Going Places FREE | SUMMER 2019
The family travel issue Where to go & what to do in 2019
19 for 2019
Best places in the Midwest for family travel
Monroe Lake, in Bloomington, Ind.
BY CHERYL EUGENIO
ant to make this the year of travel and need a little inspiration? These hidden gems offer tons of family fun.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Must-sees: Fort Wayne
Children’s Zoo has more than 1,500 animals, plus train rides, rainforests, hands-on fun and an African Safari. Science Central offers an experience for all curious minds with more than 130 hands-on exhibits. Eat: An ice cream and doughnut concoction? Yes, please. The Yummi Bunni serves amazing ice cream sandwiches with a doughnut twist. The Hoppy Gnome is a great spot for tacos and tortas. Stay: Courtyard Fort Wayne Downtown and Hilton Fort Wayne.
horseback riding, ATV Adventure Tours and zip-lines at the ranch. Eat: 33 Brick Street, which not only has a great atmosphere but loads of hometown hero Larry Bird’s personal memorabilia. Stay: The French Lick Resort. Kids will love the bowling alley, arcade and pizzeria. Enjoy horseback riding or carriage rides.
French Lick, Ind.
Must-sees: Get up close and personal with the elephants and giraffes at Wilstem Ranch. There’s also ChicagoParent.com
Photo courtesy Visit French Lick West Baden
Must-sees: If you love sugar sand beaches, beautiful sunsets, lighthouses, then you’ll adore Ludington. Kids
will have a blast exploring the three-story Sandcastles Children’s Museum. Eat: If you love ice cream, then House of Flavors Ice Cream should be a stop. For mouth-watering BBQ, head to The Q Smokehouse. Stay: Nader’s Motel and Lodge. Opt for the double queen suite with kitchen.
Must-sees: Be a cave spelunker and explore Crystal Lake Cave, a 2-million-yearold mineral cave. Want to see three states at once? Take the Fenelon Place Summer 2019 • goingplaces1
Botanical Conservatory in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Elevator, one of the shortest and steepest inclines around. Eat: At 1st and Main, try the peanut butter and jelly burger topped with fried egg. Try a Gremlin, pecans, caramel and chocolate into bite-size pieces, at Betty Jane Candies. Stay: Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark.
Manistee County, Mich.
Must-sees: First Street Beach
+ Douglas Park is the area’s largest beach with views of Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse. Catch a flick at the historic Vogue Theatre on Saturday mornings for 25 -cent Family Matinees. Eat: At North Channel Brewing Company, indulge in barbecue and smoked meats. 2 Summer 2019 • goingplaces
Stay: For a truly unique experience, spend the night aboard S.S. City of Milwaukee “boatel,” a historic 1931 passenger boat.
Must-sees: Since this year marks the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, make a stop at the hometown of Neil Armstrong. The Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum is full of artifacts. Eat: Check out Lucky Steer. Think low prices, large portions. Stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Wapakoneta.
Santa Claus, Ind.
Must-see: Santa Claus!
You’ll literally find the Jolly Old Man (real or statues) everywhere. For ultimate thrills, add Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari theme park
to your list. Eat: Some local hot spots include Brick Oven Pizza, Hoosier Land Pizza & Wings or Jenk’s Pizza. For the ultimate sweet treat destination, head to Santa’s Candy Castle. Stay: Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort offers Christmas Cabins and cottages or try Santa’s Lakeside Cottages.
Fox Cities, Wis.
Must-sees: The immersive
family-friendly exhibits at the Building for Kids Children’s Museum are perfect for families with young kids. Get lost in a butterfly-shaped maze at The Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin. Be amazed at the The Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass, which houses one of the world’s
GOING PLACES Tanganyika Wildlife Park Photo by Lindsey Glasscock of Visit Wichita
where you have to finish a one-pound burger to get your photo on the wall. Stay: The new Fairfield Inn & Suites in Carmel.
Clear Lake, Iowa
Must-sees: Explore the
Clear Lake, Iowa Photo by R. Miles
largest collections of glass paperweights. Eat: For a little bit of everything, stop at Zuppas, a cozy cafeteria-style market and café. Stay: The Copper Leaf, a cute boutique hotel.
Hamilton County, Ind.
Must-sees: Conner Prairie,
an outdoor history museum,
lets you imagine life back in the day. Little firefighters will appreciate seeing vintage fire trucks at Carmel Fire Buffs Museum. If you are fascinated by dollhouses, then you’ll adore the Museum of Miniature Houses. Eat: The Cake Bake Shop has been touted on “Oprah’s favorite cakes” list. If you’re up for a challenge, try Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream “Big Ugly” burger challenge
great outdoors at McIntosh Woods State Park. Eat: The Barrel Drive-In is known for its broasted chicken. At PM Park, kids can play on the beach while waiting for food. Stay: For a truly unique experience, stay in a yurt at McIntosh Woods State Park.
Must-sees: Dinosaur lovers will have a roaring good time at Dinosaur Discovery Museum with more than 20 dinos. Kids will adore The Field Center. Eat: Mike’s Chicken and Donuts is a no-brainer. The Mars Cheese Castle café makes extraordinary grilled cheese sandwiches. Summer 2019 • goingplaces3
Thunderbird at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Ind.
Stay: For a lakefront option, you can’t go wrong with Wyndham Garden-Kenosha Harborside. If you can do without a pool, The Coffee Pot Inn.
Neil Armstrong in Museum Wapokoneta, Ohio
Must-sees: Families will love Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Plan for a day of hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding. For a true wild west experience, watch a nightly outdoor musical that celebrates the wild west. Eat: At Pitchfork Steak Fondue watch as they cook your food on a pitchfork. Stay: The new Elkhorn Quarters, the Rough Riders Hotel or the Badlands Motel.
Must-sees: See more
than 3,000 animals at the country’s seventh largest zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo. Get hands on at Tangan-
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yika Wildlife Park. Kids can explore the handicap accessible treehouse at Ivan’s Playhouse with secret passageways, theater, a book nook and more. See Ivan the T.rex at the Museum of World Treasures. Eat: Stearman Field Bar & Grill serves homemade southern-style food while you watch airplanes just 20 yards from your table. Stay: The Courtyard Wichita
at Old Town or Hotel at WaterWalk, an all-suite hotel.
Butler County, Ohio Must-sees: As the “City
of Sculpture,” families will want to search for them. Challenge the family to a game at A Game Knight, a new board game parlor with more than 400 games. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park features more than 300 acres of natural scenery and ChicagoParent.com
Medora, North Dakota
monument art. Eat: Go old school and grab food from Jolly’s Drive-In. Henry’s Candy is the place to go if you have a sweet tooth. Stay: The Courtyard by Marriott Hamilton.
La Crosse, Wis.
Must-sees: Bike the Great
River State Trail. Make sure to stop in at the Great River Landing so your kids can play in the music park. Kids can let loose at the Children’s Museum of La Crosse. Eat: Everything’s homemade at The Pearl Ice Cream Parlour & Confectionery. Fayze’s Restaurant and Bakery serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Stay: The Charmant Hotel is a former candy factory turned into a luxury hotel.
Must-sees: Sneak away for island time where it’s best explored via golf cart. For tons of family fun, ChicagoParent.com
visit Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. If you love chocolate (who doesn’t?) stop at The Chocolate Museum. Take a spin on Kimberly’s Carousel, only one of 100 wooden carousels left in the U.S. Eat: If you want waterfront views, you can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants at The Boardwalk. Stay: Put-in-Bay Condos, Bayshore Resort, Anchor Inn, Getaway Inn at Cooper’s Woods or Put-in-Bay Resort & Conference Center.
Must-sees: This summer marks the re-opening of the Eisenhower Presidential Museum. Expect new exhibits that showcase the 34th president. Chug along the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad on a 100-year-old steam engine. Eat: Mr. K’s Farmhouse (formerly “Lena’s”) was Ike’s favorite place to eat. If you love fried chicken, try Brookville Hotel’s familystyle chicken dinner.
Stay: Abilene’s newest B&B,
Engle House Bed and Breakfast, offers a scrumptious breakfast.
Must-sees: Have a thrilling day at Michigan’s Adventure amusement park. Eat: Located at Pere Marquette Beach, The Deck offers great views of Lake Michigan along with barbecue and beer. Indulge in a sweet treat at the oldfashioned soda shop, Lipka’s Soda Fountain. Stay: Shoreline Inn.
Must-sees: Kids of all ages will love WonderLab, ranked a top 25 science museum. Learn about cultures at the free Mathers Museum of World Cultures. Eat: For larger than your head pancakes, Village Deli is the place to be. Try pizza at Mother Bear’s Pizza. Stay: The boutique-style Graduate Hotel. Summer 2019 • goingplaces5
SET SAIL on the Symphony of the Seas
iscover why the largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, makes a fantastic family vacation. Worried you’re not a cruise person? You’ll feel differently once you realize how effortless a cruise can be to plan and enjoy. 6 Summer 2019 • goingplaces
The ship is impressive Though Symphony of the Seas can carry up to 6,680 passengers, it seldom feels crowded because it includes so many different neighborhoods and options for entertainment. There’s Central Park, an open, airy locale with trees and lanterns and specialty
restaurants, including Jamie’s Italian by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. The Boardwalk, home to an old-timey carousel and candy shop, is lined with games and features a sports bar that serves tasty truffle fries. The Royal Promenade is akin to walking in a fancy mall. You’ll also find a Pool and Sports Zone and a Youth Zone with kids’ clubs broken out by age group. ChicagoParent.com
The destinations are sun-tacular Select from three-, four- or seven-night cruises to eastern or western Caribbean with stops such as St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Jamaica and Cozumel. Spend a perfect day at CocoCay, a private Bahamas location exclusively for Royal Caribbean guests with huge waterslides, zip lines and over-water cabanas. A little island time is always good for the soul!
Miami is fun, too Symphony of the Seas departs from Miami. If you can spend some extra time in The Magic City, stay in the DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay, not far from the port. The suites are spacious and include a mini fridge. On the rooftop, you can swim in the pool or soak in the four leaf clover-shaped hot tub. Dine or shop around at Bayside Marketplace, where you’ll often experience live music and interesting people watching.
Symphony of the Seas royalcaribbean.com/ cruise-ships/symphony-of-the-seas/rooms
Designed for families The CEO of Royal Caribbean developed the Ultimate Abyss 10-story slide with kids like his in mind. It features lights and music as you zip from the top of the ship down the long, turning tunnel. There are many grab-and-go food options perfect for families, like the new Loco Fresh taco joint and a frozen yogurt machine you can access any time of the day. You will never hear the words, “I’m bored,” even if you’re in a group including teenagers, toddlers or grandparents. So much is included and figured out for you. See how long you can stand up on the surf simulator, climb a rock wall, play mini golf or zip line across the top of the ship. Swish down the water slides or take in a show. Adventure Ocean is a kids’ club with different rooms for separate age groups. Featuring a science lab, theater, pirate show and well-qualified staff, you’ll rest assured that your kids are satisfied while you enjoy some quiet time. Cortney Fries
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NATUREâ€™S CALLING at South Padre Island
he expansive beaches, emerald waters and topaz sky of South Padre Island, Texas, make this a great spot for teaching kids about the wonder of nature. Just walk outside to see spectacular sunrises each morning over the Gulf of Mexico and equally spectacular sunsets each evening over the Laguna Madre Bay. Or you can try one of these nature experiences:
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Dinner and a show Pier 19 is the place to eat. The fish tacos were delectable and the dolphins cavorting in the bay alongside the restaurant were endlessly entertaining. Remember: This is Texas. Most of the meals we had were Texas-sized, meaning big. Plan to share your meals or take the leftovers back to the hotel. ChicagoParent.com
Planning a trip South Padre Island is a loooooong 22 hours from Chicago by car. As of last year, it’s now possible to fly direct from Chicago. No-frills carrier Frontier Airlines runs nonstop flights from O’Hare to nearby Harlingen, Texas. (Remember: Frontier’s cheap rates buy you ONLY the airplane seat. Everything else, from a checked bag to a bottle of water, costs extra.) The climate is subtropical—this barrier island off the Texas Gulf Coast is at the same latitude as Fort Lauderdale, Florida—so South Padre weather tends to be warm in the winter and hot and humid in the summer. Spring weather is often pleasant, but don’t try
to visit during spring break when South Padre is overrun with hard-partying college kids.
Learn sea turtle lessons at Sea Turtle Inc. The sea turtle rescue center and hospital, known as Sea Turtle Inc., is home to Allison, a sea turtle with a prosthetic rudder. She is one of hundreds of sea turtles injured each year when they become tangled in fishing line. They arrive at Sea Turtle Inc. for repair and rehabilitation. Kids can walk around the tanks filled with sea turtles recuperating from their injuries. The displays and docents teach kids (and their adults) how they can play a part in keeping the oceans safe for marine life.
Bird (and alligator) watch at SPI South Padre is a destination point for migrating birds. The SPI Birding and Nature Center is the place to see them. Grab a sheet filled with photos of the birds likely to be in residence when you visit, ChicagoParent.com
For more great family vacation ideas, visit travelingmom.com, the family vacation experts. and challenge the kids to spot them during your walk along the 3,300+ feet of boardwalk. The highlight of our SPI birding walk wasn’t a bird at all; it was the 12-foot alligator we spotted soaking up the sun on the banks of the marshland.
Explore marine life with Osprey Cruises
The Sea Life Safari Cruise is billed as a dolphin watching cruise and we saw plenty of dolphins. But the highlight was the marine life education. As we left the dock, the crew dragged a net behind the slow-moving boat. When they pulled it in, it was filled with curious creatures. The kids (and their adults) gathered round for a chance to touch the jellyfish, starfish and other underwater wonders. Cindy Richards Summer 2019 • goingplaces9
MOO-VE your next staycation
f you’ve ever made the trip from Chicago to Indianapolis on I-65, you’ve probably seen the signs beckoning you to Fair Oaks Farms. The modern farm is already a fun, educational experience, and now Fair Oaks Farms invites you to relax and stay a while at the new Fairfield Inn & Suites Fair Oaks Farms.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Fair Oaks Farms ✻ 708 North 600 East, Fair Oaks, Ind. (exit 220) ✻ marriott.com/hotels/travel/ rnzfi-fairfield-inn-and-suitesfair-oaks-farms/
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The red barn-shaped hotel offers a variety of accommodations but families will appreciate the Family Silo Suites. While it doesn’t look like a silo inside, the suites offer cozy rooms with bunk beds and comfy bean bag chairs. But that’s not all. All staycations require a pool, right? Once you set eyes on the colorful pool area (check out that HUGE flying pig tile mosaic and the famous cow paintings), you’ll never want to leave. Kids will enjoy zipping down the pink slide, playing water basketball or
splashing in the zero-depth entry saltwater pool. Adults can partake in the fun at the indoor/outdoor hot tub. Afterwards, walk around the hotel to admire the art commissioned from three artists as well as the hallway displaying “got milk?” ads. Round out your staycation with a free hearty breakfast, a game of billiards, or enjoying the many adventures (the new Dairy Adventure is a must see!) offered at the farm. Pro tip: Don’t leave without having ice cream from the Cowfe! Cheryl Eugenio ChicagoParent.com
Glenapp Castle Ayrshire, Scotland glenappcastle.com
PRINCE (OR PRINCESS)
f you want to play the best game of hide-and-seek ever, then Scotland is your destination.
Nestled within cliffs, waterfalls, gardens and rainbows was a castle that appeared to be designed for hide-and-seek. The best part: You can stay there. With kids. Glenapp Castle is in the Scottish 11 Summer 2019 • goingplaces
Lowlands (about a two-hour drive from the Glasgow airport) on the Ayrshire coast. It’s a real castle, built in 1870 for the Earl of Inchcape. Inside, there are real butlers, real secret staircases and real hidden doorways. It’s basically a kids’ dream. What makes this castle especially amazing is that they embrace children. ChicagoParent.com
Castle activities While we were there, we sampled many of the activities, which are all offered a la carte to help you cater your vacation to your kids’ ages and interests. My favorite was archery, set up with the backdrop of the actual castle (great for Instagram and for pretending you’re actual royalty). Glenapp sets you up with an archery expert who will teach you everything you need to know. After archery, you should head to the Glenapp’s waterfalls, which you can jump into safely. Essentially, the entire castle is yours to explore. Also on the grounds is a tennis court (they offer tennis lessons, or you can simply opt to play a game), an adorable tea house where you can have a quaint tea party and plenty of gardens to race through. Ever hold an owl? We did that too, with the help of a falconry expert. That’s the beauty of Scotland and Glenapp— you’ll get treated to activities you won’t find elsewhere. We also opted to take a boat trip to Ailsa Craig, a wildlife sanctuary home to puffins, sea birds, razorbills and more (we spotted tons of seals), 30 minutes from the castle. Glenapp includes a picnic lunch as part of the excursion to this private island.
Castle food You may feel like a butler at your own home, but at this castle, you can hand the duties over to a real butler, who brought us everything from tea to water to cookies (aka biscuits or flapjacks in Scotland). While I was a little concerned about meal time with kids at Glenapp, it was bliss. Adults gets to choose between threeand six-course meals. The castle staff arranges for babysitters to 12 Summer 2019 • goingplaces
take kids to an earlier dinner so parents (and other guests) can enjoy their meals in peace. Kids can order whatever they want.
Castle bedtime This is, after all, a real castle so every room is different. But
almost all come with working fireplaces—and they all have that drool-worthy, kid-friendly clawfoot tub. The rooms are large, and the master rooms are gigantic, complete with sitting areas (or crib-stashing spots). Danielle Braff ChicagoParent.com
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BUGS, DIRT AND COSTA RICAN ADVENTURES
BY DANIELLE BRAFF
e started our summer trip with our 5- and 8-year-old in La Fortuna, which is a great base for checking out an active volcano, hot springs and the famous Costa Rican rain forests. We decided that the hot springs would be a good remedy for post-flight exhaustion.
There are a few free spots where you can park your car (you’ll need to rent one if you plan on checking out more than one part of the country) and simply jump into a public hot spring off the side of the road. We chose to check out the hot springs at Tabacon (tabacon.com), a La Fortuna hot spring resort, which is dotted with hot
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spring after hot spring in different shapes and sizes: one in the form of a pool with a water slide, others that are waterfalls. Next, it was volcano time. We hiked on the Arenal 1968 trail (arenal 1968.com), which offers a fantastic view of the volcano. Our hike was about an hour, and we didn’t see anyone else the entire time.
The same area is also home to the rain forests, and we hiked through those in the rain. It’s probably good to mention that bug spray is a necessity, that you’re going to get wet, and that your kids should either be strong hikers, or you should be prepared to carry them. The rain forest is a fantastic place for kids—and adults—to conquer their
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insectaphobia. We did a private tour of the rainforest through Anywhere (anywhere.com). Next came the highlight of the trip for both the kids and the adults. We went to Ecoglide Arenal Park (arenalecoglide.com/ en/), the only place we could find that would allow kids to do zip lining. This may have been the most thrilling experience of my life, even though I had zip lined in Hawaii. You get to do 13 cables high above the rainforest plus a Tarzan Swing, which is essentially a bungee jump through the trees. (Ape yell not required.)
After La Fortuna, we went to Monteverde, the mountainous region of the country. The highlight here was our Airbnb. We stayed on a working coffee farm (Cabin on Monteverde Coffee Farm). Our children had farm-to-table coffee, because if they’re going to have coffee, it’s going to be here. We also checked out The Bat Jungle (batjungle.com), where we got to see tons of tiny cute bats up close. And we went to the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens (monteverdebutterfly garden. com), one of our 8-year-old’s
favorite spots. They have 30 species of Costa Rican butterflies, plus a leaf-cutter ant colony, and by the time you’re done with the guided tour, you’ll feel like a butterfly expert. Our final stay was Playa Samara (samara beach.com), about two hours from Monteverde. This is a beach community, with ice cream spots dotting the small town. We spent two days here and didn’t put on anything but bathing suits the whole time. The beaches were void of people and shells, but they did have horses roaming freely. Our 8-year-old bobbed in the surf, trying to jump the waves, while our 5-year-old made sandcastles. We sat on our towels, marveling at how we were able to be in a rainforest, a mountain, a beach, a farm, a garden and a jungle— all in just seven days.
Kid Reporter’s Take
low can kill. One day, we went to a coffee farm where they make coffee, and it was the best coffee I ever tried! There were also fruits and vegetables that you can pick in the coffee farm, and we had them in a salad, and they were amazing too. There are hot springs that are great for children. Another great thing that you should bring your children to is zip lining at Ecoglide. It’s
great for grownups, too. It looks scary, but it’s amazing. After you do zip lining, you get to do a bungee jump, and it doesn’t cost extra, and then you do about five more zip lining ropes. Also at Costa Rica, you get to go to the beach the waves are great for boogie boarding. They are really huge, so I’m definitely going back!!! by Anya Karpinos, second-grader at Willard School in River Forest
Do you like places where it rains a lot and where it’s very pretty? Well, if you do, Costa Rica is a great place to go. They speak Spanish there, and I learned a lot of Spanish. You can go on nature walks where there’s stuff that you never seen before. There is a baby snake called an Eyelash Viper and it’s venomous, and if you get bitten it can kill you in two hours! There was also a silver beetle. We learned that most insects that are red and yelChicagoParent.com
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A KID’S GUIDE TO CHICAGO’S AIRPORTS
ny parent that’s traveled with a child knows it isn’t easy. Often, we have to curate an inflight experience and also find creative ways to entertain them at the airport. Next time you find yourself stuck at MDW or ORD, consider these tried and true recommendations.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport Best thing to see: The Sky’s the Limit art installation This 745-foot art installation features 466 rainbow lights that illuminate the underground walkway between Concourses B and C in Terminal 1. Best shop: Field Museum Store With two locations in Terminals 1 (you can’t miss the skeleton model of a Brachiosaurus near the entrance) and 3, the Field Museum Store offers unique merchandise. ChicagoParent.com
Best family-friendly eatery: Chili’s Too In addition to having chicken crispers and mac and cheese that even the pickiest eaters will love, Chili’s Too in Terminal 3 is a prime spot for kiddos to watch planes take off and land. Best place to pick up a quick snack: Eli’s Cheesecake With a huge selection of cheesecakes by the slice, one of Chicago’s most famous dessert shops has a small home in Terminal 1 that’ll satisfy any sweet tooth.
Chicago Midway International Airport Best thing to see: WWII Battle of Midway exhibit Use some extra time at the airport as a teaching moment for your kiddo. Beneath the SBD Dauntless Dive-bomber that’s suspended from the ceiling outside Concourse A, you can check out photos and interactive video kiosks that illustrates this historic event. Best shop: Kids Works Near the start of Concourse B, adjacent to the Food Court, Kids Works is the holy grail store if you are looking to bribe your child for good behavior. It carries a large selection of toys, plushes, candy and books. Kids’ tablet dead? They also carry back up chargers. Best family-friendly eatery: Reilly’s Daughter The Irish Pub, located in Concourse A, specializes in fish and chips and has a pretty extensive children’s menu. Having a particularly hard day? The bartenders have been known to pour adult drinks into a “to-go” cup. Best place to pick up a quick snack: Nuts on Clark Located in the Central Market just past security, kids can enjoy travel-sized bags of freshly made caramel corn, cheese corn, kettle corn and mixed nuts. Lori Orlinsky Summer 2019 • goingplaces15
A family trip is in order this summer and this issue of Going Places has fresh ideas to inspire Chicago families to get going.