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

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

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

Where to Eat in Lafayette and West Lafayette, Indiana

Where to Eat in Lafayette and West Lafayette, Indiana

You can bet a college town is going to have great places to eat. Lafayette and West Lafayette, Indiana, home of Purdue University, is no exception. Here are six Lafayette-West Lafayette restaurants where we dined during our weekend visit. Read more

Exploring Washington Square: Side Trip from Peoria

Exploring Washington Square: Side Trip from Peoria

Washington’s square was once the bustling hub of this Illinois city’s commerce. However, as Washington grew, its services and main shopping areas moved elsewhere. Although no longer the city center, Washington Square thrives today with antiques and specialty shops, restaurants, and a newly renovated seven-room inn. Read more

Blue Gate Restaurant and Theatre: Dinner and a Show in Shipshewana

Blue Gate Restaurant and Theatre: Dinner and a Show in Shipshewana

If you visit Shipshewana, Indiana, chances are you’ll eat at least one Amish-style meal at the Blue Gate Restaurant, enjoy a show at the Blue Gate Threatre, or treat yourself to some goodies at the Blue Gate Bakery. We doubled-down during our Shipshewana visit, eating two meals and taking in two plays at the Blue Gate Restaurant and Theatre. Read more

Dining at German Café in French Lick, Indiana

Dining at German Café in French Lick, Indiana

It seems lately we’ve been coming across more German restaurants in our travels than we ever did before. Most of them have been around for a long time, so apparently we just hadn’t been traveling in the right areas in the past. When we saw the German Café was TripAdvisor’s top rated restaurant in French Lick, Indiana, we decided to try it. Read more

Apple Time at Peake Orchards

Apple Time at Peake Orchards

As I toured Peake Orchards in Waukon, Iowa, I bit into a Honeycrisp apple. As fruit goes, apples have never been one of my favorites. But that Honeycrisp was true to its name—a crisp crunch followed by sweet flavor. I’d find out later why the apple tasted so good, but at the moment I was learning about all the work that goes into raising apples. Read more

Redamak’s: A Southwest Michigan Institution

Redamak’s: A Southwest Michigan Institution

One of our favorite impromptu day trips is to southwest Michigan, following the Lake Michigan shoreline. Resort towns dot the route with beaches, small shops, galleries, and restaurants. Every time we make the trip, I get a craving for a burger from Redamak’s, an iconic mom-and-pop diner in New Buffalo. But it’s rare that we stop there. Either our meal timing is wrong, or it’s high season with a lot of people waiting outside the door. On our last trip, however, we hit it right—a weekday at 3 p.m. Read more

Nelis’ Dutch Village: Family Fun in Holland, Michigan

Nelis’ Dutch Village: Family Fun in Holland, Michigan

Step on the old-time scale to see if you’re a witch … walk in wooden shoes … feed a goat … see how cheese is made. There is so much to do at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, Michigan, our three-generation family spent almost a full day there. Read more