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

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

Holiday Lights in Illinois 2017

Holiday Lights in Illinois 2017

Twinkling lights add a bit of magic to the holiday season. Infants to elderly are fascinated by dazzling lights displays. Whether you prefer to enjoy holiday lights on foot, in the warm comfort of your car, or even from a helicopter, you’ll find many impressive and unique holiday lights displays throughout Illinois. Read more

Wheels O’ Time Museum Explores Early Manufacturing

Wheels O’ Time Museum Explores Early Manufacturing

Wheels O’ Time Museum. Is it about cars? Is it about clocks? I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turns out “Wheels O’ Time” refers to the passage of time. The museum near Peoria, Illinois, focuses on manufacturing from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. During this time. Peoria was a huge manufacturing city. It’s estimated that over 900 items, from bicycles to whiskey, were made in Peoria in the early 1900s. The Wheel O’ Time Museum recalls that era. Its 30,000 square feet of exhibit space spread across four buildings, plus outdoor space, is jam-packed with artifacts, mostly from the Peoria area. Read more

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