Now is a good time to plan a visit close to home, a day’s drive out or a little further away because lots of travel destinations are beginning to open and gas is still in the budget range.
Restaurants and bars have opened their outdoor seating areas. Among them is The Loyalist at 177 N. Ada Street near Randolph Row. It has had walk-ins but will likely be taking reservations beginning Wednesday, June 24,2020. If you go: expect more French style choices.
Millennium Park and Lakefront
Yes, you can visit Cloud Gate (The Bean). If you go: take selfies and don’t touch it. Most of Millennium Park is open but masks are encouraged as is social distancing.
The same goes for the lakefront which isopen as of today, June 22, 2020 to movers, not sitters. that means walkers, joggers, cyclists.
Tucked into northwestern Illinois near the Wisconsin and Iowa borders is the charming town of Galena. There are lots of good B&B and restaurant choices because rolling hills, historic homes and fun shops make the town a popular summer (and fall) destination.
Memphis, TN has a lot to offer as vacation destination. However, if interested in understanding more about the global Black Lives Matter movement then visit to the famed museum based at the Lorraine Motel, 450 Mulberry St, where Martin Luther King Jr was shot. The museum plans to reopen July 1, 2020.
If you go: you will need a timed ticket and have to wear a face covering. For tickets and other information visit National Civil Rights Museum.
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.
You don’t have to be staying at the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort north of Chicago to relax on its recently re-done Lakeside Plaza. You don’t even have to call its popular, reservation-only Three Embers Restaurant. Just go over there at sunset to sip a glass of Pluto’s Fury Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley or a house recommended Merlot and nibble on the restaurant’s Burrata appetizer around the Plaza’s fire pit or at its high-top double-sided, fire-lined bar.
There is usually live music on Tuesday and Wednesday evening but the resort will also be doing Bourbon & Bonfires a special dinner and drinks event Aug. 15, 2018 that pairs Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve with gourmet bites by Executive Chef Yo Chang. This event does need a reservation (Eventbrite).
Marriott Lincolnshire Resort is at 10 Marriott Drive off Milwaukee Avenue south of IL Hwy 22, Lincolnshire. For more information call 847-634-0100 and visit Three Embers food.
Not all the Lincoln Park Zoo sights are found through the main gate. South of that gate is the historic Prairie-School-style Café Brauer (2021 North Stockton). Go around behind the landmark building to discover the Patio.
Here you can sip the Patio Muscle made up of Two Brothers Vodka, Chambord, ginger beer and lime or a refreshing glass of Villa Sandi Proseco while resting the eyes on a pond, boardwalk and the Chicago skyline.
Resolve your after-work food craving with crispy calamari or tomato mozzarella pizza twists.
Reservations are suggested. Café Brauer is at 2021 N. Stockton, Chicago. For more information call (312) 507-9053 and visit The Patio.
A popular, fun trend among Chicago hotels is to open a roof-top bar. They offer good city views, interesting cocktails and are a place to meet after hours. However, one that takes on the sophisticated vibe of its globally-known hotel is the Z Bar that just opened at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel.
Go up to the sixth floor to settle comfortably with a view of Michigan Avenue. Then study the drinks menu with an eye for something special designed by Cocktails & Culture Director Vlad Novikov.
Whether you choose a classic cocktail or one inspired by Novikov’s travels it will be an experience.
The same is true with the small-plates-food menu that includes the Daikon Frites with Chinese lap cheong, garlic and an unusual jam.
The Peninsula Chicago is at 108 E. Superior St., For more information call (312) 573-6888 and visit Z-bar.
The best part of vacationing in Door County, WI is the way its delightful harbors make you feel you left work and daily stress miles back at the last stoplight.
The county actually begins back a ways on a thumb shaped peninsula that separates Lake Michigan from Green Bay (the body of water, not the city). There are a smattering of stoplights at its southern end.
But once you cross a drawbridge over Sturgeon Bay, a shipping waterway cut across the peninsula to connect Lake Michigan to Green Bay, you enter a world where a curve in the road reveals yet another scenic view and where villages have a few scattered stop signs, not stop lights.
However, to experience the dangerous waters where Lake Michigan waves bump against those from Green Bay that give the peninsula its name, you should drive north about 40 miles from Sturgeon Bay to Gills Rock and then a short distance to Northport. There you would take a ferry across to Washington Island.
Among the stories floating between the peninsula and the island is a tale of how when one native tribe lured another tribe to cross from Washington Island to the peninsula, those who attempted the crossing died in the stormy waters, thus giving the crossing the name Death’s Door.
Safe? Yes, though sometimes the trip can be rocky. But the Washington Island Ferry is so popular the best plan is to check the season’s schedule and get to its departure ramp at Northport ahead of time so there is room for your car.
While exploring look for Island Stavkirke, a recreated 12th century Norwegian church and the Jacobsen Museum of island artifacts.
OK, you’re here, meaning at the Door County room, condo, guest house or cottage or other lodging you booked ahead of time, and you are already gazing out at the quiet blue expanse of Green Bay or the ever changing colors of Lake Michigan.
When needing some getaway time check in at the newly remodeled Marriott Lincolnshire. The resort’s 25 million dollar re-do has the excellent Spa at Lincolnshire, the really good Three Embers restaurant for breakfast and dinner, a nice, casual Wrights Brew& Bistro for lunch or dinner and a convenient Starbucks Café off the Lobby.
BTW, Three Embers replaced The Wharf with a fine menu of locally sourced dishes and a redesigned space that includes a wood-burning grill and a chef’s table. The butter has a wonderful, honey flavor from the chef’s on-site beehive and the pastry’s chef’s yummy rolls to spread it on.
Pack a swim suit to for a dip in the pool or hot tub. The pool entrance is nicely positioned near the rooms’ hallways and elevators so guests don’t have to walk by the lobby.
Don’t forget workout clothes for the redone fitness center or some laps around the resort. Rooms typically have a lake or golf course view.
If interested in good musical theatre and time allows, get tickets for the resort’s famed Marriott Theatre. Currently, “Ragtime,” is playing through March 18. Next is Oklahoma April 11-June 10, 2018, which celebrates the legendary musical’s 75th anniversary.
The theatre is connected to the resort on the main and second levels so it won’t be necessary to brave whatever nature is serving up outdoors.
Now, pick a date to escape. There are special deals for theatre, romance, spa and restaurants.
Don’t wait until the last moment to make your Easter Brunch reservation. Tables at popular restaurants that do brunch are going quickly for Sunday, April 16, 2017. At some of the restaurants you order from the men. Others have fixed priced buffets. Choices range from high end to moderate. If visiting or living in the Chicago area take a look at these places to see what fits your criteria of ambiance, price and location. Reservations are required.
Called Cellars by its fans, as in we’re going to Cellars tonight, the restaurant also has a big brunch following. So, the only seating left as of April 11 is at 10 a.m. and around 2 or 2:30 p.m. Brunch is ordered from the menu rather than a buffet table so diners end up spending what they want for what they want. House brunch specials range from Broadway French Toast made with brioche, caramelized bananas, rum caramel syrup and whipped cream for $10 to E Grump poached eggs on crab cakes with lobster flavored hollandaise and Broadway potatoes for $14. But there are lots of other entree choices and sides.
Cellars is at 5900 N. Broadway, Chicago in the Edgewater neighborhood. For reservations and other info call 773-944-1208 or visit Cellars.
Mon Ami Gabi
Expect fine dining with a French accent but at moderate prices at this long-time popular Lincoln Park restaurant. Brunch, ordered from the menu, can range from crème brulée French toast with blueberries and Chantilly cream for $10.95 to a poutine of bacon, Jarlsberg, blue cheese, crème fraîche, green peppercorn sauce and poached egg for $14.95.
Mon Ami Gabi is at 2300 N. Lincoln Park West in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. For reservations call (773) 348-8886 or visit Mon Ami Gabi.
Shaws Crab House
Known for its Grand Brunch Buffet and wonderful seafood, Shaws normally charges $55 adults but the restaurant goes all out on Easter, Mothers Day and Fathers Day For these expanded brunches the cost is $75 adults and $20 children under age 12 but the special brunches are very popular for p;eople willing to splurges.
Shaws Crab House is at 21 E. Hubbard St. in the River North neighborhood. For reservations and information call (312) 527-2722 or visit Shaws.
Winner of Open Table’s Diners’ Choice in August 2015 and Best Brunch in 2014, the kitchen prides itself on fresh, creative and reasonably priced special brunches. For Easter, offerings include Champagne and Mimosas, a good seafood selection, omelets, prime rib and lamb station, other hot entrées, a kids buffet and wonderful desserts for $44.95 adults and $21.95 children ages 6 to 12, free to age 5 and under. Seating is from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Allgauers is in the Hilton Hotel at 3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle. For reservations or more information call (630) 245-7650 or visit Allgauer’s or Hilton.
Located in the former Grille on Laurel space in the northern suburbs, MLG Chicago is carrying on the Grille’s reasonably priced Sunday brunch tradtition. Easter Brunch, which includes a carving station and omelet station plus cold and desset tables will be $35 adults, $15 ages 10 and under. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m
MLG Chicago is at 181 E. Laurel Ave., Lake Forest. For reservations and other information call (847)234-9660 and visit MLG Chicago.
Third in series on bucket-list towns where there is so much to see that that it is easy to miss some really good places. The series, begun with A Day in LA and continued with A Day in DC, highlights two attractions and includes a foodie stop plus an alternative attraction.
Combine art and architecture
Your start and end spots are Michigan Avenue from Monroe to Randolph Streets.
Of course you know that the Art Institute of Chicago has the finest French Impressionist collection outside of Paris.
But you might not know that as of December 2016 with the addition of the ‘New Contemporay’ it also has on exhibit an outstanding collection of contemporary art by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Robert Raushenberg and Takahi Murakami and other influential artists plus important photographs by Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince.
Comparable to that at the new Broad Museum in LA, the “New Contemporary” collection is on a long-term loan from philanthropists Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson. See it in the Art Institute’s Modern Wing.
However, the museum doesn’t open until 10:30 a.m. You don’t need to enter with the mass waiting for it to open. So think petit déjeuner at Toni Patisserie at 65 E. Washington Street, a couple of blocks north of the museum.
‘The People’s Palace’
You are now perfectly placed to go across the street to “The People’s Palace” as the Chicago Cultural Center was sometimes called. Its south door at 78 E. Washington Street, is across from the Patisserie and is a perfect place to start the day after your croissant and latte.
Pull out the smart phone. The outside of the building is somewhat ponderous but inside is one amazing sight after another starting with the awesome mosaics that line the entryway’s Carrara marble staircase and walls.
Designed by the renowned architecture firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, Boston in a Beaux Arts style in 1897 it reflected the taste of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The building housed the Chicago Public Library so look for literary and historical faces and saying in the mosaics.
If you entered from Washington Street you might notice Roman style arches.If you walk through to the Randolph Street entrance you will see Greek influence and Doric columns.
On the National Register of Historic Places, its upstairs is filled with beautiful spaces. Look up when you reach the third floor on the Washington Street side. You are in the gorgeous Preston Bradley Hall capped by reportedly the world’s largest Tiffany Favrile glass dome. Surrounded by fish scales, the dome’s center has the signs of the zodiac.
Walk around the room to your left (west side) to get to the impressive Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda and its stained-glass dome. Go into the decorative GAR Memorial Hall.
Chicagoans come to the building for literary readings, dance and music programs, lectures, expos and concerts and to admire GAR rooms and Preston Bradley Hall.
They also come to see the ever changing art exhibits. So, take time to stroll to see what’s being shown around the building. Featured art shows are typically on the fourth floor and sometimes in the Chicago Room on Level Two. The main floor has exhibition space running along both the east and west sides of the building.
The ‘Modern Wing’
When ready to check out the Art Institute’s Modern Wing cross Michigan Avenue and walk south to the museum’s Monroe Street entrance. Designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, the wing opened in 2009 to mainly house modern European painting and sculpture and contemporary art collections. Tip: don’t try to do all of the Art Institute in one trip. The museum has nearly one million square feet.
At the Monroe Street Modern Wing entrance, you walk into the two-story, sky-lit Griffin Court.
The elevator up to Levels Two and Three take you to the museum’s 20th and 21st century collections. To see what’s on exhibit regarding architecture, go up to the café overlooking the Court. The room off the back is devoted to architecture.
When ready for sustenance, take an elevator from the short corridor on the west side off Griffin Court up to Terzo Piano, an upscale Italian restaurant guided by famed Chef Tony Mantuano. Reservations are highly recommended because lunch, from 11 to 3 p.m. fills fast (312-443-8650).
Even if you don’t snag a reservation go out onto the Bluhm Family Terrace outside the restaurant for a spectacular photo op. You can capture Chicago’s skyline, Millennium Park and Lake Michigan in your lens. Plus there usually are some sculptures on the Terrace.
From there take Piano’s unusual Nichols Bridgeway pedestrian walk over Monroe Street down to Millennium Park. About halfway down turn around and take a photo of the Modern Wing.
If you’re still looking for a lunch spot see if a table is available in Millennium Park’sPark Grill. It is street level (behind the ice rink in winter) at 11 N. Michigan Ave.
You’ll want to end near there anyway because “The Bean,” Anish Kapoor’s stainless steel “Cloud Gate,” is directly above the Park Grill. You have to take a selfie at The Bean and a photo of Chicago’s reflected skyline on it. Everyone does.
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.
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.
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.
We could say luckily for tourists, commuters and residents Chicago is a foodie town so there are several options. But luck has nothing to do with it.
If you are doing the art and architecture walks or shopping, you need some suggestions on where to revive or take a break. If going to the theater, you’ll want to know a good place to eat within walking distance.
We could say luckily for tourists, commuters and residents Chicago is a foodie town so there are several options. But luck has nothing to do with it.
Once known for its steaks (after all the stockyards were here), expense-account, three-martini lunches, Sunday family dinners and neighborhood German, Italian, Greek and Chinese eateries, the city’s dining options began to expand about 1986-87 when James Beard award-winning chefs J Joho (The Everest Room), Charles Trotter (Charlie Trotter’s) and Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill/ Topolobampo and their restaurants became house-hold names among people looking for exceptional dining-out experiences.
Ironically, as experimental dish combinations took hold among chefs opening their own places, steaks and ethnic eateries came back in style.
Of course, some old-time Chicago favorites such as Gene and Georgetti’s for steaks in River North (north of the Chicago River, west of Michigan Avenue) and Berghoff’s for German food in the financial district (on Adams Street near LaSalle Street) made it through the fads.
Now, new restaurants open every week in the West Loop, South Loop and River North areas that circle downtown. Arguably, the problem is that Chicago’s vibrant dining scene means there are enough good choices to fill more than a month of lunch and dinners in and near downtown Chicago.
The following is a small sample of places to try. They are reasonably-priced gems. Reservations are strongly recommended for lunch or dinner.
When shopping Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile” along North Michigan Avenue from Wacker Drive to Oak Street, you can walk a couple of blocks either side of the Avenue and find excellent eateries for lunch or dinner. Two of them are Café des Architectes in the Sofitel Hotel 20 E. Chestnut St., just west of Michigan Avenue, near the Hancock Building north of the Chicago Avenue midpoint and Coco Pazzo Café at 636 N. St. Clair, east of Michigan Avenue, south of Chicago Avenue.
To get good, light ethnic foods in time for a performance at Symphony Center home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Michigan Avenue near Monroe Street or a Broadway in Chicago show at the Bank America Theatre on Monroe Street near State Street, try to get a reservation at Russian Tea Time, 77 E. Adams St.
Further south and west, is 312 Chicago at 136 N. LaSalle St. It is around the corner from the Cadillac Palace on Randolph Street which also does Broadway in Chicago shows and it’s about two blocks from the famed Goodman Theatre on Dearborn Street whose “Death of a Salesman” production traveled to New York.
Not everyone’s favorite restaurant is mentioned here and it’s OK to stumble on a place while walking and try it. There are so many good places, it’s hard to go wrong. So, enjoy Chicago!