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GREAT LAKES

Explore Summer’s sandy shores & more TALL SHIPS SAIL ON 2016 fleet to cruise Great Lakes in epic race

DISCOVER MICHIGAN Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Lake Michigan coastline CHICAGO’S WOW FACTOR Attractions that take your breath away

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CONTENTS

GREAT LAKES

VOYAGEURS Follow the trail of fur traders through Ontario and Minnesota

FEATURES

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TALL SHIPS A fleet gets ready to set sail this summer

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MICHIGAN ROAD TRIP Travel and stop along the iconic West Michigan Pike

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WISCONSIN DELLS Go indoors and out at the “Waterpark Capital of the World”

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LAKE BEACHES Five great beaches without ocean along the Great Lakes

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CHICAGO GEMS O! -the-radar sites in the Windy City and suburbs

LISA MEYERS MCCLINTICK; MAP ILLUSTRATION: ASHLEIGH CORRIN; LETTERING: THINKSTOCK


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" is is a product of

DIRECTOR

Jeanette Barrett-Stokes jbstokes@usatoday.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Jerald Council jcouncil@usatoday.com MANAGING EDITOR

Michelle Washington mjwashington@usatoday.com

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EDITORS

Chris Garsson Elizabeth Neus Hannah Prince Lori Santos Sara Schwartz DESIGNERS

Ashleigh Carter Miranda Pellicano Gina Toole Saunders Lisa M. Zilka CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Matt Alderton, Vanessa Caceres, Jim Dillon, Janene Mascarella, Lisa Meyers McClintick, Flash Parker ADVERTISING CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: KOHLER; BLAIR HARBER; WENDY PRAMIK; R. FRANK PHOTOGRAPHY

UP FRONT

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TRAVEL TECH Top gadgets to take along on your summer travel COOL GIGS Five fun hotel jobs that cater to quirky

THE REGION

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WISCONSIN Great golfing is in close proximity in Sheboygan County

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MINNESOTA ! ere’s much to see and do in the land of 10,000 lakes

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MICHIGAN American craft cider making a big comeback in the region

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OHIO Cleveland takes great culinary strides with homegrown chefs

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PENNSYLVANIA ! e state’s single port on the Great Lakes is tons of fun

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ONTARIO Just north of Niagara Falls, Canada’s popular ice wine is king

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TORONTO ! ere’s fresh food and fun deals to be had in Canada’s largest city

VP, ADVERTISING

Patrick Burke | (703) 854-5914 pburke@usatoday.com ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

Justine Goodwin | (703) 854-5444 jgoodwin@usatoday.com ISSN#0734-7456 A USA TODAY publication, Gannett Co. Inc. USA TODAY, its logo and associated graphics are the trademarks of Gannett Co. Inc. or its aÿ liates. All rights reserved. Copyright 2016, USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. Editorial and publication headquarters are at 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22108, and at 703-854-3400. For accuracy questions, call or send an e-mail to accuracy@usatoday.com.

ON THE COVER ! e schooner Red Witch at home port in Chicago | Tall Ships America

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By Marc Saltzman UMMER VACATION IS ALMOST upon us, and these high-tech toys will help you stay productive, entertained and connected. If you remember the three important L’s of travel tech — little, lightweight and long battery life — you’re off to a fine start. Here’s five great gadgets:

THREAT 1 TRIPLE Talk about multipurpose:

Kingston’s MobileLite Wireless Pro is a small Wi-Fi-enabled device that has 64 GB of built-in storage, which you can load up with movies, TV shows and music, and wirelessly access on multiple devices. There’s also a USB port and SD card slot, if you prefer to insert media. It’s also a portable 6700mAh battery that has nearly three full charges for a smartphone and a portable router with built-in Ethernet port. $130; kingston.com UP 2 HEADS If you’re heading for cooler

climes, stay warm and still hear your tunes. Caseco’s Blu-Toque Bluetooth beanie is a knitted cap with built-in speakers that wirelessly streams music, audio books, podcasts or calls from any Bluetooth-enabled device. These washable beanies (just zip out the

4 speakers) come in more than 40 colors and styles. Charge one up in less than two hours, and enjoy continuous music for up to six hours. $49.99; caseco.ca GOT YOUR BACK 3 The Hedgren Junction

laptop backpack supports an external battery (not included) for charging mobile devices with a retractable USB cord for added convenience; RFID (radio frequency identification) blocking for extra security; and a padded laptop sleeve for notebooks up to 15 inches. The nylon backpack features multiple compartments and zippered pockets, including one with a hard shell for fragile gadgets. $119.99; handbags.com TABS 4 KEEPING The 8-inch Samsung Galaxy

Tab S2 is a slick tablet with a sharp Super AMOLED display, making it ideal for watching videos,

playing games, reading e-books or browsing the Web. Along with a speedy processor and the Android 5.1 Lollipop operating system, the tablet features 32 GB of internal storage, dual cameras, fingerprint recognition, a kids’ mode, SideSync support (to wirelessly share content with nearby Samsung devices) and access to Google Play. $399.99; samsung.com KEYS, PLEASE 5 Need to work on your trip

but don’t want to lug a laptop? The aptly named Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard is an ultra-thin, lightweight mobile accessory that unfolds to a full-size QWERTY keyboard and can be simultaneously paired with two Bluetooth devices. Compatible with iOS, Android and Windows tablets and phones, this spill-resistant keyboard has a rechargeable battery that lasts three months. $99.95; microsoftstore.com

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TOP 5

Mission Point Resort

HOTEL JOBS THAT CATER TO YOUR EVERY NEED Employees with cool and coveted assignments focus on unique great experiences By Janene Mascarellaa

MISSION POINT RESORT

AGENTS OF FUN At the Abbey Resort on the shores of Geneva Lake in Fontana, Wis., “agents of fun” make sure guests have the experience they came for, says activity director Sue Thune. Whether that’s getting the limbo or water balloon contests started or hosting the year-round Starlight S’Mores & Bonfire on the harbor lawn, being agents of fun is no joke; they take their job of ensuring a top-notch guest experience seriously. ▶ 269 Fontana Blvd.; 800-7091323; theabbeyresort.com

RUNNING CONCIERGE CONC CO NCIE NC IERG IE RGE RG E This guide at The Westin stin st in B Boo Book ook k Cadillac Detroit is on the move. “The RunWESTIN program allows me to go on runs with hotel guests from April to November, where we typically run between three and five miles along the Detroit Riverwalk,” says Meredith Hackett, reservations supervisor, RunWESTIN concierge. Hackett says guests love experiencing the city on foot and appreciate being guided by a lifelong Detroiter with lots of tips. “First-timers are always amazed by how close Canada is!” she says. ▶ 1114 Washington Blvd.; 313-4421600; bookcadillacwestin.com

RESIDENT NT HISTORIAN AN The resident historian of Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton ensures the love story of the 145-year-old iconic hotel lives on. Founder Potter Palmer presented his wife with the hotel when they married, and then rebuilt it after the Great Chicago Fire burned it down 13 days after opening. “The Palmer House has such profound historical significance … dating back to 1871,” says Ken Price, the historian. Guests can explore the hotel’s heyday, including the Empire Room, which has hosted stars such as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and Liberace. ▶ 17 E. Monroe St.; 312-726-7500; palmerhousehiltonhotel.com

ICE CREAM MAN The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago has a part-time position that many folks are sweet on. “The Ice Cream Man is a unique offering,” says Graham Williamson, assistant director of food & beverage. “Who doesn’t love getting a sundae made right in (your) room?” An old-fashioned soda fountain cart is filled with favorite ice cream flavors and toppings and brought to guests. ▶ 120 E. Delaware Place; 312-2808800; fourseasons.com/chicago

KITE KI MASTER Set on 18 acres on Mackinac Mac M acki ac kina ki nacc Island na Isla Is la (where Lake Huron meets meet me etss Lake La Michigan), the 239-room oo Mission Point Resort last year introduced a “Kite Master” to lead kite-flying workshops on the great lawn twice weekly. It’s a perfect place to fly kites while parents sip cocktails in white Adirondack chairs. “There is nothing better than the smile that lights up a child’s face,” says Ben Nye, current kite master. “Even adults (let) loose while flying a kite for the first time in years.” ▶ 6633 Main St.; 906-847-3000; missionpoint.com

ABBEY RESORT; WESTIN BOOK CADILLAC DETROIT; PALMER HOUSE HILTON; FOUR SEASONS HOTEL CHICAGO; MISSION POINT RESORT


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TALL SHIPS AHOY Sails set to unfurl across the Great Lakes in amazing race By Jim Dillon

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N GREEN BAY, WIS., a city best known for its pro football team, majestic ships bearing immense sails on towering masts will dock at the city’s port this August and kick off a festival like no other. Actual and armchair sailors, history buffs and others will fill the port and walk among the wind-powered vessels that once dominated world shipping and travel. “It’s a big deal for us,” says Terry Charles of Green Bay’s Tall Ship Festival. “We’re expecting about 50,000 people, and that translates into an economic impact of about $3.6 million.”

The city will be one of eight along the five Great Lakes — Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior — that will serve as official host ports as 18 sailing ships race in the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes from July 1 to Sept. 18. During Labor Day weekend (Sept. 3-5), the ships sail into Put-in-Bay in Lake Erie, just north of Sandusky, Ohio, and in the Detroit area, according to Tall Ships America (sailtraining.org/tallships), the nonprofit organizer of the Challenge. Tall ships — large, traditionally rigged sailing craft — ruled the water for centuries. Today, there are fewer of them, but they still ply the world’s waterways as cruise ships, training vessels and racers. Events such as the Challenge allow visitors

to see several vessels at each port, take short trips on them, talk with the crews and enjoy food and entertainment, Charles says. The participating ships may look old, but many were recently refurbished. Others are modern reproductions of historic ships. Two such ships are the Draken Harald Hårfagre, a Viking longship — the largest built in modern times — launched in 2012; and the El Galeón Andalucia, a 16th-century Spanish galleon replica launched in 2010. Here’s a rundown of the ports and activities planned. Check festival websites for updates, ticket prices, ship line-ups and racing schedules. CO N T I N U E D


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PARADE OF SAIL Ships fall into line at a Tall Ships Challenge race, one of many with port festivals to celebrate U.S. maritime heritage and traditions.

THINKSTOCK; TALL SHIPS AMERICA


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THE DENIS SULLIVAN The world’s only replica of a 19th century three-masted Great Lakes schooner, left, operates as a floating classroom and goodwill ambassador for the state of Wisconsin. Mast height: 95 feet Weight: 340,000 pounds BY COMPARISON

The Lincoln Memorial stands almost 100 feet high.

The blue whale is the largest animal in the world and can easily weigh 340,000 pounds. SOURCES: DISCOVERYWORLD. ORG; NPS.GOV/LINC PHOTOS: COURTESY OF DISCOVERY WORLD; ILLUSTRATIONS: THINKSTOCK

GREAT LAKES SCHEDULE FOR THE TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE TORONTO July 1-3 Canada’s largest city, with 2.8 million residents, will host the Redpath Waterfront Festival along the Lake Ontario shore. Events include the Waterfront Artisan Market, a stunt dog show, live music, dance demonstrations and Canada Day fireworks. Two Royal Canadian Navy ships will be in port as well. ▶ towaterfrontfest.com FAIRPORT HARBOR, OHIO July 8-10 This small village about 30 miles northeast of Cleveland on Lake Erie is home to two historic lighthouses. Events at Tall Ships Fairport Harbor will include ship tours, day sails, educational programming and

food and entertainment. A Parade of Sail — in which the tall ships sail to a designated post as other boats join in — is July 7. ▶ tallshipsfairportharbor.com BAY CITY, MICH. July 14-17 This city near the base of Saginaw Bay along Lake Huron enjoys a rich shipping and industrial history. The Tall Ship Celebration will include the International Maritime Music Festival, a celebration of the music of the sea and the “chanteys” that helped crews work in unison while toiling aboard ship; and a Ring of Steel Theater, where visitors can participate in pirate-themed games and crafts and see stage productions.

▶ tallshipcelebration.com CHICAGO’S NAVY PIER July 27-31 The Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago 2016 festival starts with a Parade of Sail on July 27. Visitors can tour the ships or sail out onto Lake Michigan, among other activities. The Navy Pier, celebrating its centennial in 2016, is still undergoing a $60 million renovation. ▶ navypier.com/tall-shipschicago-2016 GREEN BAY, WIS. Aug. 5-7 The ships will travel to Green Bay, Wisconsin’s oldest city, to star in the Tall Ship Festival presented by Baylake Bank. The festival will feature a Parade of Sail, food, live entertainment, fireworks and day

and sunset trips aboard the ships. ▶ tallshipgreenbay.com DULUTH, MINN. Aug. 18-21 Duluth is the only port on Lake Superior — the largest and northernmost of the Great Lakes — to host the ships. Tall Ships Duluth will offer day and night trips aboard the vessels, including food and entertainment — and the world’s largest rubber duck! More than 150 art vendors will also be selling their creations. ▶ tallshipsduluth.com ERIE, PA. Sept. 8-11 The home port of the U.S. Brig Niagara, a replica of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s flagship that helped win the Battle of

Lake Erie in 1812, will be the host for Tall Ships Erie 2016. Visitors to the festival can experience on-board tours and sailouts, live entertainment, children’s events, a marketplace, food vendors and a beer garden. ▶ tallshipserie.org BROCKVILLE, ONTARIO Sept. 16-18 Brockville is midway between Toronto and Montreal along the St. Lawrence Seaway, east of Lake Ontario. Tall Ships Brockville will offer music, re-enactments, a military encampment, a parade of sail and sailouts, and a refreshment garden. Like Toronto, Brockville will also get a visit from Royal Canadian Navy vessels. ▶ tallshipsbrockville.com


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THE PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II This ship is a replica of an early 19th-century Baltimore clipper; it replaced the original Pride of Baltimore, launched in 1977, which sank in a storm in 1986. Mast height: 107 feet Deck length: 96 feet 6 inches Miles sailed: 200,000 miles Ports visited: 200 Countries visited: 40 SOURCE: PRIDEOF BALTIMORE, INC.

BILL MCALLEN

NORBERT STAGER


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MICHIGAN DRIVING Road-tripping along iconic pike By Flash Parker

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N THE BEGINNING, THERE was sand and surf, endless acres of golden cattails and dusty dirt tracks. The Ottawa and Potawatomi Indians lived along the shores of Lake Michigan for centuries and used the mouth of the Grand River to explore remote stretches of land north and south. Indians traded with French hunters, warred with colonial settlers and gave way to American frontiersmen. Later, generations of Michigan residents hitched, hiked and huffed on foot, on horseback or in ramshackle buggies along Lake Michigan’s eastern shores on their way to secret coves in St. Joseph, the iconic

lighthouse of Grand Haven and the shimmering sand dunes of Silver Lake. The destinations were great, but the journey was grim. But then came the Model T and the Great American Road Trip was born. Between 1908 and 1927, Henry Ford built more than 15 million speed wagons, and instantly many Americans had grand driving designs. Impenetrable passes were pounded into submission and new routes were carved out across the country — perhaps none quite CO N T I N U E D

South Haven Beach JOHN DAVIDSON


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2 0 as iconic as the West Michigan Pike (mostly now U.S. 31), a scenic stretch that allowed ramblers to rumble from Benton Harbor in the south to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes way up north, and back again. The first version of the West Michigan Pike was completed in 1922; this bumpy gravel and clay track ran through 14 counties, opening Whitehall, Grand Haven, Muskegon and more obscure destinations to visitors. Word of the Pike’s spectacular attractions — more than 400 miles from Mackinaw to Michigan City — quickly spread to Chicago, New York and San Francisco, and suddenly western Michigan was one of America’s most charmed vacation destinations. Little has changed since. Michigan’s great lake attractions are legion — road-tripping the eastern shores opens a labyrinth of hiking and biking pathways, hundreds of miles of coastline to kayak, canoe and paddleboard, shallow water wrecks for scuba exploration and dune after dune of sandy, untrammeled beach. And from farmers markets to family-owned wineries, craft breweries to distilleries and farm-to-fork restaurants, western Michigan is a gastro wonderland. The trailhead to grand West Michigan Pike experiences for more than 100 years, quaint St. Joseph is a cozy burg known for a remarkable number of galleries, studios and design shops. The Berrien Artist Guild at the Box Factory for the Arts houses nearly 40 studios dedicated to local Michigan artists. It also stages events like the Ed Bagatini New Swing Orchestra, Plus One, the Tim MacDonald Retrospective and regular photography classes, in case you’re keen on sharpening your skills as you cruise the state. Enjoy a sunset or picnic on top of a dune at nearby Van Buren State Park before rolling to the Arclight Brewery in Watervliet, a repository of sudsy glory known for the heady Swayze Crazy imperial stout and the topical Belgian Truckstop Blonde. Farther on up the road in South Haven you’ll find the iconic South Haven Lighthouse, the stately Yelton Manor Bed and Breakfast (known for its Victorian elegance and the innkeeper’s fondness for stashing baked goodies in the common areas), and the Michigan Maritime Museum. Recreation opportunities abound in South Haven; the harbor has long been an important terminus for boaters, fisherfolk and outdoor enthusiasts. Taste is a modern gastropub with an excellent small plates menu and extensive wine list, and serves as a great place to rub elbows with locals ahead of the National Blueberry Festival (the 53rd edition takes place Aug. 11-14). European charm is apparent throughout Holland’s downtown, in cafés, the Holland Harbor Light, old Dutch windmill and millions of tulips planted for the annual Tulip Time Festival, which runs May 7-14. The festival attracts more than a million visitors each year, but even during the height of summer it’s possible to tiptoe through the

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unes Silver Lake D

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Silver Lake Dunes

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Holland H arbor

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hustle and bustle to find charming county beaches void of activity in destinations such as Shady Tunnel Park. Grand Haven State Park is one of the smallest in Michigan, but it packs plenty of punch. The beach is considered one of America’s most scenic, has a robust beach volleyball scene, features campsites with lake and lighthouse views and is only steps away from the town’s beautiful harbor area and downtown strip. The Grand Haven Musical Fountain, once the world’s largest,

has been serenading visitors during the summer since 1962. There are dozens of small towns and cities, beaches, parks, restaurants and shops and countless curiosities worthy of a detour along old West Michigan Pike, but none caps off a trip down this memory lane like Silver Lake State Park, home to more than 2,000 acres of towering dunes that buttress the shore of Lake Michigan. Visitors can sandboard, sail, hike, ride ATVs, fish for pike, bass and walleye,

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camp, picnic or simply watch the sun set atop Mount Baldy, the tallest dune in the park. Cap your road trip with the best buffalo wings west of New York at the Frickin Chicken Shack in Mears, or go all the way ‘Merican at Open Hearth in Hart, where you can dine on pan-seared perch or mouth-watering BBQ ribs and recount with friends all the adventures had out on the open road. CO N T I N U E D


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Chateau Chantel Winery

BRIAN CONFER/CHATEAU CHANTAL

MICHIGAN MUST STOPS SIX SIGHTS TO SEE ON A HISTORIC RIDE TO THE BEACH Road-tripping U.S. 31 — the spiritual successor to the iconic West Michigan Pike — opens up a world of curious, quixotic and eccentric sights and experiences. From ramshackle drive-in theaters that harken back to a simpler time in America to modern showcases of remarkable regional art, attractions abound from St. Joseph in the south through postcard-perfect Traverse City in the north. Explore some of our favorite sites on your next Great Lakes adventure.

GETTY DRIVE-IN Muskegon

Manistee National Forest

Built in 1949, the drive-in is an iconic outpost of antiquated Americana. Only about 50 theaters of this type exist in the U.S. today, and few feature original marquees as beautiful as this one, itself as much a reason to visit as the four modern (double feature) screens, in-car sound and classic concession stand. Go midcentury mod on a cool summer evening. ▶ 920 E. Summit Ave.; 231-798-2608; celebrationcinema.com THE WHITE RIVER LIGHT STATION Whitehall The station is an excellent showcase of maritime artifacts. A nonprofit group runs programs during the summer season that tie THINKSTOCK

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White River Light Station

U.S. 31

ROAD TRIP

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the history of the station and others nearby to local individuals, including the famed “Ladies of the Lights.” Built in 1875, the station is in beautiful condition, including the lighthouse, oil house, woodshed and privy. Views of both White Lake and Lake Michigan are incredible. ▶ 6199 Murray Rd.; 231-894-8265; white riverlightstation.org; splka.org NORTH COUNTRY TRAIL Manistee National Forest Part of the 4,600-mile trail, which runs from Crown Point, N.Y., to Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota, bisects beautiful Manistee National Forest. You can pick up the trail throughout the forest, and hike, camp, fish, trek and recreate. The Pere Marquette River and Lake Benton are especially well known among kayak, paddleboard, canoe and watersport enthusiasts. ▶ 616-897-5987; northcountrytrail.org GLEN HAVEN, SLEEPING BEAR DUNES National Lakeshore Not to be confused with Grand Haven to the south. Glen Haven is a port village located within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s home to the renowned Lake Michigan Beach, a blacksmith shop and general store. Glen Haven serves as a great primer to Sleeping Bear, considered one of America’s most scenic destinations and Michigan’s prime camping site. The park is known for pristine forests, towering sand dunes, glacial formations and 19th-century lighthouses that were key during the region’s shipping days. ▶ 231-326-4700; nps.gov/slbe/planyour visit/glen-haven-historic-village.htm

SS FRANCISCO MORAZAN Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve The preserve, which surrounds North and South Manitou islands, is home to more than 50 shipwrecks . Some, like the Francisco Morazan, are well-preserved and worldrenowned wreck dives. An ocean freighter built in 1922, the Francisco Morazan was lost on Lake Michigan during a heavy snowstorm on Nov. 29, 1960. The ship crashed into rocks near South Manitou Island, and now rests the entirety of its 247-foot length in shallow water that permits even novice divers to explore its hull. ▶ www.michiganpreserves.org/manitou.htm Scuba North is an experienced, professional dive shop that offers plenty of information on many of Lake Michigan’s recreational dive sites. ▶ scubanorth.com WINE COUNTRY Traverse City Traverse City’s location on the 45th parallel provides vintners with ample opportunity to grow tremendous grapes — it’s the same latitude as famed wine-making regions such as Piedmont in Italy and the ProvenceAlpes-Côte d’Azur in France. Traverse City is home to nearly 50 wineries and tasting rooms, and hosts the Traverse City Wine and Art Festival in June. The Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn is among the region’s brightest stars and is one of the oldest vineyards on the Old Mission Peninsula. Expect old world European charm, upmarket legacy wines and luxurious stays at the bed and breakfast. ▶ 15900 Rue de Vin; 800-969-4009; chateauchantal.com; traversecity.com/ summer/wineries

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— Flash Parker

THINKSTOCK

CHERRIES GALORE! While you are in the “Cherry Capital of the World,” as Traverse City has been dubbed because of its more than 2.5 million cherry trees, be sure and stock up on the sweet, dark fruit. In July and early August, the countryside is dotted with stands, markets and u-pick signs. The National Cherry Festival is held each July. ▶ traversecity.com/area/about-traverse-city/cherry-industry; cherryfestival.org


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WISCONSIN SPLASH! By Vanessa Caceres

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Wilderness Resort

WISCONSIN DELLS VISITORS BUREAU; THINKSTOCK

EADY TO GET YOUR water fun on this summer? Then put the Wisconsin Dells on your summer travel list. It’s situated in Wisconsin’s heartland, about 115 miles northwest of Milwaukee and about 50 miles north of Madison. Wisconsin Dells, also called “the Dells,” is the self-proclaimed “Water Park Capital of the World,” and with good reason. It claims to have the largest concentration of both indoor and outdoor water parks anywhere in the world. Those indoor parks come in handy during Wisconsin’s chilly months, and the pleasant summer temperatures make the WISCONSIN outdoor parks ideal. DELLS To get a flavor of water park exploration in the Dells, consider the variety of experiences you can get at just one destination, the Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort. Up for the wild side? Among the resort’s eight indoor and outdoor water parks, there’s slideboarding at Klondike Kavern, or you can jump the waves at Wild WaterDome, the largest indoor wave pool in the U.S. Then there’s the Cosmic Drop and Lunar Loop drop-slides. If you’d rather find inner calm, the Wilderness Resort has several lazy rivers that allow you to sprawl on an inner tube and float along peacefully. Take a break from the kiddos and grab a drink at Margarita’s Indoor/Outdoor Swim-Up Bar. “Who needs the Caribbean when you have indoor waterparks in Wisconsin?” says Danielle Hoffpauir, a Green Bay, Wis.-area native who now lives in San Diego. The fun to be had at Wilderness Resort — as well as the rest of the Wisconsin Dells water parks — convinced Annalisa Nash Fernandez and her family that they’d love living nearby. “We are a family with three kids — age 7, 12 and 15 — who relocated from Miami to the Midwest. Once the kids saw the Dells on our house-hunting trip, they had no reservations about leaving Miami behind,” says Fernandez, of Whitefish Bay, Wis. ▶ wisdells.com/wisconsin-dells-waterparks.htm; wildernessresort.com


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Noah’s Ark Water Park

DIVE INTO THESE SEVEN ADDITIONAL ATTRACTIONS AT THE DELLS

WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

Chula Vista Resort

NOAH’S ARK WATERPARK

WISCONSIN DELLS VISITORS BUREAU

NOAH’S ARK WATER PARK is billed as America’s largest water park and gives visitors a range of thrilling experiences, from Surfing Safari (yup, you get a body board and ride along surging water), to the scary Point of No Return with a nearly vertical plunge, to Black Anaconda, a quarter-mile-long ride that’s part water slide and part roller coaster. When you’ve gotten as soaked as you can, Noah’s Ark also has a 4-D dive-in theater so you get the full sensory experience of what you’re watching, as well as an arcade and Hooligan’s Harbor, where your mateys can maneuver remote-controlled pirate ships. ▶ noahsarkwaterpark.com KALAHARI RESORTS creates fun for all ages, says park visitor Bridget Devine of Chicago. The water parks — both indoor and outdoor — have an African theme, and make it seem as though you’re exploring the wild on the Screaming Hyena or the Sahara Sidewinders. Devine praises the Kalahari Mud Hut Swim-Up Bar, where you can replenish your thirst without leaving the water, and areas for kids in both the inside and outside parks. Kalahari has a lazy river, wave pool, whirlpools and other water-logged attractions, plus an indoor theme park with a ropes course, laser tag, bowling, an arcade and even an indoor Ferris wheel. ▶ kalahariresorts.com/wisconsin MT. OLYMPUS WATER & THEME PARK

Kalahari Resorts

can be described in one word: “Awesome,” says Sara Butruff of Apple Valley, Minn., a travel agent. Both its Medusa’s Indoor Water Park and Parthenon’s Indoor Theme Park are great day attractions, says Butruff, who particularly enjoys the roller coasters and go-cart tracks. “It’s super fun for teens and thrill seekers,” she adds. The fun at Mt. Olympus also includes 19 water slides and four roller coasters. When you’ve braved all the thrills you can in one day, relax in the Jaguar Hot Tub. ▶ mtolympuspark.com

WISCONSIN DELLS VISITORS BUREAU

GREAT WOLF LODGE attractions with names like Lookout Mountain, Howlin’ Tornado and Mountain Edge Raceway let you know immediately that you’re getting some adventure. Its indoor waterpark maintains a cozy 84-degree temperature year-round.

Great Wolf Lodge even has “hot springs” for adults looking to soak tired muscles and recharge (after all of this water park exploration you deserve some pampering). Yet when you’re ready for some landlubbing fun, the lodge has a dessert-themed Scooops Kid Spa, the interactive live-action role-playing game MagiQuest, yoga for kids, and arts and crafts. There’s even a nightly pajama party and story time. ▶ greatwolf.com/wisconsin-dells

CHULA VISTA RESORT offers your family a south-of-the-border experience. Both the indoor and outdoor water parks have attractions with names like Mount Montezuma’s Mayan Temple, Croc Walk Water Crossing (where you balance on a “crocodile’s” head), Adventure Lagoon and the Incatinka Kiddie Play Area. At the sport pool, you can play water polo, water volleyball and water basketball. To help you better plan your family trip, the resort’s website indicates whether each activity or ride is best suited for younger children, older children or all age groups. ▶ chulavistaresort.com POLYNESIAN WATER PARK RESORT

will have you believing that you are basking in Tahiti with tiki-hut inspired décor at both the indoor and outdoor parks. Take your little ones to the splash pool, play water basketball or just lounge by the pools for a true tropical chill-out. ▶ splashcanyondells.com

KLONDIKE KAVERN has gaming — on a water park ride. We know your kids are there before you can say, “Let’s go.” At Klondike Kavern, one of the many water park choices at Wilderness Resort, there’s a new ride called Claim Jumper Challenge. It combines an interactive, video game-like experience within a tube slide and a whopping 60 levels for visitors to advance through. The ride even has its own app that can give users a leg up in figuring out before they ride how best to enjoy one of only five slideboard systems in the United States. There’s also a hot spa, a lazy river and an area to get a massive bucket of water dumped on you — as if you weren’t soaked enough! ▶ wildernessresort.com/waterparks


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NO OCEAN? NO PROBLEM!

Beachgoers can find five welcoming shores on the Great Lakes By Vanessa Caceres HEN YOU THINK ABOUT famous U.S. beaches, locales in the Midwest may not come to mind. Yet as it turns out, the Great Lakes — Michigan, Erie, Superior, Huron and Ontario — entertain visitors each year with some fabulous beaches. Plus, you don’t have to fight against some of the downsides of the ocean

— sharks, jellyfish and salt. Our unscientific list of five great oceanlike beaches along the Great Lakes spans four states. The travel experiences range from secluded to friendly to completely laid-back. Some of the destinations on our list have been named among the best beaches in the U.S. So, here are the beaches to check out along the Great Lakes this summer. Get your sunscreen and start packing!

Presque Isle State Park TIM SHARKEY/SHARKEY-IMAGES.COM


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Sleeping Bear Dunes

Erie, Pa.

Named the best freshwater beach in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice 2016 awards, this park along Lake Erie has 13 beaches on an 11-mile stretch for sand, surf and picturesque views. When you visit the Presque Isle peninsula — the name comes from the French for “almost an island” — you and your family can swim, fly a kite, enjoy concerts during the summer, kayak and fish. After you’ve logged your beach time for the day, bike along the park’s trails, eat a hot dog at Sara’s near the park entrance or tour the historic Presque Isle Lighthouse. At the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, you can snap scenic views of the peninsula from the 75-foot observation tower. ▶ 301 Peninsula Dr.; 814-833-7424; presqueisle.org

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SLEEPING BEAR DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE

Empire, Mich.

If you meet someone who’s a fan of Sleeping along the northeast shore of Lake Michigan, they’ll gush about the park’s pristine beaches and spectacular views — but they may not tell you about their favorite place. That’s because they want to maintain the park’s secluded feel. The park has a little bit of everything you may be looking for in a Great Lakes beach — dunes, sand, farm areas and forests. Although it can get busy, visitors still always seem to find a relatively quiet spot to put their toes in the sand or float along in an inner tube, doing nothing at all. You can also fit in a visit to the town of Glen Haven, home to a restored boathouse, blacksmith shop and general store, for an up-close view of 1920s history. ▶ 9922 Front St.; 231-326-4700; www.nps.gov/slbe

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WHITEFISH DUNES STATE PARK

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

Nicknamed the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” Whitefish, located along Lake Michigan’s northwest shore, is famous for its rare Wisconsin dunes. In fact, the park is home to “Old Baldy,” a dune that’s 93 feet above sea level and the tallest in the state. It’s an ideal destinaCON T I N U E D

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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION tion if you and your travel companions want something a little more rugged. The park has more than 13 miles of hiking trails, and you can choose between dune or forest views. 3275 Clarks Lake Rd.; 920-823-2400; travelwisconsin.com/state-parksforests/whitefish-dunes-statepark-204198 Once you’ve worked in swimming, biking or hiking at Whitefish Dunes, head to one of Door County’s wineries. Or, stop by one of the area’s farm destinations, like Plum Loco Animal Farm — ideal for the kids. ▶ 4431 Plum Bottom Rd., Egg Harbor; 920-743-1617; plumlocoanimalfarm.com

Indiana Dunes

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APOSTLE ISLANDS NATIONAL LAKESHORE

Bayfield, Wis.

Soft sands and endless horizons are just some of the ways fans describe this gem of a location. The area is made up of 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland along Lake Superior. Visit different beach areas to find a favorite. Big Bay Beach on Madeline Island — the largest of the Apostle Islands, although not officially part of the National Lakeshore site — has a boardwalk with an Instagram-worthy view of Lake Superior. If you’re a lighthouse fan, put these islands at the top of your travel list. The collection of nine lighthouses is the largest anywhere in the country within a national park, according to the National Park Service. Discover what life was like many years ago at a commercial fishery at the Hokenson Fishery, preserved as a museum, then hop a ferry or ride a bike over to the town of LaPointe and grab a bite to eat at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe or Madeline Island Bakery. ▶ 415 Washington Ave.; 715-779-3397; www.nps.gov/apis

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INDIANA DUNES TOURISM

INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE

Porter, Ind.

Indiana may not come to mind when you think of sun and surf, but you’ll feel differently after visiting this spot along Lake Michigan’s southern shore. Swim, catch some rays, play volleyball or explore the dunes along the 15-mile-long shoreline. This scenic area has 70 miles of hiking trails where you can glimpse prairies, forests, marshes and, of course, the dunes. Make sure to visit Chesterton’s European Market, populated by artisans and farmers. ▶ 1100 N. Mineral Springs Rd.; 219-3951882; www.nps.gov/indu


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Visiting for business or pleasure, solo or with friends, you’ll want to take in these 15 breathtaking sites By Matt Alderton

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HERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF stuff to talk about in Chicago. Among locals’ favorite subjects, for instance, are: Whose deep-dish pizza is best? Will this be the year the Cubbies finally break their curse? Which condiments are blasphemous on hot dogs? And which is windier: the city’s weather or its politics? Visitors should know, however, that Chicago’s best sites aren’t the places that make Chicagoans speak up. Rather, they’re the ones that make them clam up. Whether you’re traveling alone or in a group, seeking romance or adventure, your itinerary should definitely include the following local favorites. Their beauty, charm or “whoa” factor will leave you speechless.

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Chicago Cultural Center

T R AV E L E R S Whatever brings you to town — a conference, a job interview or just some “you” time — Chicago’s got your back if you’re by yourself. Check out: Chicago Lakefront Trail With so much to see in Chicago, it’s easy to overlook what’s next to it: Lake Michigan and the 18.5-mile park beside it. “Whenever I go to Chicago, the first thing I like to do is walk north down Michigan Avenue, through the underpass and onto the Lakefront Trail,” says Dr. Barbara Bergin, an orthopedic surgeon from Austin, Texas. “It’s just a view … but it’s a magnificent one.” East of Lake Shore Drive; traillink.com/trail/chicago-lakefronttrail.aspx Graceland Cemetery This cemetery near Wrigley Field isn’t morbid; it’s magnificent. And it’s a certified arboretum, to boot. “Visiting Graceland is like stepping through a portal into a pocket universe,” says Chicagobased travel writer Benjamin van Loon, who praises the shaded paths through tombs of famous Chicagoans like Marshall Field and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. “If you’re lucky, you might even spot one of its elusive resident Chicago coyotes.” 4001 N. Clark St.; 773-525-1105; gracelandcemetery.org Chicago Cultural Center This Chicago landmark opened in 1897 and now hosts free public art exhibits, films and lectures, making it ideal for solo travelers seeking social connection. Its main draw, however, is its interior architecture — the centerpieces are two stained-glass domes, including the world’s largest Tiffany stained-glass dome, comprising some 30,000 pieces of glass. 78 E. Washington St., chicagoculturalcenter.org PATRICK L. PYSZKA/CITY OF CHICAGO

CO N T I N U E D

FA M I L I E S A city as big and diverse as Chicago captivates parents and kids alike. Visit: Indian Boundary Park This 13-acre park in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood opened in 1922 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “Indian Boundary is the best park in Chicago nobody knows about,” shares Chicago-based travel writer Benjamin van Loon, who says the major standouts are a massive wooden playground and lagoon, home to an island, willows, turtles and birds. “Your Instagram will thank you.” 2500 W. Lunt Ave.; chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/indian-boundary-park Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum This museum’s trump card is the peaceful Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. “Over 40 species of butterflies call this place home,” says Kathy Pulkrabek, a Chicago-based writer and co-host of the XX, Will Travel podcast. “It’s great for kids to run around or for adults to take a break on one of the many benches. More than once I’ve had one land on my shoulder to say hello.” 2430 N. Cannon Dr.; 773-755-5100; naturemuseum.org InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile Dating back to 1929, this hotel originally was a luxury men’s athletic club. Its famous indoor junior Olympic swimming pool is the only surviving element from those bygone days. “It’s such a hidden gem. Most people have no idea that such a beautiful space is hiding up there,” says Chicagoan Victoria Kent. “You’re immediately transported by the Old World design, which can be seen from the ornate high ceilings, Spanish tiles and the impressive marble columns.” Non-guests can use the pool for $25. 505 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-944-4100; icchicagohotel.com

InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile INTERCONTINENTAL CHICAGO MAGNIFICENT MILE


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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

COUPLES Chicago is a nest perfectly suited to lovebirds. Snuggle up at: Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool Hiding behind the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets. “This spot is so beautiful because it captures a stillness that is hard to find anywhere else in the neighborhood,” says Rachel Cooper, a Chicago-based public relations professional who enjoys the area’s lush greenery and active wildlife. “Locals and tourists alike often walk right by and never know it’s there.” West Fullerton Avenue and North Cannon Drive; 773-883-7275; lincolnparkconservancy.org The Signature Lounge at the 96th

CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT; SCOTT THOMPSON

Geja’s Café If you want to date like the locals do, make reservations for a three-course fondue dinner at this dining institution, which was Chicago’s first wine bar when it opened in the city’s Old Town neighborhood in 1965. Now in Lincoln Park, where it’s been since 1971, its dim lighting, live classical guitar and crackling oil give it a seductive ambiance that’s uniquely Chicago. 340 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-281-9101; gejascafe.com The Signature Lounge at the 96th When he interned in Chicago last summer, University of Texas at Austin undergraduate Luke Orlando discovered locals’ go-to spot for picture-perfect views — the 96th floor of the John Hancock Building. “While many purchase pricey tickets for Willis Tower’s Skydeck or Hancock’s ‘Tilt’ attraction (two floors below in the same building), the Signature Lounge offers an even better view at no cost,” he says. 875 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-787-9596; signatureroom.com/lounge

Chuan Spa

Streeterville Social

THE LANGHAM, CHICAGO; LOEWS CHICAGO HOTEL

GIRLFRIENDS For women in need of girlfriend therapy, Chicago is exactly what the doctor ordered. Spend time at: Chuan Spa The Langham, Chicago is one of the city’s most beauteous hotels thanks to its expansive Chuan Spa. It is Chicago’s only spa to receive five stars from Forbes Travel Guide, and highlights include an aromatic herbal sauna, high-heat Himalayan salt stone sauna, chamomile-infused steam room, aromatherapy showers, 67-foot swimming pool with twinkling overhead lights and “Dream Room” furnished with multisensory recliners. 330 N. Wabash Ave., chicago.langham hotels.com

RM Champagne Salon Located off Restaurant Row in a discreet cobblestone alley, this champagne-themed bistro is Paris in Chicago. Inside, candlelight, chandeliers, antique mirrors and a giant marble fireplace effuse romance; outside on the patio, Moroccan lanterns and fairy lights do the same. The Monday special — $5 glasses of champagne — makes for an incomparable girl’s night, to say nothing of the mignardises (that’s French for “tiny desserts”). 116 N. Green St.; www.rmchampagnesalon. com

Streeterville Social Located on the third-floor roof of the Loews Chicago Hotel, Streeterville Social is Chicago’s largest outdoor rooftop terrace. Along with handsome views of the Chicago River — and handsome local patrons — it boasts two bars, a giant Jenga game, hanging “birdcage” chairs and an expansive lawn with real grass for games of pétanque (French bocce) or cornhole. Enjoy drinks that are perfect for the long, summer nights, like the custom SMT—Streeterville Mai Tai. 455 N. Park Dr.; loewshotels.com/chicagodowntown

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel CLAYTON HAUCK

‘ B R O C AT I O N E R S ’ It’s hard to imagine a better guys’ getaway than the home of The Blues Brothers, Al Capone and “Da Bears.” Take the gang to: Chicago Athletic Association Hotel A former private men’s club, this hotel’s second floor is the perfect gentleman’s hangout. Choose from the Drawing Room, a lounge with wood accents, leather chairs and cavernous fireplaces; the Milk Room, a former speakeasy serving Prohibition-era cocktails to just eight lucky patrons at a time; or the Game Room, a wood-paneled gaming hall featuring billiards, shuffleboard, foosball, cards, checkers, chess and bocce. 12 S. Michigan Ave.; chicagoathletic hotel.com Chicago Cut Steakhouse Chicago is for carnivores. For a meal that leaves the boys mum, eat at this steakhouse on the banks of the Chicago River. If the water views don’t slay, the meat will. The double-cut Porterhouse, for instance — 48 ounces for $124 — will knock the wind out of even your group’s biggest eater. 300 N. LaSalle St.; chicagocutsteak house.com Harborside International Golf Center’s Port Course Golfers who don’t know better head straight for the ’burbs with their clubs. This links-style course on Chicago’s South Side, however, is urban golfing at its best. The combination of challenging game play and stunning skyline views makes even a high handicap feel heavenly on a sunny summer morning. 11001 S. Doty Ave. E.; harborside international.com


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TRUE N RTH Bahá’í House of Worship for North America in Wilmette, Ill.

PUTTING THE ‘URBAN’ IN SUBURBAN Evanston/Skokie/Wilmette Because it borders Chicago, Evanston is a cultural turnstile between the city and the suburbs. It has the best of both, according to Gina Speckman of the Chicago’s North Shore convention bureau. “Evanston is a very diverse community. It’s a college town, so it has all the cool things that college towns have — lots of culture, great restaurants and tons of things to do,” she says. Accessible from Chicago via the L train, downtown Evanston, like Chicago’s urban neighborhoods, has high-rise condos, fun bars, cute shops and destination restaurants, including a new Mediterranean spot — Terra & Vine — coming this summer from Alpana Singh, former host of the Emmy Award-winning PBS show Check, Please! ▶ 1701 Maple Ave.; downtown evanston.org; terraandvine.com A stroll through Northwestern University in Evanston reveals stunning architecture and student sports, theater, art and music — even in summer. ▶ 633 Clark St. ; northwestern.edu

THINKSTOCK; COURTESY OF CHICAGO’S NORTH SHORE CVB

CO N T I N U E D

Chicago’s North Shore offers visitors a long list of great expectations By Matt Alderton

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HICAGO PROPER IS TEEMING with attractions, restaurants and nightlife, but as a superior vacation destination, its suburbs are equally vibrant in their own right. On its esteemed North Shore, the swath of affluent communities whose magnificent mansions hug the shores of Lake Michigan from Chicago north toward Wisconsin, breathtaking beaches, verdant forest preserves and quaint downtowns make the word “suburbs” feel grossly inadequate. Perhaps that’s why many opt to be called “villages” instead. “It’s interesting how people have their ideas about what it’s like up here,” says Gina Speckman, executive director of Chicago’s North Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau. “In the summertime, when I go to the lake I feel like I’m on Cape Cod with its beautiful, sandy beaches,” she says. “It���s as if you’re on vacation somewhere far away from Chicago. And yet the city is right there. It’s not at all what you’d expect.” Because vacations of the “unexpected” variety are often the greatest kind, the North Shore might be the best destination your family never thought to visit. Here’s where to go:

Evanston lakefront COURTESY OF CHICAGO’S NORTH SHORE CVB


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OUTDOOR ADVENTURES Northeastern Lake County In the state’s northeastern corner, Lake County is best known for its theme parks and water parks:

Six Flags Great America ▶ 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee; sixflags.com/greatamerica

KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort ▶ 1700 Nations Dr., Gurnee; keylimecove. com For a pure North Shore experience, opt for rolling waves at Illinois Beach State Park, where 6.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline encompass beaches for swimming, ponds for fishing and nearly 7 miles of trails for hiking. “When you drive north into Lake County you see a lot more wide open spaces — a lot of natural beauty that people don’t get in the city,” says Maureen Riedy, president of the Lake County, Illinois Convention & Visitors Bureau. ▶ 1 Lakefront Dr., Zion; dnr.illinois.gov

Just south of Northwestern is Dawes Park, the lakeside site of numerous summer festivals, including the Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival celebrating ethnic art and food July 16-17, and the Lakeshore Arts Festival Aug. 6-7. ▶ 1700 Sheridan Rd.; 847448-4311; cityofevanston.org/ festivals-concerts

For boating and fishing enthusiasts, Winthrop Harbor at the tip of the state is home to North Point Marina, where you can book a charter, and Harbor Days, a weekend festival held every August. ▶ 701 North Point Dr., Winthrop Harbor; npmonline.com; winthropharbortourism. com

West of Evanston in Skokie are poignant exhibits at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Adult admission, $12; children, $6. ▶ 9603 Woods Dr.; 847-9674800; ilholocaustmuseum.org In Wilmette, visit the Bahá’í House of Worship for North America for its elegant architecture or as a place to stop and meditate. The building is the Bahá’í Faith’s oldest surviving temple, the only one in North America. ▶ 100 Linden Ave.; 847-8532300; bahaitemple.org

Six Flags Great America SIX FLAGS GREAT AMERICA

The Independence Day celebration July 3-4 at the U.S. Navy’s only “bootcamp,” Naval Station Great Lakes, allows the public on base for carnival rides, fair food and fireworks. “It’s a fascinating place,” Riedy says. ▶ 530 Farragut Ave., Great Lakes; 847688-5591; military.com/base-guide/ naval-station-great-lakes

AL FRESCO ENTERTAINMENT Glencoe/Highland Park Holocaust Museum and Education Center

If the North Shore’s middle communities like Highland Park look familiar, thank the late filmmaker John Hughes, who attended high school and filmed some of his most famous movies here, including The Breakfast Club, Home Alone and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The latter is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with Ferris Fest, a series of events honoring the film May 20-22. ▶ ferrisfest.com While in the area, explore 385 acres of flora at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Among its numerous displays are a Japanese bonsai collection with nearly 200 trees and more than 5,000 roses in the Krasberg Rose Garden. “It’s beautiful,” says Speckman, who notes the garden hosts evening concerts throughout the summer, including a one-hour carillon concert every Monday night. Free admission. ▶ 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe; 847-835-5440; chicagobotanic.org

COURTESY OF CHICAGO’S NORTH SHORE CVB

For even more music outdoors, nearby Ravinia Park hosts the Ravinia Festival, the country’s oldest outdoor music festival. Sit in the open-air theater or claim a spot on the lawn and still enjoy the music as you picnic on a blanket. This year’s lineup includes Paul Simon, Patti LaBelle, Indigo Girls, Tony Bennett, Dolly Parton and, for its 80th anniversary residency, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ▶ 200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park; 847-266-5100; ravinia.org

Ravinia Park COURTESY OF RAVINIA FESTIVAL

Close by is Madame ZuZu’s Tea Shop and Art Studio — a quirky tea house owned by Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, a local resident. ▶ 582 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park; 847-926-7434; madamezuzus.com Downtown Highland Park is home to upscale outdoor shopping and special events such as the popular Taste of Highland Park, held Aug. 26-28 in conjunction with the Port Clinton Art Festival to offer food from local restaurants and wares from local artists. ▶ 847-780-4293; amdurproductions.com


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PADDLE

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Relive fur-trade history and explore the Boundary Waters wilderness By Lisa Meyers McClintick

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HE ARGUMENT STARTED LIKE any brawl. Barbed insults and slurred words built to a spittle-flying shouting match as a man portraying a worker at historic Fort William in Thunder Bay, Ontario, told off his high-hatted superiors, also actors. A constable hauled the instigator to a windowless jail, threatening to snag the visiting smart-aleck kids who were grinning among modern gawkers. Living history lessons from 1815-16 such as this unfurl throughout the day at Fort William Historical Park, a top Canadian attraction 45 minutes north of the Minnesota border in western Ontario. Its 250acre site includes a replica

of the historic North West Company headquarters, which got its start on Minnesota’s northeastern tip at a spot that has become the Grand Portage National Monument. The fur trade that brought together native and European cultures in the 1700s and early 1800s — and ran through those sections of Minnesota and Ontario — vividly comes to life at the start of this 300mile voyageur-themed road trip. (“Voyageurs” is French for “traveler,” and is used to refer to the French-Canadian fur transporters.) “We want people to understand how important this little place was,” says Pam Neil, chief of interpretation at Grand Portage, explaining that even Londoners and Parisians knew about Grand

Portage, where North West had headquarters from 1784 to 1803 before moving to Fort William. “(North West Company) was like Microsoft and Apple today.” In Grand Portage’s Great Hall, the audience gets to touch silky, dense mink, marten and otter pelts. At Fort William, an Ojibwe woman draws people into her cozy camp, FrenchCanadians pull visitors into lively dance lessons and an assistant at the potion- and powder-lined apothecary dares you to touch a dubious-looking medical device. The shock delivered by the device — plus the earlier jail threat — have a way of ensuring the history lessons stick for the audience. CO N T I N U E D LISA MEYERS MCCLINTICK; THINKSTOCK


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VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK International Falls, Minn.

STRADDLING THE BORDERS

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QUETICO PROVINCIAL PARK Atikokan, Ontario

Both locations hummed with global commerce for decades as voyageurs who paddled 14-hour days arrived from Montreal in oversized canoes packed with kettles, axes, calico cloth, wool blankets, glass beads and more for traders to take inland, says Neil. They exchanged their goods for Native Americans’ maple sugar, wild rice and valuable furs that included mink, marten, otter and the beaver pelts prized to make felt hats for Europe’s elite class. Beyond the forts, wilderness beckons. Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota together comprise an internationally renowned paddling destination of more than 2 million acres. It’s a place to digitally detox, escape the motorized world, travel an ancient water “highway” and camp among more than 3,000 lakes and rivers with guaranteed solitude. Anyone not ready for that level of adventure can ease into camping at Dawson Trail Campground on the Quetico side of

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FORT WILLIAM HISTORICAL PARK Thunder Bay, Ontario

IF YOU GO Voyageurs National Park ▶ International Falls, Minn.; 218-283-6600; www.nps.gov/voya Quetico Provincial Park ▶ Atikokan, Ontario; 807-597-2735; ontarioparks.com/park/quetico Fort William Historical Park ▶ Thunder Bay, Ontario; 807-473-2344; fwhp.ca Grand Portage National Monument ▶ Grand Portage, Minn.; 218-475-0123; www.nps.gov/grpo Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness ▶ 218-626-4300; recreation.gov

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GRAND PORTAGE NATIONAL MONUMENT Grand Portage, Minn.

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BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS Minnesota

the border, with a few cabins and yurts and the only drive-in campsites in the international wilderness area. Travelers who continue west on Canada’s Highway 11 and cross back into the U.S. at the Fort Frances-International Falls border can also loop east to the 218,000-acre Voyageurs National Park near International Falls, Minn., that’s dominated by water and islands. Motorized boats, houseboats and a tour boat take visitors to Voyageurs’ historic places and remote campsites, but the best way to experience its history is still by canoe with a park ranger or on your own, dipping a paddle into tannin-darkened waters and quietly drifting past eagles’ nests, loons, boreal forest and islands formed by some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet. “It’s a prime (wilderness) experience,” says Bill Clayton, who has explored and worked in the Boundary Waters for years and is now the park archaeologist at Grand Portage. People don’t always realize the ancient route they’re on, he adds, “but we’re still paddling it thousands of years later.” PHOTOS 1, 3, 4: LISA MEYERS MCCLINTICK; PHOTO 2: THINKSTOCK; PHOTO 5: TOM KAFFINE


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Charlevoix South Pier Lighthouse at Lake Michigan Beach MIKE BARTON PHOTOGRAPHY


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WHISTLING STRAITS One of the great championship courses in the United States, The Straits at Whistling Straits hosted the 2004, 2010 and 2015 PGA Championships and will host the 2020 Ryder Cup. Open, rugged and windswept terrain defines the Irish-influenced Straits, which features massive sand dune bunkers sculpted along 2 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Another course, the Irish, lies just inland, interspersed with four streams, grassland and dunes. Both are must-play, crafted by designer Pete Dye — a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame — and ranked among the best in the United States. ▶ N8501 Lakeshore Rd., Sheboygan; 855-444-2838; americanclubresort.com/golf/ whistling-straits

S WISCONSIN

GOLF COUNTRY

Great courses just putts apart

HEBOYGAN COUNTY IS EARNING a reputation as a golf haven with world championship courses, a number of competitive, scenic courses and several shorter courses that are fun for the family. With lodging, dining and places to putt just an easy five- to 15-minute drive apart, you can play a round of golf at almost a dozen locations. It’s also a great way to see the gorgeous shores of Lake Michigan to the east and the rolling glacial terrain to the west — some of the most beautiful landscape Wisconsin has to offer.

BLACKWOLF RUN Two centuries ago, Chief Blackwolf and his Winnebago Indian tribe lived in the Sheboygan River Valley. Today, in that same river basin, you’ll find the River and the Meadow Valleys courses at Blackwolf Run. Both are regularly ranked among America’s 100 greatest public golf courses by Golf Digest. ▶ 1111 W. Riverside Dr., Kohler; 855-444-2838; americanclub resort.com/golf/blackwolf-run THE BULL AT PINEHURST FARMS The only Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course in Wisconsin, The Bull is ranked 70th on the Golf Digest greatest public courses list for 2015-2016. It has hosted several major state tournaments over the years, including the Wisconsin State Open in 2014. ▶ 1 Long Dr., Sheboygan Falls; 920-467-1500; golfthebull.com

Hole 7, Shipwreck, on The Straits at Whistling Straits KOHLER

HISTORIC QUIT QUI OC CLUB Whether you’re a casual player, a scratch player or just looking for a social outing, Quit Qui Oc Golf Club is your home away from home. July is Family Golf Month and range time specials include a large basket of range balls, a beer and a soda for about $12. Family time on the course for one adult and one “junior” runs $19 for nine holes. ▶ 500 Quit Qui Oc Lane, Elkhart Lake; 920-876-2833; quitquioc. com


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A MUST STOP Spend an afternoon exploring the Split Rock Lighthouse, one of the state’s bestknown landmarks, built in 1910. Hike up the hills to it, walk around the base to enjoy the scenic views of the lake and climb up the lighthouse itself to see the beacon lighting. Open May 15 through Oct. 15. ▶ 3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd., Two Harbors; 218-2266372; sites.mnhs. org/historic-sites/ split-rock-lighthouse

THINKSTOCK

Minnesota’s North Shore is an outdoor recreation mecca, stretching out over Lake Superior to where the state meets Canada. From Duluth to Thunder Bay in Ontario, the region is home to dramatic natural features, such as the highest waterfall in the state, and offers access to more than a thousand lakes and streams. There are countless hiking trails — short and easy for day hikes, and more rugged, long-distance paths for backpacking adventures. The crown of the collection is the Superior Hiking Trail, a 310-mile wilderness footpath that largely follows a ridgeline overlooking Lake Superior. ▶ 218-834-2700; shta.org Don’t miss the waterfalls at Gooseberry Falls State Park, where travelers can see upper, lower and middle falls along the Gooseberry River with easy access and no hiking necessary. The park also contains several ancient lava flows and the 86-mile paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail. Visit Grand Portage State Park for views of High Falls — the highest in the state with a 120-foot drop — and Partridge Falls, both located on the Pigeon River. The park comes to life with wildflowers in spring and early summer and contains four miles of hiking trails. ▶ 3206 U.S. 61, Two Harbors; 218-595-7100;

MINNESOTA WATER COUNTRY There’s much to see and do in the land of 10,000 lakes

dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/gooseberry_falls; dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/grand _portage Only five minutes up Highway 61 (yes, the one made famous in lyrics by Minnesotaborn Bob Dylan) from Gooseberry Falls is Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. A biking and hiking trail connects the two parks. ▶ 3755 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd., Two

Harbors; 218-595-7625; dnr.state.mn.us/ state_parks/split_rock_lighthouse Canoe or kayak the popular Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The 1,200 miles of water trails in the northern third of the Superior National Forest include campsites — both backcountry and feebased — for extended exploration. Permits are required for entry-point access.

▶ www.fs.usda.gov/detail/superior/aboutforest/offices; dnr.state.mn.us/watertrails/ bwca AND FOR THOSE WHO’D RATHER RIDE … Buy a ticket on the Lakefront line of the North Shore Scenic Railroad. During summer season, several trains a day depart the historic Duluth Union Depot for fully narrated tours through downtown Duluth and Canal Park, along the shore of Lake Superior and deep into the north woods. ▶ 506 W. Michigan St., Duluth; 218-7221273; northshorescenicrailroad.org FOR GEMSTONE HUNTERS AND MYSTERY SEEKERS Agate hunting is a favorite family pastime and quartz Lake Superior agates — the Minnesota state gemstone — are prized and found all along the North Shore. While the best ones are found in inland gravel pits, avid hunters still can find them on Paradise Beach, 14 miles northeast of Grand Marais, one of the best spots. When you’re done, head up to Judge C.R. Magney State Park, best known for Devil’s Kettle, a split waterfall with an unknown destination. ▶ mnbeaches.org/beaches/lksuperior; dnr. state. mn.us/state_parks/judge_cr_magney


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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION By Cate Huguelet

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Uncle John’s Cider Mill UNCLE JOHN’S CIDER MILL

MICHIGAN CIDER Crafty orchards seed an apple renaissance

A spacious tasting room at Vander Mill, far left, is outfitted in reclaimed wood and features cider flights, sometimes including the cinnamon and pecan-infused Totally Roasted, and specialty offerings like Chapman’s Blend, made from American heritage apples. Blake’s Hard Cider Co., at Blake Orchards in Armada, Mich., left, is critical of artificial add-ins and large-scale producers.

Blake’s Hard Cider Co.

Vander Mill

CATE HUGUELET

BLAKE’S HARD CIDER CO.

HEN IT COMES TO American craft cider, sometimes it seems like New England and the Pacific Northwest get all the attention. But as Mike Beck — president of the United States Association of Cider Makers and treasurer of the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association, not to mention cider maker at Uncle John’s Cider Mill in St. Johns, Mich., — points out, the Great Lakes region is actually home to the nation’s most diverse apple crop. So it was only a matter of time before the region entered a cider renaissance. Today, a growing pack of cider makers throughout the nation’s heartland are harnessing the MICHIGAN aforementioned crop CIDER diversity to create ciders that, according HOUSES to Beck, “tend to be Blake’s Hard more complex and Cider Co. dynamic than other ▶ 17985 regions.” Armada Center Though MidwestRd., Armada; ern cider may be 586-784-9463; entering a boom blakeshardcider. period, it’s worth com noting that cider Uncle John’s making isn’t a new Cider Mill pursuit, but rather Opens for the the renewal of an season in May old tradition. “A long ▶ 8614 N. U.S. time ago, it was the 127, St. Johns; drink of America,” 989-224-3686; says Beck. ujcidermill.com The Prohibition era Vander Mill led to the destruction ▶ 14921 Cleveland and decay of some St., Spring Lake; orchards. Following 616-842-4337; its repeal, cider never vandermill.com regained its onceintegral place on the national table. Its production became the realm of what Beck called “the backyard hobbyist.” Happily for Midwesterners, though, cider makers from rural Minnesota to urban Indiana have begun reconnecting to the region’s cider-making roots. Some, like Blake’s Hard Cider Co., of Armada, Mich., have set out with the ambitious mission of restoring the beverage to its former glory. No matter their respective aims, the Midwest’s craft cider makers have cultivated a spirit of support, with established figures like Beck and Paul Vander Heide of Vander Mill in Spring Lake, Mich., offering advice and mentoring to ambitious upstarts. In a period when cider’s popularity is just reviving, priority No. 1 is ensuring that the cider-curious receive a quality product. “I would rather help the ‘competition’ so that the consumer has a positive experience,” says Vander Heide. With the overall craft cider quality currently coming out of the Midwest, it looks like he has nothing to worry about.


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CLEVELAND

FLAVORS Tasting can take you from classic to avant-garde

By Wendy and Mike Pramik

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LEVELAND HAS TAKEN GREAT culinary strides in recent years, with celebrated chefs such as Michael Symon and Jonathon Sawyer, up-andcomers like Eddie Tancredi and Dante Boccuzzi and longtime restaurateurs like Zack Bruell creating a scene that ranges from trendy to old school. You’ll also find that Cleveland’s diverse ethnic history makes it an exceptional dining destination. Sure, pierogies, sausage and killer pastrami sandwiches are king, but you can also find delight in a rich bowl of pho, a French cassoulet or a dish of Iberico pork. Even the traditional fare gets a modern kick when pierogies are filled with beef cheek, or hot dogs are topped with the unexpected — from pimento mac-and-cheese to chunky peanut butter. Here are a few places to taste the best of Cleveland: and sit at his table inside the busy working kitchen. ▶ 2247 Professor Ave.; 216-274-1200; dante. danteboccuzzi.com

The wine vault at Adega, located inside the Metropolitan at the 9 hotel, features more than 200 labels. Chef Tancredi works wonders with Mediterraneaninfluenced dishes, including seafood and house-made pastas. The Iberico pork is imported from Spain, where the pigs are fed a primarily acorn-based diet. ▶ 2017 E. 9th St.; 216-3316289; metropolitan cleveland.com/eat-drink/ adega.aspx Michelin-starred chef Boccuzzi of Dante converts seasonal ingredients into tasty morsels, such as truffled tuna tartare. Order from a chef-prepared personalized tasting menu

Summertime in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood means Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s brew pub, the first and largest microbrewery in Ohio. ▶ 2516 Market Ave.; 216-771-4404; greatlakesbrewing.com

The Greenhouse Tavern, located on funky, popular East Fourth Street, is the first certified green restaurant in Ohio and the flagship eatery of chef and Cleveland native Sawyer, a regional James Beard award winner

in 2015. The barrel-aged Tabasco fried chicken is marinated in buttermilk and seasonings and fried twice. ▶ 2038 E. 4th St.; 216-4430511; thegreenhousetavern. com Besides great lakefront views, the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood boasts outlandish dining destinations such as Happy Dog, a tavern where gourmet hot dogs take center stage with more than 50 toppings. ▶ 5801 Detroit Ave.; 216-651-9474; happydogcleveland.com L’Albatros, a neo-French brasserie near Case Western Reserve University, is one of eight eateries owned by Bruell. The cassoulet features duck confit, lamb, sausages and pork belly, along with white beans. ▶ 11401 Bellflower Rd.; 216-791-7880; albatrosbrasserie.com Lola, another East Fourth Street hot spot, is within easy walking distance of

WENDY PRAMIK

L’Albatros offers a deconstructed cassoulet that features duck confit, lamb, two types of sausages and pork belly, with white beans and roasted vegetables. ▶ Lola: 2058 E. 4th St.; 216621-5652; lolabistro.com ▶ B Spot Burgers: 100 Public Square; 216-297-4838; bspotburgers.com

Quicken Loans Arena, Progressive Field, Tower City Center and Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. Celebrity chef Symon, a Clevelander, turns out beef cheeks braised in red wine, presented in a traditional pierogi dough and served with wild mushrooms and horseradish créme frâiche. At his B Spot Burgers, try the Fat Doug, a beef patty with pastrami and Swiss cheese.

Manh Nguyen introduced his native Vietnamese ricenoodle soup to Cleveland in 2002, opening Superior Pho, now widely acclaimed as the best pho in town. ▶ 3000 Superior Ave. E.; 216-781-7462; superiorpho. com At Pierogi Palace in the West Side Market, pierogies are made the way owner David Blaha’s great-grandma, Josephine, did when she settled here in 1890. There are also dozens of variations she likely never imagined, such

as barbecue bean, bourbon mushroom and blueberry rum cheesecake. ▶ 1 979 W. 25th St., Stand E-5; 216-861-9800; piepal. com Embrace Cleveland’s rich, ethnic diversity at Prosperity Social Club, where a hearty “Polish breakfast” is served daily consisting of pierogies, kielbasai, herbed scrambled eggs, bacon and smoked cheddar. The place is a former 1930s nightclub that’s now a throwback neighborhood hangout. ▶ 1109 Starkweather Ave.; 216-937-1938; prosperity socialclub.com ADEGA AND THE GREENHOUSE TAVERN: WENDY PRAMIK; B SPOT BURGERS: PAUL SOBOTA


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PENNSYLVANIA

LAKE FUN The port city of Erie is in the mix

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RIE, IN NORTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA, is the state’s only port on the Great Lakes. The small city had a big role as a naval base during the War of 1812 and then became a shipping and industrial port. Many of the area’s attractions reflect this history, including the Erie Maritime Museum and Presque Isle State Park. Erie also has plenty to offer in the way of entertainment and culture, including amusement parks and a minor league baseball team. Here are a few must-visit sites to check out:

AMUSEMENT PARKS Waldameer Park, located on the mainland near the Presque Isle entrance since 1900, features numerous roller coasters, thrill rides and a water park. Parking and admission are free, although guests have to pay to get on the rides and into the water park. Indoor water park Splash Lagoon contains pools, slides and water features for guests of all ages; it also includes an arcade, ropes course, laser-tag arena and craft center. ▶ Waldameer WaterWorld: 220 Peninsula Dr.; 814-838-3591; waldameer.com ▶ Splash Lagoon: 8091 Peach St.; 814-217-1111; splashlagoon.com

SPLASH LAGOON

PLAY BALL! Catch the Eastern League’s Class AA Erie SeaWolves at Jerry Uht Park and watch potential Detroit Tigers in action. Take your concessions to one of two picnic areas known as the Gardens, or book a private box in the Bud Light Beer Garden. The park’s first-base upper deck is among ESPN’s 10-best minor league seats. And a night at the ballpark — featuring fireworks or giveaways as well as ticket prices as low as $9 per person — is affordable family fun. ▶ 110 E. 10th St.; 814-456-1300; seawolves.com

HISTORY The Erie Maritime Museum features exhibits on the history of Lake Erie from the War of 1812 to the present. One of the biggest draws is the museum’s flagship, the U.S. Brig Niagara, a replica of Oliver Hazard Perry’s warship, which played a major role in the British defeat at the Battle of Lake Erie in 1812. Although the ship’s home port is the museum, it sails around Lake Erie as a traveling exhibit with a crew of 40. ▶ 150 E. Front St.; 814-452-2744; eriemaritimemuseum.org

TAKE A CRUISE Dress, talk, sing and dance like Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean aboard a Scallywags Pirate Adventures vessel. Lunch, dinner and happy hour cruises are available as well. ▶ 2 State St.; 814-453-2627; scallywagspirateadventures.com

PRESQUE ISLE STATE PARK Presque Isle is a sandspit that juts into Lake Erie from the western part of downtown. It’s one of the most popular recreational areas in the city, with beaches, hiking trails and turtle-watching as well as boat and kayak rentals. The Presque Isle Lighthouse was built in 1873 at a height of 68 feet and is still in operation; the U.S. Coast Guard maintains the now-automated light. ▶ 301 Peninsula Dr.; 814-833-7424; presqueisle.org VISITERIE; R. FRANK PHOTOGRAPHY; VISITERIE; THINKSTOCK


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Ravine Vineyard Estate and Winery

ONTARIO WINEMAKERS Have a grape time in Canada

By Susan B. Barnes

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UST ACROSS THE U.S. border about 15 miles north of Niagara Falls, winemakers in one region of Ontario find themselves in a fortunate geographical spot: close to the same latitude as Burgundy, France, and near Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Huron. The region’s varying daily temperatures during the growing season and the Great Lakes’ cold temperatures that cool vines in the hot summer months result in wines that are aromatic, lighter in body and higher in

acidity — and that suits the winemakers just fine. Though the region, sometimes referred to as the Niagara Peninsula, produces all types of wines, perhaps the most unique to Ontario is ice wine. The province produces up to 90 percent of the country’s ice wine, which it started making commercially in 1984. Ice wine, a sweet dessert wine, is intensely flavored, boasting rich aromas and flavors of ripe tropical fruits (such as lychee, papaya and pineapple), and quickly became popular with wine enthusiasts. By the early 1990s, Canada made its mark

on the international scene. Talk about fruits of labor: To make ice wine, grapes must be left on the vine to freeze naturally at a sustained temperature of 17 degrees (this usually happens between December and February). The grapes are then harvested when the air temperature dips to between 10 and 14 degrees. The process is highly regulated by the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA), the province’s official wine authority by law, to ensure that ice wines are produced correctly. All ice wines have to be certified by the VQA.

WHERE TO GO Inniskillin Niagara Head to the Icewine Tasting Bar and compare flavors in flights of $15 to $20 each. ▶ 1499 Line #3 at the Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake; 888-466-4754; inniskillin.com

PHOTOS BY BLAIR HARBER

INNISKILLIN NIAGARA

The most common grape varietals used in ice wine include vidal blanc, riesling and cabernet franc. Approximately 60 wineries in Ontario produce ice wine.

Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery Check out the sixth annual International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (cool chardonnay.org), happening July 22-24. ▶ 1366 York Rd., St. Davids; 905-262-8463; ravinevineyard.com


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TORONTO

Me & Mine

FRESH Farm-to-table dining is alive and well

By Courtney Sunday

Globe Bistro

Cafe Belong

Union

T

HE FARM! TO!T ABLE ETHOS IS so strong among Toronto chefs that whether you're eating a burger or sitting down to a high-end meal, you can be certain that most of what you eat was grown close to home. Toronto is near a number of incredible fruit and vegetable growers, dairy and animal farmers and artisan cheese makers. An hour’s drive from the city in virtually any direction will lead you to farms; the circle between grower, producer and chef is a tight one in Toronto. Menus change often with seasons and availability. For rustic and fresh Italian fare, try Local Kitchen & Wine Bar, with chalkboard specials. If you don’t like to waste anything, have a seat at Beast, which has a strong reputation for creating a flavor-packed menu with a nose-to-tail approach. Nose-to-tail or farm-to-table, let’s get real: this is all about fork-to-mouth.

ME & MINE Chef-owners Joel MacMillan and Melissa da Silva bring twists to standard Canadian favorites and deconstructed dishes that show a flair for the funky. Braised goat is not unusual, nor is beet-infused butter. The meat pies are perfection, a side of pork belly divine. ▶ 1144 College St.; 416-535-5858; meand mine.ca

FARMHOUSE TAVERN Manager Darcy MacDonell grew up in rural Ontario and has brought a little bit of country into the outskirts of the city. Meals are delightful for carnivores, including steaks with foie gras butter, ploughman’s platters with duck confit and burgers that are dripping with cheese. ▶ 1627 Dupont St.; 416-561-9114; facebook. com/farmhousetavern/

GLOBE BISTRO “Think Global. Eat Local!” This place takes its motto seriously, sourcing ingredients locally then preparing them with flair. Although the Globe no longer has locations all around Toronto, this spot has stuck around. Menus change frequently, but you might find wild salmon with crab-sweet pea risotto, heirloom beet salad, butter-poached ribeye with house-smoked ketchup, or sweetbreads with ricotta gnocchi and bacon. ▶ 124 Danforth Ave.; 416-466-2000; globebistro.com

BEAST Chef Scott Vivian once cooked under Jamie Kennedy, the chef most often associated with farm-to-table cuisine in Toronto. Vivian's restaurant, Beast, celebrates local farmers and many parts of many animals are utilized to add pizzaz to dishes. Try a take on a Canadian poutine, with fried gnocchi standing in for the French fries, beef cheek chili replacing plain gravy and cheese curds staying the same. ▶ 96 Tecumseth St.; 647-352-6000; thebeastrestaurant.com

MARBEN In bustling downtown, Marben is one of Toronto’s original farm-to-table restaurants. Daily baked bread comes with smoked butter and beet hummus. Patatas bravas are drenched in sauce. Delicate gnocchi are topped with a ragu of in-season veggies. Locally farmed trout gets the Spanish treatment with stewed chickpeas and clams. ▶ 488 Wellington St., W.; 416-979-1990; marbenrestaurant.com CAFE BELONG You won’t need to be told that the succulent ingredients served up are picked fresh. From gnocchi with brown-buttered arugula in the winter to delicate slices of tomatoes making up a fresh caprese salad in the summer, there is even a communal meal option. ▶ 550 Bayview Ave.; 416-901-8234; cafebelong.ca WOODLOT In the heart of Little Italy, filling dishes are not overloaded with unnecessary ingredients. Bread is worth the visit alone, with seven varieties of sourdough, organic, wood-fired and warm. Foods are light and inspiring, such as the carrot-and-ginger stuffed sourdough agnolotti. But you can also get duck fat potatoes complementing the roasted fillet of rainbow trout. ▶ 293 Palmerston Ave.; 647-342-6307; woodlottoronto.com UNION This is the attention to detail you expect from a French restaurant, with surprises like a delicious red wine float that puts root beer in its place. Ribs and steaks show on every menu. Don’t leave without slathering the house-made mayonnaise on something (we recommend the French fries). Union is a champion of farm fresh food and chef Teo Paul can be spotted daily at farmers markets in and around Toronto. ▶ 72 Ossington Ave.; 416-850-0093; union72.ca LOCAL KITCHEN & WINE BAR Childhood friends Fabio Bondi and Michael Sangregorio teamed up to open this tiny and unpretentious restaurant you might find in Florence. The small menu of locally sourced ingredients features cheeses and meats and three or four pastas each day. ▶ 1710 Queen St., W.; 416-534-6700; localkitchen.ca RUBY WATCHCO. Chef Lynn Crawford brings star power to this restaurant on Toronto’s east side. A Food Network star who also ran the kitchens at Four Seasons Hotels in Toronto and New York, Crawford and her team set a different four-course dinner each night built around fresh, local ingredients. One night it might be Ontario lamb, while fresh-caught trout is served the next. ▶ 730 Queen St., E.; 416-465-0100; ruby watchco.ca COURTESY OF THE RESTAURANTS


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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION MUSEUMS The Royal Ontario Museum currently features the must-see Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art. Coming from the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, the exhibit explores the 5,000-year-old world of tattooing. Open through Sept. 5, it’s a visual history of body art and markings inked by some of the most respected tattoo artists in the contemporary world. ▶ 100 Queen’s Park; 416-586-8000; rom.on.ca The Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe Museum’s All About Shoes: Footwear through the Ages is by far my favorite part of this gem of a museum. The semi-permanent exhibit explains 4,500 years of shoe history, with amazing items from ancient times to the present day, everything from tiny Chinese slippers to the first flip-flop. Worth walking a mile in your shoes to see. ▶ 327 Bloor St. W.; 416-979-7799; batashoemuseum.ca

PHOTOS BY ELLEN CREAGER/DETROIT FREE PRESS

TORONTO

IN SEASON

Find flair and fun at a discount in Canada's largest city By Ellen Creager

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ORONTO, AN EVOLVING CITY of 2.8 million people, just keeps getting more interesting. More to do. More to see. More sophisticated. And with the U.S. dollar continuing strong once more against the loonie ($1 U.S. buys $1.28 Canadian in mid-April), Americans can enjoy a favorable exchange rate on their Toronto vacation. Like New York, Toronto has pricey hotels, restaurants and attractions. But there are plenty of less expensive things to see and do. Here's a snapshot. For more information, visit seetorontonow.com.

CN Tower

On the northeast edge of the city, check out the Aga Khan Museum. This serene venue showcases a fine collection of Islamic art and artifacts. The Marvellous Creatures: Animals in Islamic Art exhibit from May 7-Sept. 11 promises to be great fun for families, introducing real and imaginary animals that roam the pages of countless legends, tales and fables. ▶ 77 Wynford Dr.; 416-646-4677; agakhanmuseum.org AT THE THEATER Many tourists can’t think of visiting Toronto without seeing a show. The Tony Awardwinning hit Matilda the Musical runs July 5 through Sept. 4. Check the Toronto Theatre website for ticket information on all shows. You can find seats at prices that won’t break your bank. ▶ toronto-theatre.com WALKING AROUND The construction that plagued downtown Toronto for the past several years is finally finished. It’s now a pleasure to walk on Front Street, strolling from Old Town’s fascinating Lawrence Market, selling food and crafts, to the Hockey Hall of Fame and all the way to the CN Tower. It’s a great way to wrap up a weekend. ▶ Lawrence Market: 92-95 Front St. E.; 416-392-7120; stlawrencemarket.com ▶ Hall of Fame: Brookfield Place, 30 Yonge St.; 416-360-7765; hhof.com ▶ CN Tower: 301 Front St.W.; 416-868-6937; cntower.ca


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GOESCAPE GREAT LAKES