15+ Museums, Nature Centers, and Other Destinations to Visit in Chicagoland on a Teeth-Chattering Winter Day

Chicagoland is currently playing the lead actor in a bomb of a play called "Polar Vortex." While you may not be able to take a long hike or go camping (unless you like risking frostbite after spending 30 minutes outdoors), there are many natured-oriented places, museums, and even an auto museum you can visit to … Continue reading 15+ Museums, Nature Centers, and Other Destinations to Visit in Chicagoland on a Teeth-Chattering Winter Day

14 Things to Do Outdoors in Chicagoland Before Summer Ends

August is here, and summer is in its third and final act. The “actors” are still on stage: the leaves are green, the flowers are in bloom, the beaches are packed, the kids are still out of school, the sidewalk cafes are jammed with summer revelers, and the sun doesn’t set till around 8 p.m. … Continue reading 14 Things to Do Outdoors in Chicagoland Before Summer Ends

Volo Bog: An Ice Age Remnant and the Only Quaking Bog in Illinois

About 12,000 years ago, the last of the towering glaciers that covered parts of what is now Chicagoland began melting. As one of the massive glaciers melted, a water-filled depression was left in its wake. The depression eventually developed into a deep 50-acre lake that had steep banks and poor drainage. About 6,000 years ago, … Continue reading Volo Bog: An Ice Age Remnant and the Only Quaking Bog in Illinois

First-Time Snowshoer Tells All: 10 Tips for Success and My Son’s Thank You

My snow mantra worked—maybe too well! Within the last week or so, snow-starved Chicagoland became a winter wonderland. Shouts of joy and a blizzard of curse words came from those who either embraced or were enraged by the nearly 12 inches of snow that’s fallen in the last week. Last week, my wife, 7-year-old son, … Continue reading First-Time Snowshoer Tells All: 10 Tips for Success and My Son’s Thank You

Orland Grassland: A Respite From Malls, Motorways, and Modernity

Where: 167th Street & South LaGrange Road--About 35 miles southwest of Chicago city-center Quick Summary: A large restored grassland complex with prairie, oak savannas, shrublands, ponds, wetlands, and woodlands. Perfect for hiking and birdwatching. THIS DOESN'T LOOK PROMISING, I thought to myself, as I drove south on LaGrange Road toward Orland Grassland. LaGrange Road would be better … Continue reading Orland Grassland: A Respite From Malls, Motorways, and Modernity

4 National Park Service Destinations Within 0 to 220 Miles of Chicago

Have you ever visited a national park, monument, or other National Park Service property? If not, the Labor Day weekend is a great time to start. According to the NPS, “the National Park System covers more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 417 sites with at least 19 different designations. These include 129 … Continue reading 4 National Park Service Destinations Within 0 to 220 Miles of Chicago

Kohler-Andrae State Park: Camping, Surf and Sand, and Much More

“Will that cool sandbar still be at the lake like last year? Do you think the racoons will visit our campsite again? Can we make smores by the fire like last year?” These are just a few of the questions my seven-year-old peppered me with as we drove to Kohler-Andrae State Park, which is just … Continue reading Kohler-Andrae State Park: Camping, Surf and Sand, and Much More

River Trail Nature Center: Birdwatching, Hiking, and Much More

Where: 3120 Milwaukee Avenue, Northbrook, IL 60062, 847/824-8360, Web Visited: June 23, 2017 and April 18, 2017 Quick Review: A nature center that features: Beautiful views of the meandering Des Plaines River, great birdwatching, and three easy-to-hike trails through forest and wetlands. Many birds. Yes, I know I just mentioned them, but they’re worth another mention. … Continue reading River Trail Nature Center: Birdwatching, Hiking, and Much More

Celebrate National Park Week by Visiting a National Park—For Free!

The National Park Service (NPS) has partnered with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, to present National Park Week (NPW) from April 15 to 23, 2017. National Park Week is actually 9 days, but why quibble if we can enjoy two more days of celebrating what many call “America’s Greatest … Continue reading Celebrate National Park Week by Visiting a National Park—For Free!

Mississippi Palisades State Park—Great Views, Muddy Shoes, and Eagles in Twos

Where: Northwest Illinois—16327A IL Route 84, Savanna, IL 61074, 815/273-2731, http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r1/palisade.htm Distance From City-Center Chicago: 150 miles Travel Time: About 3 hours, 15 minutes depending on how leaden your foot is Visited: February 11, 2017 Quick Review: The region where the park is located in what is called the Driftless Area, which was untouched by … Continue reading Mississippi Palisades State Park—Great Views, Muddy Shoes, and Eagles in Twos