Blue Gate Amish Tours: Up Close and Personal

Blue Gate Amish Tours: Up Close and Personal

When I think of Amish craftspeople, I think of quilters and blacksmiths. I would never think of a leather worker who creates belts and purses from alligator or ostrich. But that is what one Amish craftsman does in a shop we visited during the Blue Gate Amish Tours Up Close and Personal Tour in Shipshewana, Indiana. As part of that tour, we also visited a Mennonite family that creates a special kind of basket, and an Amish bishop’s home. Read more

8 Council Bluffs Restaurants We Recommend

8 Council Bluffs Restaurants We Recommend

Local flavor, whether at a diner or farm-to-table restaurant, is a big part of every trip we take. On my recent press trip to Council Bluffs, Iowa, our travel group ate at several locally-owned restaurants and bakeries. All of these Council Bluffs restaurants were winners. Read more

Sculpture Walk Peoria Enhances Warehouse District

Sculpture Walk Peoria Enhances Warehouse District

Bring new life to a blighted neighborhood with trendy condos or apartments. Add craft breweries and restaurants. To complete the effort, install public art. We love the revitalization efforts we’re seeing throughout Midwest cities, including the Warehouse District in Peoria, Illinois. Once a deteriorating neighborhood, today developers can’t convert old warehouses to apartment buildings quickly enough. In the evenings, crowds gather at craft breweries. And Sculpture Walk Peoria adds an artistic touch to the once-again bustling Warehouse District just southwest of downtown Peoria. Read more

Blue Gate Amish Tours: Evening in an Amish Home

Blue Gate Amish Tours: Evening in an Amish Home

Our Blue Gate Amish Tours guide, Allen, encouraged us to ask questions of the Amish bishop we were about to meet in Shipshewana, Indiana. “Nothing’s off limits,” he told us. So the twelve guests on the Evening in an Amish Home tour spent the time asking Bishop Monroe Yoder questions. We came away realizing that although the Amish culture is different in many respects from mainstream America, we have more in common with them than we knew. Read more

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Connects Two States

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Connects Two States

A few years ago, on our first visit to Omaha, we crossed the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The impressive 3,000-foot s-curved bridge, one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the nation, spans the Missouri River and connects Council Bluffs, Iowa, with Omaha, Nebraska. So I wasn’t surprised when the bridge was on the itinerary on my recent press trip to Council Bluffs. Even through it’s the same bridge, and I again took the obligatory photo of one foot in each state, seeing the bridge from the perspective of Council Bluffs rather than Omaha somehow seemed a little different. Read more

Cantigny Park Salutes Battle of Cantigny Centennial

Cantigny Park Salutes Battle of Cantigny Centennial

May 28, 2018, marked the centennial of the Battle of Cantigny. The centennial happened to coincide with Memorial Day, and Cantigny Park, in Wheaton, Illinois, marked the occasion with a ceremony in front of the First Division Museum. Read more

Freedom Rock Tour: A Tribute to Veterans

Freedom Rock Tour: A Tribute to Veterans

Iowa artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen is on a mission to paint a mural honoring the military on a rock in every Iowa county and two in every state. We saw our first Freedom Rock last year in Pulaski County, Missouri, and this spring Skip stumbled across another one in Lake Mills, Iowa. Read more

Why Fieldhouse was My Clear Lake Restaurant Choice

Why Fieldhouse was My Clear Lake Restaurant Choice

One evening during the Building Community Conference I attended earlier this month in Clear Lake, Iowa, we rode the Main Street Trolley to a restaurant of our choice. I chose Fieldhouse, not only because of its farm-to-table cuisine, but for another reason that’s near and dear to my heart. Read more

Weekend Getaway: Galena, Illinois

Weekend Getaway: Galena, Illinois

Heading west on U.S. 20 in northern Illinois, the road that had been straight and flat begins to wind through gently rolling farm fields as you near Galena. When church steeples and orange brick buildings come into view, you know you’ve reached your destination.  A city with fewer than 3500 residents, Galena attracts over a million visitors every year. Visitors come for the history, the shopping, the dining or just to relax in an atmosphere that is like nowhere else in Illinois.  Read more

Indiana Bead Town Mural Aiming for World Record – And You Can Help

Indiana Bead Town Mural Aiming for World Record – And You Can Help

A world record is about to be broken. And the call is out for you to help. It’ll actually be two years before the record is official. That’s how long it’ll take to adhere nearly fifteen million recycled Mardi Gras beads in place. The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority is hosting the Bead Town project to create the world’s largest bead mosaic. Artist and Bead Town Executive Director Stephen Wanger designed the Bead Town: Along the South Shore mural and leads the project. During the next two years visitors to the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, Indiana, are invited to participate in the project by placing beads in the mural. Read more