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7/30/2014
Finally, finally, this late-blooming summer has opened up and given us a couple lovely warm weeks to nudge the garden along. My marigolds have exploded, and peeking under the leaves, I can see that several green tomatoes have rosy cheeks. And the farmers market has become a riot of color and texture, too. Last week’s haul included a beautiful basket of green beans. Sweet, fresh-... More
7/28/2014
With patriotic charm, Old West adventure, sweeping history lessons, stunning scenery, caves and paleontology, and wildlife galore, South Dakota’s Black Hills is one of America’s greatest family destinations. Here are 10 places to spark kids’ imaginations, dole out sneaky history lessons and replace “Are we there yet?” with “Wow!” 1) 1880 Train ... More
7/25/2014
An old white wooden door, with chipped paint and idle hinges, gets new life with a strip of black chalkboard paint down the center and a scrawl of chalk. “All it takes is a great mind,” it announces. “And a pile of junk.” Twice a year, Junkstock upcycles an old Omaha, Nebraska, dairy farm into a haven for shoppers seeking repurposed, vintage, retro and antique... More
7/23/2014
The Twin Cities embrace the outdoors with family-friendly attractions such as Valleyfair amusement park, Twins baseball and the Minnesota Zoo, but there’s plenty inside to keep kids busy when the weather’s too hot or wet. 1) Minnesota Children’s Museum Build sandcastles on the rooftop, run a cafe, crawl through tunnels, make a music video and splash... More
7/21/2014
The Ozarks make a stunning backdrop for biking, hiking, water sports and outdoor recreation during an active Midwest weekend getaway in Branson. 1) Table Rock Dam and Lake Anchored by a massive dam (see the ins and outs of the structure on a guided tour), this White River-fed reservoir serves as the centerpiece of Branson’s great outdoors. In the warm months, the lake is prime... More
7/18/2014
I had dreamed of going to Italy this summer to see historical mosaic art. Instead, that money went toward a bathroom remodel. So I took a basics workshop at the Chicago Mosaic School, the only classical and contemporary mosaic training school in the United States. In an afternoon, I got my Italian art fix and discovered a new way to be creative. These are the seven... More
7/16/2014
Bacon. Funnel cakes. Deep fried. On a stick. Those four elements are a fairgoer's dream, and you can find at least one each in our picks for top 15 new fair foods. Here's a sampling of the mouth-watering highlights from seven of the Midwest's beloved state fairs. Don't forget the Tums. Indiana State Fair August 1-17 Photos courtesy of the... More
7/14/2014
Because 5 million annual visitors flow into the Wisconsin Dells like a tidal wave, you'll find an overwhelming number of places clamoring for your vacation dollars. Go ahead and splurge on big resorts with on-site water parks if your kids are happy jumping, sliding and splashing the day away, but you can usually save money by traveling midweek and dining off-property. You can... More
7/9/2014
Fueled by a local craft brew and an overflowing gyro from a food stand, I wandered from tent to art-filled tent at the downtown 2014 Des Moines Arts Festival. Pastel paintings of gorgous florals, curvy glass-blown vases and, yes, even sculptures of copper wire rabbits on bikes caught my attention as I weaved through the laid-back crowd. (I could picture the painting and vase in my living room;... More
7/9/2014
At many museums, when you pay for admission, you receive headphones to hear a narrated tour. At the Rhythm! Discovery Center in Indianapolis, the receptionist offers a pair of earplugs. On our recent visit, my parents and I chuckled and politely refused—after all, surely the point of a museum of percussion instruments is to hear the music, right? But a minute later, as my daughter gleefully... More