Holiday Festivals Around Town

Chicago Botanic Garden celebrates the season with Lightscape. (J Jacobs photo)
Chicago Botanic Garden celebrates the season with Lightscape. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Around town Holiday festivals

Plan now because it seems everything from tree lightings and light festivals are starting early this year.

Remember when we used to think the holiday season began with Chicago’s Thanksgiving Parade early on “Turkey Day?” Then the Mag Mile pre-empted that with Mickey and Minnie Mouse turning on Michigan Avenue’s lights north of the Chicago River, accompanied by Santa. Meanwhile, Macy’s was following Marshal Field’s tradition of a Great Tree, lunch in the Walnut Room and wonderful holiday windows.

Chicago area’s two big zoos soon added to the holiday places-to-visit calendar with lights and animation. More recently gardens and nature walks such as the Morton Arboretum and Chicago Botanic Garden, got into the holiday spirit with color, lights and movement. Germany said, why not, so entered Chicago’s holiday season with the Christkindle Market.

 Macy’s liked Marshal Field’s tradition so continue the Great Tree, lunch in the Walnut Room and wonderful, story-telling holiday windows.

Keeping track of what is around, when and where in the Chicago area can be challenging even when suburban and neighborhood residents mark their calendars with local tree lightings and events.  So here is a short guide to the main holiday happenings.

Macy's holiday windows in Chicago (Photo courtesy of Macy's)
Macy’s holiday windows in Chicago (Photo courtesy of Macy’s)

 Already started early November

Macy’s came out with their Great Tree Lighting, Santa visits, Walnut Room availability and windows theme the first week of November.

What to know: The Great Tree is 45 feet tall and is decorated on a toy-shop theme and is up through Jan. 8 2023. Santa Claus photo ops and wish whispers have to be reserved in advance. Santa is in his toy workshop on the Fifth Floor and reservations to visit him go through Dec. 24, 2022. The windows are already decorated and good for photos through Jan. 1, 2022.  For reservations and more information  visit Macy’s Holiday Celebrations: Visit Santa & More – 2022 (macys.com)

 Macy’s is at 111 N State St., Chicago.

Second week in November

The switch went on and the last installation was done when Lightscape opened to Friends and Family at the Chicago Botanic Garden Nov. 9. Opened to the public (advance tickets needed) Nov. 11, Lightscape casts a fantasy vision over paths, trees, ponds and plantings with lights and music. It continues through Jan. 8, 2023. For tickets and more information visit Chicago Botanic/Lightscape

Christkindl Market downtown Chicago. (Photo by J Jacobs)
Christkindl Market downtown Chicago. (Photo by J Jacobs)

Third week and weekend in November

This is a very busy time for holiday events ranging from the city’s tree lighting and a European holiday market to zoo lights and lit paths at an arboretum.

Go downtown for Chicago’s tree lighting Nov. 18 in Millenium Park. It’s scheduled for 6 p.m. with a pre-program at 5 p.m. The action is near Cloud Gate on the Grainger Stage. Visitors should enter at the South Promenade on Monroe Street east of Michigan Avenue. Don’t expect the lighting to happen until 6:30 but stay because fireworks follow the ceremony. For more information visit City of Chicago :: City of Chicago Christmas Tree 

The German village-style Christkindl Market opens Nov. 18 a few blocks west of Millennium Park on Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St. A fun place to find gifts or take a yummy break from work or shopping, the Market is up through Dec. 24. For Chicago information visit Christkindlmarket | Holiday Market 2022 | Chicago

This German market is also happening in Wrigleyville at 3635 N. Clark Street at Gallager Way so visit German Christmas in Wrigleyville | Christkindlmarket and in Aurora in River Edge Park, 360 N. Broadway so visit  German Christmas in Aurora | Christkindlmarket.

 

Lincoln P:ark Zoolights(Photo by Jodie Jacobs)
Lincoln Park Zoolights (Photo by Jodie Jacobs)

Lincoln Park Zoo spreads out just west of Lake Michigan between downtown Chicago and Wrigleyville so visitors sometimes try to couple its Zoolights with another holiday goodie.  Presented by Com Ed with Invesco QQQ,, Zoolights is an impressive display at the city’s free zoo and costs only $5 a ticket for this holiday event. Zoo lights is Nov. 19, 2022 through Jan. 1, 2023. For hours, dates and more information visit ZooLights.

Also opening Jan 19 is the Morton Arboretum’s Illumination. Running through Jan. y7, 2023, Illumination transforms a mile long path among trees, meadow and gardens into a fairytale land of light, sound and color. The event combines old favorites such as the Enchanted Forest and Treeimagination, with new installations such as Late Nite Electric Illumination, tall, mirrored towers and a finale in the new Grand Garden. For more information visit Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum | The Morton Arboretum

Wait, as the commercials say: There’s more.

Last but not at all least this week is the Magnificent (Mag) Mile Lights Festival’s parade and day of activities starting at 11 a.m. at 401 N. Michigan Ave. Sponsored by Wintrust, the parade begins at 5:30 p.m. Mickey and Minnie Mouse (from the Walt Disney World Resort) lead the parade as they magically turn on one million lights along North Michigan Avenue.

What to expect: floats, helium balloons, marching bands, musical performances, Santa Claus ending with fireworks at the Chicago River. The event will also stream on Nov. 20 on ABC. For more information visit MagMileLights.

 

A giant helium baloon floats over State Street during a Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. (J Jacobs photo)

A giant helium balloon floats over State Street during a Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. (J Jacobs photo)

Fourth week and weekend in November

Chicago’s Thanksgiving Parade brings the sounds of cymbals, blares of trumpets and the sight of giant helium balloons and beautiful floats to State Street, that main street, Nov. 24.

The parade goes from Ida B Wells Drive at the south end to Randolph on the north. Figure that bands and entertainment from some of Chicago’s theaters could start as early as 8 a.m. and go to 11 a.m. For more information visit Chicago Thanksgiving Parade.

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo starts Nov. 25 and continues on specific dates through Dec. 31 from 3 to 9 p.m. Presented by ComEd and Meijer, the zoo is a blaze with two miles of lights and colors moving to synchronized music. A new feature is a 600-foot “Tunnel of Lights” by Xfinity.

For parking, entrance and other information visit CZS.org/HolidayMagic.

Have fun

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

Three Fun Pumpkin Patches and Mazes

Maze at Krill's Farm (J Jacobs photo
Maze at Krill’s Farm (J Jacobs photo

It’s only midway through fall and October which means it is not too late to take a family field trip out into the countryside to find the perfect pumpkin or explore a corn maze or take a hayride. The following three farms offer a variety of activities and a maze of possibilities for all ages.

Kroll’s Fall Harvest Farm at the far northwestern (the boonies) part of Waukegan must have a local following because it is out of sight, off the main road but reasonably busy.   

After finding Kroll’s with our GPS, we refueled on yummy pumpkin donuts then explored the farm.  Youngsters were having fun feeding the hens and llamas while young adults and couples were taking photos of each other behind cutouts of funny figures. 

Feeding the llamas and hens are part of the Kroll Farm experience.
Feeding the llamas and hens are part of the Kroll Farm experience.

Their next stop was the bench where everyone waited for hayride before wandering through the maze and then going over to the pumpkin patch for the right size large one to carve or small pumpkins to easily carry away.

Kroll’s is a good, low-keyed farm experience. For hours, pricing and more info visit Kroll’s Fall Harvest Farm,  13236 W. Townline Rd. Waukegan, IL (847) 662-5733.

 

All Seasons pumpkin Patch ( Photo courtesy of All Seasons Orchard)
All Seasons pumpkin Patch (Photo courtesy of All Seasons Orchard)

All Seasons, a good apple-picking place in Woodstock, turns to fall with fun activities for different ages.

It has a good-size corn maze of 10 acres with two paths – short and easy and long and harder. There is also a good pumpkin patch, pony rides and excellent apple cider donuts to eat on the way home.

All Seasons Orchard is at 14510 IL Route 176 Woodstock, IL, (815) 338-5637 For hours, pricing and more information visit All Seasons Orchard.

 

James Bond Corn Maze at Richardson Farm in Spring Grove. (Photo courtesy of Richardson Farm)
James Bond Corn Maze at Richardson Farm in Spring Grove. (Photo courtesy of Richardson Farm)

Richardson Farm in Spring Grove, has different experiences for different ages in the fall. It turns 28 acres of corn into a large sprawling maze of 9-10 miles of trails.

They are divided into four mazes to cater to different ages and difficulty. The maze is always interestingly themed. This year, 2022, it has a James Bond spy theme.

Among the other activities are wagon rides, zip lining and a picnic food and area. 

Ricardson Farm is at 909 English Prairie Rd., Spring Grove, 815) 675-9729. Foe pricing, hours and more information visit Richardson Farm

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Chicago Botanic Garden does a nifty fifty

 

Adsila by Juan angel Chavez. (J Jacobs photo)
Adsila by Juan angel Chavez. (J Jacobs photo)

Yes lighted displays at the Chicago Botanic Garden look spectacular when Lightscape stars and sparkling plants line walkways from Mid-November 2022 to early January 2023. 

 But the Garden also amazes right now as you wander among art installations, special plant groupings and the Greenhouse Galleries packed with the garden’s past and imagined future. 

The art and other special exhibits are part of Flourish, The Garden at 50,” an anniversary celebration up now through Sept. 25, 2022.

Pick up a Flourish brochure at the membership/information desk near the Café, to see a map and information on 10 art installations.

Take some photos by the lily ponds while wondering the Chicago Botanic Garden. (J Jacobs photo)
Take some photos by the lily ponds while wondering the Chicago Botanic Garden. (J Jacobs photo)

Leaving the building you are walking across a bridge to the garden’s main area. Look right to see a huge nature sign on the opposite bank and then look near it further west in the water to see Casa Isle, an aluminum island house constructed by artist Edra Soto in what the Garden calls its “North Lake.”

A turn south past the lily ponds brings Juan Angel Chavéz’s wood and fabric Adsila sculpture into view.

Check the brochure for other art installations and then go over to the Regenstein Greenhouses for a look back at the garden’s past and thoughts of its future.

See where the plants along the paths near the lily pads are from. (J Jacobs photo)
See where the plants along the paths near the lily pads are from. (J Jacobs photo)

Be sure to stop at the plant installations on the path back to the bridge. They are plant groups from different countries.

To learn more about each artist, pop-up events and tours go to  Flourish: The Garden at 50.  

The Rookery by Patrick Dougherty is installed near the entry road and the butterfly exhibit. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden
The Rookery by Patrick Dougherty is installed near the Dixon Prairie at the south end of the main island. ( Photo courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden)

“What began as an ambitious vision to have Chicago’s own public garden is now 28 gardens and four natural areas in Glencoe, 16 community garden and farm sites in Chicago and Lake County, and dozens of conservation and restoration research sites around the country,” said Jean Franczyk, the Garden’s president and chief executive officer.

“We are thankful to all who have shown up for nature, supported our conservation mission, and inspired us to keep imagining a future where people and planet thrive,” Franczyk said.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe., IL

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Three outdoor family activities for Memorial Day Weekend

 

Chicago skyline. (J Jacobs photo)
Old photo of Chicago skyline. (J Jacobs photo))

Chicago’s warm (finally) weather this Memorial Day weekend is perfect for a day laughing at monkeyshines at two zoos or a pirate-ship sail along the city’s shoreline. (Zoo note: both zoos require masks at their indoor animal houses).

 

Sorgum and baby calf at Brookfield Zoo. ( Photo courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society)
Sorghum and baby calf at Brookfield Zoo. ( Photo courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society)

Brookfield Zoo

Visiting the 235 acre Brookfield Zoo can be an all-day family event.

Starting May 26, visitors can see the cute tapir calf just born to his mom, Sorghum. He has been staying indoors at the Pachyderm House but mom and baby might wander to their outdoor space on the north side of the building because the weather will be warm. Now is a good time to see the calf with his white stripes. The marking fade by age six months. The South American tapir is related to the horse and rhinoceros.

Beginning May 28, the Butterflies area, closed the past two years, has reopened and includes moths. Located near the North Gate, entry is $4 adults, $3.50 seniors 65 and older and $3 children. Visitors will be able to see the transformation to butterflies in an off-exhibit space.

Monarch butterfly at Brookfield Zoo. (Photo courtesy of Jim Schulz and CZS)
Monarch butterfly at Brookfield Zoo. (Photo courtesy of Jim Schulz and CZS)

While wandering the zoo, be on the lookout for such ice-age creatures as a 15 ft tall wooly mammoth and the 18 ft long mastodon. They are among Dino Dan’s 30  life-sized animatonic animals staying at the zoo April 1 through Oct. 30, 2022.

Brookfield Zoo entrances are at North Parking Lot 8400 31st St, and South Parking Lot 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways. Current hours: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

There are admission and parking costs. Tickets can be purchased ahead on line and are good for the entire day of entry. Adults $24.95, Seniors 65 and older $19.95, Children age 3-11 $17.95, age 2 and younger free. Parking is $15 and can be paid upon arrival.

*Visitors who have a general admission pass with a barcode, a member guest pass, a Chicago Public Library Museum Pass or a Museum Adventure Pass, can bring that to the zoo for entry, no reservation required.

For tickets and more information visit Chicago Zoological Society and CZS-Brookfield Zoo.

 

The Patio at Cafe Brauer may be a well-kept secret of where to lunch along a quiet Lincoln Park Zoo path and entrance. ( J Jacobs photo)ell
The Patio at Cafe Brauer may be a well-kept secret of where to lunch along a quiet Lincoln Park Zoo path and entrance. ( J Jacobs photo)ell

Lincoln Park Zoo

At 49 acres, Lincoln Park Zoo is doable in half a day. Get a zoo map at the Visitor Center near the main entrance at 2400 N. Cannon Dr.

Time the visit to watch Seal Training at 11:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. near the main entrance . Then, be sure to visit the Pepper Family Wildlife Center.to see Pilipili, a recently born, African lion cub. His name means “pepper” in Swahili.

Lion cub at Lincoln Park Zoo (photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)
Lion cub at Lincoln Park Zoo
(photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)

Lincoln Park Zoo is north of Chicago’s Magnificent (shopping) Mile.There are are several entrances with East gate near the paid parking lot being the main one. View the free parking map for all entrances. Current hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The zoo is free and opened every day. For more information visit Lincoln Park Zoo.

 

On a Tall Ship sail from Navy Pier. ( J Jacobs photo)
On a Tall Ship sail from Navy Pier. ( J Jacobs photo)

Sail on  Tall Ship Windy

For a different sailing experience, take a 75 minute trip along Chicago’s shoreline on Windy, a Tall Ship docked at Navy Pier. Listen to pirate and maritime stories.

Cost is Adults (age 13 and older) $39, children age 3 to 12 $17. For more information visit Chicago Skyline Sail/Tall Ship Windy Chicago.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Earth Day celebration ideas

 

NASA Earth Day poster 2022 (Photo and poster courtesy of NASA)
NASA Earth Day poster 2022 (Photo and poster courtesy of NASA)

 

Earth Day is April 22, 2022. Here are some ideas on how to celebrate our Planet Earth, but also check with your local park district and forest preserve location.

On the national scene

Join NASA in its live chats with experts or with its virtual trivia games and at the @NASAEarth Twitter Space. See all the activities at Earth Day 2022 | NASA.

In Chicago

The Chicago Park District is doing a cleanup at more than 80 parks including the North Park Nature Center on April 23. To see which park is near you or where you would like to volunteer visit Chicago Park District/EarthDay..

In the burbs

At the Morton Arboretum,  run in the Champion of Trees 10 K on April 23. For more info and to register visit The Champion of Trees 10K | The Morton Arboretum. Then, celebrate Arbor Day with the Arboretum’s giant plant sale April  29-May 1. Ticket still available at Arbor Day Plant Sale | The Morton Arboretum .

At the Chicago Botanic Garden Look for and enjoy the garden’s budding plants or go online April 22 to Budburst which celebrates Earth Day with a webinar about climate change’s impact visit ChicagoBotanic/Budburst.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Maple sugar time

 

Tapping maple trees at Ryerson Conservation Area in Lincolnshire. (Lake County Forest Preserves photo)
Tapping maple trees at Ryerson Conservation Area in Lincolnshire. (Lake County Forest Preserves photo)

Maple syrup, yum. We love it on pancakes or dripping on French toast or sweetening what is cooking. But no matter how the syrup is used, in spring we celebrate it because that is when the sap turned into syrup rises in maple trees.

Luckily, forest preserves’ educators can tap the trees to capture sap, take visitors on hikes to see the tapping, taste the sap, explain how it is turned into syrup and say how much sap is needed for even a little bit of syrup.

Where to go

In Lake County, IL, the Lake County Forest Preserves’ educators and volunteers lead Maple Syrup Hikes through the Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods.

“Educators are prepping a full slate of programs taking place in March,” said Director of Education Nan Buckardt. “We are looking forward to offering both in-person and virtual programs this spring.”

In-person, public Maple Syrup Hikes are offered Saturdays and Sundays, March 5–20, at Ryerson Conservation Area. Lasting one hour and held outdoors, the hikes run every half-hour from noon to 2 pm and are open to all ages.

Environmental Educator Jen Berlinghof noted that the temperature dictates what visitors will see along the trails. “The timing for tapping maple trees comes down to temperatures above freezing during the day but still below freezing at night, Berlinghof said. She added that other factors include precipitation and the hours of sunlight in a day.

Berlinghof explained that changing temperature causes the sap to surge upward from the roots toward the branches, where it helps the leaves grow and the buds bloom. Then in summer, the leaves will produce more sap, which will settle back down in the roots come winter.

“Visitors are able to witness the wonder of turning sap from sugar maple trees into sweet maple syrup. All registered participants can have a taste,” Berlinghof said.

Tickets for Maple Syrup Hikes are required. Hikes fill up quickly, so register early. Cost is $6 per person. Children ages 3 and under are free. Purchase tickets online or call 847-968-3321. Special sessions designed for scouts or other large groups are also available. Call 847-968-3321 to register a group.

“If your family is ready to hit the trails, we are providing free self-guided Maple Syrup Hikes from March 21–31,” Berlinghof said. “Through informational signs, you’ll learn the science behind how trees make sap and how we turn that sap into real maple syrup as you walk along the designated trail at your own pace,” she added.

Visit education programs and register online at LCFPD.org/calendar or call 847-968-3321. The Ryerson Conservation Area is at 21950 North Riverwoods Rd., Riverwoods,IL

 

River Trail Nature center in Cook County holds Maple sap programs (Photo by Photo by Amanda Nieves.)
River Trail Nature Center in Cook County holds Maple sap programs (Photo by Photo by Amanda Nieves.)

In Cook County, the Forest Preserves of Cook County hold virtual and in person sap programs at the River Trail Nature Center.

The first one is a live, free virtual program. See it and find info at Facebook Live from River Trail Nature Center 847-824-8360.

Called “Sap’s Rising,” The in-person programs are every Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. beginning February 26 at the River Trail Nature center, 3120 Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook, IL. They will continue through March 19 at 1L30 p.m. For the March 19 event Vist Sap’s Rising,March 19.

River Trail Nature Center is at 3120 Milwaukee Ave Northbrook, IL. (Currently masks required indoors and unvaccinated visitors need them outdoors. But check when making a reservation.)  Reservations are required. Call River Trail at 847-824-8360.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Orchids doing their thing

 

Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show, February and March, 2022. (J Jacobs photo)
Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show, February and March, 2022. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Expect the unexpected at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Orchid show during this unpredictable year of 2022.

Stretching from the Regenstein Center into the greenhouses, orchids are rooting in an old upright piano, finding nooks in a secret garden, latching onto trees and winding around old strands of damp wood.

The show’s theme, “Untamed” is quite different from recent past years. Instead of remarking on how orchids are cultivated for celebrations or different uses, the show suggests they are resilient so can grow almost anywhere if left alone including where other plants might have trouble rooting.

Orchids and plants take over a secret garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden show. (J Jacobs photo)
Orchids and plants take over a secret garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden show. (J Jacobs photo)

Opened Feb. 12 and extending through March 27, 2022, the Orchid Show arrived in the Chicago area with more than 10,000 colorful orchids just as the weather seesaws from icy and snowy to warmer and rainy.

A special treat is Orchids After Hours on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. when cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are also available.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 10000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, just east of Edens Expressway.

For tickets and more information visit Chicago Botanic Garden

Jodie Jacobs

 

Up close at Lincoln Park Zoo Lion House

 

At Lincoln Park Zoo a lion looks over its shoulder at some members of the Chicago Uptown Lions Club (L.R. Mark Kotz, Sharon Howerton, Suzy Travers-Byster, Julie Lovison, Bob Solomon, Albert Anderson)
At Lincoln Park Zoo a lion looks over its shoulder at some members of the Chicago Uptown Lions Club (L.R. Mark Kotz, Sharon Howerton, Suzy Travers-Byster, Julie Lovison, Bob Solomon, Albert Anderson)

Thanks to a $15 million gift from Roxelyn and the late Richard Pepper, Lincoln Park Zoo broke ground on a $41 million renovation of their lion house in December 2019.

After being closed for about 2 years, the new Lion House opened in October 2021 and is home to a pride of lions that includes one male and four females. Rumor has it that locally born offspring may result.

The state-of-the-art habitat has been renamed the Pepper Family Wildlife Center, home not just to lions but also Canada lynx, snow leopards and red pandas.

Fans of the old Lion House will be happy to see the renovation was achieved to preserve and enhance the architecturally significant features of the historic structure built in 1912.

The dramatic entrances on either side bring a flood of natural light into the interior and the beautiful vintage vaulted ceiling has never looked better.

Small cages and cells with their archaic painted backgrounds are gone, replaced inside and out with expansive viewing windows for close-ups of the big cats.

Pepper Family Wild Life Center at Lincoln Park Zoo
Pepper Family Wild Life Center at Lincoln Park Zoo

The habitat has nearly doubled, now providing the lions with a variety of choices  from plenty of outside fresh air and thermal comfort zones to  trees for climbing, and elevated rocks to give them high vantage points plus areas to seek privacy, shade, and shelter.

A unique indoor design element known as the Lion Loop, funded by the Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo, enables guests to view the pride even more intimately from the center of the habitat.

The $41 million renovation of the building is the final phase of what has been dubbed The Pride of Chicago, a $135 million capital campaign that began in 2012.

It was my good fortune to tag along with the Chicago Uptown Lions Club on a special tour conducted by Bill Green, accessibility and inclusion manager for the zoo.

About seventy-five percent of the Uptown Lion members are visually impaired. Thanks to a grant by the Hart Prinze Fund, special accommodations have been made to allow those with special needs to enjoy the experience.

Albert Anderson, Sharon Howerton and Bill Green at the newly re done Wild Life Center at Lincoln Park Zoo (Reno Lovison photo}
Albert Anderson, Sharon Howerton and Bill Green at the newly re done Wild Life Center at Lincoln Park Zoo (Reno Lovison photo}

Green outfitted our small group with wireless earpieces that allowed us to easily hear his commentary as we toured the Lion habitat inside and out while he creatively and thoroughly explained what was being shown so that those unable to see would understand what the rest of us were experiencing visually.

On several occasions there were tactile displays that allowed both the sighted and unsighted members of our group to feel the size of a lion paw, the impression of their print, the feeling of their fur or the rough texture of their tongues.

Inside the building Green produced a special three dimensional map of the African savannah that the visually impaired could run their fingers over to get a sense of the various distances a lion might travel and kinds of terrain they may encounter in their journey.

All-in-all the Pepper Family Wildlife Center and its inhabitants are indeed destined to be the Pride of Chicago and should definitely be on your things to do calendar in the Windy City.

If you haven’t been to the zoo lately you might like to know that there are a number of restaurants and cafés on the grounds and several more within a short walk.

The Lincoln Park Zoo can be approached by car at Fullerton and Cannon Drive just west of Lake Shore Drive. Parking is available and might be considered pricey by some but admission to the zoo is free. If you’re a little more adventurous street parking is available along Clark Street on the west side of the park and there are bus routes that include the zoo entrance.

For more information about the zoo visit lpzoo.org. For more information about the Chicago Uptown Lions Club email info@chicagouptownlionsclub.org.

Reno Lovison

Four holiday tickets to snag now

 

Joffrey ballet's The Nutcracker returns but will be at its new home at he Lyric Opera House.
Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker returns but will be at its new home at the Lyric Opera House.

It’s not too early to think of joyous holiday theater productions  and beautiful  sounds and colors along interesting outdoor pathways.

The Joffrey Ballet just put Nutcracker tickets on sale and Goodman Theatre already has been selling tickets to its annual “A Christmas Carol.”

Illumination at the Morton Arboretum and Lightscape at Chicago
Botanic Garden are filling spots for impressive outdoor experiences among their trees.

 

Marie and The Joffrey Ballet. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
Marie and The Joffrey Ballet. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

The Nutcracker | Joffrey Ballet

Marie and her Nutcraker Prince journey through Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair in Christoper Wheeldon’s reimagined classic. The show runs Dec. 4 through Dec. 26, 2021.  For tickets and more information visit Performances | Joffrey Ballet. The Lyric Opera House is at 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago.

 

 

Larry Yando as Ebenezer Scrooge in Goodman Theatre's 'A Christmas Carol' (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)
Larry Yando as Ebenezer Scrooge in Goodman Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)

Goodman Theatre

Larry Yando once again takes audiences on Ebenezer  Scrooge’s path from the character who defined the meaning of scrooge to his change into a generous and kind person.

Last year, the 2020 show experience was audio. This year, the production will be back at Goodman Theatre Nov. 20 through Dec. 31, 2021. Adopted by Tom Creamer, and directed by Jessica Thebus, the show marks its 44th production.

For tickets and more information visit A Christmas Carol 2021 | Goodman Theatre. Goodman Theatre is at 170 N. Dearborn St. Chicago.

 

Lightscape is back at the Chicago Gotanic Garden this November with new attractions and old favorites such as the Cathedral. ( J Jacobs photo)
Lightscape is back at the Chicago Gotanic Garden this November with new attractions and old favorites such as the Cathedral. ( J Jacobs photo)

Lightscape | Chicago Botanic Garden

A new path, new installations but also some old favorites including Cathedral and Singing Trees will be at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s 2021 edition of Lightscape. , a popular holiday event that sold out last year.

A popular holiday event that sold out last year, Lightscape runs Nov. 12, 2021 through Jan 2, 2022. For tickets and more information visit Lightscape.(Nonmembers also need parking.) Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe.

 

 

Illumination at Morton Arboretum shows trees in a new light. (Morton Arboretum photo)
Illumination at Morton Arboretum shows trees in a new light. (Morton Arboretum photo)

Illumination at the Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretum turns the light, color, actions on its trees at Illumination, Nov. 20, 2021 through Jan 2, 2022. New will be a Human Nature display and colorful lanterns.  The mile-long path features a roast marshmallow stop for s’mores.

For tickets and more information visit Morton Arboretum. Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Rt. 53, Lisle.

ED Note: When getting tickets note that proof of full vax needed for 12 and older and recent negative test under 12 for indoor shows: Nutcracker and  A Christmas Carol. Also check requirements for outdoor shows: Lightscape and Illumination when buying tickets.

 

Around Town: In person outings

Hope, a 5-year-old polar bear recently arrived at Brookfield Zoo (Photo by Jim Schulz for CZS)

Hope, a 5-year-old polar bear recently arrived at Brookfield Zoo (Photo by Jim Schulz for CZS)

Some of these places, such as the Chicago Botanic Gardens and Morton Arboretum didn’t really close because they are outside but they want to remind visitors to come back and that their hours may have expanded. Others, such as Brookfield Zoo are re-opening and the Cook County Forest Preserve has March events.

Brookfield Zoo

Visitors will find some new residents at Brookfield Zoo which re-opened March 1, 2021.

Hope, a 5-year-old female polar bear arrived the end of January, 2021 in time for Chicago’s icy weather. Look for Hope in the zoo’s outdoor habitat in the Great Bear Wilderness.

Also look for Sibi and her nearly 2-year-old daughter, Lorena, in the Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat. The two female Mexican wolves recently arrived from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro, New Mexico..

Sibi and Lorena, two Mexican wolves, are also new Brookfield Zoo residents. (Photo by Jim Schulz for CZS)

 

While at the zoo, go over to the Dinos Everywhere exhibition that is up March 1 through Sept. 6, 2021. Find the three-story-high Argentinosaurus on the zoo’s West Mall.

But don’t forget to see the grey seals, snow leopards and bald eagles that also can go into their outdoor habitats.

Brookfield Zoo is a Chicago Zoological property at 8400 31st St., Brookfield, IL. For hours, timed-ticket entry and other information go to Plan your visit Brookfield Zoo.

 

North American river otters in Cook County (Photo by Peter Pekarek)
North American river otters in Cook County (Photo by Peter Pekarek)

Forest Preserves of Cook County

Given that Cook County Forest Preserves covers 70,000 acres, you know there are several opportunities for outdoor fun. Here is a sample of some March events.

Catch the Leprechaun Story Hunt is March 1-3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. based from the Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave., River Forest. Maple Tree Tapping March 7 at 1:30 p.m., is also at Trailside.

For more Cook County Forest Preserves ideas visit Things to Do.

 

Spring will soon return to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. (Photo courtesy of the Morton Arboretum)
Spring will soon return to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. (Photo courtesy of the Morton Arboretum)

The Morton Arboretum

As with the Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden visitors Morton Arboretum visitors need timed tickets. See Plan Your Visit for tickets and other information. Wednesday is discount day.

Located  4100 Il Hwy 53 in Lisle, there are plenty of trails and paths for biking and hiking  from 7 a.m. to sunset. In addition, the Visitor Center is open with restrooms from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Children’s Garden and Maze Garden are open. The Ginko Restaurant will re-open March 12, 2021.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a perfect place to reflect on nature. (photos by Jodie Jacobs)
The Chicago Botanic Garden is a perfect place to reflect on nature. (photos by Jodie Jacobs)

Chicago Botanic Garden

Yes, you need a timed ticket to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden but the fee if for parking because admission is free. To know the protocols go to Plan Your Visit | Chicago Botanic Garden

Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The Garden View Café is open for Grab and Go and the Garden Shop open with a limited number of visitors at one time. The paths are open and busy now that the weather is more spring-like so wear the mask.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe just east of Edens Expressway.

Jodie Jacobs