Moonlight Cruise on the Spirit of Peoria

Moonlight Cruise on the Spirit of Peoria

On our recent visit to Peoria, Illinois, we enjoyed a moonlight cruise on the Spirit of Peoria paddlewheel riverboat. What a perfect way to spend a late summer evening after a busy day of sightseeing! Read more

Sail Peoria: A Private Sailboat Cruise on Peoria Lake

Sail Peoria: A Private Sailboat Cruise on Peoria Lake

One of the things I love about travel writing is that we constantly experience new adventures. Sailing is one of those things we never did before—until our private sailboat cruise with Sail Peoria. Read more

Nina and Pinta Replicas Sail the Mississippi, Dock for Tours

Nina and Pinta Replicas Sail the Mississippi, Dock for Tours

We first wrote about the Nina and Pinta replicas in 2013, when we stumbled across the ships in Clinton, Iowa. The Nina and Pinta, replicas of two Columbus’ ships, offer tours to the public. A couple of weeks ago we visited Peoria, Illinois. As we walked down to the Illinois River to board the Spirit of Peoria for a moonlight cruise, we noticed the Nina and Pinta replicas docked there.  Checking the schedule, we found the ships were in Peoria through September 24, 2017. Their next stop was Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where they’ll be from September 29 through October 8. Read further for our original experience and descriptions of the Nina and Pinta replicas.  Read more

Do Cicadas Chirp During a Solar Eclipse?

Do Cicadas Chirp During a Solar Eclipse?

When I first heard, several months ago, about the total solar eclipse crossing the United States this summer, I knew I wanted to go to a point of totality. It would be cool to watch the moon completely cover the sun and to experience total darkness in the middle of the afternoon.

In the weeks leading up to the eclipse I read several articles about the subject. One article suggested that scientists would be studying the effect of the eclipse on wildlife, including whether cicadas chirp during a total solar eclipse. Odd, I thought. It seems that would be a simple thing to find out. Scientists should already know that. I made a mental note to listen for cicadas myself. Read more

A Stroll Through Anderson Japanese Gardens

A Stroll Through Anderson Japanese Gardens

A sense of serenity came over me as I strolled the paths of Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois. Walking through landscapes of meticulously manicured trees and flowing water, relaxation replaced my stress. What is it about a Japanese garden that differs from other gardens? Why does it feel tranquil? It’s because each element—every rock, every plant, every pond— is carefully placed to inspire calm and renewal.

I’ve felt that that sense of tranquility in every Japanese garden I’ve visited. However, it was intensified at Anderson Japanese Gardens because of the garden’s size and extensive use of water. The garden’s twelve acres includes two large ponds, a creek that winds through the property, and a tall waterfall.
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25 Ways to Have Fun at the Illinois State Fair

25 Ways to Have Fun at the Illinois State Fair

I went to my first state fair in 2015. I had been to county fairs many times but had never gotten around to going to the larger Illinois State Fair—or for that matter, any other state fair. I knew the gist of what to expect—farm animals, carnival rides, entertainment and such. What surprised me was the size of the fair. There was so much to see and do. We spent two days at the fair and didn’t get a chance to see everything. Here is a list of 25 things to do at the Illinois State Fair, and it is not all-encompassing. Read more

6 Small Midwest Zoos Great for a Short Visit

6 Small Midwest Zoos Great for a Short Visit

Large zoos are a fun all-day adventure. But there are times that you don’t have all day. Or perhaps you have little ones in tow who can’t yet handle a full day outing. You hate to pay the full price for a major zoo, deal with the hassle of a large parking lot, and leave after a few hours. Here are six Midwest zoos that are great for short visits. Read more

Blaum Bros Distilling Co: Top Galena Attraction

Blaum Bros Distilling Co: Top Galena Attraction

Since the first year Matt and Mike Blaum opened Blaum Bros Distilling Co, it’s been Galena’s top attraction, according to Trip Advisor. The craft distillery is so popular that just three years after opening their doors in 2014, they are having to expand. Although it was quiet on the single-digit day we toured the distillery this winter, Matt told us, “During the summer and fall months it’s just shoulder-to-shoulder in here.” Read more

Goldmoor Inn: Romantic Galena Getaway

Goldmoor Inn: Romantic Galena Getaway

Historic Galena, tucked away in the northwest Illinois rolling hills, is the quintessential romantic getaway. During the day, guests visit historic sites or browse small shops housed in Main Street’s nineteenth century buildings.  In the evening, after dining in one of Galena’s trendy restaurants, they retreat to romantic B&Bs and inns. We were recently invited to the Goldmoor Inn, located just minutes from downtown, to experience the inn’s first Artists in Residents program. One look at the inn, and I fell in love. Read more

11 Midwest Popcorn Shops You Must Try

11 Midwest Popcorn Shops You Must Try

I’ve mentioned here before that if  I could have only one snack food for the rest of my life, it would be cheese popcorn. But not just any cheese popcorn. The supermarket stuff won’t do. It must be super cheesy, the kind you can only find in a gourmet popcorn shop. So every time I stumble upon a popcorn shop in my travels, I must go in and buy some.  Here are 11 Midwest popcorn shops I’ve come across in the past few years that offer rich gourmet cheese popcorn—and caramel corn in lots of flavors if you prefer your popcorn sweet. Read more