Archive for  July 2013

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Before our trek down The Mighty Mississippi we had no idea that The Land of Lincoln was also wine country, but there are vineyards and wineries all along the river. This area of Illinois was the first to grow grapes, starting way back in 1851, and those vines are still growing in Nauvoo State Park.

Nauvoo is home to the state’s oldest winery, Baxter’s Vineyards.

For five generations the Baxter family has been making wine, and their experience and attention to detail shows.

The wines are still made the old fashioned way, no big machinery or assembly lines, in the specially designed basement of the winery.

Kim, who returned to Nauvoo after college to continue the family tradition greeted us and showed us the entire operation.

Each vintage is produced in small quantities, carefully watched and tended, and then bottled and corked by hand.

The busy seasons, harvest and bottling, brings in entire family from far and wide. Folks gather together as they have for generations and Kim’s grandmother cooks for everyone on site in the big kitchen. The rest of the year the kitchen serves as headquarters for Carol’s Pies & Nauvoo Nibbles.

For those that want to make Nauvoo and Baxter’s winery an overnight destination, the old family home is now The Nauvoo Grand Bed & Breakfast.

– David, Illinois Mile Marker

Click here to see our full adventure down The Great River Road

Thanks to our partners for making this trip possible, including the Quad Cities CVB, Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB, Quincy Area CVB and Nauvoo Tourism Office. Want to follow in Mile Markers David & Veronica’s footsteps? Travel the below map!



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David & Veronica

Empty Nesters
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David and Veronica are experiencing the collision of Baby Boomer and Empty Nester. When their youngest headed off to college, they decided to grab life by the horns, sell the nest, hit the road and become GypsyNesters!

They've been full-time travelers and have been breaking the empty nest rules since 2008. Frequent visitors of Illinois, they are looking forward to exploring the Great River Road this spring!

Historic-Auto-Museum

Have you ever wondered what happens to movie props after production of the film has finished? If the answer is yes, then the Historic Auto Attractions Museum, in Roscoe, is a must-see destination for you. Don’t let the name fool you. This museum features not only 70 specialty vehicles, but also loads of cool celebrity artifacts.

With nine exhibits to choose from, including horse drawn buggies from the late 1800s, early 20th century cars, race cars, celebrity vehicles and clothing, you’re bound to see tons of historical artifacts that you’d never thought you’d see. The Batmobile from the 1989 film “Batman Returns,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1939 Ford Secret Service car, and Marilyn Monroe’s dress from “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” are just a few of the amazing treasures housed in this museum.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1939 Ford Secret Service car

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1939 Ford Secret Service car

This unique destination is not only home to famed artifacts such as the aforementioned Batmobile, but also lesser known items, such as Abraham Lincoln’s chair from his personal study in the Oval Office.

President Lincoln’s Oval Office chair

President Lincoln’s Oval Office chair

Historic Auto Attractions was opened in 2001 by businessman and car enthusiast Wayne Lensing. He began collecting artifacts and celebrity memorabilia that were often not being displayed in museums that he thought deserved to be showcased.

Located in Roscoe, Illinois, in the Chicago & Beyond region, the museum is just a short drive from Rockford and Chicago. As the Historic Auto Attractions Facebook page says, the museum is “so much more than just cars.” With a guarantee like that, it’s bound to be entertaining for everyone.

— Illinois Office of Tourism

Peoria-Zoo

Take a walk on the wild side this summer with a trip to the Peoria Zoo. With a selection of exhibits from Asia, Australia and Africa, more than 100 species and a variety of educational programs, the zoo is sure to be a fun summer destination for all ages.

An alligator chilling out in the summer heat

The zoo was originally established in the 1800s when a herd of elk was donated to the Glen Oak Zoo. In 1955, with the help of famed St. Louis Zoo director, Marlin Perkins, and local architect, Cletis Foley, the zoo expanded and developed a more formal collection. Over the years, the zoo has continued to emphasize the importance of education and conservation.

If you want a truly unique experience at the Peoria Zoo, check out the variety of classes, daily programs with the zoo keepers, behind-the-scenes zoo tours, overnight camping opportunities and scout programs that the zoo offers.

One special educational program takes place this month on Saturday, July 20 from 11 am-2 pm: the “Winter in Summer” event. You can enjoy an icy treat while learning about how the zoo keeps the animals cool during the hot summer months!

For those who are truly bold, come face-to-face with a giraffe at the feeding deck where zoo-goers can feed the giraffes in the “Africa!” exhibit from the palm of their hand!

— Illinois Office of Tourism

Connie-Reed-Metropolis-v2

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to build a small city into a cool tourist attraction!

The quote from the 1950s Adventures of Superman television series isn’t quite right, but it’s fitting for Metropolis, Illinois.  It was obvious during my visit to Metropolis that Superman is the super star there.  Little boys dressed in Superman costumes were everywhere.  The most crowded spot in town was in front of the 15-foot bronze Superman statue in Superman Square, near the Super Museum.  A couple of blocks from Superman Square stands a statue of Noel Neil, the actress who portrayed Lois Lane in the TV series. A boulder of kryptonite rests on the corner of Third and Ferry Streets in front of the Americana Hollywood Museum.  Even the local newspaper got on the Superman bandwagon and renamed the paper The Metropolis Planet.

Superman

15-foot bronze Superman statue in Superman Square

Superman isn’t the only attraction in town, though.  Harrah’s Metropolis Casino & Hotel is a destination in itself, and in Illinois’ first state park, see the reconstructed Fort Massac, used during the French and Indian War.

Hunt for murals of Metropolis historic events painted on the sides of downtown buildings, and for a treat, go to Pizza and Dots for a Dippin’ Dots cone or sundae.  Dippin’ Dots are those fun little ice cream pellets that you see at theme parks.  They offer a pizza buffet, too, if you’re looking for more than dessert.

The Superman Museum in Metropolis

The Superman Museum in Metropolis

As for accommodations, I recommend Summers Riverview Mansion, a beautifully restored Victorian Italianate mansion turned bed-and-breakfast with five large guest rooms, some with canopy beds and each ornately decorated in period antiques.  All have private baths and Jacuzzi tubs.  As elegant as the mansion is, you’ll still see a trace of Superman.  A chunk of kryptonite is embedded in the garden wall.

– Connie Reed, Illinois Mile Marker

Thanks to our partners for making this trip possible, including the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau. Want to follow in Mile Marker Connie Reed’s footsteps? Travel the below map!

 


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Connie Reed

Travel Adventure
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A lifelong Chicago area resident, Connie likes the rush of the city during the workday contrasted by the quiet of small town life at night. She enjoys variety in her travels, too, always eager to explore new places, mixing nature, historical, culinary, shopping, adventure or just plain fun attractions.

Connie shares her travel stories through Examiner.com, focusing on attractions and events in and near Illinois and on her own blog, Midwest Wanderer. When not traveling or writing, Connie likes to putter in the kitchen, trying new dishes with unique ingredients she finds at markets she has visited.

Lagomarcino’s is a sweet blast from the past.

Since 1908, the lucky folks of Moline have been satisfying their sweet teeth at this fourth-generation, family-owned establishment.

A staple if there ever was one.

Upon entering Lagomarcino’s we were engulfed by nostalgia and the enticing smell of handmade chocolate.

The custom made booths, Tiffany lamps, the terrazzo tile floor and metal ceiling combined to transport us to the Illinois of yore.

We ordered up a cherry coke and a Green River, a lime phosphate famously named after the tradition of dying the Chicago River green every St. Patrick’s Day.

Settling in at the counter of the soda fountain, we had a front row seat to the making of our beverages.

A sundae at Lagomarcino’s is an interactive affair. The hot fudge, billed as a “homemade bittersweet elixir” is served on the side, to allow the customer to make his or her perfect blend.

After one taste of the magic elixir, we pushed the ice cream aside and went after the heavenly concoction with a spoon.

Diluting it seemed like a sin.

-David & Veronica, Illinois Mile Markers 

Click here to see our full adventure down The Great River Road

Thanks to our partners for making this trip possible, including the Quad Cities CVB, Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB, Quincy Area CVB and Nauvoo Tourism Office. Want to follow in Mile Markers David & Veronica’s footsteps? Travel the below map!

 


View The Butterworth Center and Deere-Wiman House in Moline, Illinois in a larger map

Meet the Mile Markers:

arrow

David & Veronica

Empty Nesters
close
info:
David and Veronica are experiencing the collision of Baby Boomer and Empty Nester. When their youngest headed off to college, they decided to grab life by the horns, sell the nest, hit the road and become GypsyNesters!

They've been full-time travelers and have been breaking the empty nest rules since 2008. Frequent visitors of Illinois, they are looking forward to exploring the Great River Road this spring!