Today for Focus Friday we talked to K. Hollis Jewelers! What began as a hobby has grown into a thriving business with an emphasis on creating meaningful jewelry pieces while fostering a sense of community with their customers. Take a look at their story and plan your visit before Valentine’s Day!
Today is a somber day in America as we remember the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks which occurred sixteen years ago today in New York City and in a rural field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The anniversary of the attacks causes us to pause as we pay tribute to those who lost their lives that day, and to the service men and women who worked tirelessly to help bring peace and comfort in a situation pierced with terror. We will never forget.
When applying for a mortgage, a lender determines how much house you can afford based on your debt to income ratio, not solely your total monthly income. With this in mind, how you manage your debt, specifically credit card payments, is critically important! If a home purchase is on the horizon for you, you’ll want to remember a few key things.
When you’re shopping for a home, you may come across one you’re interested in that is listed as For Sale by Owner. In 2016, 89% of homes sold involved an agent, so while this DIY approach is not the most popular choice, it is something you may come across during your search.
Spring and summer are for exploring and enjoying the outdoors, especially in the Midwest since a good part of the year is cold and snowy. This summer, plan a visit to Jester Park, a 675-acre park with lots for your family to see and do!
We ask a lot of our kids each day. From standing patiently in line while running errands, to sitting for extended periods while focusing on school work. Finding appropriate ways for them to expend all their build up energy can be tricky for parents.
A home inspection is a crucial step in the home buying process. In fact, according to a recent poll by All Star Home Inspectors, 99% of realtors recommend a home inspection to their clients. Neglecting to have a home inspected could be devastating as a new homeowner. Here are four things you should know about home inspections:
It’s a good time of year to be a Chicagoan! The warm weather is here to stay and the city is coming alive again. We’ve earned the nice weather, so as you’re making your spring and summer to-do list, put an architecture tour from Shoreline Sightseeing on your list!
While buying a home holds lots of excitement for new opportunities, it also comes with a plethora of new responsibilities. It will likely be the biggest purchase you make in your lifetime, and protecting your investment is critical! When you're buying a home, purchasing a homeowner’s insurance policy and a home warranty are both smart ideas that can help to offer you protection as a new homeowner, but understanding the difference between the two is important because they’re quite different.
Looking for somewhere to hang with mom this weekend that she’ll enjoy just as much as the rest of the family? Celebrate Mother’s Day at the Smart Museum of Art on the University of Chicago campus. The museum is one of the best in the city, and even better—it’s always free!
Moving is notoriously stressful. From the significant financial commitments to the logistics of packing up your belongings and resettling somewhere new. It disrupts your family’s routine which can create a sense of disorder.
Shopping locally is socially responsible, provides a high-quality product, and allows for opportunities to delve deeper into the community in which you live. This is definitely the case at the Main Street Market, held in Rockford twice each year! Plan to attend this open air market, on May 20th, for an opportunity to buy handmade and vintage goods from over 150 vendors! Cute, quaint, unique and fun don't even begin to cover it!
If you’re on the hunt for sound financial advice, your ears should perk up when you hear from billionaire American investor Warren Buffett, who’s proven he knows a thing or two about real estate and money management. His advice to Americans looking to grow their wealth? Buy a home. Particularly if you’re looking to put down roots and stay awhile.
While the city of Chicago holds some amazing things, sometimes heading West for a couple hours, out of the city, can be a refreshing change of pace. This spring, head over to Klehm Arboretum in Rockford for a beautiful escape!
When you’re shopping for a home, there are lots of important things to consider. How good are the schools? Will the neighborhood accommodate the lifestyle you hope to have? Is it close to extended family? These things are often in the forefront of shoppers’ minds, but there are some factors that are just as important that could be easily overlooked. Before you put an offer on a house, you may want to take these three things into consideration:
Nothing is quite as relaxing as taking a leisurely drive on a country road. Pretty scenery, windows down, and good music on the radio makes for a special afternoon. This spring, when you need to unwind a bit, take a trip to Grundy County to see their unique Barn Quilt Project that’s been in the works since 2003!
Everyone loves a good deal, and when you combine a unique and inexpensive find with the art of bargaining, it deepens the appreciation because you really had to work for it! Chicago combines this experience while celebrating its culture and tradition at the weekly Maxwell Street Market!
Central Iowa has a deeply rooted Dutch heritage which means you don’t have to travel far if you live anywhere in the midwest to get a clear idea of the traditions and customs held by Dutch people. This spring, on May 4-6, plan to attend the 82nd annual Tulip Time Celebration, in Pella!
Nothing is as synonymous with Chicago as pizza! Deep dish, to be more specific! The history of the tasty pizza pie creation dates back more than 70 years, and it’s since become an essential part of Chicago’s culture. Today, most Chicagoans have enjoyed their fair share of cheesy and saucy slices, but very few of us have ever tried our hand at buidling this epic pizza creation ourselves! This spring, plan an outing to Pizzeria Uno in River North, an historic Chicago eatery specializing in deep dish, for a tasty and educational DIY experience you won’t forget!
Spring time often leaves us with inconsistent weather, making outdoor fun hard to plan for during this time of year! Easter is this weekeknd, and if you’d rather not cover up the kids’ Easter garb with a big coat during the egg finding festivities, plan a visit to Pump It Up, in Urbandale, for their Jump ‘n’ Easter Egg Hunt!
Brunch is always a good idea, but it’s an especially appropriate way to celebrate a special event or holiday with your friends and family. This weekend, save yourself the stress of cooking and hosting Easter, and visit the Morton Arboretum for some beautiful scenery and a delicious brunch!
If you haven’t properly celebrated Easter yet, it’s not too late! You still have a few days to plan your springtime fun, and Bass Pro Shops, in multiple locations around Iowa, has you covered! Visit this weekend for an unforgettable Easter celebration!
Spring is in full swing in Chicagoland! We’ve enjoyed some nice weather, the rain has brought flowers and green grass, and Easter is approaching fast! If you haven't planned an Easter outing yet, come celebrate the holiday this weekend at the Lincoln Park Zoo's Easter Egg-Stravaganza!
Sometimes we need a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of modern life. When you want to escape a bit, and gain some education too, visit Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa!
April showers bring...lots of time cooped up indoors! While we wait for the sunshine to make its appearance again in Chicagoland, bring your kids to Hippo Campus, in Volo, for some fun as they use their brains and bodies to explore and learn!
If you have an interest in trains or locomotive history, or if it excites the younger members of your family, a visit to the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad is a must-do! Put a trip here on your spring/summer bucket list!
Chicago has world famous architecture, five star restaurants, and some amazing opportunities for recreation and entertainment. If you're looking to see the sights of the city, or have an out-of-town guest who wants a peek at all that Chicago has to offer, plan an active biking adventure with Bike and Roll Chicago!
After a long winter spent indoors, we’re craving outdoor time! If you’re looking for a place to explore this spring, plan a trip to Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines! You’ll encounter some amazing animals, interactive exhibits, and you’ll learn something new while you and your family have fun! Blank Park’s mission is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world. They accomplish this through education, conservation efforts, and through periodic recreational activities held at the zoo.
Sometimes, in the middle of a busy urban area like Chicago, you find a natural wonderland where the cars, skyscrapers, and hustle and bustle of city life feels far away. This is exactly what you’ll discover when you visit North Pond Nature Sanctuary in Lincoln Park.
If you’re staying put for spring break, but still want to experience a getaway, plan a trip to King’s Pointe Waterpark Resort, in Storm Lake, Iowa, making it just a short drive from most of Iowa’s major metropolitan areas. Here, you’ll get all the fun without the long drive!
Looking for a way to entertain and educate the kids while they’re off on spring break? Look no further than the Bronzeville Children’s Museum in Chicago, which offers unique exhibits and programming for kids of all ages, with a special focus on African American history and culture.
Each state in America has a unique history and offers a unique contribution to the country as a whole. If you call Iowa home, or if you'd like to learn more about the state while you're passing the heartland sometime, make a visit to the State Historical Museum of Iowa!
Lake Michigan, with it’s beautiful water, waves and wildlife, and expansive shoreline is arguably Chicago’s finest asset! It provides our city with many necessities, but also hours of recreation and stunning views. This spring, take a trip down the Lakefront Trail, stretching 18 miles along Lake Michigan’s coast, for a state-of-the-art tour of the city of Chicago.
With spring break on the horizon, you may be looking at hours in the car as you travel to your final vacation destination. Why not make the most of the road trip, and plan some interesting stops along the way? If you’re travelling though Iowa on I-80, make a pit stop at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum for a unique peek at trucking history!
Spring time is synonymous with baseball! It’s America’s favorite pastime, and it’s a good time to be a fan in Chicago right now! Both teams are fun to watch, but the World Champion Chicago Cubs have recently hit their stride, and even if you don’t typically cheer for the northsiders, you can still find things to appreciate about this historic team--namely their iconic stadium, Wrigley Field!
Whether you have a vast knowledge of art or find yourself seeking some more education in the area, a trip to the Des Moines Art Center will not leave you disappointed! The Des Moines Art Center is a contemporary art museum that offers visitors a look at some amazing works of contemporary art through permanent collections and rotating exhibitions featuring work from both emerging and well-known artists alike. Even the architectural design of the building was carefully planned!
It’s March, which means we’re craving spring! While it’s not quite nice enough yet to see the springtime blooms popping up through the soil, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your greenery fix! Take a trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden this month to refresh yourself, mind, body and spirit!
Those of us who call Chicago home are well versed in the history of the city. From the Great Chicago Fire and The World’s Fair, to Al Capone’s influence and the growth of industry, we have a wealth of knowledge about our great city! However, we often can’t say the same about the surrounding suburbs! Many cities have their own regional history museums, and today we’re featuring the Elk Grove Historical Museum!
Professional baseball isn’t just for the biggest cities in America anymore! In Des Moines, you can get a taste of the big leagues without leaving the state! This spring, make a trip to Principal Park for a AAA baseball experience that’s family-friendly and features both former and soon-to-be big league talent, making for a competitive game that everyone in the family can enjoy. Opening day is less than a month away!
Everyone enjoys a tall stack of pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast, but very few of us understand exactly what it takes to get that delicious drizzle from the tree to our plates! It's currently sugaring season, which makes it the perfect time to learn! Head over to the North Park Village Nature Center on March 25th for their FREE Maple Syrup Festival!
At Compass Mortgage, we recognize the invaluable role a quality education can play in a person’s life. Education opens up opportunities, both personally and professionally, it establishes a framework for lifelong learning, and provides access to information and resources that would otherwise be hard to come by.
Among the many wonderful things that springtime brings with it are flowers and greenery! After a dreary winter, this pop of color brings a welcome change to the landscape! Now, you don’t need to wait for the ground to thaw to get your fill of beautiful plant life! Plan a trip to the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden this spring!
In the coming months, the weather is hit and miss. On days when you want to get out of the house but it’s more reminiscent of winter than spring, put a trip to Funtopia, located in Glenview, on your list! It will provide a day of fun and adventure for the kids in your life!
You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day! If you’re still working on plans for the big day, keep the Leprechaun Chase 10K, at Principal Park in Des Moines, in mind this year! You’ll have a great time AND get a workout in!
A Chicago river cruise is a great way to see the city for visitors and natives alike! But if you’re looking for an extra special experience, plan a trip on the green-dyed river during the St. Patrick’s Day festivities on the Shoreline Sightseeing St. Patrick’s Day Lunch Cruise! You'll get up close and personal to the famous green water, and have a great time learning more about our city in a fun and festive environment.
There’s a new trend making everything from kids’ birthday parties and date nights, to corporate team events more exciting and suspenseful…an escape room! An escape room is a physical adventure game where you and other participants are locked in a room and use clues and props within the space to solve a puzzle within a set time limit. In order to be successful you need strong time management, teamwork, and persistence! Even if you don’t make it in time, you’ll still have a blast, and you’ll have stories to share during dinner afterwards! Check out any of the escape rooms below, located all over the state of Iowa, for an energizing activity that’s out of the ordinary and unique! Good luck!
There’s a new trend making everything from kids’ birthday parties and date nights, to corporate team events more exciting and suspenseful…an escape room! An escape room is a physical adventure game where you and other participants are locked in a room and use clues and props within the space to solve a puzzle within a set time limit. In order to be successful you need strong time management, teamwork, and persistence! Even if you don’t make it in time, you’ll still have a blast, and you’ll have stories to share during dinner afterwards! Check out any of the escape rooms below, located all over Chicagoland, for an energizing activity that’s out of the ordinary and unique! Gather up a group, and good luck!
Springtime brings a lot of wonderful things we’ve missed over the long winter. Flowers, fresh air, sunshine, and of course, baseball! That’s why a trip to The Field of Dreams baseball field, from the film favorite 1989 best picture winner is the perfect way to spend the day this spring or summer!
There are lots of ways to see the city of Chicago! From a river cruise through the heart of downtown, to walking food tours through the neighborhoods, Chicago is amazing no matter how you view it. But if you’re a thrill seeker, looking for a one-of-a-kind vantage point, check out The TILT Experience, at the top of the Hancock building, for a spectacular and heart-pounding view!
We've been experiencing an unseasonably warm month, which offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy some outdoor fun! The next time you're looking for a way to enjoy being outside, check out the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines!
We've been lucky enought to get a break from those harsh winter temperatures that are typically around this time of year. As you plan for ways to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather begin to brainstorm springtime activities, remember Pottawatomie Park, located in downtown St. Charles! The park has so much to offer--it’s fun for the entire family!
You don’t need a degree in art to know and instantly recognize the famous painting, American Gothic, currently displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago, which portrays a farming couple in front of a white farmhouse. The artist, Grant Wood, painted it in 1930, and his inspiration came from what is now known as thein Eldon, Iowa. Wood drew his inspiration for the characters in the portrait from his sister and his dentist, and he said he sought to paint the house along with "the kind of people I fancied should live in it.
Even though the calendar tells us we're still in the heart of winter, mother nature tells us something different! We've been spoiled with some fantastic weather lately! If you'd like to take advantage of the mild temperatures before things return to normal, head on over to Wildwood Nature Center, in Park Ridge, for some outdoor fun that you've been craving after being cooped up indoors for so long.
Valentine's Day often brings with it a pressure to plan a stellar date. If you’re still looking for inspiration for tonight, look no further! We’ve got you covered! There is something special about being creative alongside your date, and when you can combine an imaginative activity with music and wine, it becomes super fun and romantic!
If you’re still trying to plan a date for Valentine’s Day tonight, we’ve got you covered! There is something special about being creative alongside your date, and when you can combine an imaginative activity with music and wine, it becomes super fun and romantic!
Even with spring on the horizon, the weather outside can still be frightful! When the days are cold and blustery, but you feel in the mood for an adventure, bundle up your crew and head to the Science Center of Iowa for some awe inspiring entertainment and lots of learning!
While we look forward to weekends for the rest and relaxation they bring, kids don’t always feel the same way! They enjoy action and energy, and sometimes that best takes place out of the house in a new and exciting environment. If you’re looking for somewhere new and inspiring for your kids to explore, check out the Discovery Center Children’s Museum in Rockford!
While spring hasn't officially sprung just yet, we still get the occasional mild day from time to time which is refreshing and energizing! If you and your family are looking for a way to burn off steam after a long winter spent indoors, put a visit to High Trestle Trail on your list of places to explore!
Ignite Glass Studios, located in Chicago’s West Loop, is a beautiful facility focused on the craft of making art with glass. This stunning medium is unique and precise, and something that most people are less familiar with, making a visit here particularly interesting. The studio offers everything from team building activities, to a viewing gallery, and community outreach to a gorgeous event space!
They say everything’s better with bacon, and if that’s true, that means the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival is the best event around! On February 18th, head to Des Moines for a festival dedicated to the most delicious cut of meat there is!
As adults, we love starting the day with a warm cup of coffee. It’s even more enjoyable when we can leisurely sip it in the comfort of our favorite cozy coffee shop. Now, it’s possible for you to enjoy that relaxing experience even when your children are in tow! Visit Little Beans Café this winter when you’re needing some relaxation and the kids are seeking fun!
Our lives are stressful and busy, and sometimes the best way to rejuvenate can be to get outside and surround yourself with the natural world. If you’re feeling like you need an escape that’s not too far from home, plan a visit to Maquoketa Caves State Park! You’ll get the chance to learn, explore, and refresh!
Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and if you’re looking for a date-night activity that’s out-of-the-box and creative, with an added perk of being delicious, check out some local establishments offering cooking classes! These classes offer the opportunity to learn a new skill and practice some creativity in the kitchen! Cooking together will bond you and your date, and you’ll finish the evening feeling accomplished and full from all the yummy food you made! Ready, set, COOK!
Aviation is something that fascinates men and women of all ages. No matter how familiar it has become, there's still something magical and mysterious about the way an aircraft lifts off the ground and soars through the air above us! There is a rich history in the field, from the first flight, to commercial airlines, to military use. If you’re a plane enthusiast, or if you’re just looking to learn more, take a trip to the Iowa Aviation Heritage Museum, located at the Ankeny Regional airport!
All of us enjoy an escape from everyday life from time to time, and there’s nowhere that will transport you quite like Medieval Times, located in Schaumburg. They’ll treat you to a one-of-a-kind show and an extraordinary dinner, filled with imagination, history and competition!
In American tradition, beginning in 1933, former presidents are honored with a presidential library and museum which seeks to inform the public about the highlights of their presidency and provides public access to materials, books, and artifacts. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum sits on the grounds of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa, and is a significant draw for the region.
Supporting local art, in all forms, helps to build community and it honors the craft which the artists have poured their lives into. The Steel Beam Theater is a local, non-for-profit organization located in St. Charles, which is “dedicated to delivering high-quality theatrical entertainment, training and arts awareness.” They truly love theater, and the Fox Valley has benefitted from their entertainment offerings since their beginning in 2001.
There's nothing that evokes memories of childhood quite like candy! Picking up your old favorite treat in the grocery store check-out line is fine, but it's even more fun and nostalgic when you can peruse your old, lesser known, favorites in a quaint candy store, brimming with sugar and delicious treats! Yum!
While snowy, cold days bring charm during the holidays, during the months that follow the chilly temps can leave us feeling blue. Since spring time is still a far way off, when you’re feeling like you need an escape from all the gray, pay a visit to The Lincoln Park Conservatory, located directly adjacent to the zoo in Lincoln Park!
Baseball is America’s favorite pastime, and no matter where you go in the country, you can find a little piece of baseball history. While it may not feel like it outside, spring training is just around the corner, which means soon, baseball is back!
The Aurora Regional Fire Museum is a non-profit, educational center which focuses on sharing the history of fire-fighting, from a local and national level, through artifacts, exhibits, hands-on activities, and special events. If you have a history enthusiast, or a child who’s interested in fire trucks or firefighting, a visit to this museum is a must!
The Mighty Mississippi, which runs almost directly through the middle of our nation, was, and still is, a critical part of American commerce and agriculture. As one of America’s longest rivers, it’s been an important part of people’s lives, since before the land was even settled. Today, we still recognize the importance of this resource, and as a way to honor the history and educate about the future, the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium exists!
The Art Institute, located right in the heart of downtown Chicago, is a showcase for some of the most brilliant masterpieces in the world! For four years in a row, it’s been voted one of the top museums in all the world! It’s a fantastic place to browse as a relaxing weekend activity, and as a place to learn if you want to delve into the world of art history.
The Amana Colonies, located just off of 1-80 are a treasured collection of seven villages, sitting on 26,000 acres of prairie land, offering visitors a step back in time! Originally, the villages were built and settled by German Pietists, who were persecuted for their faith, but since, they’ve been maintained as a way to educate visitors about German history, culture and tradition, and celebrate with friends and family!
Most people keep their eyes out for indoor fun during the cold Chicago months, but if you’re feeling really adventurous, check out Chicago Elevated’s Winter Sightseeing Tours! This is for the hardcore adventurers among us, because it will be cold—but it’s an experience not many people get, so it’s unique and special! You’ll see Chicago in a new way, and if you’re a true Chicagoan, or looking for an authentic experience, you can totally hack it!
There is still something both magical and mysterious about the way an aircraft lifts off the ground and soars through the air above us! If you have an interest in aviation, or if you have a young one who does, you need to plan a visit to Pilot Pete’s, in Schaumburg, for dinner! You’ll get a first-class meal and an unrivaled view!
The Adler Planetarium, located on the lakefront on Chicago’s museum campus, is a world-class planetarium which offers visitors an in-depth look at the world beyond our planet. Anytime you visit you’ll feel intrigued by everything that exists far beyond us. The exhibits are well-designed, thoughtfully researched, and executed at a level that is unmatched by similar institutions. It's a must-see in Chicago!
For the second year in a row, celebrate New Year's Eve in Chicago in an outdoor party that rivals New York's festivities in Time's Square! Head downtown this year to watch the star RISE at midnight during Chi-Town Rising! It's the Midwest's biggest and best New Year's Eve celebration.
With Christmas in our rearview, it's time to set our sights on celebrating New Year's Eve! It's a time when we can reflect on 2016 and ring in 2017 with friends and family. The night is even more fun when you can get out of the house and ring in the new year in a festive environment!
There's nothing that evokes memories of childhood quite like candy! Picking up your old favorite treat in the grocery store check out line is fine, but it's even more fun and nostalgic when you can peruse your old, lesser known, favorites in a quaint candy store, brimming with sugar and delicious treats! Yum!
For the fourth year in a row, Naper Settlement in downtown Naperville, in partnership with the Naperville Sunrise Notary, is bringing holiday cheer to the community with their festive holiday light festival!
In Chicagoland, we have access to some amazing museums where we, as adults, can learn, explore and engage with the world around us. Lucky for us, our children have that same opportunity! The Chicago Children's Museum, located downtown at Navy Pier, can be added to the list of exceptional children's museums in our area which celebrate the interests and developmental needs of children.
Mooseheart is a100-acre residential facility and school for children in need, whose parents, for one reason or another, are unable to care for them. This organization has a mission to provide quality education and a loving, nurturing home enviroment for the children they care for.
Year round, Cosley Zoo in Wheaton offers visitors a small-scale farm zoo experience that is perfect for the little ones in your life. But at Christmastime, the zoo transforms into a colorful winter wonderland during their Festival of Lights, and the entire family will find the experience magical!
St. James Farm, located in Warrenville, is a 612-acre forest preserve containing native plant and animal species, agricultural fields, barns and horse stables. It’s a scenic place to visit year-round for a leisurely picnic, or a hike through the woods on the various paths. The preserve offers exciting opportunities to explore all year round, like nature photography excursions and geocaching, but during Christmas St. James Farm becomes especially festive!
Christmas is a time to celebrate family traditions. These customs we share with our loved ones remind us of what's important, and they allow us to reflect on our past while looking hopefully to the future. This year, start a new tradition of your own with your family while you observe and learn about the traditions of other cultures around the world by visiting the Museum of Science and Industry's Christmas Around the World exhibit!
Each fall, hundreds of Chicagoans flock to the Morton Arboretum to enjoy the season and see the beautiful trees change their colors. But the colorful spectacle doesn't end once the last leaf has dropped! In the winter, the Arboretum strings thousands of colorful lights for a one-of-a-kind Holiday experience you shouldn't miss!
Thanksgiving is a time for food, friends, football and family! But most importantly, it’s a time set aside to reflect on all that we’re thankful for. Out of that thankful spirit often comes a desire to serve those less fortunate, right in our own communities. While the holidays hold fond memories for many, it can also be a time where those around us feel lonely and burdened. Below you’ll find just a few organizations that work to lend a helping hand to those in Chicagoland. This holiday season, get out and about and serve!
The holidays are in full swing in the city, and things are about to get even more festive! On the tails of the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony downtown, the ice skating rink at Millennium Park has opened, and it's a season must-do in Chicago!
There is nothing more festive than getting bundled up and heading outside during the holiday season to view the bright and cheery decorations adorning the trees and structures. It’s even more fun though when you can take in all the sights and sounds of Christmas at one of Chicago’s favorite locations for family fun…the Lincoln Park Zoo!
There is something so charming and special about the holiday season! The snow, the lights, the music, the family time! It’s something that should be celebrated in style, especially since it only lasts for a few weeks each year. The 15th annual Winter Wonderfest, held at Navy Pier in Chicago, makes finding seasonal fun easy, and it's a must-see in Chicago this season!
Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and lots of food! It’s also traditionally the time for an awesome parade! Thanksgiving Day Parades around the country began in the 1930s as a way to brighten the lives of people suffering through the Great Depression, and since it has turned into a long-held tradition that helps to usher in the holiday season.
Chicago is a large, busy city, and so are its suburbs, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for a retreat to nature! The Lincoln Marsh Natural Area, in Wheaton, offers one hundred and fifty acres of wetlands and prairie land to explore when you need some time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
As the weather cools off in fall, we find ourselves inside more often, missing the excitement of outdoor play. But summertime fun doesn’t have to end just because it’s November! This winter, when you’re looking for break from the cold, visit Key Lime Cove, in Gurnee, for some swimming, splashing, and family fun that happens no matter what mother nature decides to throw our way!
Today we welcome the month of November! This month brings a big holiday of its own, but the most fun comes from all the opportunities for Chirstmas prep that will take place in the coming weeks! Thankfully our city offers lots of unique opportunities to get in the festive spirit. This month, visit the Christkindlmarket, a holiday market which began in Neumburg, Germany in the 16th century, but is celebrated here each year. It’s Chicago’s largest open air holiday market, and it’s not to be missed!
The thrill of a competitive race is invigorating, and it can excite even the novice runner. But, if you’re the kind of athlete who needs a little extra motivation to get yourself moving, the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, happening this Sunday, October 30 in Grant Park in Chicago, is the race for you!
A family outing to the zoo is always a fun adventure, but this weekend Brookfield Zoo is stepping it up and making the zoo even more exciting! In celebration of Halloween, head over for Boo at the Zoo! A not-so-scary event to excite the little pumpkins in your life.
As the weather cools down, things begin to heat up in the kitchen! We crave hearty comfort food during this time of year, and while we can cook it ourselves, nothing beats leaving the hard work of preparing it to someone else.
Santa’s Village Azoosment Park, located in East Dundee, is a theme park for children which focuses on fun rides and attractions, as well as exotic and interesting animals! This one-stop-shop holds all sorts of fun to entertain all the children in your family, no matter their age or interest.
Legos are a classic childhood toy that offer the chance to build, play and be creative. Over the years, they have become more innovative and diverse, offering a wide variety of experiences to children of all ages! Legoland Discovery Center, in Schaumburg, offers the young and the young-at-heart, the opportunity to engage with Legos in amazing ways! While there are special exhibits and events happening all throughout the year, a great time to visit is this month for their Halloween event appropriately titled “Brick-or-Treat.”
Chicago is a first-class city with an abundance of things to do! Some of that fun, however, can come with a hefty price tag. But don’t fret! If you’re searching for a budget-friendly outing, check out The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago, held this weekend, October 15-16! It's can't miss event and it's completely free.
Traditional Japanese gardens contain three vital elements: Stone, water, and plants. Though these elements in themselves are not unique, it’s the way the gardens are structured that makes them truly special. The landscape works in harmony with the other features to create gardens meant for reflection and renewal. The beauty is not to be missed, and now you don’t need to make a trip across the ocean to enjoy them! Visit Anderson Japanese Gardens, in Rockford, for a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t soon forget!
Chicago is well known for its rich museum culture. From the museum campus on the lakefront, housing the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, and others, to the museums tucked away in various pockets of the city, many celebrating the heritage and traditions of Chicago residents, like the DuSable Museum and the National Museum of Mexican Art. These institutions make our city vibrant and relevant, and there’s no better time to plan a visit than during Chicago’s Museum Week!
Everyone should experience the magic of live theater, and now it’s easier than you think to access this special form of entertainment! Wheaton Drama, based out of a small theater in downtown Wheaton, is celebrating its 80th year of production this year, and it’s not to be missed!
This fall, head to the Elmhurst Art Museum, a suburban gem that provides visitors with a wide scope of art exhibits, events, and even classes, that don’t require a trip into the city. With convenient access from two major interstates, Elmhurst is easily accessible no matter where you’re traveling from.
The hustle and bustle of Chicago is exciting and energizing, but when you’re in the mood for something a little more low-key, you don’t have to travel far to feel like you’re in a completely different environment. Travel a short distance from the city to McHenry County in the northwest suburbs and you’ll find yourself in farm country! Autumn Drive, held this year on October 14-16, is a 29-year tradition offering a unique collection of experiences which unite different farms and local businesses around the county, allowing visitors to enjoy all things local and all things fall!
Stade’s Farm and Market is a family owned and operated farm which offers a sought after u-pick experience, along with a market, and a must-see Shades of Autumn festival, all in nearby McHenry, Illinois.
The quaint and cozy suburb of Long Grove is tucked away just north of Chicago, and each fall they celebrate the quintessential fruit of the season…the apple! This fall visit the Long Grove Apple Festival!
The town of Pullman, on Chicago’s far south side, has a unique and rich history. Founder Charles Pullman purchased 4,000 acres of land to develop the first American model industrial town, where factory employees could live and work together in one place. Once dubbed as “the world’s most perfect town”, it met the needs of its residents and cultivated a spirit of community that is still present today.
Sonny Acres in West Chicago is open year-round for customers to purchase anything from fresh produce in the summer, to a Christmas tree in December. But, they’re perhaps most well-known for all the fun they offer in the fall! Sonny Acres is a family owned farm, and they put on a fall festival to rival any other in the area!
Goebbert’s is a one-stop-shop for festive fall fun! This family owned farm, with two convenient locations, is celebrating its 68th year in business, and they know how to celebrate the season right! Goebbert’s is open to the public during the summer for fresh produce which they grow themselves on their 200 acres of land in Hampshire, but the action really picks up once the leaves start to change.
The calendar has rolled into September, which means it's time to celebrate many midwesterners' favorite season! This fall, make a trip to Royal Oak Farm Orchard! Royal Oak is a u-pick apple orchard located in northern Illinois near the Wisconsin border in Harvard, Illinois. This property is expansive and lovely, making it the perfect place to bring the family for some seasonal fun. This orchard is special because even on their busiest days, the vastness creates a sense of solitude so you can enjoy the company of your family.
Believe it or not, the holiday season is just around the corner, and sometimes finding something that’s special and unique can be a challenge. Whether you’re looking to get some early shopping done, or if you’re simply in the mood to browse some handmade items you won’t see anywhere else, don’t miss the highly-anticipated and aptly named, Renegade Craft Fair, happening on September 10th and 11th in Wicker Park in Chicago.
Jaynesway Farms is an equestian center that sits on 30 acres of picturesque land in nearby Bartlett. At Jaynesway, they provide access to beautiful, well-trained horses, through self-guided trail rides and riding lessons. The animal lover in your life will love it here!
Nothing is more exciting or more nostalgic than attending a circus. The bright colors, the impressive acrobats, cheerful music, and the larger than life animals are all trademarks of the long-running circus tradition.
Before the kids head back to school, check out Primrose Farm in St. Charles where fun and learning meet!
Do you love to hunt for unique home goods? Do you enjoy items that tell a story and have a history? Then you’ll love Sunday at Sandwich Antiques Show! This festival, started by a group of friends with a love of antiques back in 2012, celebrates antiques and collectables, and has something for you, no matter your interest!
It wouldn’t be summer without a visit to a theme park! And while there are lots of choices for adults, finding something that’s suitable for your youngest family members can sometimes pose a challenge. That’s why Pirates' Cove Children’s Theme Park needs to make its way onto your summer “must-do” list!
The Wheaton French Market is one of the best things to do in quaint downtown Wheaton from spring all the way into fall. Every Saturday morning, from 8am-2pm, April –November, you can enjoy perusing all that’s offered here. This market is more extensive than traditional farmers' markets, although they have plenty of fresh produce too! Here, you’ll find vendors selling everything from handmade soaps to jewelry and fresh donuts to locally roasted coffee.
Chicago has some amazing choices when it comes to museums. Visiting the museum campus downtown is always a good idea, but there are also some lesser known museums in Chicago and the surrounding area that are just as amazing!
Lord’s Park is 108 acres of municipal wooded land that is located in the heart of Elgin. The park itself has several playgrounds which are spread throughout the property, most within walking distance to one another, and each containing their own unique equipment to keep children entertained. You’ll find stepping stones, slides, balance beams and more.
Volo Auto Museum, in Volo, Illinois, is an absolute dream for car lovers of all ages! Whether you’re an automobile expert or haven’t yet driven a car, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy in the vast collection. If you are knowledgeable about cars, you’ll enjoy getting an up close peek at all the amazing vehicles, and if you don’t know much, there’s lots of opportunity to learn!
Yee-haw! This summer, mosey on over to Donley’s Wild West Town, in Union, for exciting adventure that’s anything but ordinary!
Sometimes the hot and humid summer days call for a quality and enjoyable indoor family activity as much as the Chicago winters. Even when the weather is nice though, a place like the DuPage Children's Museum has enough activities to satisfy everyone in your crew!
Millennium Park is one of the best features of our city, providing lots of recreational opportunities year-round! Millennium Park has one of the best outdoor concert venues in the country, and each year there’s a one-night-only, can’t-miss event: The FREE Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert! For many, this is the best event of the summer, and it's always much anticipated!
Living in the Midwest, we can sometimes forget that our region has many interesting geographical features besides the mostly flat farm land! This summer, make a day trip over to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan!
Three Oaks Recreation Area, located in Crystal Lake, is the perfect place to enjoy a summer day. Anything that you can imagine doing outdoors, you can do here at Three Oaks!
When you conjure up images of the Midwest, a sandy beach probably does not come to mind first. However, in Chicago, we’re blessed with some of the most beautiful, fresh-water beaches in the country. Lake Michigan is one of our most treasured resources, and it certainly provides its fair share of summertime fun.
One of the joys of summertime as a child is water play! Splash pads are a great alternative to the community pool when you feel like your children need a change of pace, or if they’re not quite old enough to be comfortable in the water alone.
Good music, yummy food, family-friendly exhibits, and awe-inspiring hot air balloons; Lisle’s Eyes to the Skies Festival is a treasured tradition! Coming up on its 34th year, it’s a fun festival that truly has it all.
Summer time, while fun, can also be draining because so much is going on. When you feel like you need a break from the hustle and bustle of regular life, make a visit to Reed’s Canoe Trips. Being outdoors in the sunshine on the water will refresh you fast!
Maggie Daley Park, located in the northeast corner of Grant Park in Chicago, just east of the beautiful Millennium Park, is a downtown spot that’s not to be missed! Occupying a prominent piece of lakefront land, the park, designed by a world-renowned team of architects, with the valuable input of the community, has some amazing and unique features you’ll only find here.
The Morton Arboretum celebrates all things outdoors! The mission of The Morton Arboretum is to “collect and study trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world.” Since 1922, they have maintained living collections for visitors to enjoy.
Nothing says summer like a festival! Come out and enjoy the delicious tastes of summer with seasonal foods, music and family fun in the quaint downtown of Long Grove June 24-26 this year!
Nothing says summer more than baseball! Chicago is a city known for its sports, and with two professional baseball teams, we have plenty of options! However, sometimes taking in a major league game can be expensive and time consuming, and it may prove to be too much for your youngest baseball enthusiasts. That’s when you need to remember the Kane County Cougars!
The suburbs have a lot of off the radar gems, and Lindy's Landing in Wauconda is a fine example. Up in the lakes of the northwest suburbs, Lindy's will probably have you thinking that you're on a beach in a place far away from Chicagoland. It's perfect for both the high energy nights with live outdoor bands and the quiet family outings with all the kids. There's a spacious indoor area so you can enjoy Lindy's year round, but during the warm days, the outdoor seating is a must. With both a covered patio and beach seating, you can find a spot that suits whatever you're after. Best of all, the beach has a swimming area for the kids while they wait for their food! The menu ranges from award winning burgers to memorable fish tacos, and there's a generous tap list to wash it down.
Whether you’re up for a leisurely stroll through some beautiful gardens, or would prefer 18 holes of golf. If you have extensive knowledge of military history, or would like to know more about Chicagoland history, Cantigny Park has something for you!
World renowned architect and designer, Frank Lloyd Wright, has left his stamp on Chicago. Famous for his “organic architecture” style and philosophy, he always worked to seamlessly meld the man-made structures he designed with the surrounding natural elements. He spent the first twenty years of his career in Oak Park, designing offices, homes, skyscrapers, hotels- even furniture and stained glass elements, and as a result we now have the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, which serves to preserve his work and educate the public on his contributions to architecture, specifically his work in the Chicago area.
If you like craft beer and quirky humor, the Drinking and Writing Theater, located in a back room of Haymarket Pub and Brewery in the West Loop, is sure to show you a good time! Haymarket is an established microbrewery and pub with a rich history. The pub itself offers fun events like brewery tours, live music, holiday themed events, and even story slams throughout the year, in addition to great food and drinks.
Spring time, in all its beauty, beckons us outside. So when you hear the sunshine calling, head over to Peck Farm Interpretive Center to play, explore and learn! A part of the Geneva Park District, Peck Farm is a 385-acre nature retreat, which is close to home. There’s plenty of exploring to be done on the 19 acres of untouched wetlands. Bring a net and try to catch some frogs, or see how many kinds of birds you spot flying overhead.
You don’t have to visit New York City to experience great live theater! And now, you don’t even have to go downtown! There are many local theater companies in Chicago’s surrounding suburbs which are easily accessible, affordable and impressive. Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, located in downtown Arlington Heights, is one of those places!
The Kane County Flea Market is one of the largest flea markets in the area, and there’s something for everyone! It operates from the Kane County Fair Grounds in St. Charles, and is held the first full weekend of each month. The flea market takes a winter break, but they’re back now through late into the fall, and it’s a great time to explore. There are vendors of all kinds, so whether you’re on the hunt for household décor and furniture or searching for a rare collectible, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste and needs.
You’ll have to travel outside of Chicagoland for this one, but not very far, and it will definitely be worth it! Cave of the Mounds is a National Natural Landmark, all limestone cave, located near Madison, Wisconsin. When you visit you can take a guided tour through the cave, which is 50 degrees year round, and learn about the geological and geographical history of the cave and surrounding land. You’ll learn about how this rare find was discovered, and steps that are being taken to preserve this natural treasure. You’ll be guided on a paved, well lit, path through the cave, so it’s perfect for people of all ages and abilities. You’ll see colorful stalactites and stalagmites, columns, and even something called "cave bacon!" Whether you’re a cave enthusiast, or have never explored the land beneath your feet before, you’ll enjoy this experience immensely.
While springtime provides us the opportunity to get back outdoors, we all know the weather can be unpredictable. For those days when it’s rainy and chilly, take your children to Kohl Children’s Museum, in Glenview, to get their energy out! This children’s museum is top notch and there’s something for children of all ages.
One of the best things about springtime is the abundance of fresh, seasonal produce that’s available to us again. Thankfully, there are many farmer’s markets in the area so we can get our hands on delicious fruits and vegetables at an affordable price. Woodstock, Downer’s Grove and Palatine all have well established markets that are held consistently throughout the spring and summer.
Run for the Stars 5K allows you to make a difference and have fun all at once. This race is one of the largest in the Chicagoland area, with over 800 people participating last year, and the course winds you through the scenic neighborhood surrounding Wheaton College. The whole family can get involved in this race as the course has been designed with runners of all abilities in mind. Most importantly, the proceeds from the race benefit individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. On race day, these people are treated with dignity and honor so they truly feel like STARS. The proceeds fund recreational and training opportunities for these individuals, benefiting them and their families. Put your race shoes on and run for the cause, and stay for even more fun after the race. Visit the website for more details!
You may not have the time or money to make it to The Bluegrass State for the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, but you can definitely get yourself to Arlington International Racecourse, in Arlington Heights. Arlington boasts an expansive, and beautiful, facility where you can get a taste of horseracing culture and work your competitive spirit as you place bets on the horses you like best. If you’re a racing novice, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn about the horses and betting strategy. Just be sure to grab a race book and listen to the commentary which is broadcast on the many televisions you can find around the park. You can even place your bet on a nearby computer kiosk so you don’t have to go far when it’s race time!
All aboard! Diesel trains, trolleys, steam trains, and more! If it rides along a track, the Illinois Railway Museum has it! This museum is located on a large piece of property in the small city of Union. This museum is preserved by a dedicated group of volunteers who are all deeply invested in educating museum visitors about the rich history of railways in the United States. If you’re a train enthusiast, you will enjoy seeing history come to life here as you explore the old train cars, tracks and equipment. If you don’t know much about railway history, fear not! You will certainly find something that intrigues and interests you as you walk around the property. You can view trains being restored in the large barns, ride on the operating diesel, electric, and steam trains on particular days, and wander through the various barns talking to the volunteers who are experts in locomotive history. Viewing the old trains up close will incite a new curiosity about the railway's role in United States history.
Crabtree Nature Center is over 1,000 acres of beautiful woodlands, located in Northwest Cook County, in Barrington. As part of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, this area is a great place to explore in any season, but especially in spring and summer, because there so much happening in outdoors.
Brookfield Zoo is a world-class zoo, but sometimes children (and perhaps their parents), don’t have the stamina for such a large-scale facility. So, for days when you don’t think you’ll make it on an all-day zoo adventure, there are some smaller zoos in the area which offer the same kind of fun, with less commitment. Both Phillips Park Zoo, in Aurora, and Cosley Zoo, located in Wheaton, are home to animals of all kinds: Peacocks, llamas, cows, ducks, horses, hawks, owls, a bobcat, cougars and wolves! Collectively, these zoos house over 300 different animals! There is so much to observe, and at zoos this size, your children can get a better view of these creatures. Phillips has an indoor reptile house, and Cosley has a sand area to play in as well.
Deicke Discovery Zone is more than just a standard playground. This park is ADA certified which means it’s completely wheelchair accessible and has been designed with special needs children in mind. This park seeks to include children of all abilities, especially children ages 1-5. The unique design of this park, and the interactive play elements, make it fun and engaging for everyone. The actual Discovery Zone is a gated area that offers a “mud-free” play area, with soft rubber flooring in most areas, so it’s particularly great for springtime play! The playground is fully interactive and includes a music area, a fire truck and a train crossing, all which play various sound effects. There is a basketball court with hoops of different heights, a replica of the buildings and businesses found in downtown Huntley, as well as swings and slides. There’s a large sand and water area too, so be sure to bring along a towel and a change of clothes for your little ones for when they’re done playing here.
Kline Creek Farm, located in West Chicago and a part of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, provides visitors with a hands-on peek into the past. This farm provides a glance back at what farm life looked like in the Midwest in the 1890’s. You’ll find a lot to do year-round at Kline Creek, but spring time on the farm is especially interesting. March is lambing season, so be sure to visit the lamb’s barn where you will hear from staff, all dressed in traditional clothing, about how the newest additions to the farm are cared for. You’ll also find that all the maple trees around the farm are tapped as they collect the sap to make maple syrup. A large cast iron kettle sits in the center of the farm over a low fire, as they boil the sap to create the sweet syrup we all love. You can learn from experts about the sugaring process, and you can even taste the sap directly from the trees.
Garfield Park Conservatory is located in the neighborhood of Garfield Park in Chicago. This conservatory houses lovely plants of all kinds, and whether you enjoy botany and gardening as a hobby, or have a black-thumb, there is something to be enjoyed by everyone! It’s perfect for those spring days when you want to be outside and in nature, but can’t due to the weather. Best of all, it's an affordable activity for a family! Entry is advertised as free, but they suggest a donation to help keep the facility beautiful.
For our first feature in our “Out and About with Compass” series, we’re highlighting Brookfield Zoo! This zoo is one of the best in the country, and lucky for us, it’s close which means we can visit often. At Brookfield, there are more than 216 acres to explore, and it’s home to thousands of different animals from all over the world.
Spring has officially sprung in Chicagoland, and after a long winter spent indoors, we couldn’t be more excited to get back outside. Some cities are gifted nice weather all year round, but here in Chicago, we earn the sunshine! Luckily for us, there’s plenty to do in and around the city this time of year. So whether you’re visiting our city for the first time, or a tried-and-true Chicagoan, we hope this new blog series, “Out and About with Compass”, gives you and your family some fresh ideas to get you outside, enjoying all our city and its suburbs, has to offer.
Smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc. have forever altered the way consumers make purchases and gather information. Living in a “plugged-in” society allows technology users to read reviews, compare similar products, share items with friends and family, and purchase almost anything from the comfort of their own living room. The same also goes for home buying.
According to the National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers, 92 percent of buyers used the Internet during their home search in 2013. The use of social media in that home search process is increasing, as well. Ninety percent of buyers said they would be open to receiving information from their agents via social media.
Here are some helpful tips on using Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. to your advantage as a home buyer: