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3/4/2015
The first time I visited Springfield, Illinois, I wanted to know if there was any unique local food I should try. My boyfriend, a Springfield native, told me about the horseshoe: two pieces of Texas toast, two hamburger patties, Welsh rarebit cheese sauce, topped off with a mountain of french fries. My response was something between shock and admiration: I had a feeling I was going... More
3/2/2015
In February, our Instagram photographers delighted in the contrasts of winter: red barns against snow, bare trees silhouetted against bright blue skies, brilliant sunsets and sunrises. The five most-liked photos of the month: #1: A rural winter wonderland near Knoxville, Iowa, by @iowablessed (https://instagram.com/p/y18RbZGzR0/). #2:  "Fiery sunset" in northwest Indiana... More
2/27/2015
Drive through southern and central Michigan for a road trip into automobile history. The MotorCities National Heritage Area encompasses 1,200 auto-related sites, attractions and events—the largest concentration in the world. (There’s an interactive map at motorcities.org.) Here are eight stops that honor the industry’s past and give hope for its future, all in the shadow of the... More
2/25/2015
Dear Spring, Although I've had a good time with winter, I'm ready to say good-bye (he's been a bit blustery and cold). I'm looking forward to greeting you ... it's been way too long. When you arrive, could you please bring: 1. Flowers 2. Electric green   3. Rain 4. Songbirds 5. Flowers 6. Farm-fresh produce 7. Tree... More
2/23/2015
Most restaurants don’t require a game plan for dinner. But then again, most restaurants aren’t the Purple Pig. This tiny restaurant is the passion project of celeb chefs Scott Harris (Mia Francesca), Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia) and Jimmy Bannos Jr. (Heaven on Seven), with a prime location just off Michigan Avenue that holds, at any given time, fewer than 100 diners. Wait times... More
2/20/2015
1) Silver Dollar City What if an amusement park could time-travel to 1880? That’s the idea at this Ozarks attraction packed with thrill rides, musical shows, restaurants and shops. You’ll see artisans demonstrating pottery, glassblowing and woodcarving, as well as costumed interpreters wandering the property to lend an air of late-1800s authenticity. Brave the looping Outlaw Run... More
2/18/2015
On a cold February morning, the collective honking of hundreds of swans rises like a stadium roar as the birds gather in a narrow park wedged between two homes in Monticello, Minnesota. It’s 10:30 a.m., and the community’s wintering flock of trumpeter swans knows it’s feeding time. Well-bundled for this seasonal chore, Jim Lawrence doles out hundreds of pounds of corn... More
2/16/2015
Jane Fiala pulls over for barns. The self-proclaimed barn hunter regularly escapes from her suburban Minneapolis home and hits the backroads of Minnesota to capture the perfect scene of her favorite subject. “I give no thought to where I am, sometimes getting lost and needing to use GPS to find my way home," she says. "Along the way, I’ve had farm dogs chase me,... More
2/13/2015
Love may be in the air this Valentine's Day weekend, but scientists hope you'll pay attention to something else—birds. Today through Monday (February 13–16), Midwesterners can join bird-lovers all over the world to view and track bird species for the 18th annual Great Backyard Bird Count. House sparrow Participating is easy. For at least 15 minutes on any (... More
2/11/2015
If you’re in Milwaukee, you’re going to need to get your appetite ready. The folks in Brew City, known for Friday fish fries and beer, among other things, eat and drink very well. So it’s no surprise that on a recent visit eating and drinking took up about 75 percent of our outings. The other 25 percent of our time was spent letting it all settle in so we could... More