Fun Chicago ice skating downtown

 

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink attracts visitors to Millennium Park in winter. (City of Chicago photo)
McCormick Tribune Ice Rink attracts visitors to Millennium Park in winter. (City of Chicago photo)

If guests are in town for the holidays or enjoying Chicago’s festive downtown before the season ends is on the do list, think skating near skyscrapers, colorful lights, holiday trees. Think Downtown Chicago. Two ice rinks are in or next to Millennium Park and one is a short distance away at Navy Pier. Bring skates or rent them.

 McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

Operated by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and special Events, the Millennium Park Foundation and presented by Hilton, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink has free admission. However, skaters need to reserve a time. Very few time slots may be available at the last minute. Sessions are 90 minutes.

The rink has been up since mid-November and continues through March 5, 2023, weather permitting. It’s at 11 N. Michigan Ave. between Randolph and Monroe Streets.

Skaters are requested to arrive 45 minutes before their reserved admission time. Snacks and hot drinks are available in Momentum Coffee and Millennium Hall. For Thursday through Sunday and holiday sessions at 5 p.m. and later, entrance is at a Security Checkpoint. For weather closure updates check Millennium Park’s facebook and twitter pages.

Skate rental is $20. More info and visit planning at Chicago.gov/millennium info and Dept. Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

 

Skat the Ribbon in Maggie Daley Park (City of Chicago photo)
Skat the Ribbon in Maggie Daley Park (City of Chicago photo)

Maggie Daley Park

 Run by the Chicago P:ark District, MDP’s Skating Ribbon is at 337 e. Randolph St. and is also accessible from a bridge crossing Columbus Drive and the nearby bike path.

Skate rental with admission is $16 on line and $18 walk-up Monday through Thursday. Sessions are free those days if b ringing your own skates. But prices are higher weekends and holidays.

 For more info, time slot reservations including rolling ticket release dates and costs visit Ice SkatingRribbon. Park & Ice Ribbon Management: 312.552.3000 · Fieldhouse: 312.742.3918.

 

Navy Pier Alpine Ice Skating Rink

The Pier’s ice rink is part of “Light Up the Lake” festival on now through Jan. 7, 2023.. Bring skates or rent them, There’s no charge beyond the festival admission of $15 for adults and children. Lockers are also available. Area is not for photo and flashing light sensitive visitors. Online tickets needed.

For more information visit Light up the Lake/Navy Pier.

Jodie Jacobs 

 

 Around town finds three Thanksgiving weekend fun doings

 

Art Institute of Chicago Wreathing of the Lions. (Photo by AIC)
Art Institute of Chicago Wreathing of the Lions. (Photo by AIC)

Mark the calendar or add to the mobile phone places to go the day after Thanksgiving. One event is only Friday. The others start that day but go for a few weeks to just over a month.

 Wreathing of the Lions

Be at the Art Institute of Chicago at 9 a.m. Nov. 25, 2022 to celebrate when the museum’s two famed lions are adorned with their holiday wreaths. The event is at the 111 S. Michigan Ave. entrance 

 Millennium Park Sing Along

Join groups and visitors at Cloud Gate (The Bean) on Fridays from Nov. 25 through Dec. 16, 2022 to celebrate holiday and other songs from 6 to 7 p.m. supported by the Millennium Park and Pritzker Foundations.

 Group dates include the Oakdale Christian Academy Choir on Nov. 25, Chicago High School for the Arts Chorale Ensemble,   Dec. 2, Windy City Gay Chorus and Treble Quire, Dec. 9  and BYNC Music Project, Dec. 16. For more information visit DCASE. Millennium Park is on the east side of Michigan Avenue between Monroe and Randolph Streets.

Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier

An indoor lights festival that includes a winter wonderland forest, Santa, animated lights display and skating rink, Light Up the Lake runs Nov. 25, 2022 through Jan. 7, 2023. Tickets are $15. For tickets and more information visit   Light up the Lake. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave.

Jodie Jacobs

Three feel good holiday weekend events

 

Capital Fourth fireworks (Photo Courtesy PBS)
Capital Fourth fireworks
(Photo Courtesy PBS)

From patriotic and pop music to spectacular fireworks, this weekend’s July 4th events are opportunities for every age group to salute the United States of America with joy.

Many Chicago area towns have fireworks but if looking for something downtown Chicago or a way to celebrate from home, check out the following suggestions:

July 2

Fireworks at Navy Pier hosted by Hilton

Watch the sky over Navy Pier Saturday night as Hilton which now has a hotel on the Pier, hosts an incredible fireworks display beginning at 9:30 p.m. Watchers can receive “diffraction glasses,” courtesy of Hilton (while supplies last so get there early. The glasses add even more visual interest to the fireworks. accompanied by holiday-themed music, is just one of the many free programs celebrating the Fourth of July.

“Nothing says summer in Chicago like fireworks at Navy Pier. We’re grateful to Hilton for helping Chicago’s favorite destination light up the sky by presenting our spectacular July 2 fireworks display,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “Navy Pier is known as the People’s Pier for a reason. We hope that all of our neighbors come out to enjoy the free programs planned for the holiday weekend and throughout the year, ” said Gardner.

While waiting for the fireworks, stopt at the Navy Pier Beer Garden to hear Manny Torres followed by a Creedence tribute band and then the alternative rock Pino Farina Band.

The Pier has numerous dining choices including the very casual Billy Goat’s Tavern, mid-casual Harry Caray’s Tavern and the more elaborate cuisine of the Offshore Rooftop. Visit Navy Pier | Navy Pier for food and drink options.

 

Independence Day Salute: Grant Park Music Festival

Get a ticketed seat ($26-$80) in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or sprawl for free on the Great Lawn to hear the Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra. The program includes such popular and patriotic music as John Williams’ “Liberty Fanfare, George Gershwin and Armed forces medleys and a Sousa march from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The Pavilion is in Millennium Park at Randolph St and Michigan Ave. (Don’t bring alcoholic beverages. There will be beer and wine)

 

July 4

A Capitol Fourth on PBS

, the annual PBS 4th of July salute from Washing DC  7 pm CT. host country Music star Mickey Guyton. Program featuring pop, T&B, classical, country and Broadway stars led by pops conductor Jack Everly.

Along with Guyton, performers include Chita Rivera, Darren Criss, Cynthia Erivo, Yolanda Adams Gloria Gaynor and several more entertainers.

The fireworks start a couple of hours after the entertainment (when it gets dark in DC.)  They are among the best in the country.

Have a happy, safe Fourth of July weekend!

Jodie Jacobs

More Mom Day ideas

Orchids make a lovely Mother's Day gift. (J Jacobs photo)
Orchids make a lovely Mother’s Day gift. (J Jacobs photo)

Second in a fun Mother’s Day ideas series. See Travel Smart for the first article in the series and Dining Out-Eating In for the third one.

Mother’s Day isn’t until May 9 in 2021 but reservations fill fast, so figure out something special, now. The ideas listed here: Stay, Play, Eat, Treat, Spa and Ooh La La are merely a guide.

Stay

Book a package deal at the 5 star Peninsula Chicago, among the city’s top luxury hotel. It has an exceptional spa, large lap pool with great views and a great roof-top lounge.

Or get a room with a view at Sable, a new Hilton hotel. You will be staying on Navy Pier, Chicago’s No. 1 attraction that re-opens April 30, 2021. Plus the hotel has Offshore, the world’s largest roof-top bar.

 

Lincoln P:ark Conservatory's Spring Flower Show opens on Mother's Day. (Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Conservatory)_
Lincoln P:ark Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show opens on Mother’s Day. (Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Conservatory)_

Play

Stroll Lincoln Park  with stops at the Zoo to talk to the animals and the Conservatory for its Spring Garden show, opening May 9. Reservations are needed because of COCID protocols.

Or snag tickets for an architectural tour on the Chicago River. Two popular tours are the Wendella and the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s River Cruise’s First Lady.

 

Eat

Do brunch at longtime favorite, the Signature Room at the 95th. The restaurant is atop of what was formerly called the John Hancock Center, a skyscraper now known as 875 N. Michigan Ave.

Or reserve a table (may be on a heated patio) at Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago or Schaumburg.

 

It's hard to leave Gerhard's, a European bakery in Lake Forest with just one treat. (J Jacobs photo)
It’s hard to leave Gerhard’s, a European bakery in Lake Forest with just one treat.
(J Jacobs photo)

Treat

Pick up a sweet from That Little French Guy, a Parisian café in Highland Park.

Or look one North Shore suburb north for Gerhard’s, a European style bakery in Lake Forest.

 

Spa

Get Mom a gift certificate for a spa experience. There is likely a spa in her neighborhood but if going downtown Chicago and the oriental-flavored Peninsula is booked consider the spa at the Langham  an upscale Chicago hotel with a British accent.

 

Long Grove Confectionary (J Jacobs photo)
Long Grove Confectionary (J Jacobs photo)

Ooh la la

Flowers and candy have traditionally said “We love you.” The Chicago area has several good florists. Check out Blossoms or AshlandAddison, two popular and highly rated choices.

For candy, a top stop is Windy City Sweets in the Lakeview neighborhood. The only problem is that everything looks so good you’ll end up with stuff to also take home.

Or go to Long Grove Confectionary  in suburban Long Grove. A longtime destination, the store also has  factory outlets in Buffalo Grove, Wauconda  and Chicago.  Go back for a factory tour, good sale items and for holiday goodies.

Jodie Jacobs

 

What to do Labor Day Weekend

 

Navy Pier. (J Jacobs photo)
Navy Pier. (J Jacobs photo)

Except for the falling leaves, it’s hard to believe that Labor Day Weekend is almost here.

With the pandemic changing our lifestyle, vacation plans and the events we usually use to mark off warm weather months such as the Chicago Air and Water Show, the usual Labor Day holiday might feel like just another weekend unless we plan something special.

Navy Pier

Chicago’s most popular destination will close Tues., Sept. 8, 2020 until sometime in spring of 2021 so plan an outing to the Pier Labor Day Weekend.

Stretching out into Lake Michigan at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago’s arguably most popular destination will close Tues., Sept. 8, 2020 until sometime in spring of 2021 so plan an outing to the Pier Labor Day Weekend.

If you enjoy jazz, singers and bands, plan to spend some time in the Miller Lite Beer Garden. See the Saturday, Sept.. 5 schedule at Live on the Lake  and the Sept. 6 schedule at Navy Pier/events.

Cruise

Sightsee by boat from Navy Pier while it’s open or take the cruise from the Chicago River piers at Michigan Avenue.  Check dates, safety protocols and tickets at NavyPier/cruises.

Chicago Architecture Center Tours

CAC at 111 E Wacker Drive, will be running its popular Architecture River Tours during Labor Day weekend. Cruises leave across Wacker at Michigan Avenue down on the river

But it also has some interesting walking tours such as a Frank Lloyd Wright Oak Park tour on Sun. Sept. 6.

CAC tour tickets go quickly because numbers are decreased according to protocols.

Morton Arboretum

The Arboretum at 4100 IL Hwy 53 has trails to explore,  a  Children’s Garden and the Ginko Restaurant. Visits are by timed tickets so see MortonArbVisit  and Tickets for more information.

Celebrating the Fourth

 

Enjoy music and drinks at the Beer Garden on Navy Pier (Navy Pier/Miller
Enjoy music and drinks at the Beer Garden on Navy Pier (Navy Pier/Miller photo)

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed lots of towns’ and parks’ Fourth of July celebrations in the Chicago area with most fireworks canceled including those at Navy Pier.

But many restaurants, particularly those with outdoor seating are open, cruises are going on area waterways, music is lifting spirits at some bars and eateries and you can tune into two concerts with live fireworks at  Capitol Fourth  from Washington D.C. and at CNN’s The Fourth in America streaming live from New York and Washington D.C. for subscribers on CNN.com’s homepage and via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android. It can also be viewed on CNNgo.

 

Cruises

Try something different this Fourth of July weekend. Take a lunch or dinner cruise on the Odyssey on the Chicago River or Lake Michigan.

Navy Pier Restaurants and Music

Go over to Navy Pier, open 10 a.m. to midnight to eat outdoors at Harry Caray’s Tavern, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and other outdoor spots. Find a seat at the Miller Lite Beer Garden for its “Live on the Lake” from 2-11 July 3 and all day on July 4. Stop at the Wave, Wall, Wax platform to hear DJs from 5pm to 7pm. Face coverings required. Visit Updates Navy Pier .

 

Capitol Fourth on PBS (Shot from cameras throughout the DC area compliments of Capitol Fourth)
Capitol Fourth on PBS (Shot from cameras throughout the DC area compliments of Capitol Fourth)

A Capitol Fourth

For great celebrity performances, meaningful tributes to heroes and spectacular fireworks go to your PBS station or online for Capitol Fourth. This year, the annual program has taped performances from 7 to 8:30 p.m. CT  followed by live fireworks.

“For four decades “A Capitol Fourth” has paid tribute to our nation’s birthday and the hopes and dreams of all Americans,” said Executive Producer Michael Colbert. “This year, our broadcast will reflect what we as a country have faced and the challenges ahead, while showcasing our message of inclusion, patriotism and love.”

Co-hosted by actor/ producer John Stamos (Netflix’s You, Fuller House, ER) and multi-platinum recording artist and TV, film and Broadway star Vanessa Williams, the program features Patti LaBelle; John Fogerty; Renée Fleming; The Temptations Trace Adkins; Andy Grammer, Yolanda Adams; Brantley Gilbert; Lauren Alaina; Brian Stokes Mitchell; Kelli O’Hara and Mandy Gonzalez (Hamilton, In the Heights); with National Symphony Orchestra under the direction Jack Everly.

The program can be heard on NPR member stations and will be streaming on Facebook, YouTube and www.pbs.org/a-capitol-fourth. It is followed by fireworks going off to Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”

 

CNN The Fourth in America

Aired from 7  to 11 p.m. CT, T the program will be hosted by CNN’s Don Lemon from New York and CNN’s Dana Bash from Washington, DC.

Performers include Jewel, Barry Manilow, Martina McBride, Kenny Loggins, Andy Grammer, Carlos Santana and Cindy Blackman Santana, CeCe Winans, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, The O’Jays, Don McLean, Jesse Colin Young and Little Kids Rock, Billy Ray Cyrus, Burt Bacharach & Musicians from the Berklee College of Music, Harlem Gospel Choir.

In addition, there will be the original Broadway cast of Girl From the North Country, inspired by the Bob Dylan’s songs and the cast of Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations.

Orchestral numbers are performed by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, the US Navy Band and the US Army Field Band, the new York Philharmonic and youth symphonies from  San Francisco, Colorado, Houston, Chicago and New York.

Fireworks highlights from New York, Washington Houston, Jacksonville and Nashville will be shown throughout the program which will be available to subscribers on CNN.colm’s homepage and CNN’s apps for iOS and Android.

 

 

Around Town has three outdoor updates in and west and north of Chicago

 

Navy Pier. (J Jacobs photo)
Navy Pier. (J Jacobs photo)

The outdoors beckons now that Chicago and Illinois has entered Phase 3 of its COVID-19 fighting strategies. Just know that restrictions such as social distancing and face coverings are still part of the experience.
Also note where reservations and permits are still required.

 

Navy Pier

The Pier at the eastern end of both Illinois Road and Grand Avenue, among Chicago’s most popular destinations, is opening its outdoor spaces excluding rides on June 10, 2020

Parking garages will have free access during the opening phase. Polk Bros Park across from the entrance and the Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion will open and some boat tours will be operating. There will be access to North and South Docks.

Several restaurants and retailers will have outdoor spaces such as Harry Caray’s Tavern, McDonald’s, Margaritaville Chicago, Billy Goat Tavern, Rainbow Bone and the large Offshore Rooftop & Bar. For updated information

For more information  see Updates Navy Pier and visit Navy Pier.

 

Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretum, a 1,700 acre park and outdoor plant and research museum, is open now on timed visit, reserve-ahead tickets through Jujne 14. Visits will be available to nonmembers on a restricted basis beginning June 15.

Located at 4100 IL Hwy 53 in west suburban Lisle, IL, the park is interlaced with walkway and hiking and biking trails. For membership, admission fees and hours visit Know/visit/information.

 

Waukegan Savannah Dog P:ark (Photo courtesy of Lake County Forest Preserves)
Waukegan Savannah Dog P:ark (Photo courtesy of Lake County Forest Preserves)

 

Lake County Forest Preserves dog park

Off-leash dog exercise areas begin opening second week of June, 2020 to annual permit holders. Dog Exercise Areas using COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.

On June 8, Lakewood Dog Park in Wauconda and Waukegan Savanna Dog Park in Waukegan plans to open. They will be followed by Duck Farm Dog Park in Lake Villa and Prairie Wolf Dog Park in Lake Forest on June 10. Then, Independence Grove Dog Park in Libertyville opens June 12.

Visit  LCFPD.org/dogs to confirm opening dates and details.

“Once reopened, modified use practices will be in place for the health and safety of Forest Preserve staff, dog owners and their pets,”  said Chief Operations Officer Mike Tully.

“Access will be limited to annual permit holders only. To help prevent overcrowding, daily permits will not be sold at this time. Additional signage will remind permit holders to do their part and abide by safety rules and protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Tully.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Holiday Happenings Part Three

 

Skating is fun at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink where you move to music, grab a hot chocolate and skate against a backdrop of the Chicago skyline. (City of Chicago photo)
Skating is fun at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink where you move to music, grab a hot chocolate and skate against a backdrop of the
Chicago skyline. (City of Chicago photo)

 

Around Chicago it’s that time of year to see such holiday shows as those listed in Holiday Happenings Part One and walk paths of twinkling, colored lights highlighted in Part Two.

Holiday Happening Part III brings you places for fun holiday shopping, ice skating and traditional events. Continue reading “Holiday Happenings Part Three”

Around town goes to wine tasting and kids architecture events plus the Jewish Theater Festival

A Chicago Architecture Biennial event for youngsters is at Navy Pier Nov. 2, 2019. (Jodie Jacobs photo)
A Chicago Architecture Biennial event for youngsters is at Navy Pier Nov. 2, 2019. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

 

There are interesting experiences available this weekend so pull out the calendar.

Chicago Architecture Biennial for youngsters

Bring the kids to Navy Pier this Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019  for a free, hands-on, design-it and build-it activities from noon to 4 p.m. Co-sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation with the City of Chicago and Navy Pier, the Architectural Biennial event is geared to ages 5 through 12. Look for it in the Cultural Corner across from Ben & Jerry’s at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

 

Wine seminars like the one pictured here help educate the palate. (J Jacobs photo)
Wine seminars like the one pictured here help educate the palate. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Professional/Amateur Wine Tasting Contest

Learn about your wine palate knowledge, Nov. 3, beginning at 1 p.m. at Geja’s Cafe, 340 W. Armitage, Chicago. The tasting begins with eight unmarked carafes of wine. Professionals and amateurs are challenged to identify the grape, place of origin and vintage of each wine. To enter the competition, contestants pay a $30 fee and must be 21 years of age or older. To RSVP, call Geja’s Café at (773) 281-9101.

“The world of wine is incredibly diverse,” says Geja’s owner Jeff Lawler. “That is why this contest is such a challenge. It takes a wise nose and an equally sensitive palate to identify the characteristics of each individual wine.”

 

The Ben Hecht Show starring playwright/actor James Sherman will be part of the Jewish theatre Festival. (Photo courtesy of TGeatron)
The Ben Hecht Show starring playwright/actor James Sherman will be part of the Jewish Theatre Festival. (Photo courtesy of Teatron)

TEATRON: Chicago’s Jewish Theatre Festival at Victory Gardens

Held Nov 3 through Nov.10, 2019, primarily at Victory Gardens, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, the event is the first-ever festival in Chicago that is dedicated to Jewish Theatre.  It overlaps the annual Alliance for Jewish Theatre Conference, hosted by ShPIeL at Victory Gardens Theater and The Theatre School at DePaul University, Nov. 3-5, 2019.

The Jewish Theatre Festival at Victory Gardens includes staged readings, solo performances, storytelling, cabaret, and comedy at Victory Gardens and features “The Ben Hecht Show” with playwright/actor James Sherman, Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. For conference information visit All Jewish Theatre

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Five ideas on where to watch the Chicago Air and Water Show

Chicago Air and Water Show comes Aug. 17-18. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events)
Chicago Air and Water Show comes Aug. 17-18. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events)

If you hear thunder but the sky is blue, Aug. 16, it is likely the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are flying overhead on their way to practice above North Avenue Beach.

The Chicago Air and Water Show, now in its 61st year, will be above and on the popular beach from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 17-18. By the way, the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds headlined last year.

The event is free but given that it attracts about two million people those two days, it makes sense to go the day before when the headliners and acrobatic flights are practicing.

Tip: All the fly-bys are great but the top draw this year, the Blue Angels, come at the end of the show.

Taking public transportation  is best. Parking is also available in Millennium Park Garages where people can take a shuttle to North Avenue Beach.

But an alternate to going the day before or milling with the crowds during the show is to watch from somewhere between Ohio Street and Fullerton Avenue such as the places listed below where you can eat lunch or brunch during the show.

Continue reading “Five ideas on where to watch the Chicago Air and Water Show”