Think Local

Think Local

Today I’m departing from our summer trip re-cap (I’ll pick back up with Wisconsin Dells next week) to give you all a little challenge.  I need it too – so I’ll be joining right in! Without any current trips planned, I need to find a way to still enjoy a “vacation” lifestyle.  Living near a decent sized city (Indianapolis) there are many things to do, but I tend to ignore what’s in my own backyard – the small suburb town I live in.  Don’t we all?  Even those of us who live in a vacation destination often take it for granted. So this week, I challenge you to take a day, afternoon or even an evening to do something locally.  Pick something that you’ve always said you need to check out, or a new restaurant to try, or a tourist attraction that you overlook since it’s always available. I spent all of 15 minutes this morning researching to try to find something fun and came up with so much!  A paint your own pottery place, shopping on our downtown square, TWO new restaurants that I haven’t tried yet, floating down the river, archery and/or a ropes course at our newest park, a winery I never knew existed and the 4-H fair.  Definitely, plenty I could do.  The fair will for sure happen as both my kids exhibit lots of projects, and in fact, I’ll do a full post next week on how to enjoy your county or state fair.  Now I just need to put together a fun outing with something else I’ve found … Check back next week...
Chicago Visit – Day 3

Chicago Visit – Day 3

Our last day in Chicago – we did a lot this trip but didn’t even touch everything we would have liked to have done.  Next time, right? We started the day by walking from our hotel to Millenium Park – it was about 15 minutes, so an easy little stroll.  It was going to be a hot day, so there were already lots of people enjoying the Crown Fountain. Just a few feet later we checked out the Bean.  We took dozens of pictures and had fun walking all around it, but my favorite was this one looking up into it from underneath: We walked across the bridge into the Maggie Daley Park next.  This is a fairly new addition to the city and a great place to hang out for a few hours or afternoon.  There is a huge climbing wall surrounded by what is called the Skating Ribbon.  We had planned to rent roller blades and skate around it, but the ribbon was closed for a summer camp – next time!  In the winter, they turn the ribbon into a place to ice skate – I think that would be fun.  The park also has a mini-golf course, play garden and several open fields perfect for kicking a ball around.  It’s a great addition to the city. As my daughter loves all things Italian, next we walked over to Eataly for lunch and shopping.  If you love Italian food, this is a fun place to check out.  We enjoyed checking out all the varieties of pasta, sauces, cheeses, oils, etc.  We purchased a few types of pasta...
Chicago Visit – Day 2

Chicago Visit – Day 2

The second day of our Chicago trip started early for me.  Everyone was sleeping so I slipped out to the Starbucks across the street to get a little work done.  It was relaxing and fun to people watch in a different city. Once we got going, we hopped onto the Big Bus and took it over to Navy Pier.  We had just enough time to enjoy a smoothie and green juice before walking over to the Shakespeare Theater to see the opening performance of Peter Pan.  What a treat!  The theater itself is beautiful and worth a visit – there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  The show was well done and so enjoyable.  If you’d like to hear more about it – I did a separate post HERE. After the show, we walked around the Pier and enjoyed the beautiful views.  Since it was lunchtime we decided to eat right there in the Food Court.  There was definitely something for everyone, so it was quick and easy.  We also indulged in a little sample of Garrett’s Popcorn courtesy of our Big Bus Tour – yum! Since time was getting short, we called an Uber and had the driver take us to the Adler Planetarium.  If you have any interest in space (my son is currently all about astronomy), then this is a must-see.  There was a lot of information, multiple exhibits, and some fun interactive areas.  We spent quite a bit of time making a hovercraft and testing to see if it would work – I love these type of hands-on projects. Hard to believe but by...
Peter Pan – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Peter Pan – Chicago Shakespeare Theater

This summer, Chicago Shakespeare Theater is doing a production of Peter Pan.  Located right in the heart of Navy Pier (very convenient for tourists and locals alike), there are two shows a day:  11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. We enjoyed the opening day of production – and what an amazing show it was.  There was so much talent on the stage and so much energy. The plot follows the traditional J.M. Barrie’s version quite closely, which as huge Peter Pan fans, we love. The theatre itself is gorgeous.  Although it holds quite a few people, it feels very intimate.  I doubt there is a bad seat in the house. This particular show is perfect for a younger audience.  My kids are tween/teenage and they loved it, but the story is so engaging and such a childhood classic that kids as young as 5 or 6 would probably enjoy it.  Fantastic for the whole family. I loved the way they had the actors flying around the stage – looked like so much fun! Captain Hook was fantastic.  The actor nailed the role. Do yourself a favor and take your family to this show – it runs through August 19th. Want a sneak peek?  Check out this YouTube video courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 312.595.5600 Thanks to Chicago Shakespeare Theater for hosting us at the show – we loved every minute of it.  The opinions expressed are all my...
Spy-Themed Restaurant?  SAFEHOUSE!

Spy-Themed Restaurant? SAFEHOUSE!

On our last night in Chicago, we were treated to a wonderful experience at a restaurant called The SafeHouse.  This is the second location for this spy-themed restaurant (the first being in Milwaukee) but I could definitely see it growing.  In fact, during dinner, we mentioned several times that this would be a huge hit in the Orlando area. Your first challenge is finding the restaurant.  There is an address, but there isn’t a big splashy entrance like you’ll find at most restaurants.  In fact, the only clues are a small plaque and a few signs – on a busy street like this one in Chicago, you have to look carefully or you’ll miss it! Open the door to find a simple reception room.  The receptionist asks who you are there to see.  If you know the password, you’ll be let right in.  Don’t worry if you don’t know the password though – you’ll just have to do something to gain access and prove you aren’t a double-agent.  If your kids are with you, ham it up – they’ll love it. The restaurant is really amazing.  Once seated, you’ll be greeted by your special agent and asked to make your own special agent nametags – which you are now known as … Our agent – Agent Mardi Gras was as fun as her name implies and she didn’t let us off the hook at all.  We had a variety of fun challenges throughout the meal that we had to complete.  Being a competitive family, we relished the chance to try to beat each other to the answers, solve the...
Blue Man Group – Don’t Miss It!

Blue Man Group – Don’t Miss It!

Through the years, we’ve seen dozens of shows, but Blue Man Group felt like a first.  As soon as you enter the lobby the artwork and “Important Information” sign clue you in that this is going to be different from a normal Broadway-style show. Surprise is the perfect word to describe what you’ll experience at a Blue Man Group performance. Blue Man Group is currently playing at the Briar Street Theatre in Chicago, perfectly located close to the red line.  To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original show in NYC, Blue Man Group held an art competition.  The results are creative and exciting and make waiting for the show to begin a joy.   We especially loved that the art included multiple senses – just like the show. Once you enter the actual theatre and see the hilarious “advice” scrolling across the screen (not just your typical quiet your phones), you know you are in for a treat. I don’t want to say too much specifically about the show because I don’t want to ruin the fun for others.  A big part of the experience is not knowing exactly what will come next.  I will say that it was nothing like what I expected.  The show is funny, creative and full of fantastic energy and music.  We were lucky to have an especially interactive audience which positively added to the experience. Although not a word is spoken, we always understood what was happening.  The music is quite loud (and very good – a lot of talent here!) and there are a lot of flashing lights, fun technology and parts...

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