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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
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
2/23/2015
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
2/11/2015
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
1/30/2015
Romance is in the eye of the beholder. In Chicago, you can have your fill of traditional romance—horse-drawn carriages, candlelit meals, roaring fireplaces—or you can venture out and explore some unique options, like an exhibit of historical love letters, a class making lust-worthy chocolate truffles or an Italian adventure (right here in the Midwest). As cupid draws his arrow in... More
1/26/2015
“Free” is such a beautiful word. Especially when it’s paired with something really cool to see or do. My hometown of Madison offers a wealth of free or low-cost entertainment options to keep you entertained while your wallet stays full. Here are some of my favorites. 1) Olbrich Botanical Gardens Wander 16 acres of outdoor specialty gardens at Olbrich, including a... More
1/23/2015
More than 100 years ago, the Ball family brought its glass factory from New York to Muncie, Indiana, to take advantage of huge deposits of natural gas that could be used in glass production. Ball's glass canning jars revolutionized food preservation, and as Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company thrived, the family gave back to the community. Ball moved to Colorado... More
1/19/2015
Take a fantastical walk through free-form nature art in Minnesota’s new Ice Castle. “It looks like a fairy’s ice rink!” exclaims my 10-year-old daughter, Katie, as she peeks over a ledge near a frozen waterfall, runs to an icy archway and disappears. This man-made frozen destination opened January 9 in Eden Prairie’s Miller Park (20 minutes... More