Five Thanksgiving things to do in Chicago

You never know what characters you will see in Chicago's Thanksgiving parade (JJacobs photo)
You never know what characters you will see in Chicago’s Thanksgiving parade (JJacobs photo)

Chicago has been named by several publications among the country’s top three destinations. Among the reasons: great theater, good food choices, world-class museums and friendly people who are willing to help with directions.

However, if visiting family or friends they also have some ideas of what to do and where to go. The problem is how to fit everything in a limited time and what ought to be done ahead of time.

A lot of Chicago holiday events start Thanksgiving weekend even when it comes early such as this year, 2018, when it feels like it is arriving ahead of time on Nov. 22.

Tip: The day after Thanksgiving is a mad shopping scene downtown and on the Magnificent Mile (North Michigan Avenue) so work up a turkey-sized appetite by spending Thanksgiving Day downtown, instead. Then, head to where-ever your feast is for your yummy reward. The next couple of days see a play or explore an area near but outside Chicago.

A Macy's State Street holiday window
A Macy’s State Street holiday window

 

  • It’s OK to watch on TV but to do something different, splurge and reserve a seat in the VIP section in front of Macy’s State Street store. Visit Chicago’s Thanksgiving parade to reserve seats. The parade is 8-11 a.m. on State Street.

 

  • Do Macy’s State Street store holiday windows. If at the parade, take time to ooh and aah at the magical scenes in Macy’s windows. Started in Chicago by Marshall Field’s the department store windows have charmed shoppers State Street. Decorated with toys since 1897 and transitioned to holiday windows with Uncle Mistletoe in 1946, peering into the windows to see the stories and themes that Field’s and then Macy’s have is a beloved Chicago-area holiday tradition.Macy’s State Street windows will be decorated from Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 5, 2019.
Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza (City of Chicago photo)
Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza (City of Chicago photo)
  • No, don’t leave downtown yet. Walk a couple of blocks west on Washington Street (south side of Macy”s) to Daley Plaza between Clark and Dearborn Streets to browse eat and shop at the Christkindlmarket. Based on the holiday market in Nuremberg, Germany, the Chicago version has also become a Chicago tradition since 1995. In 2018 it is up from Nov. 16 to Dec. 24.

 

  • Over the weekend, use the Thanksgiving theme to see and then discuss “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live from Chicago.” The production, based on Frank Capra’s film, has also become a holiday tradition at American Blues Theater, Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. The show features an original score and holiday carols. Plus, the Bedford Falls “residents” treat the audience to milk and cookies. The show runs from Nov. 15, 2018 to Jan. 5, 2019. For tickets visit American Blues Theater.
Miniature trains wind around Chicago buildings in Wonderland Express (J Jacobs photo)
Miniature trains wind around Chicago buildings in Wonderland Express (J Jacobs photo)
  • Drive north to the Chicago Botanic Garden to fall in love with the Wonderland Express. The train themes sounds like it maybe for kids but adults love it just as much because it includes terrific mock-ups of the Chicago area’s highlights from skyscrapers  and Millennial Park’s “Bean” to Wrigley Field and from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, South Shore’s Cultural Center and the B’hai temple in Wilmette. Don’t worry about the “snow falling inside on your shoulder, its harmless. Do stop in the adjacent greenhouses to see poinsettias and topiaries. The Botanic Garden  is just east of Edens Expressway at Lake Cook Road bordering Highland Park.This is a timed and ticketed event so for tickets go to  Chicago Botanic WEX.

 

Plan ahead, then go for it!

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous gardens illuminate for the holidays

 

Walk among flowers, trees and interesting plants in the winter? Yes if the garden has been transformed with lights.

From the Chicago Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum in the Chicago area to Bellingrath Gardens and Home near Mobile, AL and the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, several gardens across the United States are putting on their holiday evening finery with lights and sounds to say enjoy the season no matter what the temps.

Whether you take a a “staycation” or go out of town, there’s likely to be a garden near by dressed up for the holidays.

Delightful lights and scenes are around every corner at Bellingrath Gardens outside Movile, AL. Jodie Jacobs photo
Delightful lights and scenes are around every corner at Bellingrath Gardens outside Movile, AL. Jodie Jacobs photo

 

Bellingrath

If near Mobile, AL do get tickets to explore Bellingrath Gardens and Home. The 65-acre estate of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath treats visitors to breathtaking light displays and the home is decorated for the holidays.

Called Magic Christmas in Lights, and running Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, 2017, the holiday event has  about 15 scenes, 1,100 displays and three million lights to surprise visitors around every corner and off in the distance.. Weekends feature choral groups on the home’s South Terrace.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home is at 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Rd., Theodore, AL. For tickets, hours and more information call 800) 247 8420 and visit Bellingrath Magic.

 

Chicago Botanic Gardens

In the Chicago area trees sparkle with thousands of lights outside and trains toot around city landmarks inside during the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Wonderland Express celebration, Nov. 24, 2017 through Jan. 7, 2018. BTW there is gently falling snow in the main train area and poinsettias in the greenhouses.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe. For tickets and other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit Chicago Botanic Wonderland.

 

Morton Arboretum 

Illumination at Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL is stunning and fun. Morton Arboretum photo
Illumination at Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL is stunning and fun. Morton Arboretum photo

Also, go over to the Morton Arboretum where colored lights spectacularly light up the grounds during Illumination Nov. 17, 2017 through Jan. 1, 2018. The lights are interactive with some lights moving to music and some trees changing color with a hug or song. A medallion will also be sold that reacts to the sights and sounds.

The Morton Arboretum is at 4100 IL Hwy, 53, Lisle. For tickets and other information call (630) 968-0074 and visit Morton Arb Illumination.

Tip: Tickets to the Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum holiday shows need to be bought in advance because they are time and date specific and sell-out early.

 

Desert Botanical Garden

If vacationing in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area go over to the Desert Botanical Garden for Las Noches de las Luminarias, Nov. 24 through Dec. 30, 2017. Wander the paths lit by thousands of luminaria bags and twinkling lights. In addition the garden will be featuring the work of Japanese American sculptor Jun Kaneko.

The Desert Botanical Garden is at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ. For tickets and other information call 480-941-1225 and visit DBG Luminarias.

 

Next in the holiday series will be zoo lights but if you have a favorite holiday garden visit not mentioned here please tell us in Leave a Reply.

 

Where to watch solar eclipse in Metropolitan Chicago

 

Just about everyone in the Chicago area knows that the moon will block out most of the sun midday, Monday,  Aug. 21, 2017.

The different phases of a solar eclipse are on a floor at the Adler Planetarium in'Chasing Eclipses.' Jodies Jacobs photo
The different phases of a solar eclipse are on a floor at the Adler Planetarium in ‘Chasing Eclipses.’ Jodie Jacobs photo

And most of them have heard that they need the certified glasses to watch the event or watch through a hole aimed at the ground where they see the event’s shadow.

Chicago will be in about 87 percent darkness during the height of the eclipse by 1:19 p.m. which is enough to feel the temperature change and that night has come.

So, the question is where to watch. Certainly Chicago’s TV channels, including WGN,  will be broadcasting. But to experience the event with others check the places listed here and your local library, park district, forest preserve district or junior college.

 

 

Adler Planetarium on the Museum campus at 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, provides the best overall experience because along with giving out the proper glasses at no charge, it will have free general admission so visitors can see its “Chasing Eclipses exhibit. The Adler will also have lots of outdoor activities. For details visit Adler Eclipse Fest.

 

Chicago Botanic Garden at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, is holding a viewing party from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Esplanade and in the Krasberg Rose Garden. The event includes free solar glasses (one per family while supplies last) that will begin distribution at 10 a.m. There will also be other activities. For details visit Botanic Garden Eclipse.

 

Chicago Park District will host eclipse events at 20 parks and include glasses provided by the Adler Planetarium until they run out. For park locations visit Chicago Park District Eclipse.

 

Chicago Public Library will host viewing events at several branches. For the one nearest you click CPL Events.

 

Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave., Evanston, will have a viewing party at its main location on Orrington Avenue from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more details visit EPL.

 

Lake County Forest Preserve District has a solar eclipse viewing party  at Ryerson Woods, 21950 N. Riverwoods Rd, Riverwoods, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.. It’s free and for all ages but adult supervisions required for children.. Viewing will be by indirect projection. Viewer supplies and instruction available. Visit LCFP.

 

Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster  St., Naperville is having a viewing picnic from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Naperville residents and members free. General admission is $5. Bring lunch. Limited space so first come basis. Viewing glasses are complementary. More information at NaperSettlement.

 

Park District of Oak Park and Oak Park Public Library will host a viewing party at Scoville Park, 800 Lake St., Oak Park. They will have some solar glasses and instruction on pinhole viewers. If conditions dictate the event will be at the library. For more information visit PDOP.

 

More eclipse information at NASA, ‘Where to be August’ 21‘ and ‘Adler Exhibit.’

 

 

 

 

 

Five favorite Chicago area alfresco spaces

How picky are you when it comes to eating outdoors when you want to take advantage of Chicago’s often too -short summer season?

If not at all picky, you might not mind cars pulling into the spaces close to your sidewalk café table. After all, sidewalk cafés are not just a Parisian thing. As soon as the weather turns balmy, lots of restaurants set out tables. Sometimes the space is marked off by planters.

However, here are a few places to consider if looking for a bumper-free, emissions-free  outdoor experience when you want to relax over brunch lunch, dinner or cocktails. in or around Chicago . The places may not be what you would expect but they’re nice for relaxing, meeting friends, lovely views and good food.

 

Lake Forest

At Market House on the Square in north suburban Lake Forest, guests favor the historic building’s (former fire station) British-style bar and dining room when there is a chill in the air. But when summer comes, it’s all about lunching or dining out on the patio. Nothing is typical here. From a tempura fish sandwich and a “griddled” burger with wild mushrooms and red pepper ranch or a poached pear salad at lunch to PEI mussels with frites or a short ribs shepherd’s pie for supper, the offerings are delish and creative. Many of the menu items come from Executive Chef Dan Marquis’ Mill Road Farms.

Market House on the Square is at 655 Forest Ave., Lake Forest, IL. For reservations call (847) 234-8800 and visit Market House.

Chicago Botanic Garden features three places to eat with relaxing views. Jacobs photo
Chicago Botanic Garden features three places to eat with relaxing views.
Jacobs photo

 

Glencoe

Instead of only going to the Chicago Botanic Garden to walk among the flowers or visit the Brazilian butterflies that are there now, plan to do breakfast, brunch or lunch ton the outdoor deck of the Garden View Café.  There is also the Garden Grille for burgers and brats and the new Rose Terrace Beer Garden that has craft beers when looking for a place to lunch or for later dining and relaxing with a garden view.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe just east of the Edens Expressway. For more information call (847) 835-5440 and visit CBG  and Chicago Botanic Outdoor Dining.

 

Chicago’s Mag Mile

Walk into Shanghai Terrace at the Peninsula Chicago and relax outdoors with a terrific cocktail and wonderful dim sum (think shrimp, Peking duck and barbecue pork). The restaurant a few floors above North Michigan Avenue, spreads outside with comfortable seating and tables as soon as weather permits.

The Peninusla Chicago is at 108 E. Superior St., Chicabgo. For reservations and other information call (312) 573- 6695 or 312-337-288 and visit Peninsula.

 

Wheaton

Who would have thought a public golf course would also be known as an event venue or for its cuisine or for its wonderful patio. But if in the Wheaton area at meal time, stop at the Arrowhead Golf Club and ask for an outside table. The club ss a public facility operated  by the Wheaton Park District that just happens to have great food and views of the course from its terrace like patio.

Arrowhead Golf Club is at 26W151 Butterfield Rd.,  Wheaton, IL  For other information call (630) 653-5800) and visit Arrowhead Golf Club.

Enjoy good food and views from the terrace like patio at Arrowhead Golf Club, a public venue. Jacobs photo
Enjoy good food and views from the terrace like patio at Arrowhead Golf Club, a public venue. Jacobs photo

 

Geneva

There often is a wait list to sit on Fiora’s patio overlooking the town but people who go early and during the week can usually snag an outdoor  table. The restaurant is in a historic building where food and ambiance make it a popular choice.

Fiora’s is at 317 Third St., Geneva, IL. For reservations and more information call 630-262-1317 and visit Fiora’s.

 

BTW Please feel free to add your own favorite Chicago area place for dining outside.

 

Botanic Garden hosts “Jack-o-Lanterns” now and “Trains, Tricks, Treats, next weekend

Go to the Chicago Botanic Garden for a really unusual night time path walk, this weekend or go next weekend to see the Model Railroad Garden turn ghostly for its seasonal farewell.

Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns

For a different Halloween experience you can still snag a ticket to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Jack-o’-Lantern celebration. That is if you and your kids don’t mind going late. Tickets still available tonight, Oct. 22, from 10 to 11 p.m. and Sunday Oct. 23 from 9:30 to 11 p.m.

Celebrate Halloween this weekend and next at the Chicago Botanic Garden. CBG Photo
Celebrate Halloween this weekend and next at the Chicago Botanic Garden. CBG Photo

More than a thousand pumpkins, all hand-carved as Chicago places, Halloween characters and garden “oh, ohs” (think Willis tower, Dracula and Venus flytrap) plus Day of the Dead-style artwork, will line a festival path. The path also passes Halloween dressed characters and goes through the Model Railroad garden where there are ghostly trains. Goodies can be bought on the Esplanade before taking the path. More food is available at the Fruit and Vegetable Garden.

Best plan is to buy tickets online ahead of time and bring the confirmation with you. The website says “sold out” but a call to the garden revealed that some tickets were still available at this printing. But tickets may be purchased at the Garden’s Information desk if still available.

Tickets are $14 adult members, $16 nonmembers, children ages three to 12 are $12 and $14, free to children age 2 and under. Parking is free to members. Nonmember parking can be bought in advance. Visit Night for 1000 Jack-o’-Lantern for more info.

Trains, Tricks and Treats

Or celebrate Halloween at the Botanic Garden next weekend, Oct. 29-30. The event marks the last chance to visit the Model Railroad Garden this year. Expect more than the usual trains. It will be decked out with spider webs, ghosts and goblins. Look for tiny trick-or-treaters and even bats in the scenery. Families can dress for trick or treat and find treats and treasures along the way.

Adults $ 6, seniors $5, children 3–12 yrs $4 age 2 and under, free. Members get $1 discount. For other information visit Trains. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022. For other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit CBG

 

Another reason to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden

Drive into the Chicago botanic Garden on Lake Cook Road in Glencoe but instead of trying to park in the lot closest to the Information entrance, turn left into Lot 6. That’s because the Garden, a 385-acre fun destination any time of year, has a new attraction worth exploring as of Sept. 10, 2016.

Youngsters climb, roll and explore a new nature play area at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo: Jodie Jacobs
Youngsters climb, roll and explore a new nature play area at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo: Jodie Jacobs

Its  new, three-plus acre area bears the lofty title of Regenstein Learning Campus, however, the grounds are a place to play and explore.

Youngsters roll down grassy mounds, wriggle through tree trunk tunnels and splash along a  shallow, winding rivulet in the Nature Play Garden reminiscent of  TV’s “Teletubby” landscape.

Other connected outside areas can be visited but are used for pre-school and older activities and for aquatic learning. Inside the Learning Campus building are preschool spaces, a room outfitted with microscopes and a kitchen for food demonstrations.

This is where some of the family drop-in activities will happen Saturdays and Sundays Sept. 17 through Oct. 23, 2016 and probably the family weekend classes that  make gingerbread and coca in December.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022. For parking and other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit CBG.

 

Extend summer by doing something special Labor Day weekend

Take advantage of that extra day off work for a last-minute vacation.

Take advantage of that extra day off work for a last-minute vacation.

Fit in a Door County vacation to end the summer
Fit in a Door County vacation to end the summer

Door County, a Wisconsin peninsula separating Green Bay from Lake Michigan, is about 3 ½ hours north of Chicago. This is a place to just kick back, hike and bike the state parks and visit art galleries.

However, for a special treat, try to snag a ticket to “Grand Eloquence,” the peninsula’s last classical chamber concert of the summer season, Sept. 2 at 3 p.m. and plan to return home late Monday afternoon.

The concert is a repeat of one that sold out early in the series that is held in a fabulous, Gatsby-style, 35,000 square foot Ellison Bay estate.  The program is Gustav Mahler’s Quartet Movement in A minor for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano.

A dressy casual  (no shorts or flip flops) event, catered by Alexander’s of Door County, the concert benefits United Way of Door County and Midsummer’s Music Festival. Tickets are $150. For more information call 920-854-7088 and visit Midsummer Music.

Or, for summer’s waning days, plan trips to the northern suburbs of Chicago.

Check out butterflies or stroll the paths at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Check out butterflies or stroll the paths at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Visit the Chicago Botanic Garden. A butterfly is sure to land on your shoulder at “Butterflies and Blooms” in the garden’s net-enclosure. But the happening ends Sept. 2.

Fit in a visit to Long Grove. A historic village, settled in the mid-1800s, the town is home to such tasty shops as Long Grove Confectionery. However, it also has stores that carry wares from Italy, Ireland and other countries. Labor Day weekend features “Long Grove Around the World” to celebrate those shops.

Cap the weekend off with a picnic on the lawn and  concert at Ravinia Festival.

You can still picnic under the trees at Ravinia or get a dinner music package on Labor Day Weekend
You can still picnic under the trees at Ravinia or get a dinner music package on Labor Day Weekend

At Ravinia, hear violinist Johnny Gandelsman  play selections by Bach, Stravinsky, Glass and Biber Sept. 1 or pianist David Fung play Ravel, Scarlatti, Rachmaninoff Beethoven Sept. 2. Both concerts are 6 p.m. in Bennett Gordon Hall. Dinner packages are available. For tickets and more information visit Ravinia.

Photos (C) Jodie Jacobs

Spring blooms and great city equal a vacation destination

Spring is perfect for a vacation minus the crowds

Second in series on Spring vacation destinations is Chicago and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Warm weather welcomed visitors to Chicago even though the calendar said it was only the second weekend in April.

Couples were downing salads and sandwiches on the Park Grill patio at the edge of Millennium Park.

Visitors head up the paths in Millennium Park to see its Frank Gehry sculptured roof of the Pritztker Pavilion and Cloud Gate. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Visitors head up the paths in Millennium Park to see its Frank Gehry sculptured roof of the Pritztker Pavilion and Cloud Gate. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Youngsters were dashing up the park’s steps for a closer look at Cloud Gate, known as The Bean and the wild Frank Gehry sculptural roof of the Pritzker Pavilion

About 20 miles north, visitors kept pouring into the Chicago Botanic Garden by bike, SUV and on foot.

Spring had finally come to Chicago.

April and May are fine times to make Chicago a vacation destination. Paths along Lake

Michigan are not yet crammed with beach-goers. The Magnificent Mile of North Michigan Avenue isn’t jammed with shoppers and lookers. The theater and symphony seasons are still in full swing. Museums don’t have lines out the door.

Spring has come to Chicago and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Spring has come to Chicago and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

And about a half hour drive north, colorful blossoms line the Chicago Botanic Garden entrance, paths and surprise visitors around every corner.

Where to stay:

As a convention city, Chicago is blessed with more than 100,000 hotel rooms so finding one that meets budget, style and location specifications is usually easy.

Hotels with special stay and play packages usually list their current deals at

Parking in Chicago is pricy so look for a package that includes parking.

A recent check of hotel deals listed W Chicago Lakeshore which is convenient to Navy Pier, the Amalfi Hotel which is convenient to North Michigan Avenue shopping and the Hyatt Regency which is near Millennium Park.

What to do:

Check the Chicago Symphony Orchestra schedule. Symphony Center is across Michigan Avenue from Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago.

There is always something special to see at the Art Institute of Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
There is always something special to see at the Art Institute of Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

See “Kings, Queens and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France” at the Art Institute of Chicago through May 30, 2011.

The exhibit ends with a work by Leonardo da Vinci and his studio.

While there, be sure to explore the galleries either side of the special exhibit’s Regenstein hallways to see fine Whistlers and works of other famed artists.

Also take the elevator from the modern wing upstairs to the rooftop patio. Visitors can snap a great view of Millennium Park and the skyhline even if they aren’t eating in the adjacent restaurant.

The Art Institute's rooftop patio is a great place to look down onto Millennium Park and take in the skyline. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
The Art Institute's rooftop patio is a great place to look down onto Millennium Park and take in the skyline. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Go over to the Merchandise Mart on the Chicago River, a few blocks west of Michigan Avenue. The main floor has showrooms open to the public with great home decorating ideas. If at the Mart April 29 through May 2 see Art Chicago, an international fair that showcases contemporary and modern works.

Take a Chicago River Architectural Tour. Spring is the start of the boat tour season and Chicago is known as an architectural destination. Several organizations and companies offer good tours.

Drive north to Glencoe on I94 to Lake Cook Road and turn east for half a mile to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Spring blooms such as Dutch Crocus, surprise walkers around every curve and path at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Spring blooms such as Dutch Crocus, surprise walkers around every curve and path at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Spring is a fun time to explore its paths. Just about every turn uncovers another bulb opening or another plot of color. Take paths through the Japanese Islands and other islands to watch birds returning north and see trees beginning to bloom.

Stop in the Circle Garden to see colorful foxglove set against artistic fountain sprays and see what’s blooming in the English Garden and in the vegetable gardens.

Even though the weather is fine for walking outdoors, save time to visit the greenhouses to see cute topiaries and find out what is blooming indoors.

Add the Garden to a Chicago vacation.

Five ways to flavor your family holiday visit with fun and flair

Whether in or out of town, the next family Thanksgiving or winter holiday get together is also a chance to record old traditions and start some new ones.

Best, is to ink in some of the suggestions on the calendar so the holiday does not jump up before you are ready. Early November is not too early to start your planning.

Wreathing the Lions at the Art Institute of Chicago is a day after Thanksgiving tradition that includes several family activities
Wreathing the Lions at the Art Institute of Chicago is a day after Thanksgiving tradition that includes several family activities

1. Cell phone cameras are OK but if you want a high quality photo to save don’t forget to pack or have on hand a decent point and shoot camera. Some of them, such as Casio and Canon have movie capability. Digging into the turkey or ham, curling up on sofa or floor to play a board game or gazing at a tree or menorah lighting are memorable moments when someone says oops, who has a camera?

2. Add a new place to check out or a new activity to try. Sure it is tough to squeeze in research time before everyone comes or before you leave for the visit, but just adding a new adventure each year adds an element of excited anticipation. Chances are there are new exhibits at a museum you haven’t visited for ages, a nearby town that celebrates the holidays Dickens style, a forest preserve to hike or a family show, musical or ballet to see.

Trains, lights and miniature landmarks are an annual holiday tradition at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe
Trains, lights and miniature landmarks are an annual holiday tradition at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe

3. Seek an agency that is collecting gifts or food and where to bring the items. Family members can add the items to their shopping lists and increase the season’s joy by sharing.

4. Start a new tradition of trading reading material or recommendations during the visit.  It will give people something new to read on the way home or even during down time while visiting. Donate finished reading material to libraries and senior centers.

5. No question holiday time is also eating time which makes it a good excuse to try a new restaurant. The place may even become a new family tradition. Consider ethnic eateries, breakfast places and some that are outside the neighborhood or town. Definitely make a reservation.