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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
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
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
6/18/2014
A gnome’s watching me as I sip Vienna cinnamon tea in the lobby of the West Baden Springs Hotel. He seems a little out of place in the elegant domed atrium. But, I find out later, he’s right at home. The gnome is Sprudel, the unofficial hotel mascot. Sprudel is German for mineral water. And mineral water is why the hotel is here. That’s just a tiny part of the story... More
6/16/2014
The boundary-pushing one-upmanship of water-park-centric Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, stirs up a circus of superlatives. Biggest! Scariest! Longest! Fastest! It's a wonderland of engineering innovation—a bull’s-eye for travelers seeking big thrills and bragging rights. And if you’re more like me—only willing to try a few—it’s still fun to gawk at, laugh... More
6/9/2014
The 13-year-old boy made swinging from the trapeze bar set up outside St. Louis’ Union Station look easy. Through the Circus Harmony Flying Trapeze Center, Yair Kadan of St. Louis swung a few times—at least 25 feet above the parking lot—then dropped into the net with an easy bounce. Each time he added a new skill, including a flip dismount, hanging by his knees and the... More
6/4/2014
The Great Lakes Aquarium, an alpine roller coaster, the region's only zoo and a children's museum are just some of the family-friendly attractions in Duluth, the North Shore's largest city. 1) Great Lakes Aquarium Ever wondered what’s below the surface of Lake Superior? Explore the species living in the Great Lakes basin through a variety of interactive exhibits. Watch... More
5/28/2014
Lying face down on a glass window jutting out 1,000 feet above Chicago’s busy streets, I give thanks that I am not afraid of heights. Of course, if I were, I wouldn’t have stepped onto the platform of the new Tilt attraction on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center. But there I stood, toes against the glass, with seven other brave souls gripping metal handles flanking the floor... More
5/21/2014
1) The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium Set on a 10-acre riverfront campus, this attraction highlights the life, culture and history of America’s most iconic waterway via multimedia displays and 12 large aquariums. If you can pry the kids away from building boats at the water table in the River Works section, take in a show at the  3D/4D theater. (563) 557-9545;... More