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

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

Due to Covid-19, many of the free or inexpensive outdoor New Year’s Eve celebrations have been cancelled. A few have come back, though, in 2021.  (Updated for New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2021.) Read more

Midwest Zoo Holiday Lights Events

Midwest Zoo Holiday Lights Events

Christmas festivals at zoos have become huge holiday attractions. In the Midwest alone, at least eighteen zoos celebrate with holiday lights, carols, animal shows, and even ice skating rinks. Brookfield Zoo, Chicago’s oldest holiday zoo event, is celebrating its 40th year in 2021. But the very first zoo holiday lights event in the nation was Indianapolis Zoo’s Christmas at the Zoo, which dates back to 1967!

Many other zoos have hopped aboard the holiday festival train over the years. Here are a few highlights of eighteen Midwest zoo holiday lights events for 2021, listed by state: 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

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

11 Midwest Popcorn Shops You Must Try

11 Midwest Popcorn Shops You Must Try

I’ve mentioned here before that if  I could have only one snack food for the rest of my life, it would be cheese popcorn. But not just any cheese popcorn. The supermarket stuff won’t do. It must be super cheesy, the kind you can only find in a gourmet popcorn shop. So every time I stumble upon a popcorn shop in my travels, I must go in and buy some.  Here are 11 Midwest popcorn shops I’ve come across in the past few years that offer rich gourmet cheese popcorn—and caramel corn in lots of flavors if you prefer your popcorn sweet. Read more