparents drove such as  a red 1956 Bel Air Chevrolet convertible or a black 1922 Chevrolet 490 series coupe that the great grandparents might have driven.

The Petersen Automotive Museum is at 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

 

Chris Burden's 'UrbanLight'
Chris Burden’s ‘Urban Light’

Across the road is what everyone in LA knows as LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with its 21st century remodeled look and added buildings.

The very contemporary, multi-winged-topped structure on the campus’ western corner includes Renzo Piano’s Workshop-designed Broad (pronounced Brode) Contemporary Art Museum.

Often referred to as BCAM, it opened February 2008. It is adjacent to the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion added in 2010.

But first, pull out the smart phone to take photos of your group wandering through artist Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” outside LACMA. It’s a fun collection of old-looking street lights. Then, stop at the LACMA Will Call window for tickets to  “Picasso and Rivera: Conversations across time.”

Tip: Many LA area attractions including this exhibit need tickets so instead of waiting in long lines, purchase or reserve them on line to be picked up at the venue’s Will Call.

The ‘Picasso and Rivera’ show reveals how much the two famed artists were alike as they changed styles ranging from classical to abstract. Opened December 2016, the exhibit is in the BCAM section of LACMA through May 7, 2017.

Anyone who missed  the “Moholy-Nagy Future Present” show at the Art Institute of Chicago fall of 2016, can catch it at LACMA Feb. 12 through June 18. It’s a fabulous exhibit of  László Moholy-Nagy’s photographs, paintings, graphics and commercial designs.

Moholy, as he usually was called, was an influential Bauhaus teacher, founder of the Chicago Institute of Design and a pioneer of combining art with technology.

LACMA also has fine Asian, Latin American and Islamic collections. So you might want to divide up the time to do more than see a featured exhibit.  The museum is at 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90036.

 

Now about food. It would be a shame to be in the area and not take advantage of lunch at Canter’s Bakery and Deli about a mile east of the two museums on Fairfax Avenue. Since opening in 1931, the famed deli has been the background for the ‘Mad Men’ series and has fed such celebrities as Barack Obama, Wayne Gretzky, Mick Jagger and Larry King. Canter’s is at 419 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036.

 

Canter's Deli has been serving up some of the best Jewish food in the LA area since 1931
Canter’s Deli has been serving up some of the best Jewish food in the LA area since 1931

An alternative suggestion: The Broad Museum that opened to well deserved hype September, 2015 is worth a stop when in LA.

You will want to snap photos of the building, inside and out, see its exceptional collection of contemporary art and check out Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room.”

Museum admission is free but reservations are essential. If going there, get in line once inside for a timed ticket to the Infinity Room. The Broad is at 221 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

 

As to getting to these places, just be patient. Almost anywhere else you would likely time your forays to miss the rush hour. However, it always seems to be rush hour when driving the LA freeways. Since you are likely visiting or traveling with a companion take the car-pool lane.

Tips: Attractions are less crowded when they first open in the morning. Whatever attractions you choose, base your day on location. The places suggested here are near downtown LA.

Photography by Jodie Jacobs

 

New visitor center makes navigating Chicago easier

When downtown you now have another concierge desk ready to answer those “where are” and “how do you get there” questions.

Visiting Chicago can be overwhelming without a little concierge help. You know to toss questions at a hotel concierge but when downtown you now have another concierge desk ready to answer those “where are” and “how do you get there” questions.

A new Chicago Visitors Center recently opened at Macy's on State Street
A new Chicago Visitors Center recently opened at Macy's on State Street

Macy’s on State Street added a terrific Visitor Information Center in June in conjunction with Choose Chicago, the city’s main tourist information bureau.

The Macy’s center has a concierge desk, maps, brochures and interactive kiosks that have dining, attractions and shopping suggestions.

When you stop in the store, ask for directions to the fountain and its main escalators. Then go down to lower level near the candy and food area to find the Visitor Information Center.

The kiosks there will not merely light up with restaurant suggestions for several types of cuisines and tell you how to get to your restaurant of choice by bus, car or walking, it will also print out the directions so you don’t have to write them down. Same goes for attractions such as museums and shopping categories.

Restaurant choices and how to get there are on interactive kiosks
Restaurant choices and how to get there are on interactive kiosks

However, you can also check at the desk for savings passes and other information.

Macy’s has the International and Domestic Savings Program that gives a 10 percent discount on most store purchases to visitors from outside the store’s shopping region. Qualifying documentation such as a government issued ID is needed. The Savings Pass can be printed at interactive kiosks or from the concierge desk. BTW, remember on your travels to ask for a Macy’s savings pass when at the company’s other stores.

Visit Macy’s State Street for more information.

Photos (C) Jodie Jacobs

Watch the presidential inauguration

Watch the inauguration on line or visit the Newseum website.

The Newseum Terrace overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue
The Newseum Terrace overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue

Arguably the best place to watch the inaugural parade and zoom in on the ceremonies on Capitol building’s west side, is high up on the Pennsylvania Avenue Parade Route. So think Newseum.

However, the museum’s roof and terrace are already spoken for by more than 500 broadcasters from 21 countries who are already setting up temporary studios and production areas there.

Among the broadcasters anchoring Inauguration Day newscasts from the Newseum are MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow and ABC’s Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos and Barbara Walters.

The Newseum, always a fun and interesting place to visit was designed to do multiple broadcasts.

Inauguration Day entry to the Newseum is already sold out but visitors can stop by the museum earlier in the weekend and put it on the museum list for next time in DC. Its terrace is among the best places to photograph the area.

A couple of alternatives to bucking the crowd in Washington is to catch the action on WGN which broadcasts across the US, your local TV station or the Newseum web site. The swearing-in ceremonies begin at 11:30 a.m. ET.

More inauguration information and suggested places to visit at Inauguration Weekend.

Green Bay: Go for football legends, stay for color and food

Imagine running out into the stadium to the roar of the crowd via the players’ tunnel or being allowed up on the exclusive club level.

Fall destinations Series: Part 1 is Green Bay, Wisconsin

Vince Lombardi and Curly Lambeau stand tall outside the Lambeau Field Stadium in Green Bay.
Vince Lombardi and Curly Lambeau stand tall outside the Lambeau Field Stadium in Green Bay.

You don’t have to be a fan of the Green Bay Packers to appreciate the team’s famed Lambeau Field but you arguably should be an admirer of cheese curds and hometown brewers to appreciate this northern Wisconsin town.

Imagine running out into the stadium to the roar of the crowd via the players’ tunnel or being allowed up on the exclusive club level. You get to do both when you take the stadium’s tour. The cost ranges from $8-$11 depending on age and military status.

As a Packers’ tour guide reminded us, Lambeau is up there with Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Boston’s Fenway Park as one of the historic stadiums on sports fans’ want-to-see list.  Dedicated Sept. 29, 1957, with the Green Bay-Chicago Bears game, the field was called City Stadium until renamed Sept. 11, 1965 after Curly Lambeau died. It is owned by the City of Green Bay and Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District with shareholders who live all over the world.

Visit Algoma, about half an hour from Green Bay, for its fishing and historic winery.
Visit Algoma, about half an hour from Green Bay, for its fishing and historic winery.

But the Greater Green Bay Area has enough to see and do to fill out a football weekend or a fall getaway.

Outdoors

Color explodes around this northern Wisconsin area so bring hiking or good walking shoes to enjoy the scenery.

Explore the L. H. Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve’s 920 acres of forest and meadows on the Bay’s western shore. The preserve has nine miles of hiking trails beginning at the Interpretive Center.

Bring the fishing gear and head to nearby Algoma, about a 35 minute drive. The fish always seem to be biting here.

Peter Rabbit likes to visit here at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens.
Peter Rabbit likes to visit here at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens.

Visit the Green Bay Botanical Gardens, a delightful 47 acres of rose, shade and seasonal gardens for adults and a terrific place where children will find butterfly and Peter Rabbit gardens and a frog bridge.

Cruise the Fox River to its mouth on the Foxy Lady and see the town from the water.

Indoors

Visit Hinterland, an artisanal brewery. It has $5 tours on Saturdays by appointment that includes two beers but stay to do dinner because, as with the beer, the quality and variety is way better than a typical pub.

Relax at Titletown Brewery because the place is fun, has terrific atmosphere and good, handcrafted beers and burgers. The brewery is in the old C. & N.W.R.R. depot, a historic building designed by Chicago architect Charles S. Frost at the turn of the last century. Titletown also has decent cheese curds.

Do a wine-tasting at Captain’s Walk Winery in a historic Green Bay house or at its parent location, The von Stiehl Winery in a historic Algoma building. No worries if you don’t know a lot about wines. Both places are delighted to answer questions and both have award winning wines.

Parallel 44 winery grows its grapes on site and has excellent tastings.
Parallel 44 winery grows its grapes on site and has excellent tastings.

To see a vineyard and taste award winning wines drive over to the Parallel 44 Winery in Kewaunee.  Owners Steve Johnson and wife Maria Milano have figured out how to grow a mix of varietals that produce excellent wines and survive Green Bay winters.

Learn a little more about the area and the science behind football at the Neville Public Museum. It is fun for youngsters and adults. The museum’s mission not only covers history and science, it also has an art component. Currently on exhibit are some terrific WPA paintings.

Take a train ride around the National Railroad Musuem but also tour the barns and the exhibits.
Take a train ride around the National Railroad Musuem but also tour the barns and the exhibits.

Just as you don’t have to love football to appreciate Lambeau Field, you don’t have to be a railroad buff to enjoy peeking into old railroad cars. The National Railroad Museum has a Green Bay address but it is on the edge of town that is also considered Ashwaubenon. Save enough time to visit the engines and old cars tucked into barns on the property, tour the museum which currently has an extensive dining car china exhibit and take a ride around the property.

Dining

Green Bay is not just brew-pub food although some of the pubs turn out exceptional meals. Please leave a comment in that section with a recommendation or an experience. With only two days to sample the culinary scene I have only two recommendations.

The best dinner I’ve been lucky enough to eat anywhere in United States was at Three Three Five, a private dining club downtown Green Bay that opens to the public only on Wednesday nights.

Chef Christopher Mangless works on dessert for patrons of Three Three Five
Chef Christopher Mangless works on dessert for patrons of Three Three Five

The rest of the time chef Christopher Mangless and his staff are turning out dishes for the club’s patrons, Hollywood celebs and political notables such as former president George W. Bush. When asked how people find out about him, his restaurant and that he caters dinners everywhere, Mangless  said “word of mouth.”

He is also known as The Traveling Chef. Wednesday is a farmers market which helps him decide what to serve that night. Even though his dishes, which are small plates, are very creative and beautifully plated, you can identify what you are eating.

I wish he were based in Chicago so I could eat there once a week, or at least, once a month. BTW, Mangless’ cheese curds side dish was among the best I’ve sampled.

The next best cheese curds I’ve eaten was at The Courthouse Pub in Manitowoc, Wisc., a nice detour when coming from Milwaukee or Chicago.

While in Green Bay, also check out Ogan a restaurant on the Fox River. You’ll like the food and the view.

Stay

The Tundra Lodge's waterpark, restaurants and atmosphere work for families visiting Green Bay and its proximity to Lambeau Field works for adults.
The Tundra Lodge's waterpark, restaurants and atmosphere work for families visiting Green Bay and its proximity to Lambeau Field works for adults.

With little time to check out the many accommodations available, I opted for Cambria Suites, a business-style hotel that is about a good football field toss from Lambeau. The suite and bathroom were comfortable, modern and clean.

However, families might like The Tundra Lodge which has a North Woods atmosphere and is also near Lambeau. It has regular restaurants, a snack and shop store and  an indoor-outdoor waterpark.

When to go

Green Bay’s ski and snow mobile trails are a winter treat. Fox River, the Bay’s waters, and Lake Michigan make the area a good fishing place, spring, summer and fall (unless you want to add ice fishing for winter). Add the leaf color changes in the fall and you may make it a year-round destination. In addition, even if you aren’t into football, Lambeau Field is worth a stop any time of year.

Do a two-for-one getaway

Cruise the Fox River to its mouth and see Green Bay from the water on the Foxy Lady.
Cruise the Fox River to its mouth and see Green Bay from the water on the Foxy Lady.

Tie a visit to Green Bay with a vacation in Door County. Green Bay is at the foot of the peninsula so it is about 10 to 20 minutes from The Door depending on your destination.

Spring vacation guide to Chicago

Take in a show, a museum, an interesting tour, some shopping and admire the sculptures in Millennium Park. They are all downtown Chicago.

Chicago is a perfect spring break  destination whether living out of town or in the city.

Chicago's skyline is picture perfect from the Museum Campus
Chicago's skyline is picture perfect from the Museum Campus

Take in a show, a museum, an interesting tour, some shopping and admire the sculptures in Millennium Park. They are all downtown Chicago.

Shows

Jersey Boys returns to the Bank of America theatre April 5 Fela will be at the Oriental Theatre March 27-April 8

Museums

The Museum Campus,  sticking out into Lake Michigan from Lake Shore Drive between 12th and 14th Streets, is among the best places to snap photos of the city’s skyline. But be sure to save time for at least one of its museums: The Field, Shedd Aquarium or Adler Planetarium.

They reward visitors with fascinating exhibits year round. However, they are gearing up for Spring vacationers with either new exhibits or extended hours to see all their special exhibits.

At the Adler, Undiscovered Worlds, a show about finding real planets and stars beyond the Earth’s solar system, opens early March in time for Spring vacation.

Because the Shedd, situated between the Adler and the Field, draws crowds during school holidays, the museum has extended hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 26-March 30 and April 1-April 6. Longer hours mean fitting in Jellies, Wild Reef and an Oceanarium show.

Families visiting Chicago often head to the Field to see dinosaurs. But Spring break time means also fitting in two temporary exhibits that just opened: Opening the Vaults: Mummies and Genghis Khan.Visitors come to the Field Museum for Sue the T-Rex but stay to see such exciting temporary exhibits as Mummies

Tours

Trolley tours are fine for getting around because you get background info from tour guides. However, if looking for something special consider an architectural Chicago River boat cruise and a movie site tour.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tours typically do not start until the end of April. But you should be able to book a cruise on Wendella and Chicago Tours.

The Wendella cruises start at the base of the Wrigley Building below the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Chicago Tour cruises start at Navy Pier.

The Chicago Film Tour is a fun way to see parts of Chicago you might not get to such as Wrigley Field in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. The tours start and end on Clark Street between Ontario and Ohio, a perfect spot for people who love Portillo’s Chicago Dogs and their Italian beef.Wrigley Field is on the Film tour

Shopping

Out-of-towners enjoy browsing the shops along North Michigan Avenue between the Chicago River and Lincoln Park. Visit Magnificent Mile the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association’s website to pick out some specific shopping and dining destinations.

Whatever other places you choose, you should  stop in Garrett’s Popcorn Store in the 600 block of Michigan Ave. If shopping at Macy’s at State and Randolph (Marshall Field’s former flagship store) follow the nose across the street to Garrett’s next to the Oriental Theatre.

Speaking of food (similar to chocolate, in Chicago popcorn is considered a food), families coming to town typically want to try a pizza parlor. Everyone has a favorite so arguments abound. but two places that make many lists for the good deep dish stuff that Chicago is known for are Gino’s East and Lou Malnati’s.

Millennium Park

Bordering Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, Millennium Park draws thousand of tourists who want to see “Cloud Gate,” better known as “The Bean.” They also check out the Frank Gehry sculpture top to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the Crown Fountains which spit water late spring and summer.

Visitors flock to Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean, in Millennium Park
Visitors flock to Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean, in Millennium Park

Insider Tips

  • If staying in town  for a few days, it may pay to obtain a CityPASS. You will be paying about half what you would to individually visit the Shedd, Field, Skydeck at Willis Tower (formerly Sears), the Adler or Art Institute of Chicago and either the Museum of Science and Industry or the John Hancock Observatory. In addition, the pass means not having to stand in line to purchase tickets.
  • If tired when walking the “Mag Mile” take a bus back south on Michigan Avenue. Most buses you see go downtown. You can also catch a bus on State Street south to the Museum Campus. Bus drivers do not have change so have some singles and quarters handy.
  • You don’t have to leave town without trying Garrett’s because the company has stands at the Metra trains’ Ogilvie Center and O’Hare Airport.

Photos by Jodie Jacobs