Consider theWit for a downtown holiday staycation

Ice skating the Ribbon in Millennial Park is easy when taking a staycation. (City of Chicago photo)
Ice skating the Ribbon in Millennial Park is easy when taking a staycation. (City of Chicago photo)

You’re in The Loop when you stay at theWit.

Well situated at State and Lake Streets, the hotel is close to Macy’s shopping, Walnut Room tree and holiday windows, Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol,” Millennial Park’s Caroling at Cloud Gate and ice skating rinks, the Chriskindle Market, a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago’s holiday-decorated Thorne Miniature Rooms and a short bus ride to the Auditorium theatre to see Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” Continue reading “Consider theWit for a downtown holiday staycation”

Staycation for the holidays

North Michigan Avenues Magnificent Mile twinkles after the Mickey and Minnie Mouse parade flicks the lights switch (City of Chicago photo)
North Michigan Avenues Magnificent Mile twinkles after the Mickey and Minnie Mouse parade flicks the lights switch (City of Chicago photo)

Shopping, shows, sights and lights, Chicago’s festival markets and moments seem to be descending at express-train speed. But instead of shouting “stop the train,” take control of the season with a “staycation” that balances shopping with spa time, festival watching with fitness-center wellness and special exhibits with special cocktails.

Several Chicago hotels are putting together packages that make staying downtown a fun alternative to insanely commuting to catch events. Because holiday gifts and sights stretch from Macy’s on State and the Art Institute of Chicago to Magnificent Mile and the Lincoln Park Zoo, a good plan is to make your holiday headquarters a hotel near Michigan Avenue. Continue reading “Staycation for the holidays”

Look for Orionid meteors

Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA
Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA

Look up! If the night sky is clear where you live watch for the Oronids, a major meteor shower produced by the debris from Halley’s comet.

Named for Orion the Hunter because the meteors seem to radiate from the constellation, the Orionids have been already shooting across the sky and will do so into November. But they are peaking now through Oct. 22.

They have been known to shoot across the sky at 80 an hour but according to Bill Cooke a NASA they are likely to number from 30 to 40 per hour. They are very fast 148,000 mph so watch carefully.

The question is how much a factor is the moon which has waned to its half-phase. The full Hunters Moon has already passed but moonlight may make a difference. However, go to a spot without streetlights and commercial buildings. You won’t want binoculars because you are watching the whole sky.

Several astronomy sites have good charts and information on meteors. Take a look at Time and Date, Space and EarthySky.

Discovering a great way to vacation in Central Florida

Pools and golf courses at Omni Orlando resort. J Jacobs photo)
Pools and golf courses at Omni Orlando resort. J Jacobs photo)

Sometimes my family stayed on a Disney property. Other times we stayed at a nearby  resort but rented a car. This time, I decided to accompany a small group whose aim was to check out a variety of attractions and travel options in the Kissimmee area.

The result was one surprise after another.

This was to be a no-car rental vacation. Yes, renting a car will likely be an option for some families and couples but we wanted to see what could work without that choice.

Continue reading “Discovering a great way to vacation in Central Florida”

A Wisconsin fall getaway

 

Fall in Ephraim, (Photo by John Nienhuis and Door County)
Fall in Ephraim, (Photo by John Nienhuis and Door County)

Picture a small town where goats on a restaurant roof can cause a traffic jam in a county where visitors to its scenic towns often gather around huge outdoor pots to watch traditional fish boils.

It is Door County, a peninsula that separates the calm waters of Green Bay from turbulent waves of Lake Michigan and where the must-take-home items are chocolate covered cherries or cherry pies and the must-visit time of year is fall.

An easy drive from Green Bay’s airport, the route on the way to the Sturgeon Bay, the first vacation town on the peninsula, is dotted with the crimsons, golds and pinksm of changing leaves. And, as TV ads say, “But wait.” The colors keep intensifying, driving northwest along curving roads through picturesque villages.

Continue reading “A Wisconsin fall getaway”

Where to keep travel notes

 

My Travel Journal illustrated by Katie Vernon. (Photo by J Jacobs)
My Travel Journal illustrated by Katie Vernon. (Photo by J Jacobs)

Just cleaned out the cabinet over my kitchen desk and found a travel journal I used years ago when going around Spain, later what was then (Josip Broz) Tito’s Yugoslavia, and even later, around Italy and Switzerland..

There was no way I could go back to my computer to finish a current travel article I started until I read through the whole journal.

From delightful Spanish Paradores (restored castles, monasteries) where we stayed to fascinating town of Rondo on a scary drive up a precipitous mountain road and from driving around the Kotor fijord in Montenegro to meandering through ancient walled city of Dubrovnik, reminiscing past adventures took up the rest of the day. And that was not counting reliving the Italy-Switzerland trip.

Continue reading “Where to keep travel notes”

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”

Famed Oshkosh air show almost here

 

Airshow. Military. F-22. Raptor. (Photo by Nick Moore and courtesy of EAA AirVenture)
Airshow. Military. F-22. Raptor. (Photo by Nick Moore and courtesy of EAA AirVenture)

 

If looking for a different experience this summer consider going to the spectacular EAA (Experimental Aircraft Assoc.) AirVenture Show July 22-28 in Oshkosh, WI., a historic lumber town on Lake Winnebago at the Fox River.

 

About half a million aircraft and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world fly in for the show which will feature historic military aircraft to today’s sophisticated  machines  – all at the Wittman Regional Airport. Best plan is to start looking now for a place to stay in the region.

 

Early in the week, highlights include the Warbirds of America show when a B-29 Doc and FIFI will fly together and the United States Air force Heritage Flight fly-overs of an F-35, A-10. and two P-51s. There will also be a salute to World War II ace Bud Anderson so all flying P-51s in the U.S. have been invited to participate.

 

In addition, U.S. Navy fighter aircraft, including F4U Corsairs, the gullwing fighters that were a key asset in the Pacific Theater will be on hand and there will be an observance of the 75th anniversary of D-Day with aircraft that participated in the actual invasion on June 6, 1944, as well as C-47 airplanes that will have just returned from a historic anniversary flight to France.

 

Later in the week is a tribute to the Apollo 11 flight.on its 50th anniversary  when Apollo command module pilot Michael Collins will be the main guest, joined by Apollo astronaut Joe Engle at a program hosted by space shuttle astronaut Charlie Precourt.

 

“Even a half-century later, the Apollo 11 mission stands as one of the great human achievements of all time,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs, who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions.

 

An additional theme will be aerial firefighting sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service with support from aircraft operators and manufacturers.

 

Activities are planned with the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, EAA Warbirds of America, and individual aircraft owners. Every afternoon will have flight-precision aerobatics plus there are daily programs and workshops.

 

Air Show Hours: Daily – July 22-27, 2019: 2:30-6 p.m. & Sunday, July 28, 2019: 1-4:30 p.m.  Night Air Shows – Wednesday, July 24 and Saturday, July 27: 8-10 p.m.

 

To see headliners and times visit features attractions and schedule.  Also find more information at EAA Airventure.

 

 

Move July Fourth celebration to another level

 

DC Fireworks (Photo courtesy of PBS and Capitol Fourth)
DC Fireworks (Photo courtesy of PBS and Capitol Fourth)

 

 

There’s nothing wrong with going to a local parade followed by watching a neighboring town’s fireworks. But if interested in celebrating the day the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence differently this year, consider visiting a historic town or watching the exceptional concert and fireworks of “A Capitol Fourth” on national TV.

 

 

 

The historic town of Galena, IL has yummy shops and good festivals. (J Jacobs photo)
The historic town of Galena, IL has yummy shops and good festivals. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Galena, a small, historic town celebrates with floats and fireworks 

 

The Galena Territory in far northwest Illinois is rife with 19th century historic sites.

 

Indeed, a large portion of the downtown of the City of Galena is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is President Ulysses S. Grant’s hometown, a stopping place for Abraham Lincoln when he campaigned for presidential hopeful John Fremont, and the town of the oldest operating hotel in Illinois, the DeSota House.

 

Even though Galena is a small town with a population of of less than 3,500 (2010 census), its historic buildings, really good dining spots and B&Bs and surrounding picturesque hills have made it a popular destination with fun art and wine festivals and such special events as its annual 4th of July parade, celebration and fireworks.

 

What you need to know: The 23rd Annual Galena Independence Day Celebration and the parade is on Main Street. The fun begins at 3 p.m. Then the parade is at 6 p.m.  After the parade, go to the Green Street Plaza for food, beverages and live entertainment until the fireworks start at dusk in Grant Park. For a high view of the fireworks, reserve a spot at the Rooftop Party on the DeSoto House Hotel. For more information call (815) 776-9200 and check out Visit Galena.

 

 

 

Annual Capitol Fourth celebration in Washington D.C. (Photo courtesy of PBS and Capitol Fourth)
Annual Capitol Fourth celebration in Washington D.C. (Photo courtesy of PBS and Capitol Fourth)

 

Washing D.C. celebrates the country’s Declaration of Independence in a big-town, Capitol Fourth way.

 

First, there is a fabulous concert on the West Lawn of the United states Capitol building. Hosted by acotr/producer John Stamos, it will feature Carole King and the Broadway cast of Beautiful, recording artist and television/ film/Broadway star Vanessa Williams, award winning electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers/R&B legends The O’Jays; plus several more award-winning vocalists with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly

 

In addition, the concert includes Patrick Lundy & The Ministers of Music, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, Members of the Armed Forces carrying the State and Territorial Flags and the Armed Forces Color Guard provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

 

The event also has a family treat thanks to the Sesame Street Muppets performing patriotic and other well-known songs. Of course, the concert will pay tribute to men and women in uniform with a special performance by the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band.

 

Fireworks begin at dusk while the Natiional Symphony Orchestra continues to play patriotic tunes.

 

What you need to know: “A Capitol Fourth” will air on PBS Thursday, July 4, 2019 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET. The program can also be heard live in stereo over NPR member stations and will be live-streamed on PBS.org, YouTube and Facebook. Plus, kids activities connected to the holiday can be found at Fun/Fourtth July Activities.

 

“A Capitol Fourth” is made possible by grants from The Boeing Company, the National Park Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Department of the Army, PBS and public television viewers nationwide. Air travel is provided by American Airlines.