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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
7/7/2014
I’m having a delightful Saturday night at Cleveland’s Palace Theatre, even though there’s nothing on stage but a single-bulb floor lamp, burning like a star front and center. I peek around the curtain from a front-row seat, studying the complex web of ropes and weights that operate the scenery. I stare up at rows of lights that help transform the place on any given night from... More
7/2/2014
Stormy skies and fog formed the backdrop for our most popular Instagram photos in June. Here are the five most-liked photos last month:  #1: Clouds building over Lawrence, Kansas, photographed by @joshuaholland (http://instagram.com/p/pZpbW8GzY8/). #2: Striking barn and silo in Stuart, Iowa, by @j_nutterbutter (http://instagram.com/p/pjAZvYGzXD/). #3: "Flying... More
6/30/2014
Every Midwestern city has its gems, but St. Louis takes the crown when it comes to free things to do. Here are some of the best deals (but do factor in parking fees) in St. Louis: 1) Saint Louis Zoo Go early to what’s considered one of the top zoos in the nation. Its has 19,000 animals living on its 90 acres. Though visitors have to pay for extras, such as... More
6/25/2014
Have a blast this Fourth of July decorating your table using either of these easy, patriotic tabletop ideas. If you’re like me and are a member of the ultimate procrastinators club, you will love how quickly either table can be pulled together.  Carnation flag centerpiece Delight your guests with this striking focal piece. You will need two dozen red, two dozen... More
6/25/2014
In South Dakota’s Black Hills, mica and quartz sparkle along trails and thick stands of pines decorate granite peaks and distinctive spires seen from scenic overlooks. Here are some of our favorite Black Hills adventures: 1) Harney Peak A majestic four-state view unfurls from the highest point in South Dakota at 7,242 feet above sea level. Pack a lunch for this 4- or 5-mile (... More
6/23/2014
Who would you rank as Hollywood’s greatest best-friend pairings? Butch & Sundance? Thelma & Louise? It doesn’t take long to reach Woody & Buzz. Pixar’s Toy Story franchise has now enchanted a couple of generations with the angsty cowboy and his idealistic astronaut pal. And it turns out that the Grammy-winning musical soundtrack to their partnership springs from a... More
6/20/2014
Digging, planting, building: Julie Schnedler’s sixth-grade students in Mediapolis, Iowa, were busy last month in their school’s outdoor classroom. The Mediapolis Education Foundation won $5,000 for the project from Midwest Living's Dream-It Do-It Community Challenge. The money was used to buy plants, mulch, soil, tools, a weather station, wood for planters and a watering system... More