Chicago Hits Peak Festival Season with xciting New Summer Programming 

With summer fast approaching, peak festival season in Chicago will soon be upon us.  See below for a list of some of the most exciting programs returning in 2022 (many of them free) along with a few new surprises!

June 2022

Grant Park Orchestra and Chrous. Photo credit Norman Timonera.

  • Chicago Gospel Music Experience (June 4, 2022): This outdoor festival at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, celebrating the Chicago-born genre, brings together traditional choirs, contemporary urban gospel artists, and more. FREE
  • Chicago Blues Festival (June 9-12, 2022): With a diverse lineup in Millennium Park celebrating the blues’ past, present and future, the Chicago Blues Festival, the largest free blues festival in the world, shares the great Chicago-born music tradition while shining a spotlight on the genre’s contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock, hip hop and more. FREE

Andersonville Midsommarfest (June 10-12, 2022): For more than 50 years, this summer festival has celebrated Andersonville’s Swedish heritage, LGBTQ+ pride, and vibrant local business community. For three nights and two days, this vibrant and diverse community will bring together over 75,000 people to celebrate a proud Swedish summer tradition with eclectic music, great vendors, food and free kids’ activities. Suggested donation of $10, as well as proceeds from beer sales, benefit the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, along with several local non-profit organizations.

Grant Park Music Festival (June 15 – August 20, 2022): For more than 80 years, the Grant Park Music Festival has been Chicago’s summer musical sensation, demonstrating that classical music, performed by a world-class orchestra and chorus, can have a transformative impact on the city. This year will offer a thrilling lineup of music at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion with a mix of contemporary compositions and classical favorites such as Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Plus there’s plenty of family fun with the Independence Day SaluteLights on Broadway, and Cirque Goes to Hollywood featuring live aerialists soaring above the stage. FREE

The Summer Smash Festival (June 17-19, 2022): SPKRBX presents The Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash Festival, the premier Hip-Hop music festival in the Midwest. For three days, on three stages, some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop will perform, including Post Malone and Wiz Khalifa. Tickets range from a 3-Day $275 General Admission Pass, to a $449 VIP Pass.

Chicago Pride Fest(June 17-19, 2022): Celebrate Pride in Northalsted, the country’s oldest official gay neighborhood at this lively fest, featuring live music, dance queens, local food, and more. The following weekend the Chicago Pride Parade (June 26, 2022), one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world, marches through the neighborhood. Suggested donation of $15 for Chicago Pride Fest.

Millennium Park Summer Music Series (June 20 – August 18, 2022, Mondays & Thursdays): With the backing of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), this outdoor program features a wide variety of music from established and emerging artists at the iconic Jay Pritzker Pavilion. FREE

Pride in the Park (June 25-26,2022): An annual outdoor music festival held downtown in Chicago’s Grant Park at the end of June features LGBTQ+ performers, artists, vendors and more. 2-Day General Admission Passes to Pride in the Park start at $100.

Sail Grand Prix

Chicago has been chosen to host the United States Sail Grand Prix (SailGP) at Navy Pier (June 18-19, 2022). If you are not familiar, SailGP is one of the fastest emerging properties in world sports featuring exciting, up-close action as teams race identical F50 catamarans – a highly-technical, hydro foiling race boat that boasts highway speeds – in an annual global championship held in some of the most iconic cities around the world. Ten national teams will compete, comprising the best athletes in the sport representing the United States, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Spain, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, plus two new franchises from Canada and Switzerland. In June, the F50s will race on Lake Michigan directly in front of the Chicago skyline, marking the first time the championship has ever competed on fresh water! Tickets for single-day waterfront viewing access begin at around $40.

Ravenswood On Tap (June 18-19, 2022): Sip your way through Ravenswood, one of Chicago’s top craft beer neighborhoods and home to many small craft producers. Malt Row is one of the most prolific craft brewing communities in the country – and it’s right in Ravenswood! Enjoy brews from Malt Row, KOVAL Distillery cocktails, plus ax throwing, live music and some of Chicago’s favorite restaurants and food trucks.  Suggested donations and proceeds from this event benefit the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, Ravenswood Community Council, and several other community organizations.

July 2022

  • Chicago SummerDance (July 6–September 17, 2022, select dates): The beloved  series returns this summer at parks throughout the city this summer. Dancers of all ages and skill levels are invited to take part in introductory dance lessons by professional instructors followed by live music and dancing. FREE
  • Taste of Chicago (July 8-10, 2022): A bite-sized version of the classic lakefront extravaganza will take place over three days in July — showcasing an estimated 30–40 eateries and food trucks each day, and three mainstage evening concerts.  Prior to the main event, a series of Taste of Chicago pop-ups will return this year with food and music events in three Chicago neighborhoods in June. FREE admission; tickets for food and beverages are sold in strips of 14 for $10.
  • Southport Art & Music Fest (July 9-10, 2022): Chicago’s iconic Southport Corridor blooms to life when Southport Art Fest takes over Waveland and Southport in July. Festival fans will visit the beautiful tree-lined streets of the picturesque neighborhood. Just steps away from the friendly margins of Wrigley Field, the two-day festival will showcase some of the city’s best and most diverse artists. FREE admission; all donations and proceeds benefit the Southport Neighbors Association.
  • Millennium Park Summer Film Series (July 12–August 30, 2022, Tuesdays): Guests may take a seat at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or lounge on the Great Lawn as crowd-pleasing movies are presented on the state-of- the-art, 40-foot LED screen. FREE
  • Pitchfork Music Festival (July 15-17, 2022): Since 2006, the Pitchfork Music Festival has consistently proven to be one of the most welcoming, comfortable, reasonably priced, and rewarding weekends of music around. Hosting 60,000 attendees of all ages from all 50 states and dozens of countries, Pitchfork Music Festival showcases the best up-and-coming music from around the world, as well as special performances from touring stalwarts and legends alike. Featuring diverse vendors, as well as specialty record, poster, and craft fairs, the festival works to support local businesses while promoting the Chicago arts and food communities as a whole. Single day General Admission tickets start at $99 while the 3-Day, General Admission pass is $200.

  • Wicker Park Fest (July 22-24, 2022): As one of Chicago’s most anticipated summer festivals, and dubbed “Chicago’s Best Street Festival of the Summer ” by the Chicago Tribune, Wicker Park Fest is one of Chicago’s top-drawing festivals, attracting visitors from across Chicagoland and the country with its fantastic music line-up. Building on the area’s unique character, the weekend celebrates the neighborhood with eclectic music, great local food, arts and crafts, and retail vendors. Suggested donation of $10 and all proceeds benefit the local Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce.
  • Pizza City Fest (July 23-24, 2022): Steve Dolinsky – a 13-time James Beard Award-winning food reporter, currently “The Food Guy” at NBC 5 –  is creating a pizza festival unlike anything that’s ever been done, over two days in the West Loop. Pizza City Fest: Chicago brings together 39 of the region’s best pizza makers (and one out-of-town guest) for two days of pizza making and appreciation, all in one location – Plumbers Union Hall in the West Loop. Thanks to 10 PizzaMaster ovens on-site, guests will be able to see each pizza maker create, bake and serve up their remarkable pies in the massive parking lot at the Hall. There will also be live music, pizza-themed art, merchandise and a few special treats. Attendees will also be able to take in a series of highly curated seminars and panel discussions with some of the country’s greatest pizza makers in attendance. General Admission 1-Day tickets start at $59 and 2-Day tickets at $89.

Sundays on State (July 24–September 4, 2022, select Sundays): After its enormously successful debut in 2021, Sundays on State, presented by the Chicago Loop Alliance, will return for Summer 2022, with portions of Chicago’s most iconic street, State Street, closing to vehicular traffic again for select Sundays this summer. Join neighbors from every Chicago community and beyond for this free, interactive block party, while safely enjoying art, culture, active recreation, food, drinks, shopping, and local attractions in the heart of everyone’s neighborhood. FREE

August 2022

  • Windy City Smokeout (August 4-7, 2022): It’s like a weekend-long tailgate at this popular country music festival, known for drawing in the industry’s top names. The 2022 festival lineup includes some of the biggest names in the industry, including Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Sam Hunt, Willie Nelson, and more. Along with today’s hottest country acts, the lineup also includes some of the world’s best pitmasters. Barbecue pros from all over the country will be serving up ribs, brisket, smoked meats and more, highlighting styles from Kentucky, Nashville, Missouri, and Chicago. Local barbecue vendors include Bub City, Lillie’s Q, and Pearl’s Southern Comfort. Ticket prices range from $45 for a 1-Day Sunday General Admission ticket to $185 for a 4-Day pass.

  • Northalsted Market Days (August 6-7, 2022): The 40th Northalsted Market Days is a weekend long live music street festival celebrating community in Chicago’s landmark Northalsted/Lakeview district. The 1/2 mile long festival features all-day lineups of live music on 6 stages, 250+ unique vendors, arts, crafts, food and drink, DJ’s and dancing, sponsor booths, and more! Estimated attendance of 120,000 people from near and far, representing all colors of the rainbow! Suggested donation of $15, as well as proceeds from festival support local nonprofits, and fund community projects like the Chicago Pride Crosswalks.
  • Chicago Air and Water Show (August 20-21, 2022): The largest free show of its kind in the country, this waterfront show features stunning aerial displays above Lake Michigan. The show can be viewed along the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street, with North Avenue Beach as the focal point. FREE

For more information and a full  list of Chicago’s festivals and events, please visit: https://www.choosechicago.com/articles/festivals-special-events/chicago-festival-event-guide/ 

About Choose Chicago

Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. For more information, visit ChooseChicago.com. Follow @ChooseChicago on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. #CaptureChicagoExcitement

Road Trippers Now Have Many Options for Taking Their Four-Legged Friends Along

Bertram, TX in the beautiful Hill Country.

Whether we’re on vacation with family, friends, or by ourselves, it’s great to take our pets along. No matter what type of trip we’re embarking (excuse the pun) on, Fido can be a wonderful companion. After all, until we learn how to translate barks to words, we don’t have to deal with countless “how long until we get there?” Or squabbles in the back seat about such inane things as whose milk shake has the most ice cream in it.

Bonair Winery and Vineyards, Zillah, WA

If the love of traveling with pets describes you, you’re not alone. Pets are family members and it’s not just them missing us when we’re on the road. We miss them particularly after two years of working from home. Many of us, particularly Millennials, don’t want to leave our pets behind.

Harvest Hosts

According to a survey conducted by Harvest Hosts, a membership club for RVers offering unique overnight stays at over 6,000 locations throughout North America, 52% of all travelers say they base their travel plans with their pets in mind. For Millennials, the number rises to 56% who want to plan a trip including their pets.  

For some, it’s not just a consideration. It’s an imperative. More than one-third of travelers (37%) deemed pet-friendly accommodations a “must-have.” Millennials are most likely to bring their pets on vacation, with 39% saying pet-friendly accommodations are a “must-have.” Gen Zers are slightly less tied to their furry friends, with about one-third saying pet-friendly accommodations are “nice to have, but not necessary.” While Boomers are not traveling with pets as much, and 34% say pet-friendly accommodations are “not necessary.”

Taking Our Pets Along

Fortunately, you don’t have to leave Fido behind. About 75 percent of hotels now allow pets, according to a survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association.


For Harvest Hosts that number is even higher. Over 90% of our Hosts are pet friendly and they’ve now have a filter for “Pets” in their search function allowing trip planners to show only the Hosts that welcome our four legged friends. Harvest House offers eclectic overnight accommodations including more than 3,200 farms, wineries, breweries, distilleries, golf courses, churches, museums, and other scenic small businesses in addition to 2,900 Boondockers Welcome community host locations.

The company’s mission is to help millions of people live happier lives through road travel, while supporting wonderful small businesses and communities along the way. Their redesigned mobile app letts members view hosts’ information, photos, reviews and availability – quickly requesting stays and communicating with hosts through in-app messaging. To learn more, visit: www.harvesthosts.com or download the Harvest Hosts app on iOS here and Android here

TASTE AWARDS Announce All Award Winners and Honorees for 13th Anniversary Year

For over a decade, the TASTE AWARDS have been the premier awards celebrating the year’s best in Food, Fashion, Health, Travel, and Lifestyle programs in Film, Television, Online & Streaming Video, Podcasts, Radio and Photography.

2022 Nominee, Winners, Honorees and Hall of Fame Inductees will have their honors celebrated on the star-studded televised awards show broadcast in May and June on selected public television stations across the United States.

The TASTE AWARDS have included appearances by stars, celebrities, producers and executives from networks and platforms such as the Food Network, the Style Network, Bravo, the Cooking Channel, TLC, Discovery, Lifetime, E! Entertainment Television, PBS, Create TV, APT, NBC, ABC, the CW, HGTV, the Travel Channel, HD Net, Hulu, YouTube, Dreamworks, Esquire Network, FYI Network, The History Channel, Bio, iHeart Radio, Sony Pictures, HBO Max, Entertainment Studios’ Recipe.TV, NETA, Myx TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Tastemade, the Africa Channel, Roku, and more.

Now in its 13th year, the annual TASTE AWARDS television broadcast across the United States will be in May and June 2022, and you are requested to join. 

This star-studded television special will be broadcast exclusively on select public television stations nationwide. Celebrity award presenters for this broadcast include Tyler Florence, Joanne Weir, Darley Newman, Chef Jernard Wells, Michelle Harris, Kim Estes, Lorna Maseko, Nikki Dinki, Andrea Feczko, Danielle Nottingham, Kitchen Chat, Chef JJ Johnson, and more.

The 13th Annual TASTE AWARDS ceremony has been produced in a pre-recorded format for broadcast in May and June 2022 (check your local listings for May and June dates and times) and also viewable on the PBS Video app.

THE ANDREW ZIMMERN DISCOVERY AWARD honors the mission to discover new cultures, new flavors, or new talent. The inaugural winners of this new award were Andrew Zimmern and Tyler Florence. This year’s winner, based on decades of contributions to culinary, television, and film talent as well as a fierce and constant determination to find and spotlight new flavors, is celebrity chef and author Julia Child (The French Chef).

All of the following have been selected by the TASTE AWARDS Committee to be honored with Special Achievement Honoree Awards in the listed categories.

BREAKOUT FOODIES OF THE YEAR

Sweet Heat with Rick Martinez (Food52), Bake It Up a Notch with Erin McDowell (Food52), Pizza-Making Class on Goldbelly Live

BREAKOUT STORYTELLERS OF THE YEAR

86ED, The Food that Built America: “Soup of the Century” (History)

OUTSTANDING PASSION

G. Garvin Live!

STYLEMAKER AWARD

Lost Time

Arts of Fashion Show

SPOTLIGHT AWARD

Maria’s Portuguese Table

To Dine For with Kate Sullivan

ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE NEWS AWARD

Rich and Daily

OUTSTANDING NATURE OR SCIENCE PROGRAM, FILM, OR DOCUMENTARY AWARD

The Green Wave – Tahiti

BEST OF CANADA

One BIG Recipe

BEST OF AFRICA

Amah Knows Best

Item 13: An African Foods Podcast

BEST OF LATIN/SOUTH AMERICA

Sopitas de mi Ecuador

GENERAL CATEGORY TASTE AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEES & WINNERS

The Academy of Media Tastemakers has selected the following nominees and winners in each awards category.

Best Chef in a Series

AZ Cooks Live

Bake It Up a Notch with Erin McDowell (Food52)

Cooks Thyme with Chef Tobias Cooks

G. Garvin Live!

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted

Just Eats with Chef JJ

Kevin Belton’s Cookin’ Louisiana

Paris Bistro Cooking with Edward Delling-Williams

Simply Ming: Season 18 – WINNER

A Taste of Key West

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Television

Cook’s Country – WINNER

Eatup! New York

Fast Foodies

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted

Just Eats with Chef JJ

Kevin Belton’s Cookin’ Louisiana

New Soul Kitchen Remix

Paris Bistro Cooking with Edward Delling-Williams

Selena + Chef Season 2

Tastes Like Home Series Four and Five

Best Food Program – Online and Streaming

AZ Cooks Live

Bake It Up a Notch with Erin McDowell (Food52)

Bravo’s Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen

Chef Jason Bunin Cooking Show

Cutting the Curd

Feast.Network

Gear Heads — America’s Test Kitchen

Let’s Make Dessert — America’s Test Kitchen

Meat and Three

Sweet Heat with Rick Martinez (Food52)

The Butter Book

The Extra Mile

The Wild Harvest – WINNER

What’s Eating Dan? — America’s Test Kitchen, Dan Souza – WINNER

Best Food Travel Series

A Parisian Food Affair with Julie Neis

A Queen In The Kitchen-Estate Italiana

A Taste of Key West

Australia’s Food Bowl with Stefano de Pieri

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Television

French Country Cooking with Edward Delling-Williams

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted – WINNER

Lidia Celebrates America: A Salute to First Responders

Maria’s Portuguese Table , 8 part Series

Tastes Like Home Series Four And Five

The Extra Mile

To Dine For with Kate Sullivan

Weekends with Yankee

Best Reality Series

Backyard Bar Wars

Culture Kitchen – WINNER

Fast Foodies

G. Garvin Live!

Just Eats with Chef JJ

New Soul Kitchen Remix

Selena + Chef Season 2

Simply Ming: Season 18 – WINNER

The TODAY SHOW: Joy’s Superfood Friday

What’s Eating Dan? — America’s Test Kitchen, Dan Souza

The Event

Best Drink or Beverage Program

Back Bar

Backyard Bar Wars

Dads Drinking Bourbon

Feast.Network

Muddled Up!

Proof

The 3 Julias on 30A Television

The Grape Nation

The Speakeasy

Wine First – WINNER

Wine Soundtrack

Best Branded Program, Native Content, Video, or Advertisement: Presented by R&B Cellars

Clovia – Women’s Day

Get Away for a Day with Allyshia Renay!

Nadia Mejia’s (2016 Miss USA Runner-Up) AI Driven Interactive Food Film

Non So Dove, Ma Insieme

The Superiore of Prosecco in Venice – WINNER

Best Green or Organic Program, Series or Film

Building Tomorrow

French Country Cooking with Edward Delling-Williams

New Day New Chef : LIVE

Paris Bistro Cooking with Edward Delling-Williams

The Green Wave – Tahiti

The Soul of A Farmer – WINNER

Best New Series

Backyard Bar Wars

Counterjam

Culture Kitchen – WINNER

Fast Foodies

Let’s Make Dessert — America’s Test Kitchen

The Sandwich Universe

Best Single Topic Series: Presented by Gowan’s Cider

All in the Industry

Back Bar – WINNER

Cutting the Curd

Dads Drinking Bourbon

Extreme Cuisine – Sea Urchin

Fields

Let’s Make Dessert — America’s Test Kitchen

Pizza Quest

Sip Sip Hooray! wine podcast

The Event

The Sandwich Universe

The Speakeasy

The Wild Harvest – WINNER

Best Series Pilot

Backyard Bar Wars

Cooking in Mexican from A To Z

Dear Mama

Fast Foodies – WINNER

Fields

Muddled Up!

One BIG Recipe

Pizza Quest

The SloFunkPump Show

Best Home Chef in a Series

Eat, Drink, and Handle Your Business

Let’s Make Food From Food with Michelle Ullmann

Living By Design

Selena + Chef Season 2 – WINNER

The 3 Julias on 30A Television

The Trailer Park Cooking Show With Jolene Sugarbaker

Valcooks Kitchen

Best Food or Drink Podcast

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio

Counterjam

Item 13: An African Foods Podcast

The Black Kitchen Initiative by Heinz

The Sandwich Universe

The Speakeasy – WINNER

Best Travel Program

A Parisian Food Affair with Julie Neis

A Pilgrimage to Tibet

Dear Mama

Get Away for a Day with Allyshia Renay!

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted – WINNER

Great Getaways: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Passion Italy

SOS

Tastes Like Home

Travels with Darley

Best City or Regional Program

Amah Knows Best

Australia’s Food Bowl with Stefano de Pieri

Back At The Table

Eatup! New York

Get Away for a Day with Allyshia Renay!

Joanne Weir’s Plates & Places – WINNER

Wine Road Podcast

Best Ethnic Lifestyle Series, Program or Film

54 Years Late

A Queen In The Kitchen-Estate Italiana

CombiNation Plates

Culture Kitchen – WINNER

Friday Night Vibes

G. Garvin Live!

Just Eats with Chef JJ

New Soul Kitchen Remix

The Black Kitchen Initiative by Heinz – WINNER

Valcooks Kitchen

Best International Program: Presented by Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel (Puerto Vallarta)

Amah Knows Best

Australia’s Food Bowl with Stefano de Pieri

Extreme Cuisine – Sea Urchin

French Country Cooking with Edward Delling-Williams

Nordic by Nature – Michelin Stars

Passion Italy

Sopitas de mi Ecuador

Tastes Like Home – WINNER

The Green Wave – Tahiti

Best Multi Camera Production

Backyard Bar Wars

Fast Foodies – WINNER

French Country Cooking with Edward Delling-Williams: Foraging By The Sea

Kevin Belton’s Cookin’ Louisiana

Joanne Weir’s Plates & Places

Tastes Like Home – WINNER

Best Foreign Language Program, Series or Film

A Queen In The Kitchen-Estate Italiana

Nordic by Nature – Michelin Stars – WINNER

Sopitas de mi Ecuador

Wine Soundtrack

We’re All German When Visiting Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine Neighborhood

I watch as my friend’s inner German, never far from the surface, kicks into high gear as we step into Ǖber’m Rhein (Over the Rhine), a historic neighborhood once separated from downtown Cincinnati by the Miami and Erie canal. The Germans who settled here starting in the 1830s, nicknamed the waterway the Rhine and when the crossed the bridges to get to what was called Little Germany, it the neighborhood became known as Over the Rhine.

Looking at the broad tree lined streets fronting over ornate brick buildings many more than a century old, he sees it as it was – a bustling area with several daily German language newspapers and where German was the language at home and on the streets. I see it as it is now — trendy shops, art galleries and studios, businesses and restaurants housed in the largest collection of Italianate architecture in the U.S.

While he marvels at the exteriors with their brightly painted and elaborately worked scrolls and cornices, I poke inside the shops located below. At The Little Mahatma Shop, I take in the sweetly pungent smell of burning incense and gleaming silver and gold, shimmers of colorful beads and stretches of beautifully embroidered materials fashioned into folk art from around the globe.

  Window shopping, I longingly look at the urban style furnishings and accent pieces at Joseph Williams Home and wonder if I can possibly fit into the black dress in the window at Mannequin, a high end vintage and designer boutique whose proceeds benefit empowering charities in the Cincinnati area. Remembering what I ate the night before I decide not. And instead peruse the works of local and regional artists at MiCA 12/v, a family owned independent design store/fine craft gallery/gift boutique  before wandering into Atomic Number Ten, where I admire their vintage home goods and fashion finds from 50s to 90s.

We stroll through the 8-acre Washington Park, its interactive water park, children’s playground, performance stage and dog park, is fronted by the 1878 High Victorian Gothic Revival style Music Hall, a grand pile (almost 4 million of them) of red pressed bricks molded into2 ½-acres of turrets, garrets and gables.

For rejuvenation I order tea and a vegan-friendly treat at Iris Book Café.

At Taste of Belgium, we order sweet and dense Liege waffles thick enough to be eaten like donuts and paper thin Nati crepes filled with roasted peppers, onions, Provolone cheese and goetta.  The latter is totally Cincinnati – a German concoction of pork, oats and spices so popular that there’s even an annual Goettafest.

Not far beyond is the bustling Findlay Market, a swarm of indoor and outdoor food vendors.  When the market first opened in 1855, Eckerlin Meats was one of many catering to German tastes. Now there’s Vietnamese baguette sandwiches at Pho Lang Thang and handcrafted seasonal gelatos at Dojo Gelato. But to my friend’s delight, Eckerlin remains as well, still selling sausages, meats, cheese and, of course, goetta that is made from a hundred year plus old family recipe. It must be good as they sell 300 to 500 pounds of it a week. We’ll find out soon enough when I cook it up at home.

Chicago Spring & Summer: Neighborhood Attractions, Tours & Developments

Art on the MART is queuing up four new projections for 2022 that will spotlight Chicago dance and the dancers, choreographers and visual artists that bring the medium to its full potential.  

  • The first projection Floe, created by choreographer and Chicago native Carrie Hanson with her dance company, The Seldoms, is a piece that spotlights climate change, extreme weather, vanishing ice, denialism, bodies of water and, ultimately, bodies. Hanson teamed with several long-time collaborators for this project. A stellar team of visual artists (Bob Faust, Liviu Pasare and Andrew Glatt) assembled a dynamic, emotional projection by weaving dance, word and image. Mikhail Fiksel crafted a soundscape that includes field recordings of icebergs, water and rain; Maria Pinto created architectural garments in an array of watery blues; Seth Bockley provided text that moves from irreverent to elegiac. Performers include Sarah Gonsiorowski, Damon Green and Maggie Vannucci.   Floe will be on-view from May 6 to June 29, 2022.  

Chicago Fine Arts Building

Chicago’s Fine Arts Building (410 S. Michigan Avenue) launched its new look and a website with centralized ticketing and rental platforms that encompass all of the landmark building’s spaces: artists’ studios, offices, rehearsal halls and two theaters—the historic Studebaker Theater and Carriage Hall, a contemporary multidisciplinary performance and event space that is being built in the former Playhouse Theater space.

  • Property owner Berger Realty Group began major renovations of Studebaker Theater and Carriage Hall earlier this year, to enhance the experiences of theatergoers and producing companies at both venues. Renovations to the historic Studebaker will be completed in May 2022, including all-new seating, enhancements and modernization of the theater’s AV and grid systems, a state-of-the-art technical booth, updated lobbies and a newly designed VIP lounge on the third floor. The new Carriage Hall venue will open in late 2022, with more details to be announced in the coming months.

Chicago Mahogany Tours

Chicago Mahogany Tours, led by Chicago’s rising sensation Urban Historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas, are a must when visiting Chicago. He takes visitors on a bus tour of Chicago’s historic south side neighborhoods – Pullman, Bronzeville, Roseland, Bridgeport and Stockyard – while sharing unique facts about Chicago Black history.

Obama Presidential Center

The Obama Presidential Center broke ground this fall in Jackson Park; this amazing world-class museum will bring a spectacular new campus to Chicago’s South Side and provide a fabulous new gathering space for the Hyde Park community and residents. Upon completion, it will feature a museum, library, park and activity center, women’s garden and so much more.

Pepper Family Wildlife Center at the Lincoln Park Zoo

The Pepper Family Wildlife Center, a new state-of-the-art habitat for lions and big cats, recently opened at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The Center’s Lion House features a Great Hall that can host dinners for 400 guests or receptions for up to 500. The Lion House also features a conference room, which can seat 80 guests, or 100 for a standing reception. Both the Great Hall and the conference room feature windows overlooking the inside of the exciting lion exhibit.

Shedd Aquarium

In preparation for the organization’s 100th anniversary in 2030, the Shedd Aquarium has unveiled a new, comprehensive strategic vision, a multi-faceted, 8-year, $500 million dollar Centennial Commitment which will include deeper community investments and partnerships, a modernized aquarium experience through the transformation and restoration of the historic galleries and dynamic new exhibits, new educational and experiential programs created with equity and inclusion at the center, compelling digital engagements, advancement in exemplary animal care and welfare and accelerated aquatic and scientific research.

Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower

Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower has reopened after completing an extensive redevelopment encompassing the attraction’s lower level, delivering an interactive experience that celebrates the unique personality, history, neighborhoods and sites of Chicago. This immersive, new Chicago-themed museum features modern physical and visual displays, educating guests of all ages on Chicago history, culture, cuisine and architecture through interactive and informative experiences.

  • The complete transformation on the 103rd-floor observation deck includes fresh design features and interactive monitors, providing a space to inspire guest poses and allow visitors to upload and display their Ledge social media photos. Along with the stunning views, guests can indulge in informational videos about the city’s growth, travel patterns, cultural attractions and the making and history of The Ledge. Guests are invited to leave a mark on the city by creating drawings or messages on the interactive sequin wall. Screens also feature the impressive eastside views from the 103rd floor, allowing visitors to discover more about local sights, no matter the weather.   

Take a Baseball Road Trip This Season

Here’s the Best Pitch You’ll Get All Season:

Destinations in Three Neighboring States Team up to Create a Baseball-Centric Road Trip

              Now that Major League Baseball has finally started, a trio of baseball-oriented destinations in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland have organized the ultimate road trip for travelers who are ready to get out of their dugouts this year for a long-overdue “away game,” whether their roster includes kids, a significant other, or fun friends.

              The “Round-Tripper” is a baseball-themed triple play that encourages visitors to follow the path of the Susquehanna River as it winds its way along a 444-mile path, beginning, passing through and ending in three of the most baseball-centric places in America: Cooperstown, New York, the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, and Harford County, Maryland.

              COVID threw the travel industry a curveball over the past two years, but an idea that came out of left field during a conversation among a team of tourism officials eager to bring visitors back to their destinations has resulted in a collaboration that might just be a home run.

              This Is Cooperstown, the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, and Visit Harford have teamed up to cross-promote baseball-themed tourism experiences in all three regions. Each has covered its bases by creating a list of baseball-centric attractions, sites and restaurants that visitors can find on all three organizations’ websites.

              Travelers can move north or south, and there’s a strong argument for each end. The Susquehanna River begins in Cooperstown, which would also be a likely starting point for visitors coming from New England or New York. But it could be just as satisfying to begin in Maryland – where legendary players were born – and move northward, concluding where only a fraction of the best players in the game also end up … at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

              Here’s a sample lineup, following the route south along the Susquehanna River:

  • Step up to bat in Cooperstown, New York, nicknamed “America’s Most Perfect Village.” It’s home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, historic Doubleday Field, three bat companies (fun coincidence: the trees found near Cooperstown feature wood that’s considered perfect for bats), several memorabilia shops, baseball-themed breweries and distilleries, and a league of restaurants that serve incredible hot dogs.
  • On deck is Binghamton, New York, where travelers can catch a Rumble Ponies Minor League game before they choose to go one of two directions. The Rumble Ponies are the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
  • Road trippers can then run for nearby Corning, New York, where a famous glass factory crafts fascinating glass bats. Or they can instead head to a different sort of factory — Factoryville, Pennsylvania – which is the hometown of Christy Mathewson, one of the first five baseball players ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. Then it’s on to Scranton for a RailRiders Minor League game. If they time it right, visitors can take a historic trolley out to the ballpark to see the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees play.
  • Whether they’re coming from Corning or Scranton, third base is Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home to both the Little League Hall of Fame, which honors the world’s largest organized youth sports program, and the Crosscutters, a collegiate summer baseball team that plays at the second oldest Minor League ballpark in the country.
  • Home plate on this direction of the trip is Harford County, a small destination with significant baseball history. It’s where both Ernest Burke, a record-holder in the Negro Leagues, and the members of the legendary Ripken family were all born. Burke is honored with a statue in his hometown of Havre de Grace, which is where the Susquehanna River ends as it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Twenty minutes away, you’ll arrive in the town of Aberdeen and find The Ripken Experience, where Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Bill (both former Baltimore Orioles) teach young ballplayers to dream big as they play in mini stadiums that are replicas of the most iconic ballfields in America. You can end the adventure by watching the team Cal Jr. owns, the IronBirds, a High-A affiliate of the Orioles, take to the field.

There’s no home-field advantage on this tour; each destination is prepared to support its neighbors with the intention that everyone involved will score a hit. The regions are ready to welcome visitors, and those visitors – from rookies to the most seasoned sluggers – will find museums, memorials, restaurants, hotels and small businesses that offer historic insights into baseball while also celebrating the fun and nostalgia of America’s pastime.

Along the way, they can watch games being played by kids, college students and Minor Leaguers aspiring to make it to The Show. The routes outlined on the tourism websites indicate travel distances and the suggested amount of time for visiting each attraction, though the destinations welcome anyone who’d like to stay for extra innings and spend a little more time discovering what makes each place special.

              For more information about the Round-Tripper, a baseball-themed road trip through three states, you can visit the websites of each of the collaborative destinations that assembled the tour. Here’s a link that takes you from Cooperstown south, and here’s the one that begins in Harford County, Maryland and heads north. 

A Kids Paradise of Fun: Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas

Las Vegas is often known as an adult paradise, but grown-ups aren’t the only ones having fun. When it comes to kids, there’s a ton of opportunities at Caesars Entertainment for kids of all ages at both the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino and Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.

·       VooDoo Zipline at The Rio: For families with older children, the Zipline at Rio is the #1 thrilling attraction in Las Vegas! At 500 feet high and 33 miles per hour, you can ride the tallest, fastest zip-line in all the city. Two guests at a time soar in between the Rio Hotel’s Masquerade and IPanema Towers. Kids must be 48 inches tall to ride. For more information and tickets please visit here.

·       Piff the Magic Dragon at Flamingo Hotel: 

For the past five years, Piff has headlined in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. As first seen on “America’s Got Talent” Piff keeps people of all ages laughing. Piff the Magic Dragon performs nightly with Mr. Piffles, the world’s only magic chihuahua. Tickets to the show can be found here.

·       KISS by Monster Mini Golf at The Rio

KISS by Monster Mini Golf is a unique “KISS themed” attraction. This mini golf course boasts 13,000 square-feet of indoor glow-in-the-dark fun with an 18-hole miniature golf course. The space is filled with state-of-the-art video, design and never-seen-before KISS props. Tickets to this attraction can be found here.

·       The Wildlife Habitat at Flamingo Hotel: Fun and Free!

This Wildlife exhibit is open from 8:00am-2:30pm and is the perfect attraction for kids of all ages. This four-acre garden is an ideal location to adventure with the family. Complete with meandering streams, waterfalls, exotic birds, turtles and fish. With no cost to enter, the habitat is a fun experience for the whole family.  It’s free. Simply show up during operating hours. No reservation or ticket is required. 

Additional information can be found here.

Love in the City: New York Valentine’s Celebrations

            Wondering what to do with those once glorious photos that show your romance at its peak? The staff at Mr. Purple have the solution for you. On Saturday, February 12th, Mr. Purple is hosting the ultimate anti-Valentine’s Day party. Along with the black balloons, black flowers, and even a black heart wreath behind the bar, guests can bring a picture of their ex-significant other to the bar and get a cocktail in exchange. That’s more than a fair trade as far as we’re concerned.

           Still starry-eyed? Mr. Purple is going all out with two romantic packages on February 14.

     Chalet Package- $300

  • Bottle of Champagne 
  • 2 Appetizers 
  • Chocolate/Cheese Fondue 

Valentine’s day minimums for the chalet will be $150 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Minimums for indoor will be $100 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Guests have the option of selecting the package or just ordering from the regular menu. 

Special menu which includes the following Valentines’ Day offers:

  • Cheese Fondue $45
  • Chocolate Fondue $30  

More Romantic Offerings

The Campbell

            Throughout Valentine’s Day weekend, (2/11 – 2/14), , The Campbell  privately tucked into Grand Central Station, is offering three romantic packages: 

  • 1: Purchase of cheese board: 1/2 priced premium btl of wine, with complimentary chocolate covered strawberries (price varies)
  • 2: Purchase of charcuterie board with 1/2 priced Prosecco, and complimentary chocolate covered strawberries -$71
  • 3: Purchase of one bottle of Veuve, includes a complimentary cheese board and complimentary chocolate covered strawberries – $150

The Crown

Throughout Valentine’s Day weekend, (2/11 – 2/14), The Crown, located atop Hotel 50 Bowery, is featuring a special menu and champagne menu to go along with its stunning 360-degree views of downtown Manhattan. With multiple lounge seating and VIP bottle-service available what better way to celebrate the holiday.

  • Chocolate Strawberries will be available for Valentine’s Day for each couple. (Only on Monday)
  • Anti-chocolate Strawberries with black glitter will be available for anti-valentine’s day (Sat. only). 
  • $175 for Moet and Chandon Rose and their desert charcuterie 
  • $125 for guests staying in the hotel

Special menu:

Bao Bun Board for 2 $65

  • BBQ pork belly 
  • Steam bao buns (unlimited)
  • Assorted yummy sauces 
  • Assorted fresh condiments
  • Spring rolls 

Matcha Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache $13

Nearly Ninth 

During Valentine’s Day weekend (2/11 – 2/14) at Nearly Ninth at the Arlo Midtown, guests can indulge in a specialty cocktail “Love Language” (recipe below) with complimentary Valentine’s Day treats and donuts. 

Make It At Home

Love Language

Rocks glass , rose ice cube , double strain and top of with edible pink rose pedals.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Photos @ Gerber Group

Ernest Hemingway Writers Retreat at Walloon Lake this March

 Dream of getting away to write? What could be better than Hotel Walloon. After all, if it was good enough for Ernest (Hemingway that is), then it should work for anyone who wants to hone their writing skills and just needs to find inspiration, stimulation, ideas, and time away.

Hemingway, after all, is Walloon Lake’s most famous summer resident–his family still has a cottage on this beautiful lake in northwestern Michigan. And even better, Hotel Walloon has invited Hemingway’s great granddaughter Cristen Hemingway Jaynes to to lead the writers’ workshops and activities during the Walloon Lake Writer’s Retreat this March 4-6.

Jaynes is the the author of Ernest’s Way: An International Journey Through Hemingway’s Life which is a guide and literary exploration of the cities where Hemingway visited or lived. In the book, published by Pegasus Books, Jaynes shows us theses destination both as they were when the author of such best sellers as For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises, and Farewell to Arms, was there as well as now.

The Walloon Writers Retreat begins Friday evening and runs until Sunday early afternoon.  Participants can enjoy both collaborative and solo writing sessions during the weekend.  Packages start at $350.00 and includes a hotel room, retreat costs, an autographed copy of Cristen Hemingway Jaynes’s book, a Hemingway Tour hosted by the Michigan Hemingway Society, and visits to distinctive locations around this quaint Village that will help write and foster inspiration.

Hotel Walloon on the Shores of Walloon Lake Where the Hemingway Family Summered


Hotel Walloon is located in Northern Michigan and is a privately-owned AAA Four Diamond property.  Hotel Walloon is a luxury boutique hotel that hosts 32 unique guest rooms.  Amenities include complimentary valet service, a private bar exclusively for hotel guests and four complimentary food offerings during the day including; a continental breakfast, fresh snacks, and an assortment of hors d’oeuvres in the evening, followed by a dessert display. 

Places for Inspiration

There are lots of cozy nooks for writers as well as comfortable lounges near large fireplace. Guests can avail themselves of the billiards room, 24-hour fitness facility, and outdoor heated spa whirlpool.  Within a short walk are the Barrel Back Restaurant as well as lovely Walloon Lake Inn.

Up North Michigan

Hotel Walloon is part of the Up North experience is located between three great Northern Michigan cities known for their vibrant downtowns, lovely historic areas, and beautiful waterfronts–Charlevoix, Boyne City, and Petoskey. 
 

Hemingway as a very young writer at Walloon Lake