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

12 Ways to Enjoy Wildlife Prairie Park

12 Ways to Enjoy Wildlife Prairie Park

If you’re familiar with Wildlife Prairie Park in Hanna City, Illinois (near Peoria), you most likely associate it with its herd of bison or gang of elk. (Yes, a group of elk is called a gang.) Perhaps you also know that the park is home to wolves, coyotes, and other animals. But did you know that Wildlife Prairie Park also includes mountain bike trails, a disc golf course, and is a concert venue? Or that you can spend the night in the park inside a caboose or a grain bin? During our visit to Wildlife Prairie Park last fall, Brien Davis, Community Development and Events Manager showed us around. We discovered there is so much more to this 2,000-acre park than we knew. Here are twelve ways to enjoy Wildlife Prairie Park. Read more

Dining Family Style at the Wittmond Hotel

Dining Family Style at the Wittmond Hotel

We were warned: Eat lunch at the Wittmond Hotel in Brussels, Illinois, and you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day. Little did we know the extensive relish tray alone at this restaurant would fill us up…and then came the entrees. Read more

Exploring Five Abraham Lincoln Home Sites

Exploring Five Abraham Lincoln Home Sites

Most Americans know that Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s sixteenth president, lived a modest childhood. He was born in a log cabin in Kentucky and moved with his family to other cabins in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois until striking out on his own when he was 22 years old. Over the past few years, we’ve visited five Lincoln home sites, all of which are designated state or national historic sites. Read more

Where to Eat in Alton, Illinois

Where to Eat in Alton, Illinois

Over the past few years we’ve eaten in several Alton restaurants. It seems every time we visit Alton, Illinois, new great eating establishments have opened, while iconic restaurants continue to thrive. Here are some of the restaurants we’ve enjoyed during our Alton visits. Read more

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

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