Relationships on stage plus a great Met exhibit, Greek noshes, and plenty of sports. Happy Monday!
With its presence so large, so bold, so daunting, it’s no surprise the Field Museum is still rocking as one of Chicago’s top tourist destinations, visited by global trekkers day in and day out. Its large, impressive columns speak of antiquity (its prized possession is Sue, the largest and most complete T. Rex in the world), but the big, bold flags of new exhibits draping the museum scream of its modern take on history.
And its been rocking since it was incorporated in the State of Illinois on September 16, 1893 as the Columbian Museum of Chicago, later changing its name to the Field Museum to honor its benefactor, Marshall Field. Sitting proudly and prominently in Chicago’s Museum Campus (strikingly visible from Millennium Park), the museum attracts hundreds daily to ooh and ahh over the vast collections of over twenty million specimens, like ancient African and Islamic vases to nearly perfectly preserved mummies. From lectures to regular classes, specialized tours and overnight stays for children, it’s quite hard to find an angle the museum doesn’t reach.
Today, aside from serving as one of the world’s top museums, its research is constantly recognized as a leading developer in science, thanks to joint efforts with the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois. Make sure to check the calendar for exhibit and event listings coordinating with your visit
Some people think Millennium Park is the Windy City’s version of Central Park, but they’re mistaken. Lincoln Park is Chi-town’s Central Park with its grassy knolls. sporting fields and spectacular skyscraper views. In addition to the views and paths, Lincoln Park also offers a top notch zoo – for free! That’s right the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the nation’s last offerings of a free zoo experience. Day in and day out, the zoo and the park serve as a meeting place for friends, a place to bring kids for families (and nannies, let’s be honest) and the perfect place to work out. Don’t forget to visit the Lincoln Park Conservatory as well to take in exotic plant life.
Just because it’s a free zoo doesn’t mean they skimp on the diversity of animals! Over 1200 animals call LPZ their home. Lions and tigers and bears,oh my- and more! They live at LPZ amongst rhinos, hippos, pumas, gorillas, African monkeys, meerkats, Mongolian camels, giraffes and much more. There are plenty of reptiles and birds (penguins to pretty flamingos) to view as well. And about those views, up the hill in the park adjacent to the zoo, take in awe-inspiring views of the skyline with the John Hancock leading the way along the sparkling and enormous Lake Michigan.
Insider’s Tip: Stroll past the park and wander into the residential streets of Lincoln Park to ooh and aah over the beautiful mansions: from the park go west on W. Wrightwood Avenue until you hit Orchard, from there zig-zag about on other streets and enjoy!
The California Science Center is the West Coast’s largest hands-on science center- and is only growing- with additions being scheduled for 2010 and beyond. From daredevil activities like bicycling a nearly 50 foot tight rope to playing with cuddly chicks, the ScienCenter, as it’s creatively spelled, has a myriad of exhibits for every age and personality. Permanent exhibits include the Air and Space Gallery that has artifacts and hands-on activities on the exploration of the final frontier, World of Life, which explores all things living- from single cell amoeba to elephants and Creative World that’s about all things technology. If you get tired from running around all day, sit back and relax at an entertaining film at the Center’s IMAX Theater.
Light years from the pretentious vibe of Dallas, Sons of Hermann Hall is a historical, casual, and authentic must-see for lovers of a cold beer and great live acts. The volunteer staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the bar is stocked with a pleasing selection of bargain-priced cocktails, beer and wine.
One of the rare, genuine dance halls left in the city, Sons of Hermann Hall was built in 1911 and is known for supporting local acts. You can promenade across the dance floor, play pool and shuffle board, or listen to your favorite old tunes on the jukebox. The small upstairs stage has housed acts from the Dixie Chicks to newcomers like Sarah Jaffe. Open mic nights give aspiring musicians a chance to get their feet wet, and the younger crowd has really taken a shine to the swing dance lessons that are offered on Wednesday nights from 8pm until midnight.
Another major draw is that Sons of Hermann Hall is family friendly, with no smoking allowed within 15 feet of the premises. So, strap on your dancing shoes, bring a few bucks for a beer, and even bring the kiddies….this is one dance hall that welcomes everyone to enjoy true Texas music.
Betsy Ross was one pretty powerful woman in the making of our country, she is responsible for creating that beautiful work of art known as the American flag, and seeing her home puts it all into perspective. The Betsy Ross House in the Old City section of Philadelphia is bustling with the sights and sounds of the 18th century and is decorated in the style, adorned with artifacts from the era.
The home is open for guided tours year round, showing the workroom, two bedrooms, and kitchen of the most famous seamstress in our country. Throughout the summer months there’s something for the whole family to enjoy with historical plays, magic shows, music, and appearances by Betsy and other revolutionary icons of the time. Betsy Ross is even buried beneath the giant elm and sycamore trees that shade the courtyard. The house is now over 250 years old and is managed by a private nonprofit organization, Historic Philadelphia, Inc.
Now that the warmer weather is finally here, it’s time to start planning some fun activities for the summer. What better way to explore the coastal region than with a trip aboard Boston Harbor Cruises’ whale watching tours. Board the three-hour cruise at Long Wharf located between The New England Aquarium and Marriott Hotel.
Once aboard the 400-passenger catamaran, you can take in the view of humpbacks, minkes, finbacks and white-sided dolphins from one of three outside decks. Inside, there is a climate-controlled cabin with free WiFi, and a galley for food and beverage purchases. The tour guide from the Whale Center of New England will narrate the cruise where will point out everything from whale behavior and migration patterns to the local ecology. Whale sightings are guaranteed, but if you don’t see one, Boston Harbor Cruises will give you a free ticket for a future cruise.
Insider’s Tip: Don’t forget binoculars, sunglasses and sunscreen for this outdoor event. April through October is the best viewing season. Reservations are recommended and can be bought easily online.
If you’re visiting Boston, a must-see, albeit touristy, attraction is The Barking Crab located directly on the water in Fort Point Channel. Not your average clam shack, this casual seafood year-round hotspot boasts a funky nautical themed interior with wood burning stove. Fresh seafood is the focal point with items like Blue Point oysters on the half shell, lobster and crab dip, steamers, shrimp cocktails and Old Bay crawfish.
In the warmer months, the restaurant opens the back deck complete with picnic tables, but closes the area in the winter. The interior section offers private tables and a small bar, but the restaurant is anything but formal. Don a lobster bib and your server will present you with a plastic bucket to deposit the shells from the gargantuan legendary and signature Neptune platter, which comes complete with a two-pound lobster and a four-pound mixed crab bowl, corn on the cob and coleslaw. The lobster ravioli here just may be the best in the city. The Boston cream pie is the perfect ending here.
Kids love to come here for the fun atmosphere and parents love the $7 kids menu, which even includes desserts for tots under eight. Check out the website at barkingcrab.com.
There’s a saying that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. Voila- Studio Bini was born! Frustrated with the lack of cute kids clothes, new mom Linde Schlumbom began stitching and sewing unique, sophisticated children’s clothes in her basement. After partnering with artist Sandy Brudos, Studio Bini went from a basement boutique brand to a main street boutique showcasing their own clothes and the work of local designers like themselves.
No hokey teddy bears or big-eyed bunnies will be found here- this kiddy boutique is not only for kids to have unique, sophisticated clothes, shoes, and accessories, but for adults to have a fun experience buying them. With adorable designs like the “Marilyn” dress for the girls and a WWII styled bomber jacket for the boys, you may (secretly) wish they came in adult sizes too!
Studio Bini also offers private label clothing, toys, books and infant equipment. Sizes are from newborn to 4T.
Not many city skylines boast a Ferris wheel and roller coaster amid the spires and office towers. Thanks to Elitch Gardens, downtown Denver does. Moving to its current site alongside the Platte River basin from its original location in 1995, the 120-year-old theme park presents a kaleidoscope of classic thrill rides—from the Mind Eraser with its double corkscrew turns to the Tower of Doom, which drops daredevils groundward from 200 feet in the air. For the tots, old-time favorites abound: there’s a carousel, tilt-a-whirl, and teacup ride, as well as the Island Kingdom Water Park with a high dive, wave pool, and array of slides. Kicking off in May, the season ends with a spooky bang during October’s Fright Fest—a boo-filled blast of haunted houses and trick-or-treat trails.
Spring is just around the corner and that can only mean one thing in Atlanta: the Atlanta Dogwood Festival is back. The Dogwoods will be in full bloom, and hundreds of artists from around the country will set up their tents for the 74th Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival. Virtually every kind of art imaginable will be represented, with a nationally renowned-juried Fine Artist Market that includes sculpture, paintings, pottery, jewelry, and photography.
In addition to the fine art, there is a Kids Village featuring huge inflatables, arts & crafts, and face painting for all ages, as well as the ever-popular 24-foot rock-climbing wall. Not to mention the wide array of musical offerings will fill the spring air throughout the weekend. When you get hungry, just follow the smells of funnel cakes, gyros, crab cakes, onion rings, kettle corn and much, much more. And don’t forget the free screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho on the meadow, on Saturday at 9 p.m.
Step aside White House Egg Roll, because Down South gorillas hunt the eggs. There are no baskets and no rules at this egg hunt at the Zoo Atlanta. Instead of little kiddies running around a lawn, the big Zoo gorillas hunt for the Jell-O easter “eggs” as part of this annual celebration. Cheer for your favorite gentle giants at one of the favorite spring traditions at the Zoo Atlanta.
While you can spot celebrities on the street or dining at their favorite digs, nothing really beats a photo op with one of your favorite stars. The Hollywood Wax Museum, situated on the famous Hollywood Boulevard, is the only place where no matter what time of day, you can be face-to-face with Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Elvis Presley and even Judy Garland. The Hollywood Wax Museum is the longest running wax museum and the only one devoted entirely to famous faces in the United States.
Even though posing and snapping photographs is all the fun, the true beauty behind this museum is how long it takes to bring these stars to life. Careful planning and authentic design go into each creation giving each wax figure a real presence- taking a team of 7 artists three months to make! The museum is constantly changing to allow for new, popular stars to be immortalized for fans in the life-like wax. This museum is perfect for the City of Stars, because it gives museum goers a chance to pose with a celebrity without having to chase them down.
Insider’s Tip: Open 365 days a year, a visit to this museum is probably best accompanied by other spots such as the Guinness World Records Museum or Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Thanks to multiple ticket packages that the museum offers, you can visit all three and get a true taste of Hollywood celebrities, world records and unbelievable sightings.
For over a century, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra has been bringing sweet sounds to the masses and putting Dallas on the map with thriving musicians. Working with greats like Tony Bennett, John Legend, Kenny Rogers, LeeAnn Rimes and even Ben Folds Five, the DSO dabbles in a little of every genre. Whether its Mozart & Handel or indulging in the DSO’s compilation of 50’s Dance Party classics, the DSO has a friendly, helpful staff to guide you along the way if you’re new to symphonic scrutiny.
Educational programs and community concerts are two offerings that are not to be missed-The Dallas Symphony Orchestra “believes that with the proper training and education, every child has the potential to be the next Mozart or Beethoven.” The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has a special arm, DSO Kids, that includes special events and even training to let the music become a family affair.
An organization of this caliber with such rich history receives patronage from Dallas’ finest, and when you experience the otherworldly sounds of the DSO, you’ll be oh so glad you turned off your iPod to experience it firsthand.
If you can get past the unsettling fact that it’s owned by a giant restaurant chain—and operates its own seafood eatery in full view of the tanks—you’ll discover that the Downtown Aquarium contains many other, far more pleasant surprises.
Aside from all the tropical fish, sharks, eels, otters, and turtles you’d expect, there are also stingrays in a petting tank, birds, reptiles, and, of all incongruous but exciting things, a tiger exhibit.
Best of all, due to its relatively late hours (not to mention its cocktail lounge), it’s the setting of many a quirky date night long past the kiddies’ bedtime.
As CNN’s chief international correspondent and anchor, Christiane Amanpour is a journalism star. She has interviewed some of the toughest figures in international news and reported breaking stories from crisis hotspots like Afghanistan and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
When Christiane needs a break from the chaos, she heads over to the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. Taking a Journey to the Stars (the scientific stars, of course), the beauty of the gigantic stars in space tends to put situations on little earth into perspective. The show, narrated by none other than Whoopi Goldberg, features extraordinary images from telescopes and never-before-seen visualizations of physics-based simulations of the life and death of stars, stellar formations, and other heavenly bodies in space.
Christiane isn’t the only journalist who raves about the planetarium, National Georgraphic Adventure and the New York Times say the mind-blowing visuals makes this “easily the most beautiful planetarium show.”
If feeling inspired after the show, the planetarium’s prime Central Park West location makes this one of the few places in NYC to actually see a few stars at night.
*** Christiane Amanpour is one of the leading journalists in news as CNN’s chief international correspondent and anchor of her own show, Amanpour. Her excellence in covering the toughest international breaking news stories has been awarded with a myriad of acclamations including 9 News Emmys, 4 Peabody Awards and an honor by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Unless you’re a local who knows its history, visitors who pass by the De Young Museum might think an abstract spaceship had crash-landed into Golden Gate Park. Providing San Franciscans with a never-ending debate over aesthetics, the building is intended to unify modern art and architecture with the natural landscape. Meant to oxidize and turn pale green the way the Statue of Liberty has done, the museum’s copper mesh exterior will eventually blend in with the surrounding eucalyptus trees.
Before you even enter the De Young Museum, explore over five acres of native landscaping, in which you can wanarden, koi ponds, waterfalls, and the Andy Goldsworthy “Faultline” installation in the courtyard.
Like any great museum, the De Young features an impressive permanent collection: Ancient Teotihuacan stone murals from Mexico, the finest collection of American paintings, African and Oceanic art, and The Anderson Graphics Art Collection. Great exhibitions have included Yves Saint Laurent, Andy Warhol, Chihuly, and most recently King Tutankhamun. You can also explore the 144 ft. observation tower that provides views of the park, the new California Academy of Sciences building across the lawn, the Golden Gate Bridge, and downtown.
Whether you love the building and what it contains, or hate its aesthetics, the architects and curators have obviously done their jobs – eliciting reactions.
The award-winning spectacular ICE! will debut for the first time ever at the D.C. area Gaylord National Resort. The extravaganza is two-million pounds (!) of sculpted and colored ice carved by forty international artisans to create a living winter wonderland. More than just amazing works of art, they actually encourage you to slide down the ice! ICE!, also known as Christmas on the Potomac, is a great way to celebrate the winter with your children or the child in you.
At most museums you are told “Do Not Touch,” but that’s the exact opposite of the intention at San Francisco’s Exploratorium. This institution’s goal is to promote museums as education centers, and here they like their visitors to learn by doing. Whether it’s creating a tornado with your feet, putting samples under a microscope, or getting your hands wet touching sea creatures, the unique Exploratorium has hundreds of exhibits for your enjoyment in science, art, and human perception.
Everyone’s talking about the museum on the west coast that makes all other children’s museums green with envy. Located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, The Bay Area Discovery Museum is the only museum in a National Park and its creative exhibits are admired by other museums nationwide. Whether it’s sculpting a model of the Golden Gate Bridge (that’s right above!), examining live sea creatures in a recreated natural habitat, or watching a puppet show, the hands-on museum nurtures future generations of creative thinkers and innovators.
There are tons of exhibits at the Bay Area Discovery Museum year-round for children to discover and get creative in their own way.
With his infamous disheveled hair and stuck out tongue, the Albert Einstein Memorial is fitting for the scientist who could be silly at times. The giant bronze Einstein is situated outside the National Academy of Science where anyone, big or small, can get up and climb on the lap of the genius.
The statue stands 12-feet tall and shows off the genius’s three best-known theories: the photoelectric effect, the theory of general relativity, and equivalence of energy and matter. It’s a must-visit for a cute photo for you and your baby Einsteins.
At Alice’s Tea Cup the air seems to be filled with ferry dust and sweet dreams. It’s actually just glitter and the scent of freshly baked cupcakes but when you are here in one of the exquisite tea rooms, the magic of Alice In Wonderland takes over and even the grumpiest adults can become kids again over the famous Pumpkin Scones and a pot of Birthday Tea. Or if you are more adventurous try the Chocolate Mint Tea, that’s Indian black tea with mini chocolate chips and peppermint leaves, and Alice’s Hamburger, it comes with Lapsang and Rooibos tea infused sauteed onions and mushrooms – yum! For the grown-ups in the group there is also the inventive menu of “Mar-tea-nis and Such” serving up creative libations like the Admiral’s Mar-tea-ni which is Rooibos tea, Kahlua, and Kettle One. You can’t go wrong with the restorative powers of tea and the ancient effects of liquor all in one! Now with three uptown locations serving a huge selection of teas and beverages, tea sandwiches and soups, treats and cakes, and other delights you should have no problem fitting a little afternoon tea into your afternoon.
Toys, books, zany tights, and gifts for tots and tykes. From preemie fits to children’s size 14, Little Threads boasts a large selection.