Vacation & Travel 04-04-2018

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V&T APRIL 4 - 10, 2018



Chicago Touring The Windy City

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VACATION & TRAVEL • APRIL 4 - 10, 2018

Book Your 2018 Vacation Now – Call For Limited Time Savings

Grand Alaskan Cruise & Tour 12 days from $2,798* $1,399*


Departs July - September 2018

Hawaiian Islands Cruise & Tour 12 days from $3,998* $1,999*


Departs year round in 2018

See the Alaskan interior and huge glaciers calving as you cruise the Inside Passage on a 7-night cruise aboard Holland America Line’s ms Westerdam. Sailing from Vancouver visit Glacier Bay, Juneau, Skagway & Ketchikan, plus take a 4-day land tour of Denali National Park, Anchorage, Iditarod Sled Dog HQ, bears at a wildlife center & option to take an Alaska Rail Road dome-car. Hotels, all meals on cruise & sightseeing on the land tour included.

Our incredible Hawaiian Islands Cruise & Tour visits four islands in 12 days including 7 nights aboard Norwegian’s freshly renovated Pride of America. Start in Waikiki on Oahu, and continue to the golden beaches of Maui, active volcanoes on the “Big Island” Hawaii, and the lush “Garden Isle” of Kauai, before returning to Oahu for included sightseeing in Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. With ocean sunsets and Hawaiian hospitality, this is a truly incredible tour. Fully escorted with hotels, porterage, and sightseeing.



National Parks of the Golden West




per couple

14 days from $1,749* $1,499*

Rose Parade & Panama Canal Cruise


21 days from $4,998* $2,499*

Departs May - September 2018

Departs December 29, 2018

See up to 9 of America’s most spectacular national parks on this incredible tour! Start off in dazzling Las Vegas and continue to the world-famous Grand Canyon, Zion’s steep sandstone cliffs, red rock hoodoo’s in Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley’s giant mesas, Arches National Park’s gravity-defying rock arches, waterfalls and granite scenery in Yosemite, towering sequoia trees in Kings Canyon, and everything in between-- America’s natural beauty awaits! Fully escorted tour with hotels, sightseeing, and luggage handling.

Book early to secure your trip of a lifetime to the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade and the world famous Panama Canal. See the parade from reserved grandstand seats and attend a private float viewing with included dinner. Tour Los Angeles and the beautiful southern coastline through Santa Barbara. Then, embark on the Norwegian Star in LA and sail through five countries (Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Colombia) and enjoy a daylight transit of the Panama Canal. Return home from Miami.



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*Prices are per person, double occupancy and exclude taxes & government fees of up to $299. Prices shown are after Instant Rebate or 2for1 offers are applied. Cruise prices based on Inside Cabin. Free onboard credit with Ocean View or Balcony cabin purchase for Alaska. Free specialty dining package for Hawaii with purchase of Ocean View cabin or Balcony cabin; specialty dining package for Hawaii requires pre-paid gratuities. Free Unlimited Beverage Package or Internet Package for Panama Canal Cruise with Ocean View or Balcony cabin purchase and must be selected at time of booking. Free Internet package is 250 minutes, 1 login per cabin, Free Ultimate Beverage Package requires additional service charges. All special offers apply to new bookings only made by 4/30/18 and are subject to availability. Lowest season prices shown; seasonal charges and single supplements may apply. Add-on airfare is available. Additional terms and conditions apply, ask your Travel Consultant for details.

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A Weekend In The Windy City BY JENNIFER FAUCI

The city of Chicago recently celebrated its 180th birthday and with it, a fascinating look back at the Second City’s history and all there is to come. I visited Chicago with my husband over the spirited weekend of St. Patrick’s Day (they dye the river green and it is such a sight to see), and already can’t wait to come back. Chicagoans are truly passionate about their city and it’s not hard to see why. Delicious food, educational establishments featuring the city’s cultural history and arts and entertainment scene only scratch the surface of Chicago. Our accommodations were at the Best Western River North (which received the 2017 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence) in the heart of the popular River North neighborhood. The hotel recently underwent a renovation and is modern and luxurious for such great value. General Manager Heidi Bitar noted that the hotel has partnerships in place with several of the museums, allowing guests to purchase the museum tickets at the hotel at a discounted price, going above and beyond for guests. The weekend included a fine dining experience at the new Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House; the Chicago Chop House; an action packed Chicago Bulls game and one-of-a-kind experiences like the Chicago Food Planet’s Best in Chow Food Tour and The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago. Read on

to see why you should make the Windy City number one on your travel list.

Millennium Park 201 E Randolph St.

Chicago is immortalized in tourist history by one image: the bean. Officially know as Cloud Gate, the mirrored bean sculpture is located in Millennium Park, a public park in the Loop area of Chicago. A centerpiece to the park is the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which is the backdrop for hundreds of free cultural programs including concerts, exhibitions, tours, and family activities.

Skydeck Chicago 233 S Wacker Dr.

Located at the top of the Sears Tower (renamed Willis Tower, but no

local calls it that), it’s the best view of Chicago day or night. Thrill seekers can wait in line and step out onto The Ledge, a glass balcony hovering 103 stories above the air. On the way up, learn about the history of the tower and Chicago like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the origin of deep dish pizza.

Shedd Aquarium 1200 S Lake Shore Dr. 312-939-2438

The Shedd Aquarium features 80 habitats including some of the world’s most fascinating animals in Waters of the World. Learn about yearly flood cycles of the Amazon and get a diver’s eye view of a coral reef in the Philippines. Encounter beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins,

sea lions and sea otters in the Abbot Oceanarium, which is a treat for the entire family.

The Adler Planetarium 1300 S Lake Shore Dr. 312-922-7827

Founded in 1930 by Chicago business leader Max Adler, the Adler Planetarium is a public museum dedicated to the study of astronomy and astrophysics. With a variety of exhibits to explore and shows to see, learn about the sun, moon, stars, solar system and the great galaxy above, there’s something for everyone. Also be sure to check out these great attractions: Navy Pier (www., The Field Museum (, Chicago Cultural Center (www.cityofchicago. org), Art Institute of Chicago (www., The Museum of Science and Industry (, Wrigley Field ( and 360 Chicago Observation Deck ( If you’re in Chicago for a decent amount of time and want to see all there is to offer, look into getting a CityPASS booklet, which allows you priority entry into much of the above with fast passes to cut lines and shorten wait times. Adult passes are $106 and children are $89. Visit www. to learn more.

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Whenever I travel, it’s a no brainer that my stomach comes along for the ride. Chicago is known for its deep dish pizza, hot dogs and hot beef sandwiches among other things, so naturally as a tourist, you’re going to want to sample as much as you can. That’s where Chicago Food Planet comes in. What many call the best food experience in Chicago, marketing director for Chicago Food Planet, Inc. Randi Alexander would agree. “We like to call our tours ‘Neighborhood Food Experiences’ as we believe they are more than just a food tour. We connect people to the neighborhoods through the food, history and architecture that we share on each experience,” said Alexander of the six different tours available with the food tour company that was the first established in Chicago and has been running for 12 years. “Our goal is to showcase Chicago as the greatest food city in the world, because of the great quality and variety of food represented here.” I was on the Best in Chow tour, which by recommendation I am told was the best way to experience the staple foods the city has to offer. And it did not disappoint. If you take any of these walking tours, come hungry as sizable portions will be enough to sustain you for the day, but you want to be sure to have room in your stomach for all the delicious offerings. “Since food is the focus, we bring you to award-winning or locally loved restaurants that we feel represent the best of the area and teach you some history of the establishments that we have learned from the owners and chefs themselves,” said Alexander. “You get to learn about their versatile histories, taste the best foods they offer, and in some cases go behind the scenes and interact with the chefs or owners. We know how to deliver a fun and engaging first-class experience.”

(Photos courtesy of Chicago Food Planet)

As a first-time tourist in Chicago, I highly recommend any food tour, but the Best in Chow will give you that cultural craving of Chicago that everyone keeps telling you about. And whenever you turn on the Food Network, you’ll be able to say “hey, I ate that and it was awesome,” like a proud and honorary Chicagoan. For more information on Chicago Food Planet and available tours when you’re in Chicago, visit www.chicago or stay connected on social media by following and tagging @chifoodplanet.

Lou Malnati’s 439 N Wells St. Chicago, IL 60654 A true Chicago-based staple, Lou Malnati’s has a major influence in Chicago’s food history. A sweet, buttery flaky crust lends way to a gooey mozzarella pie (yes, the cheese comes first) topped with chunky tomato sauce. Inside Lou Malnati’s there is baseball and historical memorabilia on the walls and the smell of that buttery crust wafting throughout the eatery. As a New Yorker, I personally don’t understand the rivalry and would call Chicago’s deep dish a pie more than a pizza, but it was tasty.

Al’s Beef 169 W Ontario St. Chicago, IL 60654 Celebrating 80 years, Al’s Beef honors the Italian meat sandwich. Flavorful, seasoned beef and French bread is all you need in one bite, although some people put “hot” giardiniera or sweet peppers on them. Photos of celebrities enjoying Al’s beef sandwiches adorn the walls of the 1983 establishment that prove all you need in life to be happy is

a good sandwich. Having been to Philadelphia, I dare say Al’s is 100 percent better and more flavorful than a Philly cheesesteak.

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Portillo’s Hot Dogs 100 W Ontario St. Chicago, IL 60610

Garrett Popcorn Shop 151 Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60601

You can’t leave the Windy City without trying a Chicago-style hot dog. Known for their hot dogs, chocolate cake and salads, Portillo’s delvers on the quintessential hot dog. The perfect snappy bite comes in the form of a beef hot dog, placed in between a perfectly steamed fluffy poppy seed bun, which is then piled high with mustard, relish, celery salt, freshly chopped onions, sliced red tomatoes, a kosher pickle and sport peppers. Chicagoans call this “dragging the dog through the garden,” and after your first taste on the tour, you are sure to be back to Portillo’s.

As many Chicagoan transplants have told me, they are not allowed to visit their families back home unless they have at least two tins of Garrett’s popcorn under their arms. Choose from Buttery, Cheese, the Garrett Mix (a favorite among locals which includes caramel and cheese in one delicious bite), Almond CaramelCrisp, Cashew CaramelCrisp or Macadamia CaramelCrisp flavors and create your own tin to keep as a collectible. With several locations, Garrett Popcorn won’t be hard to find; just follow your nose to the sinful smell of caramel and butter.

Copper Fox Gastropub 165 E Ontario St. Chicago, IL 60611 Located steps from the Magnificent Mile, this art-Deco inspired eatery serves New American cuisine and is known for two things: biscuits and brownies. As part of the tour, guests get to sample a full sized Nutella brownie covered in caramel sauce. The secret? There is no chocolate in this brownie, only Nutella, which lends to a balanced bite that is not overpoweringly rich or sweet. As for the biscuits, Chef Cortney Pierce named them

#16 biscuits, as it took him 16 tries to get the recipe just right. As part of the tour, the chef will distribute cards to guests, which entitle them to one order of specialty biscuits on the house for breakfast upon their next return to Copper Fox Gastropub.

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Under The Sea

Fine dining at its best at Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House


I was all too excited and honored to dine at Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House during my trip. Exuding elegance and sophistication, the chain restaurant recently opened its doors in Chicago and has received so much more than a warm welcome according to Andrea Gentry, managing director for the restaurant. “Residents, merchants and even our competition in the area have gone out of their way to visit with us and make us feel at home here,” she said. “The live entertainment in our lounge has immediately attracted a regular legion of repeat guests.” That too, was the feeling that my husband Bryan and I received upon

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(Photos courtesy of Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House)

sitting down for dinner. A table offering of fresh-baked Parmesan bread with an almost melted butter gets the meal going. To really feel like royalty, a platter of citrus and cucumber to infuse purified water is brought to the table as a constant refreshing beverage throughout the night. A massive wine selection is available as well as craft beers and specialty spirits and cocktails. A dinner at Truluck’s is intended to be relaxed and enjoyable, so don’t rush, Order a soup, salad or oysters to start and sit back and take in the atmosphere: dark wood, white linens and live music. I was starving, to say the least after flying in from New York so we decided to go all out, sampling the

best Truluck’s has to offer. For my appetizer, I ordered the ceviche, a fresh, bright combination of scallop, lobster, shrimp, avocado and jalapeños in a piquant roasted pepper sauce. It was cold and satisfyingly refreshing. Bryan chose the fresh Florida Stone Crab (upon strong recommendation as a must-have menu item that did not disappoint). Delivered from trap to table in hours, the claws were served chilled over rice and pre-cracked with a specialty mustard. For my entrée, I ordered the South African lobster tail with asparagus and Bryan enjoyed salmon béarnaise with Parmesan mashed potatoes and a side of Brussels sprouts. Other selections include pan-seared

scallops, miso-glazed sea bass, King Crab legs and several choice cut steaks to choose from. “The ever-changing variety of fresh crab we offer from around the globe year-round distinguishes Truluck’s from others in our category, as does our deep-rooted commitment to hospitality, and live entertainment seven nights a week,” said Gentry, as if fresh crab wasn’t enough to entice you to come here, there’s also the dessert. Ever since I was a kid, I always saved room for dessert and Truluck’s does it well, making their desserts in-house daily. Trying the best they have to offer, I chose the dessert sampler, a sweet trio of crème brûlée, carrot cake and

chocolate cake while Bryan chose the popular Baked Alaska, ice cream and a brownie piled high and covered in meringue that is enflamed at your table. If you saved even more room, order the cheesecake, key lime pie or fresh berries and cream. Chef Daniel Sanchez truly outdid himself that evening. “Memory-making is our business,” said Gentry. “Guests choose Truluck’s for an experience that lives on in their hearts and minds.” For a truly unforgettable dining experience, make a reservation at Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House, by calling 312-982-0050 or visit Truluck’s is located at 41 E. Chestnut St., Chicago.



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