Why Alton is Perfect for Eagle Watching

Why Alton is Perfect for Eagle Watching

As the weather turns cold, American Bald Eagles migrate from Canada south, down the Mississippi Flyway. They winter near open water, in search of fresh food. Humans, in turn, flock to where the eagles are, hoping to get a glimpse—or a great camera shot—of the majestic U.S. national bird. Alton, Illinois, is the perfect place for eagle watching. Here’s why: Read more

11 Delectable Midwest Chocolate Treats

11 Delectable Midwest Chocolate Treats

Dark chocolate—it’s one treat I can’t pass up. A few years ago on a press trip we were tasting chocolate at a chocolate shop.  I was skipping the milk chocolate and going right for the dark. One of my fellow travel writers said, “Even if I never meet you again, I will always connect you with dark chocolate.” Yep, that’s me.  I’ve tasted a lot of Midwest chocolate over the past few years, and am sharing with you 11 of my favorites, in no particular order, plus two from beyond the Midwest. Read more

Bed and Breakfasts: 10 Etiquette Questions Answered

Bed and Breakfasts: 10 Etiquette Questions Answered

I used to avoid staying in bed and breakfasts. The pictures I saw of them were lovely, but I wasn’t sure of the etiquette. Do I knock when I get there? How about every time we come and go? Will coming in late at night be a problem? Will we have to share a bathroom with other guests? (Please—no!)

Then I went on a press trip, and they assigned us to a bed and breakfast. Oh no! What to do? Everything worked out just fine that weekend. The beautifully decorated Victorian mansion included a Jacuzzi tub in every room, and we were the only guests staying there that night. Since then, bed and breakfasts have become one of our favorite types of accommodation, and we stay in them often.

If you have yet to stay at a B&B for any of the fears I had, fear no more. Here are answers to 10 questions you may have about staying in a bed and breakfast. Read more

5 Kokomo Attractions Reflect Area Gas Boom History

5 Kokomo Attractions Reflect Area Gas Boom History

In the late 1800s, huge natural gas fields were discovered beneath Kokomo, Indiana. The gas supply was thought to be infinite. As a result, manufacturing boomed in the city, particularly in the glass and automotive industries. During our stay in the area, we visited five Kokomo attractions that reflect those two industries. We learned why the glass and automotive industries, in particular, became prevalent in Kokomo. Read more

9 Peoria Restaurants You’ll Surely Want to Try

9 Peoria Restaurants You’ll Surely Want to Try

A favorite part of our travels is dining at local restaurants. We like to mix up the cuisines to keep our meals interesting. When we visited Peoria, Illinois, and the surrounding area, we dined at a great mix of restaurants, from barbecue and pub food to Asian and Cajun. Here are nine Peoria restaurants we tried and recommend, plus a few places we stopped into just for beverages. Read more

Serenity Springs: Amazing Romantic Getaway

Serenity Springs: Amazing Romantic Getaway

When was the last time you were shown to your room via horse and carriage? That’s what we experienced when we checked into Serenity Springs, the resort that specializes in romantic getaways for couples. After our driver loaded our luggage onto the carriage and we stepped aboard, Isabella, a rescued Belgian, led us through the 85 acre wooded Michigan City resort to our cabin. Read more

Shop ‘Made in Iowa’ for Unique Gift Ideas

Shop ‘Made in Iowa’ for Unique Gift Ideas

When it comes to gift giving, some people are just plain impossible to buy for. When you ask for a wish list, they tell you they don’t need a thing. Or maybe you don’t feel comfortable asking for a wish list. We have someone like that in our family. For a while we were exchanging gift cards, which seemed silly. Then one year as we were traveling in early December, browsing through gift shops, I had an idea. Why not fill a basket with goodies produced in the state we were visiting? So that year we gave this person a basket filled with locally-made wines, cheeses, honey and other edible treats. It was a big hit. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for unique gift ideas whenever I travel. Read more

Illinois Bicentennial Year Kicks Off with Flag Raising Ceremonies

Illinois Bicentennial Year Kicks Off with Flag Raising Ceremonies

At noon on December 4 municipalities across Illinois conducted flag raising ceremonies to mark the beginning of the state’s bicentennial year. What better place to witness the beginning of the state’s 200th anniversary year than in the state capital? So we hopped in the car and made the two-and-a-half hour drive to Springfield, where the Illinois Bicentennial flag was to be raised atop the Old State Capitol. Read more

Touring the Pettengill-Morron House

Touring the Pettengill-Morron House

In our travels we often tour historic homes that were originally owned by prominent local residents. Those homes are usually furnished with very few of the original owner’s belongings. Instead, they’re filled mostly with period furniture obtained elsewhere. Not so with the Pettengill-Morron House in Peoria, Illinois. The last Pettengill-Morron House owner, Jean Morron, left the home to the Peoria Historical Society with all of her possessions intact. Entering the home, you feel like you’re stepping into somebody’s current residence. Read more

New Year’s Eve in the Midwest for $25 or Less

New Year’s Eve in the Midwest for $25 or Less

You don’t have to spend a fortune to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Here are 12 events throughout the Midwest that won’t break the budget before the New Year even begins. (Updated for New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2017.) Read more