Archive for  April 2013

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The great Prairie State is known for its many world-famous attractions. With everything from art museums, to Lincoln history and even an entire town dedicated to the incredible Superman, there’s so much to do and so much to take home.

With the help of the new 2013 Travel Guide, we’ve rounded up ten of the best shops for one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Make sure to bring a bag big enough to bring home all of your new found treasures and treats!

  1. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum Store

If you’re looking for a great place to find Abraham Lincoln memorabilia, start with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum Store. Pick up a reprint of the famous Gettysburg Address or sample Honest Abe’s favorite eats with the A. Lincoln Cookbook.

Find historic treasures at the ALPLM

Find historic treasures at the ALPLM

  1. Art Institute of Chicago Shop

The extraordinary Art Institute of Chicago offers a great shop to find knick-knacks, such as a poster or notecards featuring your favorite artists’ work. Or, go home with your own piece of art with one of the shop’s hand crafted pieces of jewelry.

  1. Cahokia Mounds Museum Gift Shop

At the dynamic Cahokia Mounds Museum Gift Shop, you can find authentic Native American crafts, books on cultural traditions and even replicas of the artifacts found at the site.

  1. Caterpillar Visitors Center Store

Catch an insider’s look of the fascinating work of Caterpillar, the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, at the brand new Visitors Center. Make sure to swing by the Visitors Center Store to pick up a “Cat hat” and so much more!

The new state-of-the-art Caterpillar Visitors Center

The new state-of-the-art Caterpillar Visitors Center

  1. Chicago History Museum Store

Browse Windy City themed books, Chicago inspired gifts or take home a magic trick set from the Chicago History Museum Store.

  1. Field Museum Main Store

At the Field Museum Main Store, find incredible treasures like the “Paint & Play SUE,” a take-home art kit of the museum’s famous dinosaur on exhibit.

  1. Museum of Science and Industry Shops
The exciting toy maker is one of many specialties at the Museum of Science and Industry

The exciting toy maker is one of many specialties at the Museum of Science and Industry

Discover not one, but three unique shops at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Stop by The Kids Stop Shop to bring home fun science themed toys, like the best-selling “brain kits.”

  1. John Deere Store

If you’re a John Deere fan, this store is an absolute must! It’s located next to the John Deere Pavilion, which offers an up-close look at the company’s history, products and solutions to provide food for the world’s growing population. Grab t-shirts with the iconic leaping deer logo or bring a toy home for your smaller farmers.

  1. Museum Store at the Illinois State Museum

While visiting the state capital, visit the Museum Store at the Illinois State Museum to pick up wonderful and unique jewelry, ceramics and paintings by Illinois artists.

  1. Super Museum Store

The home of Superman is filled with extraordinary gifts and tokens celebrating the Man in Steel. At the Super Museum Store, you can pick up a collectible comic book, kryptonite rock candy and even Wonder Woman themed gifts!

Classic Superman treasures you can’t wait to take home!

Classic Superman treasures you can’t wait to take home!

–The Illinois Office of Tourism

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Great Rivers Country is full of rich history and picturesque towns that reveal the tales of times gone by. When exploring the river towns, you’re likely to come across passionate locals who offer a glimpse into the past unlike any other.

Fort de Chartres

Watch the village come to life with live performances and activities at Prairie du Rocher.

Prairie du Rocher, is a must-see for history buffs, families and curious travelers. Translated to “prairie by the rock,” the French village was founded in 1722 as the fourth European settlement in Illinois, after the establishment of Fort de Chartres on the fertile land beneath the Mississippi River bluffs. For years, Prairie du Rocher provided grain and other food resources to New Orleans and communities within the Louisiana Territory. Today, you can explore amazing historical sites such as Fort de Chartres and the Creole House.

twee2345- Fort de Chartres

The incredible stone fort at Fort de Chartres (Photo: Instagramer (at) twee2345)

At Fort de Chartres, you can experience 18th Century living first-hand. The last of three 18th Century forts in the United States, Fort de Chartres served as the epicenter for the for the Illinois County French Administration from 1720-1763. The archaeological remains of this remarkable stone fort are meticulously preserved for visitors to discover.

Make sure to spend time at the picturesque Creole House, built in 1800 by Dr. Robert McDonald who migrated to Prairie du Rocher from South Carolina. Later on, the house served as the birthplace of Henry Clay Hansroughs, the first Congressman from North Dakota.

What are some of your favorite historic sites in Illinois? Comment and share your suggestions below! For more ideas about where to experience Illinois history, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

— The Illinois Office of Tourism

People are drawn to Chicago’s Farmhouse Tavern for a variety of reasons. Some visit for the 28 craft beers on tap, their local wine on draft, delicious homemade sodas, or fresh from the farm ingredients. Others go for the rustic heartland ambiance in the midst of the bustling city, or to be reminded of a simpler time. Whatever the reason, people continue go back to Farmhouse time and time again to be greeted by the Irishman at the door.

Raised in a fishing village in Ireland, Ferdia Doherty didn’t set out to be a restaurateur. He fueled his creativity in the design and marketing industry, running his own agency in Chicago for seven years. That all changed when Ferdia met TJ Callahan, a veteran in the restaurant turnaround business and fellow Irishman. TJ hired Ferdia’s company to work on a project with Irish pubs, admittedly because of Ferdia’s Irish roots.

Chef Eric Mansavage and Ferdia Doherty of Farmhouse Tavern

Chef Eric Mansavage and Ferdia Doherty of Farmhouse Tavern

Ferdia and TJ’s strong Irish personalities instantly clicked and their business relationship morphed into an idea to co-own Chicago’s first farm-to-tavern restaurant.

Inspired by the bounty of the Midwest, and chef Eric Mansavage’s roots, Farmhouse specializes in locally sourced food and drink. As a child, Ferdia remembers eating his father’s catch of the day, meat from his neighbor’s farm, and vegetables and cheese from local farms. These early memories formed his belief that it’s important to know where your food comes from.

Farmhouse’s rustic ambiance is a cozy retreat in the heart of Chicago

Farmhouse’s rustic ambiance is a cozy retreat in the heart of Chicago

“Beer Nuts” and craft brews offer an explosion of flavors

“Beer Nuts” and craft brews offer an explosion of flavors

Farmhouse brings Ferdia’s belief to life. The tavern makes its burgers, condiments, desserts and sodas from scratch – a difference you can taste from the first mouthwatering bite to the last morsel of delicious goodness. All ingredients, beer and wine are sourced from states that border Lake Michigan, with a vast majority from right here in Illinois. The local flavors give diners a true taste of what Illinois is all about.

What’s not to love with signature dishes like the Farmhouse “Classic” pasture raised, Grass-fed Burger, sourced from Quarter Circle Seven Ranch in Marengo, IL, or the Indiana Duck Breast Schnitzel, served with warm potato salad and perfectly prepared with cherry demi-glace. Even better, all of the dishes at Farmhouse can be paired with craft brews from great craft beer houses, like the Chicago-based Revolution Brewing Company’s “Cross of Gold” ale or a fantastic glass of wine on draft from Fox Valley Winery in Oswego, IL.

Get a hearty taste of the Midwest with Farmhouse’s Beer Braised Grass-Fed Beef and Roasted Root Vegetable Pastie

Get a hearty taste of the Midwest with Farmhouse’s Beer Braised Grass-Fed Beef and Roasted Root Vegetable Pastie

Main Harvest dishes, like the Half Roasted Amish Chicken, highlight the best flavors of what’s in season

Main Harvest dishes, like the Half Roasted Amish Chicken, highlight the best flavors of what’s in season

Next time you’re in Chicago, pay a visit to Ferdia at Farmhouse for a truly local dining experience. Farmhouse Tavern is located at 228 W. Chicago Avenue, just steps away from the CTA Brown Line Chicago stop. Reservations are accepted.

You can find Farmhouse on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube or by following the below map. And, check back next month for Part II of our Farmhouse feature in which we sit down with chef Eric Mansavage.

— The Illinois Office of Tourism


View Illinois Mile Markers: Farmhouse Chicago in a larger map

Meet the Mile Marker:

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Ferdia Doherty

Farm-to-Table
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Ferdia Doherty is the owner of local craft tavern Farmhouse Chicago. After growing up in Ireland, Ferdia moved to his new home – Chicago. He has traveled all over Illinois in search of ingredients for his locally-sourced menu and has a deep appreciation for the people and places in the Land of Lincoln.

Ferdia always says farm-to-table dining comes down to the fact that it’s just good to know where your food comes from. Follow along as he explores what he calls Midwestern fare, and get a taste of the melting pot that inspires his own food creations.

Chef Josh Adams, owner of June Restaurant in Peoria (Photo credit: Jeffery Noble Photography)

Chef Josh Adams, owner of June Restaurant in Peoria (Photo credit: Jeffery Noble Photography)

Food has always played a big role in the life of Josh Adams, the chef and owner of June in Peoria. A Peoria native, Josh curiously played around in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother growing up. The two quickly recognized the talent in the budding chef, so Josh’s mother decided to sign him up for his first cooking class at the mere age of 10.

Josh fell in love with the kitchen and started working at a restaurant after graduating from high school. Although he developed a strong passion for cooking, Josh decided to put his dreams on hold and join the family business. In his spare time, he continued to pursue his passion by studying the culinary arts and whipping up dishes in his kitchen.

However, that all changed one fateful night when Josh dined at the kitchen table at Chicago’s famous Charlie Trotter’s. The insider’s view of the kitchen at such a celebrated restaurant set his culinary passion ablaze. Before leaving Charlie Trotter’s, Josh spoke with chef de cuisine Matthias Merges. Much to Josh’s surprise, and delight, the chef offered him a stagier position in the kitchen for the night.

From that moment on, Josh put all his energy into cultivating his culinary career. He honed his skills at some of the best restaurants in the country, including the award-winning Alinea and Revolver. In 2007, Josh began working at Vie in suburban Chicago, a restaurant focused on a farm-fresh approach.

June focuses on fresh from the garden ingredients (Photo credit: Jeffery Noble Photography)

June focuses on fresh from the garden ingredients (Photo credit: Jeffery Noble Photography)

Vie inspired Josh to focus on seasonal and locally-sourced products for his succulent dishes. After many successful years at Vie, Josh knew it was time to make the move back to Peoria and showcase the river town’s delicious flavors. He made the decision to pack up his knives and open his own restaurant, June. What resulted is a culinary experience like no other, unforgettable for locals and visitors alike.

Chef Josh Adam’s dishes are culinary works of art (Photo credit: Jeffery Noble Photography)

Chef Josh Adam’s dishes are culinary works of art (Photo credit: Jeffery Noble Photography)

Josh and his team highlight the enchanting flavors of every season, bake all breads in-house and preserve farm-fresh ingredients through canning techniques. His approach to food showcases Peoria’s local ingredients at their peak, offering full body flavors that will melt in your mouth and tantalize your taste buds.

June showcases the best flavors of Peoria at their peak (Photo credit: Jeffery Noble Photography)

June showcases the best flavors of Peoria at their peak (Photo credit: Jeffery Noble Photography)

Whether you’re a foodie on a culinary exploration of Illinois, a traveler looking for a fantastic meal or a Peoria native, a meal at June will make you want to come back for more.

–The Illinois Office of Tourism

Feature Image DATE NIGHT IN BLOOMINGTON

Looking for ideas for date night? We’ve got you covered with some suggestions for a romantic night in Bloomington-Normal. Spending a night away from home can help you to unwind with your special someone and keep the romance alive.

Start the night off at Station Two Twenty for dinner, where you will find an exciting menu that is not only socially conscious, but very delicious! The farm-to-table restaurant prepares its mouthwatering dishes with ingredients from local McLean County farms. If you can’t decide what succulent dish to order, enjoy a sampling of the kitchen’s best with the Menu Tour or Farm Tour. The four course Menu Tour and eight course Farm Tour will take you on a culinary exploration of Central Illinois’ hearty flavors.

amykpitzer- normal theater

The classic Normal Theater’s marquee lit at night for movie goers (Photo credit: @amykpitzer)

After dinner, impress your date with a screening at the Normal Theater. This classic theater is furnished with breathtaking restored art-deco décor from the 1930s. Offering a wide array of classic, independent and student films, the Normal Theater has something for everyone.

cherryberry- date night post

Come taste all of the delicious flavors and topping at Cherry Berry (Photo credit: @cherryberryhalifax)

End your night on a sweet note. Just around the corner, head to Cherry Berry Yogurt Bar for a late night snack. Providing scrumptious soft serve yogurt, you’ll find it hard to believe that so many options are fat-free. Take plenty of time to enjoy the ambience and savor the flavor since this specialty yogurt bar is open until 11 p.m. on weekends.

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The gorgeous exterior of Illinois’ classic Vrooman Mansion

Ready to call it a night? Stay at the gorgeous Vrooman Mansion Bed and Breakfast. This historical estate is tucked inside Bloomington’s charming Dimmit’s Grove neighborhood. Discover the rich history of the mansion and relax in one of the beautiful antique rooms. The picturesque Vrooman Mansion is ideal for a truly quaint weekend.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out these great spots, or comment with a few suggestions of your own!

–The Illinois Office of Tourism