Outing #3 – Lakeview

On Thursday, July 11th, the kids and I got into the car and headed to the Lakeview neighborhood. As we were driving the short distance to our first stop, I started asking the kids what they knew about the Great Depression and if they had heard about FDR’s New Deal. They had learned about the Depression and they knew of President Roosevelt, but they did not know about the New Deal. So, I explained to them that it was a series of projects and programs created by the Roosevelt administration to help restore prosperity among Americans after the Great Depression. I went on to tell them about one particular project, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP).

“The Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), in roughly the first four months of 1934 hired 3,749 artists and produced 15,663 paintings, murals, prints, crafts and sculptures for government buildings around the country. The bureaucracy may not have been watching too closely what the artists painted, but it certainly was counting how much and what they were paid: a total of $1,184,000, an average of $75.59 per artwork, pretty good value even then.” – Smithsonian Magazine

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I told the kids that we were on our way to go see one of these art projects, created in 1937 by Harry Sternberg. As we walked into the Lakeview Post Office (1343 W. Irving Park Road), we could not miss the giant mural above the windows where Post Office employees are waiting to assist with all your mailing needs. “Chicago: Epoch of a Great City” is an amazing work of art that shows a timeline of Chicago history. The kids easily identified Fort Dearborn and the Great Chicago Fire. We also discussed the city’s history with the steel mills and the stockyards. We didn’t stay long, but we all agreed before leaving, that it was very cool to have such a historical piece of artwork in our city and so close to home.

Our next stop was not far, Alta Vista Terrace Historic District (3800 N. Alta Vista Terrace). A little piece of Europe right down the street from Wrigley Field. We parked a block away and as we stepped off of Grace Street onto Alta Vista Terrace, we were transported from Chicago to a street in London. Real estate developer, Samuel Eberly Gross‘ vision of re-creating London row houses came to fruition with the help of architect, Joesph C. Brompton.

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Alta Vista Terrace is Chicago’s first historic district and it’s obvious why. The twenty homes that line the street are each architectural gems.

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The unique details found in the doorways and windows was something to see.

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Morgan later said that this was her favorite stop of the day.

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Only a couple blocks away, we entered the gates of Graceland Cemetery (corner of Clark Street and Irving Park Road). I immediately heard, “Oh great, we are going into a cemetery.” The sarcasm was not lost on me. I knew they would not be thrilled. However, I was feeling somewhat confident that they would find this stop to be pretty interesting. I had a map that I printed off the Graceland website. So, we headed toward Lake Willowmere, where many famous Chicagoans (some native and others planted) are buried.

The first grave site we checked out was Potter Palmer (1826-1902). We spotted it across the lake. You could not miss it. Potter was an American merchant and real estate promoter.

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“Palmer developed practices new to retailing at the time, including allowing goods to be returned for either a full refund or an exchange, sending goods to customers on approval, and offering bargain sales. He also stressed advertising and attractive displays of merchandise. In 1867 he sold his share in the business to his partners, Marshall Field and Levi Z. Leiter. Borrowing $1.7 million, he built larger buildings than before the Great Chicago Fire, including the second Palmer House, a large hotel. Palmer also reclaimed the swampland north of Chicago’s commercial district, developing it into the beautiful Lake Shore Drive area.” – American Britannica

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Some burial sites were those with names that did not ring a bell, but they were so magnificent that I had to photograph them (Peter Schoenhofen – left) while others bared the names of Chicago streets (Wacker {top right} and Kimball {bottom right}) and neighborhoods (Pullman {middle right}). Individuals that made their mark on the city and in turn, Chicago made sure they were not forgotten.

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We crossed a bridge that led us to a small island. It was on this island that we found the gravesites of Daniel Burnham (1846-1912) and his family. Morgan was pretty excited, because she remembered learning about Burnham last year at school when being taught a unit on Chicago history. He was an architect, responsible for designing numerous Chicago buildings and was a key planner of the World Columbian Exposition.

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We then moved on to Marshall Field (1834-1906). The sculpture that sits on the Field family plot is titled “Memory” and was created by Daniel Chester. She holds oak leaves, a symbol of calm courage. On the sides are carved “Equity” and “Integrity”. At the base of the statue is the emblem of the caduceus, the staff of Mercury, Roman God of commerce. However the symbol today represents medicine.

Next up was Mr. Cub! The one and only Ernie Banks (1931-2015). He was one of the first Negro League players to join the MLB. He is regarded as one of the greatest Cubs players of all time.

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Our last two stops had rather interesting stories. The gravesite of Inez Clarke (1873-1880), later identified as Inez Briggs has a rather eerie looking statue and history.

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“Legends of the girl have been numerous. One states she died when struck by lightning during a picnic or when locked outside … from this came another that the statue disappears during thunderstorms because Inez is so afraid.” – Graceland Cemetery

Lastly, we visited the gravesite of Dexter Graves (1793-1845), one of the original residents of the city of Chicago. He was listed among “500 Chicagoans” on the census taken prior to Chicago’s incorporation. On his grave is a haunting bronze figure entitled “Eternal Silence” created by Lorado Taft in 1909.

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After leaving the cemetery, Sydney thanked me for the visit. She enjoyed walking the beautiful grounds, learning about famous Chicagoans and the Inez Clarke ghost story. She wanted to hear more spooky stories. I agreed with her that the spooky stories are the best.

Our next stop was Architectural Artifacts (4325 N. Ravenswood Avenue). I had never been to the store/event space and was curious as to what could be found amidst the many unusual items. We quickly discovered that we would not be finding anything that fit our home decor or was within our decorating budget. However, we did enjoy exploring the numerous floors of unique and at times rather odd pieces.

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Our second to last stop brought us to Amundsen High School (5110 N. Damen Avenue) to pick up the oldest Gaietto kid from her fourth day at Freshmen Connection. We were a bit early, so we walked around Winnemac Park. So many beautiful nature areas to explore on the grounds of the park.

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With everyone accounted for, we made our last stop of the day. It was on to 7-Eleven for our free Slurpees on July 11th (7/11). It was a nice way to end our third outing of the summer.

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Outing #2 – Logan Square

On Monday, July 1st, we went on a city hike. The goal was to locate and enjoy some of the city’s awesome murals. This time around, we ventured around Logan Square, Wicker Park and Bucktown (#14 on the Top 20 Summer Outings of 2019). We parked at Division Street and Milwaukee Avenue. Our first mural was at 1166 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Every Adventure Requires a First Step (created in 2017) by Jerkface. The kids and I really liked this one. Though, Morgan was a little confused on why the cat’s face was separate from it’s head. Sydney had to explain that it was the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland and that he is known for his mischievous ways.

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We then made a quick stop at the Nelson Algren Memorial Fountain, bordered by Ashland Avenue, Division Street and Milwaukee Avenue. While we were there, I did not realize that the fountain was dedicated to the Chicago author. It was only when writing this post did I find out the story behind the fountain.

“Nelson Algren, an author famous for books set in Chicago about outsiders and failures, didn’t always love his hometown of Chicago. He supposedly observed “No writer ever gave more to a city and got back less”. While that may have been true in his life, since Chicago author Nelson Algren’s death in 1980 on Long Island, Chicago has made at least half-hearted efforts to reclaim his legacy.”Atlas Obscura

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As we moved our way northwest on Milwaukee Avenue, we stopped at 1317 N. Milwaukee Avenue (Falafel and Grill), Serape Skies (created in 2017) by Juan de la Mora. With the cars parked in front of the mural, I wasn’t able to capture the entire mural. However, we all thought the rooster was definitely the star.

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Next stop was 1360 N. Milwaukee Avenue, untitled (created in 2018) by Irena Kruglova and WES. The name of the woman in the mural escaped me, but Morgan (9 years old) knew exactly who she was. “Frida Kahlo!”, she yelled out. Morgan went on to tell us that she was considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists. She had many tragedies throughout her life and used painting as an escape from her physical and emotional pain.

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When we got to the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue, Wolcott Avenue and Wood Street, we stopped to take a few pictures in front of an archway sculpture. Once again, had no idea the story behind the piece of art until I did a little investigating. The sculpture (The Worker Cottage Parklet) was created in July of 2018 by Chicago-based artist Lynn Basa. The sculpture honors the workers cottage, which is one of the most recognizable types of Chicago homes.

“Workers cottages were popular among the influx of stockyard and rail workers who chose to live in neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Ukranian Village or Pilsen. The architectural style is closely tied to the working and middle class of the 19th century. It represents a time when Chicago was growing rapidly and homeownership was coveted and attainable.”Curbed Chicago

1P4A0396aWhile we were snapping a few shots under the arch, we noticed a mural on Wood Street (building located at 1401 N. Milwaukee Avenue). So once we were done, we headed over. This particular mural was a replacement to a mural that was painted over by city crews, by mistake. The artist, Hebru Brantley, returned to create a new mural of Flyboy (2018).

“The goggle-wearing African-American boy superhero is partly inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen.Block Club Chicago
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As we approached the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue, North Avenue and Damen Avenue, the Walgreens caught my eye. In 2012 Walgreens moved into the Noel State Bank Building, a city landmark. I’m kicking myself for not walking into the store. After seeing some pictures of the interior, the architecture inside is absolutely beautiful. Visiting this Walgreens is definitely not your typical drug store stop. We will have to go back for a better look.
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Continuing our way up Milwaukee Avenue, we stepped onto the 606 Trail to get a better look at our next mural. Located at 1813 N. Milwaukee Avenue, The ConAgra Brands Mural was created in 2016 by Jeff Zimmerman. This mural is getting more difficult to see each year with the amount of tree cover. We were able to get a pretty good look.
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On 1913 N. Milwaukee Avenue, the mural in front of the Cambridge Audio Store, caught me by surprise. It was not on my list. The kids joined The Beatles in crossing Abbey Road. Oh, and who doesn’t love a mural that includes Grace Jones.
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It was onto the mural that led me to create this outing. The mural of Robin Williams surrounded by laughing genies (created in 2018), on 2047 N. Milwaukee Avenue was created by Jerkface and Owen Dippie. I have always been a big fan of Robin Williams (born in Chicago). His comedy, at times manic, always amazed me. His improvisation skills were truly a gift that no one could even come close to recreating. On August 11th, 2014, the family was out to eat, celebrating my Dad’s birthday. We were all very sad to hear about the death of Robin Williams.
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As the kids and I marveled at the mural, I explained to the them that Robin Williams died almost five years ago (they didn’t remember the news at the birthday dinner). Only knowing that he was the voice of the genie in the Aladdin (1992), the kids were unaware of the many impactful roles he had throughout his career. I went on to explain that he had committed suicide. I told them that he had deep depression and possibly some health issues that led him to believe that suicide was his only option. I went on to say, that it was sad that this man that had made millions of people laugh, could not find happiness for himself. Sydney was very moved by the story and replied, “That is very sad. I will never look at Robin Williams the same again.” I asked her what she meant by that and she explained that she felt so bad for him. The fact that he felt the only escape from his pain was to kill himself, made her think differently about him. She said the story didn’t stop her from liking Robin Williams, but she would remember his story.
We talked about how the mural was created in the month of September, which is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. We also talked about how there is help for those who feel that life is hopeless.
Though the story of Robin Williams has a sad ending, I’m sure he would want people to smile when thinking of him and all the wonderful characters he brought to life.
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After leaving the Robin Williams mural, we turned around and started walking back. Now, you can imagine, on this 90+ degree day, we were a bit warm. Our next stop involved a little relief from the heat. The Original Margie’s Candies on 1960 N. Western Avenue was rather busy and we had no time to spare. So, we got our shakes to go. I ended up going with a root beer float.
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We took our sweet treats a little further north on Western Avenue to see the next mural. The mural at 2052 N. Western Avenue by Ali 6 and El Barto is an interesting combination of Pokemon characters along with Bart and Maggie Simpson dressed in Star Wars garb.
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We then headed east on Charleston Street, making our way over to Damen Avenue. It was at this point that Chris called asking us where we were. I told him we were on an outing and that we would be cutting it close, but we would be home before him and Noah needed to leave for a baseball game in Mundelein. After the call, we started to move a bit faster and some side cramps were occurring. Milk shakes and brisk walking don’t always go well together. Once we hit Damen Avenue, we headed south. Our next mural was at 1873 N. Damen Avenue, Love, created by Matthew Hoffman. There was a perfect number of love murals for each kid to get their own.
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Next stop was 1800 N. Damen Avenue, Coy Wolf (created in 2017), by Tony Passero. Now, we were really cruising down Damen. Time was not our friend.
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However, even with the time crunch, the outing went on! Next up was Nike Running by Hebru Brantley on 1640 N. Damen Avenue. This mural summed up how we were feeling.
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It became very clear, at this point, that there was no way we were going to make it back to the car and back home in time for baseball. So, the dreaded phone call was made. I had to break the news to Chris that I misjudged our time frame and he would have to come pick up Noah. Let’s just say, he was not very happy with this update. Even with the miscalculation, we kept moving. As we made our way down Damen Avenue the Potbelly’s at 1625 N. Damen Avenue caught my eye. The building was built in 1894 and was home to Engine Company 35. In 1904 it expanded to include Truck 28. The house was disused in 1974. You can now find Engine 35 and Truck 28 at 1901 N. Damen Avenue. You can still find “Fire Department” and “Truck House No 28” etched in the building.
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We then jumped into a jungle scene at 1542 N. Damen Avenue. The Urban Belly Mural was created in 2017 by Noelle Ruth. The temperature and the mural were both feeling quite tropical.
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Once we got to Damen Avenue and Division Street, we headed east on Division Street, toward the car. It was also becoming clear, from the many phone calls being made, that Chris was having a difficult time finding us. This only added to the perturbness he was already experiencing. As we walked along Division Street we found yet another cool mural, that was not on my list at 1824 W. Division Street. The Bear Champ  eating a piece of pizza can be found outside the Parlor Pizza Bar. It was created by JC Rivera in 2017.
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As we returned to the car, we saw Chris coming the down the street. I knew I was in a little trouble. What can I say, I love murals! As he whipped the car around and pulled up behind us, he quickly put all the baseball equipment in the newer minivan (with air conditioning) and with a hello, a kiss and a shake of the head in disapproval, he was off with Noah to fight traffic all the way to Mundelein. I did apologize, but at that moment, I’m it seemed pointless. As the girls and I got in the hot, older minivan (no air conditioning), I told them that we had one last mural to check out. I know they were tired, but I told them, to look at the bright side, at least we weren’t walking to it. We drove to 1651 W. North Avenue. This was the other mural that I really wanted to see, created in 2017 by Brazilian street artist, Eduardo Kobra. I have been intrigued by the story of Vivian Maier ever since hearing about her years earlier. Once again, I pulled at Sydney’s heartstrings. I told the girls about Vivian Maier being a nanny in Chicago (coming here from New York in 1956) and during that time she would take thousands of pictures, of people and places in Chicago. She shot into the late 1990s and kept all her work to herself. After her passing in 2009, a collection of over 100,000 negatives were found. Her work has been displayed around the world. Both Sydney and I found it rather sad that her gift of taking beautiful pictures was discovered after her death and that she never got to enjoy the fame or fortune of her life’s work. It’s also very possible that Vivian would not have wanted any of it. We will never know.
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In the end, Chris and Noah made it to the game on time and the kids and I had a great day exploring our city, seeing stunning artwork and learning about interesting people. I also learned a valuable lesson. No outings on game day!
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Outing #1 – North Center

SeligOn Thursday, June 27th, we left the house on a couple skateboards, a bike and I chose to play it safe, with just my own two feet. We were off on our first outing of the summer and the kids had no idea where we were going. We started off easy by keeping it in the neighborhood and checking out Outing #15 – North Center from the Top 20 Summer Outings of 2019. We headed to 3900 N. Claremont Avenue. As we approached the large building on the corner of Byron and Claremont, I began to tell the kids about William Selig and the Selig Polyscope Company that he started in 1896. I showed them the picture of the movie studio that used to exist in the exact spot we were standing and explained to them that only one building survived all these years. That building was the large yellow brick apartment building in front of us. I pointed out the Selig logo that is still visible above the front door, a large diamond shape with a ‘S’ inside. I went on to tell the kids that this particular movie company was one of two local companies that produced some the earliest motion pictures. William Selig eventually left Chicago for California and established Southern California’s first permanent movie studio.

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We then walked and rolled a few blocks east to Leavitt Street and headed north. We didn’t stop until we got to Cookie Spin (4350 N. Leavitt Street). The kids were pretty excited. This outing just got really good! I let them pick out something small. It was just before dinner and I didn’t want to completely spoil their appetites. Funny enough we walked out of there with two ice cream cones, a milk shake and no cookies. Maybe next time. I’ll definitely have to check out their edible cookie dough.

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We didn’t waste any time and began to lick, sip and walk. We headed over to Lincoln Avenue and headed north into Lincoln Square. Our next stop was a little trickier to find. I had the address (4613 N. Lincoln Avenue), but didn’t know exactly where to look. After a little searching, high and low, we found the plaque that commemorated nothing happening at this spot in 1897. The kids were a little confused, at first, but soon found the humor in this tiny little sign.

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As we headed to our last stop, we came across a couple extra surprises. The first was the Thomas Jefferson Pumping Station (2250 W. Eastwood Avenue). It is sad to say, but in my 20 years of living in the neighborhood I never knew this building existed. If I did, I forgot about it, but something tells me I would remember this building. It is quite impressive and looks like it should be a historical landmark. After a doing a little research, I discovered that it is over 90 years old and is responsible for bringing water to the residents of the North Side. It was also interesting to read in a DNA Info article that,

“The danger posed by the industrial equipment housed inside the deceptively stately pumping station is one reason the building is fenced in with barbed wire and its entry protected by a locked grilled gate. Concerns over the security of the city’s water system, particularly post-9/11, are another — merely photographing the building will draw the attention of guards.”

I’m happy that my first outing with the kids did not abruptly end with me being tackled by a couple guards after snapping a picture of the pumping station.

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The second surprise was the mural we found on the north exterior wall of Pasta Passion (4647 N. Lincoln Avenue). At first I only had one taker (smallest Gaietto), willing to get a picture in front of the mural. However, the other two quickly agreed. The pose was all their own.

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After our couple detours it was on to the last stop. We walked over to the Western Brown Line Station (4648 N. Western Avenue). The kids were a bit perplexed and questioned why we would be stopping at the train station. As we walked in, I directed them over to the large slab of concrete, near the front window of the station. They didn’t quite understand until I pointed to the panels describing the structure. Sydney’s jaw dropped after reading that it was a piece of the Berlin Wall. It was amazing to think that such an important piece of history was just down the street from our house and we had no idea that it was there. I explained to the kids that of all the places in the city that this piece of the Wall could have gone, Lincoln Square was chosen because of its German roots.

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On our walk back home, down Western Avenue (around 4440 N. Western Avenue), there was one more discovery to be made. I had noticed objects in a tree at Welles Park, for some time now. I never really bothered to take a good look and see what those objects were. Well, on this day, I looked up, snapped a few photos and realized that they were beautiful ceramic flowers. I found the following information on the Chicago Park District website, about the art installation;

“The Chicago Tree Project (CTP) is a collaborative initiative between the Chicago Park District and Chicago Sculpture International. The CTP is an annual citywide effort to transform sick and dying trees into vibrant public art rather than cutting them down. Using art as a vessel for public engagement, sculptors transform trees into fun and whimsical experiences for the greater Chicago community. Each year, twelve new trees are installed throughout the city. A complete map and more information can be found at www.chicagotreeproject.org

I am always impressed by how the city partners with creative groups and individuals to incorporate beautiful art into our everyday lives. Even transforming dying trees into inspirational pieces of artwork.

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The first outing of the summer was a success! Here’s hoping to many more!

Top 20 Summer Outings of 2019

Last summer I shared my 50 Ideas for Summer Fun. It seemed like many people enjoyed the list and appreciated a few new suggestions. This year I thought I would put out a list of summer outings we hope to take. Each outing will include numerous places to visit. Art, history, nature, the strange and unusual are all included.  We’ll venture around the city, the suburbs and even head downstate. The location mentioned in the title of each outing, is only the starting point. Many of the outings take us to numerous Chicago neighborhoods or various suburbs.  You will notice that almost every outing has a stop for a sweet treat. Sometimes children (of any age) need a little motivation when venturing out with mom (or dad). I have found that sometimes the quickest way to stimulate enthusiasm for summer outings is through the stomach. I hope this list inspires you to get out and enjoy the wonderful things this city and state have to offer.

Outing #1 – Bartlett, Illinois

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We are going to take a trip to India! Actually, we’ll be traveling to Bartlett, IL (1 hour drive from north side of Chicago) to see the awe-inspiring BAPS Shri Swaninarayan Santhsa Mendir (1851 S. IL Route 59).

“BAPS is a spiritual and humanitarian Hindu organization dedicated to serving humanity by caring for individuals, families and society. A dedicated force of thousands of volunteers offers over 12 million volunteer hours every year to serve the community through various health, education, disaster relief and environmental protection projects. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Bartlett , IL is one of the Mandirs. The Mandir is a place of worship and prayer for followers of Hinduism. The structure itself is built according to the Shilpa Shastra, a collection of architectural treatises that have been an integral part of Indian architecture and engineering for thousands of years.  The sacred images and ceremonies of worship in the Mandir form the very core in elevating the soul to the pinnacle of God-realization according to Hindu philosophy. Swaminarayan Mandirs, worldwide, fulfill the ancient and lofty concept of the Hindu tradition of Mandirs.” – BAPS website

Last summer we visited the Bahá’í Temple in Wilmette. We enjoyed learning about the Bahá’í faith and seeing where their followers worshiped. The trip out to Bartlett will give us a better understanding of Hinduism. A religion, that some scholars believe to be the oldest, dating back over 4000 years. It is also the third largest religion behind Christianity and Islam.

**Take Note: No sleeveless tops or shorts are allowed.

While we are out in the Bartlett area, we also might check out the Sheldon Peck Homestead (355 E. Parkside Ave., Lombard).

pic2“The oldest house in Lombard (formerly Babcock’s Grove) was originally home to welknown folk artist Sheldon Peck, who helped many people traveling to freedom via the Underground Railroad. The clapboard house, built by Peck in 1839, gave shelter to Freedom Seekers throughout the 1850s.” – Atlas Obscura

pic3We’ll go have a picnic lunch at the Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin. It is 160 acres of forest preserve that was once a dumping site and gravel quarry. It is named for its rare fen, a type of wetland fed by mineral-rich springs. What makes this very interesting is that the spring water stays a constant 50 degrees year round. This allows streams to flow, no matter the season and supports an unusual assortment of plants and animals adapted to these steady, alkaline conditions.

pic3Now, packing the day with religion, history and a nature walk, may not go over well with a lot of kids. Personally, I think once they get out there and see everything, they’ll be impressed. However, for the stubborn eggs, a visit to the Congo River Miniature Golf, might crack their shell. What kid does not like miniature golf? Take in 36 or 18 holes of African jungle themed mini golf. Children 12 and under are $8.50 for 18 holes (if you get in before noon it’s $7.50). Also, be sure to take advantage of their $1 off coupon.

Pic2Lastly, a quick stop in Schaumburg to check out The Awaking Muse. It’s not every day you see a 40 feet sculpture, depicting a female figure inspired by Greek mythology, awakening from her sleep. It was created by Don Lawler and Meg White and installed June 2006. The Awaking Muse is located at the Prairie Center, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg.

So, in case you were wondering our route for this busy day, it would look like something like this, a bit of a circle.

Starting at #1 Sheldon Peck Homestead, then on to #2 BAPS, #3 Bluff Spring Fen, #4 Congo River Miniature Golf and lastly to #5 Awaking Muse.

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Outing #2 – Batavia, Illinois

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Batavia is home to the Fabyan Windmill. It is one of the best examples of an authentic Dutch windmill in the United States. It is located 1500 Crissey Ave., Batavia, IL

‘The 68-foot, 5-story structure was originally built by Louis Blackhaus, a German craftsman, between 1850 and 1860. After years of planning and effort to restore the historic Fabyan Windmill to its original grandeur, including a trip to the Netherlands for authentic timber and great work, the Windmill made its public debut in June 2005 with a Grand Reopening Celebration.” – Kane County Forest Preserve

japanesegardenRight across the Fox River, from the Fabyan Windmill is the Fabyan Japanese Garden. Located at 1925 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva, IL. Take note that the garden is only open on Wednesdays from 1-4pm, Thursdays from 1-4pm and Sundays 1-4:30pm.

“Installed c. 1910, the Japanese Garden is a tranquil oasis where history melds with nature and design. George and Nelle Fabyan developed an intense appreciation for Japanese culture after visiting Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition, which featured a Japanese Pavilion.  After moving from Chicago to their “villa” outside of Geneva, they commissioned renowned landscape designer Taro Otsuka to design a Japanese style garden on their property.  The nearby river and surrounding woods provided a perfect canvas for a Japanese-style garden, which relies on borrowed scenery for its naturalized vistas.”               – Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley

creameryAfter visiting the Dutch windmill and Japanese garden, there is no doubt we will be in need of some ice cream. Luckily the Batavia Creamery is only five minutes away. Located at 4 N. Island Ave., Batavia, IL. Choosing a flavor may prove to be challenging. They have over 100 rotating flavors. 

Screen Shot 2019-06-17 at 8.50.18 PMBefore we head home, we will make a quick stop by the Fermilab. There have been some new additions to the bison herd. Yes, you read that correctly! Bison in Batavia. The first baby bison of the season was born on April 20th. Fermilab was expecting 12 to 14 new calves. They will most likely be a lot bigger by the time we see them, but undoubtedly still adorable. Located at Pine Street and Kirk Road, Batavia, IL.

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Outing #3 – Berwyn, Illinois

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Did you know the World’s Largest Laundromat is located in Berwyn? We didn’t either! I am not one to visit laundromats, though I should (feels like I do laundry 24/7), I thought it would be cool to check out the World’s Largest. Don’t plan on doing any laundry when we stop by, but we’ll check out the 300 machines, gasp at the enormity of the facility and go about our day. Located at 6246 W. Cermak Road, Berwyn, IL. A side note, World’s Largest Laundromat is a proud sponsor of Berwyn’s Independence Day fireworks display.

jaimeWhile in Berwyn we will definitely go out to lunch with Aunt Jaime. Now, unfortunately, not everyone has an Aunt Jaime, but maybe you can find a friend or relative that lives near Berwyn that you can make lunch plans with. The Gaietto kids have a long standing tradition of brunch, lunch and dinner dates with Aunt Jaime and Uncle Mike, so there’s no doubt she will find the perfect spot for us to grab a bite.

funnelHopefully, we have saved some room for dessert. This is not just any dessert, it’s funnel cake! Now, if you’re like me, the only time I have funnel cake is at a visit to Great America. So, to grab this delicious treat without the outrageous ticket price and queasy stomach is an absolute bonus. Polar Bear, on 7901 W. Cermak Road, North Riverside, IL., offers this delicacy, along with many other frozen goodies.

CPNHSAfter filling our bellies we will take a walk around the Chicago Portage National Historic Site, located at 4800 S. Harlem Ave., Forest View, IL.

“One of only three National Historic Sites in Illinois, the Chicago Portage site is a major remnant of the discovery and settlement of Chicago. The Chicago Portage National Historic Site is located in Portage Woods Forest Preserve and Ottawa Trail Woods Forest Preserve. This is the only place where you can stand on the same ground walked upon by the explorers, early settlers and creators of Chicago. You can stand on the footbridge over the short remnant of Portage Creek, stretch out your arms and know that Jolliet, Marquette, LaSalle, Tonti, Point du Sable, Kinzie, Hubbard, Ogden, and countless anonymous others from the discovery, exploration and creation of Chicago passed within an arm’s length of you.” – enjoyillinois.com

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Outing #4 – Casey, Illinois

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Last summer, I took the kids to see a door. There were many questions and some skepticism as we made our way to see the door. What the kids didn’t know was that this was no ordinary door, it was a Monster Door. They loved that door and it is still one of our favorite stops last summer.

So, when coming up with some ideas for summer outings, it only made sense to go down to Casey, Illinois, home to many of the World’s Largest Items. They have the world’s largest wind chime, golf tee, wooden shoes, pitch fork, mailbox and rocking chair. They also have big stuff, too. A big pencil, yardstick, spinning top, bird cage and baseball bat are just a few of the oversized items that can be found. Now, before jumping in the car and heading down to Casey, Illinois, you better make sure your kids are amused by large items. The ride down to the Small Town of Big Things is a long one. The drive is about 3.5 hours from Chicago. I know for the Gaietto kids, seeing the humongous objects will be well worth the trip.

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Outing #5 – Downtown, Chicago

orchestra

Summertime in Chicago and outdoor music go hand and hand. If I can find opportunities to listen to great music without the crazy crowds, I’m going to jump at it. The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus offers open rehearsals (June 11 – August 16) at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (201 E. Randolph Street).

  • Tuesdays from 11AM-1:30PM and 3PM-5:30PM
  • Wednesdays from 11AM-1:30PM
  • Thursdays from 10:30AM-1PM
  • Fridays from 11AM-1:30AM

Our plan is to pack a lunch and have a picnic on the lawn while listening to the melodious sounds of the instruments. Afterwards, I’m sure I’ll get talked into a quick stop at Maggie Daley Park or the Crown Fountain. We shall see.

pickwicklaneAfter leaving Millennium Park, we’re going to head south down Michigan Ave. to Jackson Blvd. At 22 E. Jackson Blvd. is Pickwick Lane. It’s a little unclear on what you would call Pickwick Lane. It’s not a street or an alley. However, one thing is very obvious, it’s a unique part of Chicago history. The building at the end of the brick pavement is now a coffee house. Back in 1871 it was a stable, which was consumed by the Great Chicago Fire. Later it was resurrected as a chop house. I won’t be stopping in to purchase a coffee, but it will be pretty cool to walk along Pickwick Lane and imagine the amount of history that has traveled along that brick street.

brownieAfter our brief stop at Pickwick Lane, we’ll head to the Palmer House (17 E. Monroe Street) to continue our history lesson. We’ll first walk through the grand lobby (the hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels of America) and appreciate the architecture and decor, but then it’s on to Potter’s Burger Bar (located in the hotel) to try the very first brownie. No, we will not be eating the original brownie, but it is the original recipe. The restaurant serves it with ice cream, too!

“The first reference to the “brownie” in America appears in the Sears Roebuck Catalog published in Chicago in 1898. Specifically at the direction of Bertha Palmer to be served at the Columbian Exposition World’s Fair in 1893, the brownie was created in the Palmer House Kitchen in the late 19th century.” – Palmer House

fountainAfter indulging in a historic masterpiece of chocolate and walnuts, we’re going to get back outside and enjoy our last stop, a walk through the Art Institute’s South Garden (just south of 111 S. Michigan Ave.). We will check out the Fountain of the Great Lakes, created by Chicago sculptor, Lorado Taft.

“Completed in 1913, this monumental fountain includes five bronze nymphs depicted in draped clothing representing each of America’s Great Lakes. They are positioned in the same configuration as the Great Lakes, the figures each hold a shell and spill water to the next, emulating the flow of the vast Midwestern fresh water system.” – Chicago Park District

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Outing #6 – Edgewater, Chicago

gordos

This is the only outing where the sweet treat is the main objective. We have been wanting to visit Gordo’s Ice Cream (1120 W. Granville Ave.) for sometime now. The idea of creating your own ice cream bars, with toppings like toasted almonds, candy confetti, fruity pebbles, mini chocolate chips, oreo and peanuts is a dream come true. The possibilities are endless and I’m very curious to see what the Gaietto kids will come up with.

Shedd ChapelNow, once the kids are all happy and super psyched about their ice cream bars, I’m going to fill them in on the next stop. This spot was on last summer’s list, but we never paid a visit. The kids have been giving me a little push back on this location. I’m not sure why. What kid doesn’t want to visit a cemetery? Yes, I know, not many kids, if any, want to visit the dearly departed. However, this is not any old cemetery, it’s Chicago’s largest, Rosehill Cemetery (5800 N. Ravenswood Ave). Many famous Chicagoans are buried here, like Oscar F. Mayer, John G. Shedd, and Richard Sears, just to name a few.

There is a very good chance my kids will really not want to go and of course, I won’t make them (unlike other outings). So, I just might have to check out one of the free tours (2 hours) they offer on the second Saturday of every month (April thru October) at 10am. They meet at the front entrance on Ravenswood.

mammothLast stop is at Woolly Mammoth Chicago Antiques and Oddities (1513 W. Foster Ave). There’s no better way to explain what exactly Woolly Mammoth is, then through Woolly Mammoth’s very own description;

“Woolly Mammoth is a brick and mortar retail store and curiosity cabinet of odd, amusing & eclectic items resurrected from the past. We specialize in vintage & antique taxidermy, anatomy items, medical stuffs, books, toys, skulls, bones, skeletons, military, funerary, art, charts, maps, tools, specimens, natural history, science, culture, industrial.” – Woolly Mammoth Chicago Antiques and Oddities

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Outing #7 – Elmwood Park, Chicago

wagon

I first saw the World’s Largest Radio Flyer at Navy Pier, 20 years ago. I was pretty impressed with its size and thought it was a pretty cool piece of nostalgia. There’s no doubt the kids will agree that this humungous wagon is worth the short trip out to Elmwood Park (6515 W. Grand Ave, Chicago). I’m about 98% sure that the wagon is on the premises were the offices of Radio Flyer is located. We’ll head out there and check it out and report back.

eliWe are then going to be sure we plan our visit to the Eli Cheesecake Company (6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, Chicago) for 1pm. Why 1pm, you ask? Well, you can take part in their complimentary Tasting & Traditions experience which is offered daily at 1 PM in their cafe. The experience is a PowerPoint and video presentation of the history of the company and how they make their cheesecake lead by one of their café associates. At the conclusion you sample a selection of their delicious desserts. The presentation last about 30-45 minutes.

dunningAfter sampling the best cheesecake in Chicago we are going to make a stop at the Read Dunning Memorial Park (6596 W. Belle Plaine Ave, Chicago). This park is a memorial for Chicago’s forgotten. Many mentally ill and poor residents of Chicago were buried here in mass graves. We will pay our respects for those who were ignored and prayer they are at peace.

epacThe last stop of the day will be the Ed Paschke Art Center (5415 W. Higgins Road, Chicago). I mentioned the Art Center in my 25 Ideas for Fall Fun. We never made it in the fall. So, the hope is we make it this summer.

“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 Art Center is free and open to the public (donations are always welcome).

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Outing #8 – Evanston, Illinois

toby

When I read that Evanston was home to the American Toby Jug Museum (910 Chicago Ave, Evanston), I knew we had to go. I had no idea what made a mug a Toby Jug, but after perusing the website, it was very clear that these were some special pieces of drinkware. The museum house 8000 Toby and character jugs in 97 cabinets and it is the largest collection of its kind in the world. The museum admission is FREE. Make sure the kids have all their wiggles out before entering the museum. There is no room for even the smallest accident.

gardenBefore heading to the American Toby Jug Museum we will pay a visit to the campus of Northwestern University. We’ll take a short stroll through the Shakespeare Garden (2133 Sheridan Road).

The Garden Club of Evanston conceived the idea of designing and implementing a Shakespeare Garden on Northwestern University property in 1916 and secured the renowned Landscape Architect Jens Jensen to design the garden. In 1988, the garden was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.” – Northwestern University

rocksWe’ll then head over to the painted rocks along the lakefront, on the Northwestern University campus. Many messages have been written on the rocks, everything from marriage proposals to congratulatory messages. There is long standing tradition at the University, to write messages of various topics along the rocks.

gulliversSo, after goggling at all those jugs, I’m sure we will have worked up an appetite. So we’ll head to Gulliver’s Pizza & Pub (2727 W. Howard Street, Chicago). Home to the world famous pizza in a pan, Gulliver’s offers a unique dining experience you can only find in Chicago.

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Outing #9 – Forest Park, Illinois

showmen

So, there’s a few things you need to know about me. Clowns creep me out a little and the idea of animals performing in circuses disturbs me a bit. However, when I read about the Showmen’s Rest at Woodlawn Cemetery (7600 W. Cermak Road, Forest Park), I knew I had to visit the memorial.

“On the fateful early morning of June 22, 1918, a 26-car circus train was heading from Illinois into Hammond, Indiana, with 400 performers and roustabouts asleep in the rear cars. The train was halted on the Michigan Central tracks near Ivanhoe due to an overheated axle box. A troop train suddenly appeared on the same track, cruising up from behind at 35mph and failing to heed track warning signals and flares. Engineer Alonzo Sargent snoozed his way through three cars, finally halting on top of the fourth in a deafening grinding of metal and splintering of wood. Most of the 86 perished in the first 35 seconds of the wreck. Then, as is typical of any horrific historical mishap, the whole thing caught on fire. Four days after the crash, survivors gathered at Woodlawn Cemetery, where the Showmen’s League of America had selected a burial plot for members. The identity of many victims of the wreck was unknown — some were roustabouts and temporary workers hired just hours or days before. Most of the markers note “unidentified male” or female. One is marked “Smiley,” another “Baldy,” and “4 Horse Driver.” Showmen’s Rest continues to fill up today, with deceased showmen performing at that biggest of Big Tops.” – Roadside America

boothIt’s then on to Oak Park (313 Forest Ave, Oak Park) to see an authentic ticket booth from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Purchased shortly after the fair was over, it was used as a playhouse for children. Thankfully, this piece of Chicago history has been restored to its former glory and resides in the yard of the Hills-DeCaro House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

houseWe then move into Chicago to check out another impressive house. The Beeson House and Coach House (5801 W. Midway Park, Chicago) is an example of the Queen Anne style of architecture. Even if you are unfamiliar or have no interest in various styles of architecture, just seeing this home will cause your eyes to widen and maybe even a jaw to drop.

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The kids will not even realize, but we will only be a block away from their Dad’s firehouse (Engine 96, Truck 29, 439 N. Waller, Chicago). So, of course, we will stop and say hi. Hopefully, the goats are out next door!

 

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Outing #10 – Humboldt Park, Chicago

humboldt

roeserWe wanted to visit Humboldt Park last summer and it never happened. So, hoping we can find time to visit this summer. The plan is to get an early start and what better way to motivate a bunch of sleepy kids, then with donuts. Our first stop is at Roeser’s Bakery (3216 W. North Ave, Chicago). It is the oldest family-owned bakery in the Chicagoland area (100+ years). Custom cakes, cookies and tortes can be found on the menu. We’re hoping to have some delicious donuts.

museum2After our morning treat, we’ll walk over to the Humboldt Park Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary, located in Humboldt Park. I might get a few complaints about this, but if the kids want to go on the swan boats, then the complaints will be at a minimum. Our walk through the sanctuary will take us to the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (3015 W. Division Street, Chicago). The museum is free and open Tuesdays thru Saturdays.

“Located in Humboldt Park, in the heart of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (NMPRAC) is the only self-standing museum in the nation devoted to showcasing Puerto Rican arts and cultural exhibitions year-round.”          – NMPRAC website

swansFinally, we’ll get some exercise by peddling large swan boats in the Humboldt Park Lagoon. When I say we, that includes the kids. I do not plan on doing all the peddling. Currently, the website lists the swan boats as being unavailable. Not sure if all the rain we’ve been getting is a factor, but I will keep you posted.

 

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Outing #11 – Hyde Park, Chicago

smartmuseum

Riley was excepted into a summer program at the University of Chicago. Pretty exciting! It will be one week and she’ll be learning how DNA sequencing works, current DNA technologies, basic programming skills, and ethics in genome sciences. It should be an interesting experience. So, I thought while Riley is hanging out with scientist, the rest of us could check out the campus.

midwayWe’ll first take a drive down Midway Plaisance. The Midway Plaisance offered amusements ranging from a replica “Street in Cairo” to carnival rides, during the Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair) of 1893. The world’s first Ferris Wheel, invented by George W. Ferris, was a popular Midway attraction. The 250-foot high steel structure appears in the distance in this picture.

chapelAs we are driving down Midway Plaisance, we will have a good view of the Rockefeller Chapel. We will get an even closer look, once we turn down Woodlawn Ave. (5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.).

“Rockefeller Chapel is the spiritual and ceremonial center of the University of Chicago, and a major civic presenter of the performing arts. A leading venue for pipes, bells, and voices, it is a prized event location for major speakers and international artists. It is the home of two world class instruments, the E.M. Skinner Organ and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon, and a storied choral program. Resembling a medieval cathedral in appearance and size, it hosts festivals and ceremonies of many world religious traditions.” – University of Chicago

fountainWe will then continue going west on Miday Plaisance, until we reach the Fountain of Time.

‘Dedicated in 1922, the expansive Washington Park installation depicts 100 human figures from across the age spectrum: infants to crones, soldiers to schoolchildren. The figures seem to rush across an arch towards some uncertain future, all watched over by the imposing figure of Father Time, who is hooded and carries a scythe. The figures are intentionally generic, although the sculptor—Lorado Taft—did include himself and one of his assistants on the western side of the piece. It serves as not only as a stark rendering of mortality, but also as a memorial to the first 100 years of peace between the United States and Great Britain following the War of 1812.”Atlas Obscura

We will then travel north and visit the Smart Museum of Art (5550 S. Greenwood Ave). The museum is open to the public, is free and is home to many unique pieces of art. The exhibitions are innovative and the collections are one of kind.

pondOur last stop will be at the Botany Pond (just south of 57th Street and in between Ellis Ave and Woodlawn Ave)

“Long a favorite spot in the Main Quadrangle for its pond and bridge, the landscape around Botany Pond fell to neglect until the University began its Botanic Garden campus initiative. Hoerr Schaudt designed a comprehensive renovation to restore this historic site to a condition of lushness with a high diversity of plant materials. In addition to creating an exuberant botanic display, the project preserved and improved water quality. Today, students, faculty, and a resident family of ducks enjoy the seasonal changes designed into the garden.” – Hoerr Schaudt website

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Outing #12 – Justice, Illinois

stainedglass

Guinness Book of World Records gave the award of world’s largest stained glass to a cemetery in Justice, IL. There may be a window in Kansas that is now larger, but that does not take away from the magnificence of this amazing work of art. Located at Resurrection Cemetery (7201 Archer Road) in Justice, it was created by Pickel Studios, using over 22,000 square feet of faceted glass. It contains 2,448 panels. We will definitely be visiting on a sunny day.

SJPIIWhile we are at Resurrection Cemetery, we will check out the 20 foot tall Pope John Paul II statue.

“In 1969 and again in 1976, before he became Pope John Paul II, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla the Archbishop of Kracow, walked the grounds of Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois. In 1969, the Cardinal visited Resurrection Cemetery to see and bless the Polish Millennium Shrine honoring the 1000th anniversary (966 – 1966) of Christianity in Poland. How can one honor a man of Polish heritage, who was of great faith, and who served his God and the church as its pontiff from 1978 until in death in 2005; and who once walked the very grounds of Resurrection Cemetery you may ask? What better way than with a heroic size statue!” – Catholic Cemeteries

While in Resurrection Cemetery, I just might have to share the story of Resurrection Mary, to the kids. We’ll have to see if I’m in the mood for terrifying children that day.

stairsOnce we leave the cemetery, we will travel 15 minutes south and visit the Swallow Cliffs in Palos Park (along the Sag Valley Trail). We will climb a 100 foot staircase made of 125 limestone stairs. At the top, we will take in some amazing views and maybe even jump on a trial for a short stroll. Something tells me that after climbing those stairs, the enthusiasm for a walk will be lacking. This will be good practice for our Yellowstone trip later this summer.

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Outing #13 – Lakeview, Chicago

alta vista

This outing is nice and close. Lakeview is our neighbor to the east. You can be sure we will be going on this outing while the Cubs are out of town. Our first stop will be at the Lakeview Post Office (1343 W. Iriving Park Road). We’re not dropping off any packages or sending out any letters, but we are going to check out a mural created by Harry Sternberg in 1937. Titled, “Chicago: Epoch of a Great City” it has many individual elements that show a clear timeline of Chicago’s history.

muralLV“During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration was the greatest and most ambitious agency to come out of FDR’s New Deal that employed mostly the unskilled. One sector of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was the Federal Art Project (FAP), and from that was born the Mural Division. This sought to not only employ artists that were struggling financially, but also to bring art to the public. There were many divisions of the FAP that had similar goals, but the Mural Division had a grand vision, and a lasting legacy. It showcased the talent of many artists in that era with varying artistic styles, visions, and messages. One of those artists was Harry Sternberg.” – The Living New Deal

Sternberg’s mural proves to be a lasting legacy of the Great Depression, as it remains one of the better restored murals that survived the Federal Arts Project.

Our next stop will be to Alta Vista Terrace Historic District (3800 N. Alta Vista Terrace). Pictured above, this is a little piece of Chicago history, I didn’t know existed.

“Alta Vista Terrace was one of Samuel Eberly Gross‘s last real estate developments. Inspired by a visit to Europe, Gross and architect Joseph C. Brompton, re-created the character of London row houses on Alta Vista Terrace. The street wall is designed as one unit but with an array of contrasts in color, rooflines, and style. There are twenty row houses on each side of the street. whose designs are mirrored diagonally across the block. All the row houses are two-story building of Roman brick except the four three-story graystones in the center. In 1971 Alta Vista Terrace was designated Chicago’s first historic district.” – Choose Chicago

gracelandJust up the street from Alta Vista Terrace is Graceland Cemetery. Yes, another cemetery. However, not just any cemetery. As mentioned in last summer’s list, and a place we never got to visit, Graceland Cemetery is the final resting place of many prominent Chicagoans. It has 150 years of history and is still an active cemetery and arboretum.

AAOur last stop will be a little further north, to Architectural Artifacts (4325 N. Ravenswood Ave). The kids enjoy going thrifting, but they will be blown away by the items that can be found at this store. There’s no doubt that there will be no purchases made, with the few dollars brought along on the trip, but we will have fun walking around and imagining  the stories behind the various unique items found on multiple floors.

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Outing #14 – Logan Square, Chicago

rwI love murals! I have taken the kids all over the city to check out some really cool murals. I have been wanting to see the Robin Williams mural ever since it was created last year. Located on the north side of the Concordia Music Hall (2047 N. Milwaukee Ave) it is truly a magical piece of art.

The rest of our day will be cruising around Logan Square, Wicker Park and Bucktown to enjoy murals of all sizes, shapes and color. We will definitely be stopping by the Vivian Maier mural (1651 W. North Ave).

VM“She was born in New York in 1926 and spent her youth both there and in France (her mother was French). She began taking photos with an old box camera, but in 1952 – possibly inspired by a show of contemporary French photography at the Museum of Modern Art – she acquired a Rolleiflex, the camera used by many renowned street photographers. Wearing it around her neck, she traversed the city, snapping portraits of everyday people and children and often stopping in front of a reflective surface to capture an image of herself – she was skilled in the art of taking a selfie long before it was fashionable.” – WTTW

She never shared her work and it would have been lost forever, if it wasn’t for a real estate agent that bought some of her negatives after her death and soon realized she was a brilliant photographer.

MARGIESWe will using the list of murals found on the online registry and archive of murals and public work throughout Wicker Park and Bucktown. As we walk the streets and admire the work of many creative artists, we will most definitely make a stop at the Original Margie’s Candies (1960 N. Western Ave). For almost a century (established in 1921), Margie’s has been delighting young and old with their homemade sundaes, shakes and hand-dipped candies. We have visited the Margie’s on Montrose, but this will be our first visit to the place where it all started.

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Outing #15 – North Center, Chicago

Selig

I have lived in the North Center neighborhood for 20 years and I never knew a film company used to exist, just blocks aways from our home. It was created in 1896 by William Selig. The Selig Polyscope Company was one of two local producers of some of the earliest motion pictures.

“Selig was a native Chicagoan, but traveled the country as a magician and fake “medium” in tent shows and minstrel troupes, calling himself a “Colonel” along the way. He was on the road when he first encountered the Edison Kinetoscope, sparking his ambition to make movies. When Edison’s patents got in the way, he “borrowed” some technology from the competing Lumiere Brothers. In 1909, when the lawyers came knocking, he opened up shop in a little backwater out west called Los Angeles, creating the first Hollywood movie studio.” – Atlas Obscura

The studio took up an entire city block. Today the largest structure from the studio company stills stands, located at 3900 N. Claremont. The Selig trademark, “S” in a diamond can be seen above the front door.

CookiespinWe’ll then travel north on Leavitt and grab a treat at Cookie Spin (4350 N. Leavitt Street). The kids have had the opportunity to check out this establishment, but I have not. I do love cookies, so I’m sure I’ll find something I like.

“After two years of specializing in event catering, Cookie Spin is the retail bakery shop presented by Innovative Indulgences.  In addition to the famous “Deep Dish Cookies,” Cookie Spin will also serve ice cream, cookie milkshakes, extravagant sundaes, smoothies, coffee, and even more delicious pastry items!” – Cookie Spin Chicago

We will continue our walk, going north on Lincoln Ave, toward the Lincoln Square neighborhood. Supposedly, at 4613 N. Lincoln Ave. is a plaque that commemorates nothing. After going on many outings and reading many plaques, it will be interesting to see what the reaction will be after reading this plaque.

wallOur last stop will be at the Western Brown Line Station (4648 N. Western Ave). Once again, a piece of history in our own backyard that I had no idea about. I can’t even tell you how many times I have driven past this station and didn’t known that a piece of the Berlin Wall was inside.

“Segments of the Berlin Wall have been given to various institutions since its fall on November 9, 1989.  When Chicago was offered a piece of the Berlin Wall in 2008, Lincoln Square was the natural choice for a location, considering its German roots.” – Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce

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Outing #16 – Prairie District, Chicago

prairie

The Prairie District located on the near south side was the original Gold Coast. In the last three decades of the 19th century the most wealthiest Chicagoans lived in this area, 75 millionaires to be exact. Some of the homes remain as a result of concerned citizens.

Fort DearbornOur first stop will be to the Battle of Fort Dearborn Park (1801 S. Calumet Ave). Very close to the where the park is located is where the Battle of Fort Dearborn took place.

“During the War of 1812, some Native Americans in this area were allied with the British. After the British captured the American garrison at Mackinac, General William Hull ordered the evacuation of Fort Dearborn, which was located at the juncture between Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. As approximately 500 Potawatomi gathered at the fort, its commander, Captain Nathan Heald prepared to abandon his post. On August 15, 1812, a procession of soldiers and settlers including women and children left the fort, and began an attempt to walk to Fort Wayne. After walking a mile-and-a-half south of the fort, the Native Americans attacked the group. More than 50 soldiers and settlers were brutally killed and the others were taken as prisoners to sell to the British. (Some were saved by friendly Potawatomi, such as Black Partridge). A number of the victims died after they were taken prisoner and others were released. The Native Americans burned Fort Dearborn down, and it remained unoccupied until it was rebuilt by the US military in 1816. Over the next couple of decades, the US government began forcibly removing Native Americans from the region and relocating them to areas west of the Mississippi River. Also known as the Fort Dearborn Massacre, the Battle of Fort Dearborn has been depicted in some early works of public art including a bas relief sculpture on the Michigan Avenue Bridge.” – Chicago Park District

Our second stop is the 1800 and 1900 blocks of South Prairie Ave. It is here where we will find the remaining homes of once was the premier residential district. In the 1880s and 1890s, Prairie Avenue was home to some of the city’s founding families like the Pullmans, Armours, and Marshall Field.

We will then check out the Glessner House (1800 S. Prairie Ave).

glessnerhouse“In 1885, John and Frances Glessner – both civic leaders in Chicago and an influential family during the Gilded Age – purchased a spacious corner lot on the most exclusive street at the time, Prairie Avenue. Following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, this area just south of downtown had become the city’s most fashionable neighborhood. When Philip Armour joined Marshall Field and George Pullman on the street in 1877, Chicago’s three wealthiest citizens were living within a four-block stretch of Prairie Avenue. With the city’s elite living here on “Millionaire’s Row” in elaborate, modern-day castles, it was the “sunny street that held the sifted few.” The Glessner’s hired noted Boston architect H. H. Richardson to design a simple, comfortable home that retained the “cozy” feeling of their previous home on West Washington Street.When the house at 1800 S. Prairie was completed, it stood out among the other homes, whose designs were patterned after older European styles. The home was a perfect expression of both the Glessners and the Richardson aesthetic.” – Choose Chicago

ClarkhouseNot too far from the Glessner House is the Clark House Museum (1827 S. Indiana Ave).

“Clarke House Museum is the oldest surviving building in the original Chicago city limits and its only example of Greek Revival domestic architecture. Built in 1836 for hardware merchant Henry Brown Clarke and remodeled for his widow in the early 1850s, Clarke House Museum explores family life in pre-Civil War Chicago.” – Chicago House Museums

churchOur last stop will be to the Second Presbyterian Church (1936 S. Michigan Ave).

“Second Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest congregations in the city of Chicago and has played a prominent role in the history of the city from its inception. Located in a landmark building known for its stained glass windows and Arts and Crafts interior, the church has seen dramatic changes in its congregation and surrounding neighborhoods over the past 173 years. The congregation was organized on June 1, 1842, just five years after the incorporation of the city of Chicago. Dr. Rev. Robert W. Patterson was ordained and installed as the first minister. To give some idea of the prominence of the church at this time, it is interesting to note that when President Grove Cleveland came to Chicago to open the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, he worshipped at Second Presbyterian. The following year, the second of the Tiffany windows, Angel in the Lilies, based on a window displayed at the fair, was installed in the church. National Historic Landmark status was conferred upon the church by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service on February 27, 2013. It is the only church in the city of Chicago and one of only three in the state of Illinois to be so designated. – Second Presbyterian Church

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Outing #17 – Rockford, Illinois

garden

I am a big fan of Japanese gardens. I always make sure to stop by the Japanese garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. One of my favorite spots in Jackson Park is the Garden of the Phoenix. So, I knew I needed to get out to Rockford and visit the Anderson Japanese Gardens (318 Spring Creek Road, Rockford).

“Construction of Anderson Japanese Gardens began in 1978, when Rockford businessman John Anderson was inspired by a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon.  With the ongoing assistance of renowned Master Craftsman and designer Hoichi Kurisu, the Andersons’ swampy backyard along Rockford’s Spring Creek was transformed into a Japanese-style landscape.  From groundbreaking to today, the placement of every rock, alignment of every tree, and layout of all paths has been made with careful consideration by Mr. Kurisu.  In 1998, John and Linda Anderson donated the Gardens as a supported organization to the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association. It now exists as a not-for-profit entity and continues to grow and change to this day.” – Anderson Japanese Gardens

conservatoryJust a four minute car ride from the Anderson Japanese Gardens is the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens (1354 N 2nd Street, Rockford).

“Situated along the banks of our beautiful Rock River, Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens brings the tropics to the Midwest. The facility is the third largest conservatory in Illinois, offering an 11,000-square-foot plant exhibition area complete with water features, seating areas, and sculptures, all in a tropical plant setting.nThe beauty continues outdoors with the Eclipse Lagoon, complete with two fountains and a waterfall, pedestrian bridge, patio areas, and walkway connecting the Conservatory to the Sinnissippi Rose Garden.” – Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens

rockmenA seven minute walk from the Conservatory are the Rockmen Guardians (Rock River Rec Bike Path, Rockford).

“Created by Milwaukee artist Terese Agnew in 1987, the four stone figures cut proud silhouettes in their secluded spot in the park. The 12-foot tall guardians are made up completely of boulders, each weighing hundreds of pounds, and held together with cement. They each hold a different super heroic pose with the obvious leader holding his hand on a rocky sword, ready for battle.” – Atlas Obscura

lincolnMoving to the other side of the Rock River, we will head to the corner of South Church Street and Elm Street. There we will find a large bust of our 16th president, good old Abe. The bust commemorates the time when Abraham Lincoln came to Rockford in July of 1855 to prepare for what has come to be called the Great Reaper Trial — perhaps the most significant commercial lawsuit in the city’s history. The bust is five feet tall. We will be sure to rub his nose for luck.

The last stop takes us by the former site of the Nelson Knitting Company (909 S. Main Street, Rockford), home of the Sock Monkey.

sockmonkey“The old-fashioned, handcrafted sock monkey dolls made with Original Rockford Red Heel® socks from Fox River Mills have become a favorite piece of “Americana” over the years.  Intended and worn even today as work socks, mothers in the early 1900’s fashioned these Rockford socks into sock monkeys for their children.  Clever crafters have been making Sock Monkeys and other animal sock dolls ever since. In 1890, Nelson Knitting began manufacturing these Red Heeled socks. Fox River Mills purchased Nelson Knitting in 1992. Today, the instructions for making these dolls are still included in each package of authentic Red Heel Monkey socks.  Crafters have been lovingly making Sock Monkeys for generations.” – SockMonkey.com

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Outing #18 – South Loop, Chicago

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On this outing, we’ll actually start in Bridgeport and finish up in the South Loop. I had Palmisano Park (2700 S. Halsted, Chicago) on last year’s list. We never made it, but I plan on getting there this summer.

“This is the site of an ancient coral reef dating back to the Silurian age 400 million years ago. Dolomite limestone formed, and fossils that were found here are now in the collections of several area museums including Field Museum of Natural History. In the late 1830s, the land was purchased by the Illinois Stone and Lime Company which began quarry operations. Within a short time, one of its partners, Marcus Cicero Stearns took over and renamed the quarry. Stearns was an early Chicago settler who got his start by opening a supply store for workmen who blasted out rock to build the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Even after Stearns died in 1890, the quarry continued operating under his name until 1970. For the next few decades, the site was used as a landfill for clean construction debris. After the dumping ended, the idea of transforming the site into a new park emerged. The new park would be especially important because the surrounding Bridgeport neighborhood had long suffered from a lack of adequate green space.” – Chicago Park District

Holy FamilyAfter our stroll through Palmisano Park, we’ll head to Holy Family Catholic Church (1080 W. Roosevelt Road).

“Back in 1857, a priest named Father Arnold Damen began construction on a new church that would become one of Chicago’s most beautiful. It was called “Holy Family Church” and is Chicago’s second oldest church and the original Jesuit Parish in Chicago. According to legend, when the Chicago Fire started in 1871 (a few blocks east), it was spreading toward the church when Father Damen, who was in Brooklyn preaching a parish mission, was advised of the danger and invoked Our Lady of Perpetual Help to save the building, promising to light seven candles before Our Lady’s statue if the church was spared from the fire. The wind shifted, the church was spared, and the candles were lit.  Seven electric lights burn to this day at Our Lady’s shrine in the east transept of the church. Interestingly, Patrick and Catherine O’Leary, owners of the world’s most famous cow, were parishioners.” – Holy Family Church

MariosAn eight minute walk from Holy Family Church is Mario’s Italian Lemonade (1068 W. Taylor Street). They don’t just serve lemonade flavored Italian ice. They have a long list of flavors.

“Mario’s Italian Lemonade has been serving a unique form of drinkable Italian Ice from its Italian tricolor shack since 1954, when it was opened by Mario and Dorothy DiPaolo at 1068 W. Taylor Street in the University Village neighborhood of Chicago. It remains essentially unchanged in the same location today, still owned by the DiPaolo family. On warm summer night, it lights up the entire street and draws heavy crowds.” – Mario’s Italian Lemonade Facebook Page

pillarOur last stop will take us past the Chicago Fire Academy (558 W. De Koven Street). It is here we will check out the Pillar of Fire. The Pillar of Fire represents the spot where the Great Chicago Fire was believed to have started.

“Egon Weiner (1906 –1987) Chicago sculptor and professor at the Art Institute of Chicago (1945–1971) created this 33-foot-tall abstract bronze sculpture for the grounds of the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy, where Chicago’s firefighters now train. The sculpture was designed for the site of the origin of the fire and in 1971, one hundred years after, it was designated a Chicago Landmark.” – Chicago Public Art

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Outing #19 – St. Charles, Illinois

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Our first stop is to Mt. Saint Mary Park (Route 31 at Prairie Street).

“An anthropomorphic egg sculpture titled “Mr. Eggwards” is permanently sitting on a wall in Mount Saint Mary Park (He is securely anchored, so it’s unlikely he’ll have a great fall). Since 2007 the park has featured an exhibit called “Sculpture in the Park,” which features nearly 20 permanent and temporary (mostly bronze) sculptures by artists from around the nation. The works range from the sublime to the abstract to the strange, and may be seen along a 5/8 mile walking path. The permanent sculptures include depictions of a frog, a boy and rabbit sitting on a turtle, a pear, etc. Some of the sculptures are 15 feet tall.” – Roadside America

coneAfter walking and enjoying the public art, we will have to cool off with some ice cream from Kimmer’s (W, 1 Illinois Street), home of the Sparkle Cone. I already love sugar cones, but sparkly sugar cones sound amazing! On Wednesdays, if you were something sparkly, you’ll get a Sparkle Cone upgrade!

indianAfter we have consumed every single sparkle, we cross the Fox River and check out the Ēkwabet statue.

“The project was the vision of Bill Berg, a life long resident of St. Charles.  He met sculptor Guy J. Bellaver, who was attending his first Rotary meeting after having just moved to St. Charles with his family – and the rest, as they say, is history. The sculpture was sited and dedicated in May, 1988 and named Ēkwabet by the Potawatomi Nation in a 1989 Naming Ceremony.  Ēkwabet means “Watching Over”, and was given that name by Billy Daniels of the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe.” – Ekwabet Website

golfThe last stop is River View Miniature Golf (8 North Avenue). Waterfall, windmill, and lighthouse, what more could you ask for from an 18 hole mini golf course? While we are putting away, we will be sure to enjoy the view overlooking the Fox River.

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Outing #20 – West Town, Chicago

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We’ll start this outing at a very unusual sculpture. The Shit Fountain (1001 N. Wolcott Avenue) is a reminder for dog owners to pick up after their furry friends.

fountain“Artist Jerzy S. Kenar installed the public poop as a winking tribute to all of the dogs in the neighborhood who are known to trample and defecate upon his flowers. The metal make sits atop a three-foot sandstone pedestal like a classical Grecian bust and slowly dribbles water into a shallow basin. While the piece may seem disgusting or in poor taste, but it has garnered almost no outcry from the community who seem to truly enjoy the whimsical statement. Technically the statue sits on Kenar’s private property so the city is not concerned either.” – Atlas Obscura

St. JohnOur next stop is St. John Cantius Church (825 N. Carpenter Street). We’ll first ask for forgiveness for saying “shit”. We’ll then hopefully get a peek inside. In 2016 it was named the most beautiful church in America.

“Its unusual High Altar and the statuary on it can be traced back to the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Of all the “Polish Cathedral” churches in Chicago, St. John Cantius stands closest to downtown. The imposing 195-foot tower is easy to spot from the nearby Kennedy Expressway. St. John Cantius is particularly well-known for its program of solemn liturgies and devotions, treasures of sacred art and rich music. In 2012, an ambitious restoration returned the interior to its original splendor.” – Open House Chicago

artNext up is the Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (756 N. Milwaukee Ave). Visitors under 18 are free and everyone else is $5.

“Established in June 1991, Intuit is one of the premier museums in the world dedicated to presenting self-taught art, defined as the work of artists who demonstrate little influence from the mainstream art world and who instead are motivated by their unique personal visions.” – Intuit

churrosAfter taking in all that art and architecture, we will definitely be in need of a snack. One request from the kids was to get churros this summer. So, I was excited when I came across The Gringo (1202 W. Grand Ave). They offer churros, but they are not just any old churros. These things can be smothered in berries, sprinkled with Pop Rocks or covered in toppings like Oreos, Reeses Pieces and M&Ms. The kids are going to freak out!

The last stop of the day, the Hubbard Street Mural Project (1030-1044 W. Hubbard Street). Well, it used to be the Hubbard Street Mural Project, today it is the B_Line.

mural3“The Hubbard Street Murals, on Hubbard between Ogden and DesPlaines in Chicago, were originally painted during the 1970s. A few years ago, Union Pacific Railroad began repairing and replacing the aging concrete train embankment, unfortunately affecting the artwork in the process. The HSMP began seeking interested individuals and groups to restore some panels and bring new artwork to the refurbished embankment. With support from Union Pacific Railroad, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council, the mural project lives on. The new murals maintain some of the original themes: wildlife, endangered species, ethnicity, and Chicago history.” – Hubbard Street Mural Project

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So, that covers the 2019 outings. It’s a lot and we will most likely not cover everything, but we are excited to try!

 

 

 

 

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

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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

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“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

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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 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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“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

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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

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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

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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 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 #8 – Garden of the Phoenix & Promontory Point

On Monday, our first stop was the Garden of the Phoenix (formerly known as the Osaka Garden – #40 on the list of 50 Ideas for Summer Fun) in Jackson Park. Getting to the Garden was an adventure by itself. My go to entrance (located behind the Museum of Science and Industry) was closed. So, we walked a little and soon realized that we would have to get back into the car and find another entrance. The Garden is on an island and there are only two pedestrian bridges. The first one, we found out is not accessible. We hoped back onto Lake Shore Drive and headed south, turning on the next street, Hayes Drive. As we made our way to the parking lot (located on the north side of the street), we passed The Republic. I promised Morgan we would stop and take a picture our way back.

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We walked the path that was lined with a variety of trees and wild flowers. In a few minutes we came to the Garden of the Phoenix. This was the original location of the Japanese Garden and Ho-o Den. Both were built for the World Columbian Exposition in 1893. Soon after the outbreak of World War II, the buildings were destroyed by a fire and the garden was abandoned. In 1981 a new garden was built.

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As soon as you walk through the entrance, you have walked into one of Chicago’s hidden gems.

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The kids were so excited to walk on the rock steps in front of the waterfall and cross the bridge, that I had to remind them that we were in a tranquil place and our level of excitement needed to be less vocal.

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Everywhere I looked, there was another photo opportunity. I kept the kids very busy, promising with each picture, that it would be the last one. It ended up being a foolish promise to make.

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Before we left the Garden of the Phoenix, I grabbed one more shot and took a short video. I was hoping to capture the beauty and magic that this place holds, but it is definitely something you have to see with your own eyes.

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Just outside of the Garden is a sculpture created by Yoko Ono, titled Skylanding. I loved how Morgan was illuminated when standing in the center. The sun bouncing off the petals provided nice lighting.

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We departed Wooded Island and made our stop at The Statue of the Republic. Even though, we had visited the statue a few years ago, Morgan was super excited, having just learned about The Republic and her role at the World Columbian Exposition.

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The Chicago Park District’s description of The Statue of the Republic:

Installed in 1918, the Statue of the Republic commemorates the twenty-fifth anniversary of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park and the centennial of statehood for Illinois. The twenty-four-foot-tall gilded bronze sculpture is a much smaller and slightly modified version of Daniel Chester French’s original sixty-five-foot-tall Statue of the Republic, one of the most iconic features of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. (On its base, the original sculpture rose to a total height of one hundred feet.) Composed of gilded plaster, the original monumental female figure stood with outstretched arms at the eastern end of the fair’s Court of Honor.

Shortly after the fair, a fire destroyed the original Statue of the Republic. In 1918, the B.F. Ferguson Fund and the Woman’s World Fair Fund commissioned Daniel Chester French to create the commemorative version. The existing gilded bronze twenty-four foot tall statue stands on a ten-foot-high base by architect Henry Bacon. The total project budget of $56,000 included $47,000 that had remained in the treasury of the exposition. Installed on the site of the Fair’s Administration Building in Jackson Park, the monument was unveiled on May 11, 1918. Although World’s Fair visitors had nicknamed the original sculpture “Big Mary,” the smaller version is known best today as the “Golden Lady.” The commemorative sculpture was re-gilded and rededicated in 1993 in tribute to the centennial of the World’s Columbian Exposition.

We drove back to the parking lot located behind the Museum of Science and Industry, parked and walked over to Promontory Point (#42).

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We found a shaded spot to have lunch and enjoyed the view of the skyline. As we ate lunch, I told the kids that George Lucas was married here. Sydney found that very cool.

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Promontory Point is a man-made peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan. It is located in Burnham Park. The Point was constructed from landfill in the late 1930s. It was opened to the public in 1937. Alfred Caldwell designed the landscaping, using native plants and stone. Caldwell’s design featured a raised “meadow” section in the center of the 12-acre peninsula and included hundreds of flowering trees and shrubs. Few of Caldwell’s original plantings remain today.

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Our last stop was at the 57th Street Beach. The view of the beach from Promontory Point was amazing. Especially with the Museum of Science and Industry acting as a backdrop.

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On the walk back to the car, as we were walking under Lake Shore Drive, we spotted a mosaic that perfectly summed up a day.

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Adventure #6 – Gompers Park & LaBagh Woods

We had my sister’s dog, Kasey, for a couple days and wanted to find some dog friendly locations.  So on Friday, we visited Gompers Park (#20 on the list of 50 Ideas for Summer Fun) and LaBagh Woods (#25). Gompers Park covers 39 acres and is located on the north and south sides of Foster Avenue, just west of Pulaski Road. We spent our time on the south side of the park, walking around the lagoon and alongside the rehabilitated wetland area.

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While walking around the lagoon, I spotted a Caspian Tern, circling over head. We all really enjoyed watching the bird dive into the lagoon and fly away with a fish. We also spotted a family of Canadian Geese in the wetlands area.

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Noah had just been to Gompers Park, a couple weeks prior to our visit, on a field trip with his 4th grade class. The students had the opportunity to fish. I lost count on how many fish were caught. Luckily, for the fish, they were released back into the lagoon. We did not fish, but saw so many people enjoying this popular pass time.

We traveled a little further west on Foster Avenue, until we reached the Irene C. Hernandez Picnic Grove. We parked the car and walked north, entering the woods on the paved path. The kids had brought along their scooters and enjoyed riding along the smooth path. I found the signage along the path to be very helpful.

After following the path for a good distance we turned around and headed back. Before leaving we found a dirt path and walked along the Chicago River (North Branch). The mosquitoes were relentless, so our walk was brief. We did see a bridge that once transported trains across the river. Today, it’s a gravel trail that eventually connects to the Sauganash Trail, to the north. We all decided that we would have to come back in the fall, when the leaves are changing color and there are less mosquitoes.

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It was a two hour adventure that everyone enjoyed, kid and dog, alike.