Indianapolis: A City Full of Surprises

Day 281I love Indianapolis.  I love it so much that I tried to move there a couple years back.  Although the city is more like a big town, there seems to be so much to do.  One of my favorite moments is turning onto Meridian Street and seeing the range of architecture with the houses/mansions.  I always feel like I am somewhere completely different.

If you’ve ever thought about visiting, here are some of my favorite sites with links for more information.  By the way, all the amazing places are not listed here.  These are just some of the many things you can do in Indy.

Sights to See:

Indianapolis Museum of Art-Meet many artists you’ve heard of before.

Crown Hill Cemetery-Go on a tour or just drive by to visit some famous dead.

Broad Ripple-Great for food or hanging out with a young crowd at the bar.  I like Chumley’s on Thrusdays because it is schooner night!

Speedway-Stop by if you feel the need, the need for speed.

Indiana State Museum-I went many years ago, but still enjoyed it.  I had no idea Indiana could be so cool.

Fountain Square-This up and coming area is pretty hip with shops and restaurants.  There is even a cultural trail you can hop on.

Canal-Feel like a venetian as you cruise down the canal in a gondola.

Children’s Museum-This has got to be one of the coolest children’s museums in the US.  I actually want to go back even though I am far from being a child anymore.

Antique Malls-I own several items from the antique malls in this area.

Garfield Park-Visit the tropics at the conservatory.

City Market-Stop by the Smith Winery stand and talk to Mr. Smith.  He has an amazing personality.  Your mouth will be watering as he describes how different forms of barbeque will go well with each wine.

Goose the Market-If you like artsy delis/markets, you should stop by.

Butler University-Great grounds for walking or biking.

Circle Center-Get your shopping fix.

Charming Towns Outside of Indy:

Zionsville-My favorite!  I love this town.  Be sure to visit Brown’s Antiques.  I own a pair of great shutters from there that bring back great memories of this area.

Noblesville-This is a cute town square great for more antique shopping.

Nashville-This is further outside of the city, but a fantastic day trip.

French Market in Chicago

French MarketVisiting markets is one of my favorite activities whether I’m traveling or at home.  Chicago has a wonderful little French market for the public.  The “French” title may be a little misleading.  Yes there are cheeses, wines, macarons, and more, but there is also lobster, falafel, and bahn mis.

If you are in the area, and you’re looking for something a little different, check out the market.  If you spend $20 or more, parking is free!  Check out the vendor websites ahead of time to see what tugs at your curiosity.

 Produce

 Meats

 Cheese

Prepared Meals

 Bread & Pasta

 Snacks

 Baked Goods and Sweets

 Ice Cream/Gelato

 Specialty Coffee/Smoothies/Health Drinks

 Special Essentials

Beer, Wine, and Spirits

On a side note, word on the street is that the current ESPN Center in Chi Town will be turned into a giant indoor market.  This is all rumor, so don’t take my word for it, but if it is true, then my dreams are coming becoming a reality!

Labor Day in Chi Town

Buckingham Fountain-8806Mid 70s, bright sun mingling with fluffy cumulus equals perfect weather for a day off.  When these moments arrive, one must get out and explore.  I reminisced about my days in Paris as I tried to mimic my routine.  It doesn’t quite work the same when you’ve got a car to park everywhere and the public transportation is not quite as accessible.

The highlight of the day was seeing the Impressionism and Fashion Exhibit at the Art Institute.  It was a great combination of art and fashion.  I never thought about how the fashions of the time influenced the impressionists, but it is so obvious now.  I also loved seeing paintings related to my time in Paris.  Unfortunately, I can’t share the exhibit with you because pictures were not allowed.  Later this week I will be sharing a recommended walk for the permanent collection of the Art Institute for anyone interested.  It is probably one of the best art museums in our country.

I hope you are out enjoying the day!

Cantigny Park in Northern Illinois

DaisySometimes we have to enjoy the treasures close to home when we can’t get away.  One of my favorite places to visit is Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois.  The estate was owned by Robert McCormick who is known for establishing the Tribune company which contains the Chicago Tribune and WGN.  The estate is named after a French village that McCormick was in during his time in the First Division during World War I.  Just so you know, it is pronounced can-teeny, not can-tig-nee.  It took me awhile to learn that.

The grounds contain one of the best gardens I’ve ever been to.  The landscaping changes with the seasons, keeping the designs fresh.  Besides the bee-filled fields of color, there are also tanks for viewing,or climbing (if you get the urge), and two museums.

The First Division Museum takes you through America’s history with war.  They offer a great program for teachers that includes history trunks with uniforms and other artifacts.  I’ve used both the civil war trunks and revolutionary war trunk in my classroom.  The uniforms are accurate reproductions, and the other items bring the human perspective of war to life.  Imagine wearing brogans where there was no right or left, or check out the deck of cards soldiers would use to pass the time.  Just don’t eat the hardtack.

The McCormick Museum is situated in the house.  I love the Chinese mural that covers the walls in the dining room and the gold leaf ceiling in the theatre downstairs.  There is even a secret bar in the library.  Unfortunately, pictures are a no-no inside the house.

Perhaps Northern Illinois is not on your bucket list of travel destinations, but if you do happen to make it to this corner of the Midwest, stop by the Cantigny Park for a special treat.

Old Town Chicago

The GirlsI live about 30 miles west of Chicago, yet I barely know anything about it.  Sure there was a great fire caused by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow (as legend states), and Al Capone fought the law during the prohibition era, but there is so much more.  In an effort to expand my knowledge of the third largest city in the United States, I decided to sign up for a free tour.

Rosemary is a spunky lady loaded with ideas for places to see.  We took the bus up to Old Town to check out the architecture, history, and restaurants.  I have made the mistake of trying to visit multiple neighborhoods when I come into the city.  I’m starting to realize that a better approach is to pick a neighborhood and explore.  We had some difficulties after Rosemary left, but we eventually got back on track.

I still feel like there is a lot that I haven’t seen, but at least I have some ideas for what to do next. The benefit of taking a tour through a city’s visitor center is that it creates a launch for what to see and do.  We only spent about 2 hours together, but now I have a list of places to scout out.  If you are considering a visit to the Windy City, here are some places to consider if you want to move beyond the loop and the museum campus:

Rosemary Recommends:

Chicago History Museum

Old Town

Bucktown

Andersonville

Lincoln Square

Book

-The Devil and the White City

Fun Facts

-One of the parks near Lincoln Park used to contain a civil war cemetery.  They dug up the remains to move them to another location.  Occasionally they still find bones today.

-Michigan Avenue used to run right along Lake Michigan (hence the name).

-Early residents were Anglo American, Irish, and German.

-Remnants of the great fire can still be found in the city today.

 

Visit Chicago

Chicago SkylineDa bears, famous mobsters, hot dogs, the Mag Mile, and blues conjure images of Chicago (sometimes pronounced cheecago).  I live less than an hour away, yet I will have spent more time in Paris after this summer is over.  I love having a great city nearby, but it is one that I am still exploring.  Since I have started to realize the neglect that my own city has experienced, I thought it was time I investigate what is so great about it.

This Sunday I will go on a free tour of the city.  If you are visiting and want to get a taste for more than just deep dish, I recommend checking out Chicago Greeters.  I will write a post about my experience with them next weekend, but I already love the service.  First of all, it is free.  Second, you can tailor it to your wishes.  If you want to visit the touristy spots like the Willis Tower (used to be Sears Tower), the Bean, or other top sites you can.  If you want to battle it out with a Cubs fan in Wrigleyville, they’ve got that covered too.  I love the personalization that can come with these tours.IMG_6208

Chicago is also known for its architecture.  If the season is right, you might want to take a river cruise to gaze up at the buildings reaching for the sky.  I was planning on a trip in the fall, but the weather went cold fast.  I know people who have loved it, so you may want to think about it.

I just came across a site tonight that I am really excited about.  Not only is it useful for Chicago, but other cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.  The prices aren’t bad and it provides a unique view of Chicago.  I think this can be a great source for those wanting to learn something from their travels.

If you are trying to figure out what to do with your time in Chi Town, here are some ideas:

Favorite Neighborhoods

Old Town, Wicker Park/Bucktown, Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park, Evanston

Favorite ActivitiesDay 218-19

French Market, Lincoln Park Zoo, Cubs/Sox/Bears/Bulls/Blackhawks Game, Finding Festivals, Walking in the City, Riding the “L”

Favorite Restuarants

Frontera Grill (or any Rick Bayless Restaurant), Quartino, New England Seafood and Company

Favorite Streets

Clark, State, Wells, Michigan

Favorite Museums

Museum of Science and Industry, Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum

I can’t wait to share my tour with you next weekend.  I’m hoping to see a side of Chicago that I didn’t know about.