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27 Exlporing Chicago's Chinatown

Chicago's Chinatown by Allan

Part of what makes Chicago so interesting is the diverse people that make up the city and the wonderful ethnic neighborhoods. Chicago’s Chinatown is an area rich in culture and history, and it is the second largest American Chinatown (other than New York). With appetizing restaurants and bakeries, stores filled with Chinese decorations and clothing and historic architecture, there is a lot to take in here.

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28 seijaku

The Torii Gate

Chicago often gets a bad rap when it comes to winter, but few people know that there is a lot to appreciate in the Windy City during this season.

Jackson Park’s Osaka Garden is truly one of Chicago’s hidden gems. Nestled on an island behind the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago’s Hyde Park, this small Japanese garden is a pleasure to visit in any season. My favorite time to visit is in the winter, after a fresh snowfall has blanketed the area. I often find myself trudging through the early morning snow in Jackson Park, crossing the bridge at the north end of Wooded Island, and passing beneath the garden’s weather-worn but beautiful Torii gate entrance, surrounded by snow-covered pines.

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In addition to the original segment of Rt. 66 that runs south of Springfield, there’s another original stretch in the area around Auburn on Route 4 that’s worth a quick detour.

It’s about 2 miles long, and was part of the alignment until the 1930’s, when route was moved to avoid smaller towns. What makes it unique is that the original pavers have mostly survived since the road was built back in the 1920’s.

More info:

National Park Service: Illinois Road Segments–Route 66

Wikipedia: U.S. Route 66 in Illinois

Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway: http://www.illinoisroute66.org/

Getting there:

If you’re on Route 4 heading south, keep your eye out for the historic 66 sign as you leave Chatham just before you come into Auburn.  The road will be on your right.  Coming from the south, the road will be on your left shortly after leaving Auburn.

-Scott Troehler

To learn more about Scott, check out his bio.

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30 hitting the slopes at chestnut mountain


A few weeks ago, some friends approached me with the proposition to go skiing for a weekend in Galena, Illinois. I have to admit, I was apprehensive – how would I avoid seriously injuring myself on the slopes when I hadn’t been skiing in almost ten years?

As a kid, my family and I spent a few summer vacations in Galena. My memories of the trips are scarce, except that Galena resembled a quaint little town straight out of the 1950’s. Our stays generally consisted of swimming, mini golf, shopping, dining out and plenty of family bonding time. After a few minutes of contemplation, I realized I didn’t know much about Galena at all. So in the spirit of adventure, I decided I’d embrace the road trip, potential injuries, and bonding time with my fellow travelers.

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31 chi winter dance festival

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Take a second and imagine yourself in Millennium Park on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage twirling and dancing the afternoon away with friends. Throughout the month of February, this dream can become a reality with the Chicago Winter Dance Festival.

This event turns dance into a winter activity offering free dance lessons on the Pritzker Pavilion stage with an added bonus of ice skating lessons at the McCormick Tribune Ice rink on the weekends.

Looking for something to do this weekend? After the dance lessons, enjoy swing dance performances on Saturday and learn various ethnic dances on Sunday. I love learning about different cultures, especially in Chicago because it is such a diverse city; this event will not only help you learn a new dance but it will give you a glimpse into another culture.

The weekend fun in Chicago doesn’t have to end when the dancing is done. The Art Institute of Chicago is free throughout the month of February. Take some time and warm up from the cold while browsing through their newest addition, the Modern Wing. Or warm up in one of the many stores just two blocks away on State Street.

Bring your friends and family along and experience the fun in Millennium Park at the Winter Dance Festival, but don’t forget your dancing shoes!

Check out the dance and ice skating times here.

– Jaclyn Howard

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