Archive for  July 2012

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Consider an excursion where instead of waking up to the nagging noise of an alarm, the soft rays of sunlight peek through your blinds and a fresh breakfast waits for you, on your schedule. One moment you could be jamming to live music and the next canoeing a scenic river. This may seem like a dream, but it doesn’t have to, and it certainly doesn’t have to break the bank.

Take the Merchant Street Music Festival in Kankakee. This free two-day festival at the historic downtown train depot is a celebration featuring local and regional musical talent, not to mention excellent food and drink.

Canoeing the Kankakee River

A free music festival is great, but we all deserve a full weekend getaway every once in a while.

So for those looking to treat themselves, consider the ‘canoeing on the Kankakee River’ package through the Hilton Garden Inn. The hotel is located just 10 minutes from the festival and the canoeing package includes an overnight stay with breakfast for two and sets you up to canoe on the Kankakee River.

Make it a Weekend

Consider a couple great ways to enjoy this as a full weekend outing.

First, you and your partner could arrive Friday evening to sample some fine dining and drinks and kick back while listening to the sounds of the festival. When you’re ready, retire to the Hilton Garden Inn to get some sleep before heading out on the river Saturday.

Second, your duo could come in early Saturday and head out onto the river for a canoeing adventure. Once you’ve finished up that activity, head on over to the festival to catch the classic car display and of course more delectable culinary options all the while taking in the tunes. After the long day, you’ll probably be pretty tired, and that is where the Hilton Garden Inn comes in to save the day. Wake up the next day and enjoy your breakfast for two before heading home.

Either way, you are sure to have a great time, while saving a few dollars. Enjoy!

Note: To receive the Canoeing the Kankakee Package, contact the Hilton Garden Inn directly at 815-932-4444 with the promo code, CKRP. Make sure to book at least seven days in advance.

-The Illinois Office of Tourism

8 ducky day ahead

August 9th is Duck Derby Day! The river will go yellow (not St. Patty’s green this time) with more than 35,000 rubber duckies splashing and battling their way to the finish line for an outstanding cause.  As a member of the Young Professionals Board for Special Olympics Chicago, we are hosting a team together to raise awareness for the Special Olympics by selling ducks for the big event.  All proceeds benefit more than 21,000 athletes and 11,000 young Athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.

Dumped from a giant truck over the Columbus Drive bridge in downtown Chicago, the ducks will race down river.  Whichever adopted duck crosses the finish line first wins the grand prize! Prizes include a 2012 Chevy Equinox LS, an all-inclusive vacation and many more.

Be a part of  all the action!
Adopt a duck for $5 or Quack Pack (6 ducks for $25). Race Day events begin at 10 AM, bring your family and friends for the fun games, entertainment and free food.  The race begins at 1 PM, and the ducks are off. Join us to cheer on our duckie!

When: August 9, 2012
Where:  Chicago River

For more information, please visit:

Good Luck, Emma Carollo
Quack! Quack!

9 spend a day with honest abe

Grab the family, pack your Abe Lincoln black top hat and watch history come alive in Springfield. Throughout the summer, visitors can step back in time to the Civil War era and experience the historic town through the eyes of Mr. Lincoln. History Comes Alive in Springfield every day this summer, through September 2.

Watch historical vignettes with Lincoln’s neighbors, listen to Mr. Lincoln tell “Back-Porch” stories, meet General Grant or even experience a moving Lincoln speech. History Comes Alive is a unique and interactive way to experience the sites of Springfield. In addition to daily History Comes Alive attractions, special summer programming is offered to truly make a Springfield trip unforgettable.

Events are added throughout the summer, so visitors are encouraged to check the Visit Springfield Calendar of Events when planning their history-filled Springfield getaway. Summer highlights feature Lincoln Troubadour concerts, Mr. Lincoln’s Farewell Address and a History Comes Alive Ice Cream Social.

Lincoln Troubadour Friday Concerts

The Lincoln Troubadours perform every Friday at the Old State Capitol. Performances take place three times a day, at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Mr. Lincoln’s Farwell Address and parade to old State Capitol

Mr. Lincoln gives his famous “Farewell Address” on the steps on the Lincoln Home every Friday from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. through August 31.  After listening to the monumental speech, visitors can join him on a parade to the Old State Capitol for the Prairie Voices program.

History Comes Alive Ice Cream Social

Every Thursday, visitors can purchase Cold Stone Creamery ice cream and indulge in the delicious treat with honest Abe and Mary Lincoln.  The ice cream social takes place at a different historic Springfield home each week.

Many Springfield hotels offer getaway packages during the summer months, so families can experience History Comes Alive without breaking the bank. For more information on History Comes Alive and to plan your Springfield adventure, call (800) 545-7300 or check out

-The Illinois Office of Tourism

If you’re near the Shawnee National Forest and you’d like to do some rock climbing, Vertical Heartland at Draper’s Bluff is the place to go, no matter what level of climber you are.  Learning ‘the ropes’ was fun and extremely informative.
Some friends and I went climbing for the day, and Kathy, the owner & instructor, worked patiently with us the entire time.  Two of us had climbed before;  I was the rookie.    Kathy is an avid climber herself, and she’s also an excellent teacher.      All equipment is covered in the cost: shoes, chalk, ropes, etc. Bring your own water, lunch and bug spray.
All of the climbing is done on Eric & Kathy Ulner’s property. You’ll start out on some fairly easy faces, and then work up to more difficult climbs.  If you’re brand new to the sport, Kathy will teach you the techniques needed to be successful. If you’ve climbed before, she’ll move you along to the more challenging areas.
Climbing was a fun and challenging way to bond, as well as learn a few things about persistence, accountability, organization, communication and, oh yeah, confronting fear.     Give it a try this summer!

Enjoy Southern Illinois