25 Ideas for Fall Fun

My list of 50 Ideas for Summer Fun, seemed to be a big hit. So, on this first official day of Fall, I thought I would come out with 25 ideas to help you enjoy, what I consider to be the best season in Chicago.

I did not put these in any kind of order, except for #1. That one you have to be sure to see. I put the dates, if applicable, for particular events. I wouldn’t want you to miss anything!

1. Midnight Circus in the Parks


There is definitely a reason why I made Midnight Circus #1. If you only do one thing on this list, Midnight Circus is the one! Words can’t even describe the awesomeness of this show. For 2 hours you will be entertained by talented performers from around the world, that will have you in awe and cheering for more! Perfect for every age, the Midnight Circus is truly one of the best shows in Chicago, doing wonderful things for our city. A portion of funds raised goes to community groups, play-lot renovations and park programs.

If you need any more convincing, you should check out this short video I put together a few years ago. It gives you a glimpse into the amazing experience that awaits you. Only 5 weekends left. Get your tickets today!


2. EXPO Chicago


“EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art, has established the city of Chicago as a preeminent art fair destination. Opening the fall art season every September, EXPO CHICAGO takes place at historic Navy Pier whose vast vaulted architecture hosts leading international art galleries alongside one of the highest quality platforms for global contemporary art and culture.” – EXPO Chicago Website

EXPO CHICAGO features artwork from over 3,000 artists from 135 leading galleries, representing 27 countries and 63 international cities. Tickets are $20 for a day pass or $30 for a 3 day pass. There is a $5 discount for students and seniors. EXPO Chicago will be taking place September 27th – 30th.

3. Open House Chicago

open house

I went to my first Open House Chicago seven years ago. I have been wanting to go back ever since. This year I have it on the calendar and I will definitely be participating in this incredible opportunity, which takes place on October 13th and 14th.

“The Chicago Architecture Center’s Open House Chicago is a free public festival that offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 250 buildings across Chicago. Explore the hidden gems and architectural treasures of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods—all for free. Have you ever walked by a building and thought, “I wish I could see what’s inside?” Now you can. Tour soaring skyscrapers, repurposed mansions, opulent theaters, exclusive private clubs, private offices and breathtaking sacred spaces.” – Open House Chicago website

4. Night of 1,000 Jack-O-Lanterns 


I am beyond excited to attend this event at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I have heard so many wonderful things and could not pass it up, yet another year. So, the tickets are purchased and if you want to grab some of your own do not hesitate. The tickets go fast!

“More than 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins—some as large as 150 pounds—will light up the night at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns is the only event of its kind in the Chicago area. Using scalpels, knives, gouges, and power tools, artists for the New York-based company Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns spend up to 15 hours sculpting a single pumpkin. The LED-lit jack-o’-lanterns will be staged along a festive, paved pathway, starting at the Esplanade. Along the way, encounter entertaining characters, watch live carving, and view the ghostly trains in the Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America.” – Chicago Botanic Garden website

If you would like to get a sneak peek of the festivities click HERE!

This event takes place October 24th – 28th.

5. Visit Your Local Candy Store


When I was younger, I remember visiting our local candy store and filling a bag of candy before heading to the movies. I was always amazed on the quantity of sweet treats I was able to get for the couple dollars my mom gave me.

Fortunately, my kids are able to have a similar experience when visiting Dizzy Cow (2155 W. Irving Park Road). As you walk through the door you are immediately taken back to a simpler time. The names on the wrappers are vintage and the prices are nostalgic. There is something for everyone!

No need to wait until Halloween to get your candy fix. Make a stop at your local candy store and give yourself something to smile about.

6. Changing of the Leaves


One of the best things about Fall in Chicago is the changing of the leaves. The explosion of color that appears mid-October is truly a site to see. I highly suggest you visit one of the many Chicago Parks or Forest Preserves in the Chicago area. Take a walk and surround yourself with one of Mother Nature’s amazing displays.

7. Bird Watching


If you would have asked me last year about bird watching, I would have told you that it sounded like a rather boring activity. However, in March, I started getting out and really enjoying the nature photography. One of the many animals I found myself photographing were the birds. I became even more interested when I found out about Spring Migration and the many birds that make a stop in Chicago on their way to summer destinations.  I would go out with my camera and grab as many shots, of as many birds, as I could find. The next step would be to identify the birds. The website All About Birds, was extremely helpful. Here I could read a little about each bird and learn some rather interesting facts.

The Fall Migration starts in September and will continue through November. I will be spending most of my time at the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, the North Park Village Nature Center or the North Pond Nature Sanctuary. I will definitely be visiting some new places and I’ll be sure to share them with you! If you would like to follow my birding adventures, find me on Instagram @NatureInChicago.

8. Ghost Tour


I have only been on one ghost tour and it was memorable. It was about 14 years ago when I went on the Chicago Hauntings Ghost Tour. We traveled on a bus around the city and heard stories about the Eastland Disaster, the Iroquois Theater Fire, and St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, just to name a few. It was truly one of the creepiest bus rides I have ever taken.

This Halloween season, I might get on the bus again or I just might take a walking tour. There are so many locations throughout the city, that you could visit and take a stroll. I will have to check out my edition of Creepy Chicago and Chicago’s Guide to the Supernatural and see what spooky stops we should make. Another great place to get the willies, would be your local cemetery. There is no doubt that you could easily find some spine-tingling stories of the dearly departed. I will most likely do a little research at the Bohemian National Cemetery and Graceland Cemetery.

9. The 70mm Film Festival

MB“The 70MM Film Festival returns to the Music Box (3733 N Southport Ave) for another epic year of celluloid. This year’s festival includes a brand new 70MM print of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, festival favorites like WEST SIDE STORY and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and 8 films that have never screened in 70MM at the Music Box!” – MusicBoxTheater.com

So, what’s so great about 70MM Film?

“70mm is a film format with frames that are larger in size and wider in aspect ratio than the standard 35mm film. “From an audience standpoint, it’s a much crisper, brighter, and ideally more uniform and stable image,” said Douglas McLaren (projectionist at the Music Box Theater). Essentially, the difference between 35mm and 70mm is similar to the difference between DVD and Blu-ray, if switching from DVD to Blu-ray also made your television bigger.

The wider, sharper image allows viewers to see “details in these films that you have just never, ever seen before,” as McLaren puts it. He also points out that most theaters project films at a resolution of about 2,000 pixels, which is comparable to Blu-ray. However, the restoration scan of the 70mm film resolution Lawrence of Arabia was scanned at about 8,000 pixels, “and the negative had even more information than that. There’s just so much more going on in these 70mm prints than even on your Blu-ray.”Sarah Gorr (Groupon Guide)

The Film Festival is currently running through September 27th. 

10. The Scarecrow Trail at the Morton Arboretum


One of the best places to visit in the Fall is the Morton Arboretum, in Lisle. Not only are the trees beautiful, but the scarecrows created by local scout troops are a real treat. The creativity and imagination that goes into the creation of each scarecrow is something to experience in person. You will find these masterpieces when you stroll around Meadow Lake in October. You’ll even have the opportunity to vote for your favorite.

While you are there, you can also check out the Trolls.

11. Chicago River Tour


Many people associate Chicago River tours with summer activities. However, many river tours are offered well into the month of November. Whether you take an architectural tour, a lake and river tour or a sunset cruise, there are so many options to view this beautiful city from the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.

Wendella Boats, Chicago’s First Lady, and Shoreline Sightseeing are just a few of the many options offered to you. Be sure to do a little research. There are great deals to be found!

12. Visit a Pumpkin Patch / Haunted House


When the kids were younger we went to our share of pumpkin patches. I remember visiting one in the suburbs and the biggest attraction were the wild animals displayed in rather small cages. I never understood how seeing a tiger or being able to pet a baby cheetah (for a fee) had anything do with Halloween.

The Chicago Park District does a nice job bringing the spirit of Halloween to the many neighborhoods throughout the city. They offer numerous pumpkin patches and haunted houses throughout the season.

You can look up your neighborhood park’s events on the Chicago Park District website.

13. Take your Holiday Photo


The Fall is a great time to have your family photos taken. Avoiding the heat of the summer and having colorful leaves for your backdrop are just a couple of the reasons why people book sessions in the month of October.

I few years back I wrote a blog post on Ten Reasons Why You Should Have Pictures Taken During the Fall. After reading the post, there should be no question as to why you need to book a fall session. I even might know the perfect photographer for you!

14. Go for a Run or Walk


With fall comes the cross-country season. All the Gaiettos are participating this year, except Riley. She is still recovering from her dislocated knee incident over the summer. Everyone is excited to compete and run their little hearts out.

The cooler weather and breathtaking fall scenery, makes for pleasing running conditions. There are always numerous 5Ks and 1 mile runs offered around this time. The best place to find a run near you is to check out CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association).

Go Run Chicago is a community partnership between the Chicago Area Runners Association and the Chicago Park District with an objective to activate neighborhood parks, build communities and encourage active lifestyle through running and volunteerism. They offer free runs for all ages at Humboldt Park, Warren Park and Washington Park.

15. Outdoor Movie Night

movieOutdoor movies are not just for summer. So, whether you host a movie night yourself or take advantage of the few Movies in the Parks left on the schedule, get out and enjoy a flick.

In the month of October the Chicago Park District will be showing numerous Halloween related movies. Some more scarier than others. A few family friendly titles include, Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, and Monster House. Be sure to bring a few dollars to buy some snacks and help support the hosting park.

16. Ed Paschke Art Center


“The Ed Paschke Art Center commemorates the life and work of Ed Paschke, one of Chicago’s most famous artists. It also recognizes his contributions to the artistic life of the city as a cultural ambassador, teacher, family man, and friend. Ed Paschke made art about the famous and the infamous. Bold, sometimes shocking, he permitted his subjects to express their complex personalities. Paschke was a strong believer in the viewer’s capacity to interpret his works of art on their own terms.” – Ed Paschke Art Center website

The Ed Paschke Art Center is located at 5415 W. Higgins Avenue, in the Jefferson Park neighborhood. The Art Center is free and open to the public (donations are always welcome).

17. Haunted Halsted


Ranked as one of the Top Best Halloweens in the US, by Fodor’s Travel Guide, the Northalsted Halloween Parade has entertained the north side for 21 years. There is $4,000 in prizes for the best costumes, following the parade at Halsted & Brompton. Contestants will be judged by a discerning panel of judges. The Parade kicks off at 7:30pm on October 31st, led by the Chicago Thriller Flash Mob.

The Gaietto kids still enjoy trick-or-treating. So, this event will be something we’ll attend in a few more years.

18. Visit a City Market


The Fall season brings about harvest time. There’s no better way to find some of the best tasting produce then at a City Farmers Market. Not only will you have countless choices to choose from, but you will also help support local growers.

Fruits and vegetables are not the only things you’ll find. Plants, baked goods, prepared foods and unique Chicago-made products are also awaiting you.

Find a City Farmers Market near you and get shopping!

19. Full Moon Jam


We attended our first Full Moon Jam last month and really enjoyed the show. We didn’t know what to expect, but found all the flame twirling performers to be very entertaining. If you would like to see some videos and pictures from our Full Moon Jam in August, be sure to check out the blog post.

You only have one more opportunity, this season, to check out the Full Moon Jam. Thursday, October 5th will be the last show of 2018. It will begin at 6:30pm and end at 9:15pm. It is a school night, but even if you stayed for an hour or so, it would be worth the trip. To get up to date announcements and weather cancellations, check out the Full Moon Jam Twitter feed.

20. Great Chicago Fire 


The helmet in the above picture, was worn by William H. Musham, the fire marshal during the Chicago Fire of 1871. It was donated to the Chicago History Museum by his grand-niece.

“The municipal Chicago Fire Department was formed in 1858. By the early 1870s, the fire department had up-to-date equipment but was relatively small with only 185 firemen. When the Great Chicago Fire began the night of October 8, 1871, the fire department, tired from fighting an earlier fire, was unable to bring it under control. It burned for 36 hours, destroyed three and a half miles of the city, and killed 300 Chicagoans. This helmet was worn by Fire Marshal Musham, who was the first officer to respond to the alarm that evening.” – Chicago History Museum

This October, commemorate the 147th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire with a visit to the Chicago History Museum. See artifacts, read stories and learn about one of Chicago’s most significant events in it’s history.

21. Campfire Story Time


The cool temperatures are coming and there’s no better way to warm up, than by a campfire. In the month of October, the North Park Village Nature Center will be offering Campfire Story Time with a spooky theme.

You could even keep it closer to home, if you happen to have a fire pit. Invite some friends over, make some s’mores and share some creepy stories.

22. Chicago Ideas Week


Need some inspiration? Motivation? A little boost? Then you need to check out Chicago Ideas Week.

“Chicago Ideas Week, October 15-21, 2018, is a seven-day festival featuring over 200 global thought leaders and innovators speaking on a variety of topics ranging from leadership and life’s lessons, to science and technology, to the most pressing issues of the day and the most creative insights in entertainment. We offer more than 150 engaging programs each Chicago Ideas Week to stimulate, inspire and enlighten participants while providing the opportunity for attendees to think, dream and connect. The best part? Most tickets are only $15, ensuring that anyone who wants access to great ideas can have it.” – Chicago Ideas Week

Be sure to check out the schedule and see what this event has to offer!

23. Vintage Garage Sale


We went to our first Vintage Garage Sale on September 16th and had a great time. There was so much to see and something for everyone. Morgan was the big buyer with three purchases.

Looks like you have just one more chance to check out the Chicago Vintage Garage Sale. As stated on their website, the last sale ever, will take place on October 21st. Located at 5051 N. Broadway, you’ll be able to peruse vintage and antique goods (10am-5pm) from 75 to 100 vendors on the first 2 floors and ramps of a nice big parking garage in Uptown.

Happy Hunting!

24. Humboldt Park Swan Boats


I remember the swan boats at Lincoln Park Zoo. The last ride I took was with my nephew and nieces, about 20 years ago. I remember it being a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. It was sad to see the swans leave Lincoln Park Zoo, but the Nature Boardwalk is an amazing feature that I visit quite frequently.

I was pretty excited when I saw the swan boats, while driving through Humboldt Park this summer. I told the kids that we would definitely put that activity on our to-do-list. The swan boats can be rented through November 11th, weather permitting. I can only imagine that a paddle through Humboldt Park in the fall has to be very picturesque.

25. Chicago Park District Family Activities


While doing some research on this blog post, I came across a family archery clinic, offered through the Chicago Park District. I signed up immediately, knowing it was going to fill fast and that the kids and I would have a blast.

There are so many family fun activities hosted by Chicago Parks throughout the city. Many of them are even free! Just take a few minutes to check out the events listed on the Chicago Park District’s website and I have no doubt you will find many fun activities to enjoy with the family.

However, you decide to spend your fall, the most important thing to keep in mind is to spend it with those you love and appreciate your time together.

Adventure #15 – Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Our last adventure of the summer was a visit to the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien (#49 on the list of 50 Ideas for Summer Fun) on Friday, August 31st. We ended up getting to 24 of the 50 places mentioned on the list. We hit a few more places that were not on the list. So, it was a busy and enjoyable summer.

Though our stop at the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve was brief, we enjoyed our time there. We pulled into the circular drive and found a parking spot. Once we got out of the car we headed to the map, displayed nicely on a large billboard. It was not even up for discussion as to where we were going to go. We headed right to the Rocky Glen Waterfall.

The walk to the waterfall was scenic. Though the waterfall is actually a dam and not an actual waterfall at all. The trail was nicely paved with limestone (some are turf covered), that ended up feeling rather soft under your feet. The trails were also nicely labeled. There was no guessing as to where you were.


Before we even got to the waterfall, I had to stop and take some pictures. I just couldn’t resist the tall trees and the cool rock formations.


With 11 miles of trails, we lucked out and did not have to walk long to get to the waterfall. Once we arrived at the falls, the kids wanted to jump in. Well, maybe not jump, but at least walk in. I had to remind them that our visit was short and we had no towels or change of clothes. The frowns on their faces said it all.


They were able to walk around the large rocks and of course pose for some pictures for me. There was a request to take the shoes off, but that was followed with a very quick, “No!”





I grabbed one more picture of the kids near the waterfall, before we headed back to the car. Right before I took the picture, numerous kids arrived with their moms. These kids were ready for their day at the waterfall. They had their bathing suits on, kicked off the shoes and grabbed their nets before getting into the water. We will have to plan accordingly, when we visit again.



The walk back to the car included a conversation on how we will have to really take advantage of the amazing trails and the other “must see” locations within the preserve, when we return.


Adventure #14 – Bahá’í Temple, Grosse Point Lighthouse & Artists of the Wall Mural

With summer break quickly coming to an end, we really put it in high gear. On the agenda for Thursday, August 30th was the Bahá’í Temple (#5 on the List of 50 Ideas for Summer Fun) in Wilmette, the Grosse Point Lighthouse (#22) in Evanston and the Artists of the Wall Mural (#4) in Rogers Park.

We headed to the Bahá’í Temple first, because it was the farthest from the house. Located at 100 Linden Avenue, it only took us about 30 minutes to get there. As we drove up to the Temple, it’s hard to believe you are in a Chicago suburb and not in a foreign country. The Temple is so majestic and beyond anything you are used to seeing in and around Chicago. It is the only one of its kind in North America and the oldest of the seven Bahá’í Temples found throughout the world.


The Bahá’í faith as explained on www.bahai.org 

“Bahá’í beliefs address such essential themes as the oneness of God and religion, the oneness of humanity and freedom from prejudice, the inherent nobility of the human being, the progressive revelation of religious truth, the development of spiritual qualities, the integration of worship and service, the fundamental equality of the sexes, the harmony between religion and science, the centrality of justice to all human endeavors, the importance of education, and the dynamics of the relationships that are to bind together individuals, communities, and institutions as humanity advances towards its collective maturity.”


As you make your away around the temple, you are immediately drawn to the fountains and gardens.

“The Baha’i House of Worship gardens are part of the sacred space. The nine gardens are planted with foliage of various colors and fragrances to convey the beauty of unity in diversity. The nine rectangular approaches to the Temple, some incorporating reflecting pools, are reminiscent of those found in the East. The nine circular gardens, with round fountains, represent Western landscapes and serve as outdoor rooms for prayer.”                   – www.bahai.us


As I looked closer at the architecture and all the intricate design work, I was struck by what appeared to be a swastika, below the Star of David. On further research of the symbols found in the pillar, I came across an article explaining the meaning behind the placement of the symbols.

“Intricate carvings depicting the symbols of other religions on the nine exterior pillars represent the central Baha’i canon: that all major religions are actually reflections of a single divine source. The symbols are arranged in chronological order-from bottom to top-on the pillars. That’s why the swastika is at the base, with the Star of David above it (although it was adopted by the Nazis, the swastika as a religious symbol dates back nearly 5,000 years). Baha’i is the newest world religion-so its symbol, a nine-pointed star, tops each pillar.” Chicago Magazine, Sandra Swanson – 6/18/2007


After making our way around the Temple’s exterior, we headed inside the Temple. No pictures were allowed.

What you can expect in the Auditorium, as explained on the website:

“Our Auditorium is open every day, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., including all holidays. You are welcome to visit for silent worship and personal contemplation. During devotional programs, held at 9:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. each day, you will hear readings from the world’s great scriptures. A capella singing and chanting lends the simple beauty of the human voice to many programs. There is no clergy in the Baha’i Faith and no sermons or speeches are given in the Auditorium. Excerpts from scripture are pre-selected by the House of Worship staff and read aloud by local community members. The Baha’i House of Worship choir sings at 12:30 p.m. on the first three Sundays of every month.”


The Temple is truly a magnificent architectural marvel. It is well worth the trip, no matter how long or short the drive.

Next stop was the Grosse Point Lighthouse, located at 2601 Sheridan Road, only 1 mile south of the Bahá’í Temple.


A little history on the lighthouse, as described on the website:

“Grosse Point Lighthouse was built by the United States Government in 1873 as the lead lighthouse marking the approach to Chicago after several shipwrecks demonstrated its need. The promontory on which it stands was named Grosse Point (Great Point) by early French explorers and traders in the 17th century.

At its height of operation, Grosse Point Lighthouse required three keepers and a day laborer for maintenance and to keep the light and fog signals in top condition. In 1923, the lighthouse was electrified and staff was reduced to two keepers. Then, in 1934, with the installation of a photoelectric device – the first of its kind used to activate a lighthouse – the station was decommissioned. In 1935, the lighthouse site became the responsibility of the Lighthouse Park District.”


While the grounds of Grosse Point Lighthouse National Landmark are open to the public free of charge year-round, tours of the lighthouse are held seasonally. Weather permitting, specially arranged group tours of the lighthouse during the week can be made from mid-May through September. The District also conducts regularly scheduled tours of the lighthouse June through September, on Saturdays and Sundays at 2, 3  and 4 PM.

During our visit the lighthouse was closed, but we enjoyed exploring the grounds.



The last stop of the day was Loyola Park, in Rogers Park (1230 W. Greenleaf Ave). It was here where we were going to enjoy some local artwork. The Artists of the Wall Festival (AOTW) is a community mural project that brings neighbors of all ages and backgrounds together to paint a 600-foot seawall at Loyola Park Beach. This year was the 25th Anniversary of the festival and the theme was “Legends of the Wall.” The sea wall spans from Farwell to Morse at the lakefront.



As we walked along the seawall, which resembles a very long bench, the kids would pick out their favorite pieces of art. I would then be summoned to take a picture.




The quotes gave you something to think about.



The artwork was interactive and evoked many different emotions.


As we gathered for one more picture together, a long sigh was let out. It was a very busy morning, with some amazing sightseeing and now it was time to head back home and have some lunch.


Adventure #13 – Chicago Full Moon Jam

We attended our first Full Moon Jam on Monday, August 27th. We were not sure what to expect, but I wanted to make sure we found a parking spot. So, we got there about an hour before it started, which was supposed to be 7:30pm (ending at 10pm). The Jam takes place south of Foster Turf Fields (which is south of Foster Beach), in between the Lakefront Trail and Simonds Drive. Parking is free in this area and the Full Moon Jam is also free. We ended up bringing some sandwiches and having dinner while we waited.

“Chicago Full Moon Jam is a monthly, family-oriented, and free gathering for the community from May to October that centers on a public display of fire dancing.  The Full Moon Jam is a fully permitted event through the Chicago Parks District and Chicago Fire Department, and part of the Night Out in the Parks event series.” – FullMoonJam.org

As we ate our sandwiches, we watched the crowd increase around us and tried to predict what we would be watching. The kids were a little concerned about the windy conditions. I repeatedly reminded them that the performers knew what they were doing and those organizing the event would not put anyone in danger. The show started around 8:00pm and we were all filled with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. I mean, it’s fire and we all grew up learning that it can be dangerous.

A very large oval was roped off, separating the performers from the spectators. Numerous performers would enter the oval and spread themselves out in different sections, making sure to give everyone in the crowd a great view of the show.



At times we were not quite sure what we were seeing and how it was even possible.



Around 9pm, the kids were getting tired, so we headed out. Before we got back in the car, we walked over to the lake to see the Full Moon. It was a very magical night.


Adventure #12 – Cantigny Park

On Thursday, August 23rd we visited Cantigny (pronounced CAN-TEE-NEE) Park (#10 on the list of 50 Ideas for Summer Fun). Located in Wheaton, Illinois, the park is 500 acres and is the former estate of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune.

“It was named after a small village in France, where Colonel McCormick commanded an artillery battalion in 1918 as a member of the U.S. Army’s First Division. The Battle of Cantigny was America’s first victory in World War I.” – Cantigny Park Website




As we entered the park we paid $5 for parking ($10 on the weekends from May – September). An unbelievable deal, considering the enjoyment you’ll receive from your visit. We quickly ate our packed lunch, near the newly renovated playground and then went through the Visitor’s Center.

We walked through some of the gardens before heading to the Tank Park, which features 100 years of armor. The kids really enjoyed climbing on these massive machines and reading about their place in military history.



After leaving the Tank Park, we headed to the Idea Garden. However, before entering the garden we had to get a picture on the yellow sofa and chairs (we found others along the way). You never know where you will see the Chairs of Cantigny, but when you do, you just have to get a picture.


We enjoyed walking around and seeing many of the French influences in the Idea Garden, which happens to be the theme this year. There was also a tribute to a rather special gift from France to the United States. Noah was also pretty proud of his frog find in the lily pond. From there it was on to the Rose Garden and my favorite place in the park. The pergola is beautiful and makes an amazing backdrop.



Our last stop, and the kids’ favorite place, was the Formal Garden and fountains. The last time we had visited Cantigny Park, was probably a good seven years ago, but the kids still remember the fountains. Since, I did not pack any towels (which I suggest you do), I told the kids that they could just get their feet wet. I’m sure you can guess how well that went over.



After sitting in a wheelchair (with a newly dislocated knee), and watching the kids have fun in the water, Riley asked if she could just put her hands in the water. So, Sydney was nice enough to wheel her around the water, making sure not to get her too wet.


In the end, it was a fun visit and the kids were pleasantly surprised on how much fun they had. And for a photographer, like myself, Cantigny Park offers so many photo opportunities, you just don’t know what to shoot first.



Adventure #11 – The Chicago Air & Water Show Practice Day

One of my favorite events of summer is when amazing aircrafts can be seen flying over the Chicago skyline and the lakefront. I learned a few years ago that the best time to enjoy the Chicago Air and Water Show (#1 on the List of 50 Ideas for Summer Fun) is during the Friday practice day. So, I packed the kids up with some beach gear and we headed to North Avenue Beach on August 17th. We found parking in the Lincoln Park Zoo parking lot and while we made our way to the bridge to walk over Lake Shore Drive, we saw parachuters sailing through the sky. First out were the U.S. Army Parachute Team, The Golden Knights. By the time we got to the beach and got ourselves situated the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, The Leap Frogs were making the jump.


It was a rather cloudy morning, but I was keeping my fingers crossed that the weather would improve. I had not yet been let down by a Friday Practice Show. Next up were the Firebirds Delta Team.


At this point the kids made themselves a nice “sand couch” to sit back and enjoy the show.


The U.S. Coast Guard was next and showed off their rescuing skills.


With the cloud cover not letting up, it became rather difficult to get descent pictures of the planes. But, as long as they were flying by, I was clicking away. Sean D. Tucker and Team Oracle buzzed by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Aeroshell Aerobatic Team were the last ones out before a lengthy break was taken. The hope was, the cloudy conditions would improve.



While we waited, we had lunch and the kids continued to play in the water and partake in some sandcastle making.


When the show resumed, it was the Chicago Police and Fire Department’s turn to wow the crowd.



The F-35 roared in and it was not alone. As part of the Heritage Flight, the F-35 was paired with a World War II aircraft.



It was then the U.S Navy F-18’s turn to get the crowd’s adrenaline going and it was successful. Going supersonic was a real crowd pleaser.


The final act before the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds arrived, included Bill Stein Aerosport, the Firebirds and Matt Chapman (Embry Riddle). Wouldn’t you know, the blue skies started to show themselves.


Finally, it was time! The moment the crowd was looking forward to all day. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds were announced and on their way. Everyone started to look to the sky. Straining their eyes and trying to figure out from which direction they would come. After, what seemed like an eternity, they were spotted over the lake. It was show time!




While I was photographing the action, Riley was nice enough to grab a video.




For close to 30 minutes the Thunderbirds thrilled the crowd and as quickly as they arrived, they were gone in seconds. Until 2020, Thunderbirds! Thanks for another fantastic Friday Practice Show!

Adventure #10 – The Field Museum

We had friends visiting from California and there was a request to see mummies and dinosaurs. Well, there is no better place to see those things than at The Field Museum. So, on July 19th, we paid a visit to the museum that houses nearly 40 million artifacts and specimens.


When we first walked into the museum we were greeted by Máximo, the Titanosaur. He is the biggest dinosaur that scientists have discovered to date. This long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur lived over 100 million years ago in what is now Patagonia, Argentina.


We were also amazed by the Plant Clouds hanging from the ceiling. The Field Museum posted the following on Facebook, describing the Plant Clouds:

“Did you know our hanging gardens can be raised and lowered? These nature clouds are perfectly self-sufficient floating in Stanley Field Hall, but we can lower them for special care or events as need be. ☁️🌱

The cloud structures were 3D printed, with the largest measuring 35 feet across and weighing about 15,000 pounds! Together, the four gardens house over 1,000 individual plants that are all fed and watered through a contained system housed in the ceiling.

We promise to keep these “house plants” alive.” 


After being wowed by Máximo and the Plant Clouds, our next stop was to see the Mummies. We saw mummies from Peru and Egypt. Through non-invasive CT scans, we were able to get a look inside the elaborate coffins and learn a little about their way of life and beliefs. I had to make sure to read the signs carefully. There were some places where photos were not allowed.


“Shabtis were small statuettes usually in the form of a mummy and were placed inside the tomb of the deceased. The Egyptians believed that these figures would come to life when called by the dead person and would serve him in his afterlife.” – MyLearning.org


We then moved on to the Antarctic Dinosaurs. We got a glimpse of Antarctic 255 million years ago, when it was a lush, forested environment.


Once we returned to civilization, we checked out a few more exhibits and had some fun with some sculptures.



At the end of our visit we were all a little bit smarter and very tired.