Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Fun Day in the Sun at Knights Action Park

As the weather warms, it’s always a great time for an outdoor day trip. I had never been to Knights Action Park in nearby Springfield, Illinois, before and I was anxious to check it out.


For a small amusement park, Knights Action packs a lot in.

They have a waterpark, amusement rides, miniature golf and a golf range, and a racing track.



I had a teen and a pre-teen with me who were anxious to hit the long slides, while I am always happy to grab a tube an relax in a lazy river.

I enjoyed that for a while and ten hit the wave pool, where I met up with Brittany, Jacob, and Kyler.


We walked around for a while and saw the Seal Bay area for younger kids, as well as the river, where they have paddle boats.

Unfortunately, the paddle boats weren’t available the day we where there. It’s something I’d definitely enjoy next time I’m back.


There is a snack bar inside at Knights Action Park, but the consensus was to go outside and take a short drive to Chick-fil-A, which we don’t have in Champaign.

We had gotten the all-inclusive bracelets so we were able to come back in with no problem and continue our activities.




First, I played photographer (and videographer, check out my YouTube video), while the others tried out the go cart racing.

We decided to skip the Ferris Wheel as it was starting to get dark.

It looked like a lot of fun as I watched them go around a few times. Then, we all played a round of miniature golf on the 18-hole Putt Putt course. 
I definitely recommend purchasing an all-inclusive pass at Knights Action Park.

If you live nearby, it’s also worth getting a season pass as only the waterpark closes after Labor Day. 
The passes are also discounted if you buy them before the start of the next May season. (Check their website for details.)

Another thing I didn’t have a chance to check out that I need to come back for is the Route 66 Drive-In Theater, which is under the same ownership as Knights Action Park.




Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Fun Day Trip to St. Louis

I always enjoy my trips to St. Louis. There is always so much to do there. I try to stay over, but sometimes a day trip is better than not going at all.

I headed west with my friend Brittany and her brother, Jacob.

We picked up Amanda on the way and we were
ready to have some fun.

The first stop was City Museum.

I was a City Museum once before and was extremely impressed.

It’s nearly impossible to see everything on one trip, plus they do change some of the exhibits, so I was more than ready to go back.



You know at the beginning your in someplace different because the ticket counter was actually a teller’s box from the St. Louis Title Company.


I think the Caves at City Museum is my favorite spot. The formations inside are fascinating. You just have to keep track of where you are – and watch your step. I wouldn’t let any small children wonder in there by themselves.

The artwork is also fascinating. A lot of it is just pieces of what was referred to as “junk,” reappointed into a unique design.

Climbing is a big theme at this museum and it’s something kids love to do.

It’s nice that there are places you can sit and take a break while you can still keep an eye on the climbers.

City Museum also offers places to get something to eat or drink, including the restaurant Samwhiches in the City, which continually has chocolate chip cookies coming from the oven to go with kid-friendly meals, and Cabin Inn for snacks.

When the Rooftop is open, you also have the options of Grill Master Tony’s Outdoor BBQ and the Roof Top Cantina.

The specialty restaurants aren’t the only things worth going to the Rooftop for.

It’s certainly the most unique outdoor space you’ll see for kids to play in, with a real Ferris wheel, a school bus, and slides.

As a kid, I would go to the St. Louis Zoo when I was in the city visiting family. I hadn’t returned as an adult before this trip.

Like many other attractions inn Forest Park, the Zoo is free so there’s no excuse not to visit.

You can easily fill a half day and it wouldn’t be hard to find things to do to spend the entire day there.

We did get the Adventure Pass. I think it’s well worth it.

For $12.95, you get admission to just about all the extras at the Zoo: Zooline Railroad, the Children’s Zoo, the Carousel, the 4D Theater, petting Stingrays at Caribbean Cove, and the Sea Lion Show.

Throughout the park we found interactive signs to keep us involved and informed about the creatures there.

The Zoo is very spread out so be ready for a lot of walking. We took a break by boarding the train.

Before we headed home, we stopped at the Peacock Diner.

It was my first time there and it’s a cool place to check out for a family-friendly meal.

It was a great day for any time of year. That’s the thing about St. Louis: you’ll always find plenty to do without having to spend a lot of money!

Check out some of my videos from the St. Louis Zoos on my You Tube Channel. 



Monday, May 14, 2018

Lincoln Park Zoo and Patio at Café Brauer

I’ve never been to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. I confess I’m always the one that goes far away before near to see things. 

I lived in New York over 40 years and I never went to the Statue of Liberty (I did take the Circle Line boat ride around it a few times).

Two things brought me to finally plan a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo: the opening of the Patio at Café Brauer for the season, and a toddler who I knew would be mesmerized by her first experience with the animals.

The drive to Chicago with a toddler was definitely different. 

It had been a while since I had a little one on a long car drive and it was her first long car ride, but Brittany and Jessie, Andrea’s mom, helped keep her occupied from the front seat while I entertained her with phone videos. 

We also put a few extra stops into the ride that was usually two hours straight.

When we arrived at the zoo, I think I was the most excited. I love zoos and couldn’t believe I hadn’t been to this one before. 

A free zoo on the lake of the Chicago skyline? It should be on the list of everyone within a few hours.

The zoo did not disappoint inside either. They had a great selection of animals and we were sure to check out all of them.



Andrea seemed to love anything in the water, especially the turtles.

I was enthralled in the penguins, seemingly performing on demand for us, and the Polar Bears in the Arctic Tundra.

Then, of course, the faithful Leo in me always gravitates toward Lions, as well as tigers and leopards.

I also thought the dwarf mongoose were adorable as they huddled together.

We also spent a little time in the Goat Yard, the Small Mammal-Reptile House, and the Regenstein Center for African Apes, all of which have personnel on hand during the day for talks and public feedings (you can check the schedule on the website).


Café Brauer is on the edge of the Lincoln Park Zoo. From their patio, which has music on certain nights during the warm months, you have a great view of the Chicago skyline.
We were quite hungry by the time we got to Café Brauer and started with two of their most popular appetizers, the Mini Beef Tacos and the Tomato Mozzarella Twists.

I was partial to the tacos, but both were quite good.




For a main course, I’d highly recommend the Cuban Sandwich and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken sandwich. Both were favorites at our table.

We also had a little room left for dessert and the Cookie Skillet, served with ice cream, was the perfect choice and big enough to share.

I will definitely be back to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is open 365 days a year, as well as Café Brauer, open most of those days and evenings, with specials on holidays.



Sunday, May 6, 2018

Learning More About Eaglewood Resort & Spa


My friend, Joan, and I were enjoying a quick girls’ getaway to the Eaglewood Resort and Spa in Itasca, just outside of Chicago, Illinois

We had breakfast in the Burnham restaurant, where there are buffets for breakfast and lunch.

This buffet had a lot of healthy options. I was especially impressed with all of the fruit for yogurt and oatmeal. 

They also had an omelet station where you could fill your eggs with just about anything you wanted, and plenty of warm baked goods.

I had a delicious veggie filled omelet, some yogurt covered in homemade granola, a freshly made Danish, and some fruit. Joan also took an assortment from the buffet.

After we ate, we took a tour of the rest of the property we hadn’t seen before we left.


I loved the design of the lobby but hadn’t realized it was Frank Lloyd Wright inspired.

The business center at Eaglewood Resort includes a convenient up-to-the-minute list of flights departing at nearby O’Hare Airport. 

The patio outside the Prairie River Restaurant, where we had eaten the night before, overlooks the golf course and is a good place to sit by day or night, with a fire pit in the middle for cooler nights.

The course is open to guests and the public, giving the Eaglewood another reason to be a popular spot for visitors and locals.

We also took a look at the banquet and wedding facilities. Eaglewood Resort & Spa offers many different options for brides and grooms who are looking for destination weddings.

Before we finished the tour, we were able to see a few of the suites. 

They were set up for families who want the comforts of home, including refrigerators, living rooms, and dining tables.

I also found out more about all the terrific packages and activities available at Eaglewood Resort for family vacations. 


They add to the fun of their bowling alley and Olympic-sized swimming pool with things such as a bouncy house, an escape room, bocce ball and glow-in-the-dark night golf.

The resort also often has multi-generational family vacations since there are so many different activities.

I can personally attest to the attraction for spa getaways at Eaglewood Resort!



Saturday, April 28, 2018

Girls' Getaway to Eaglewood Resort

My friend Joan and I headed a few hours away to Itasca, Illinois, for a short girls’ getaway at Eaglewood Resort & Spa.

You could see the golf course from the balcony in our room. The Deluxe Room is quite large and suitable for a small family.

The spa and fitness center are located in a building across the parking lot from the rooms and other common areas. 
The pool center at Eaglewood is set up to be enjoyed year-round.

It’s totally enclosed in the winter and one side opens up in the summer so you can sit around a patio and enjoy the Olympic-sized pool with accompanying whirlpool.
During the warmer months, they also serve cocktails and snacks out there.

Three separate rooms were in the fitness center, all with all new equipment. One room had state-of-the art machines.
 The second was all about weights, and the third was for classes. We saw someone in there stretching.

Within the fitness and spa area Eaglewood Resort also has its own bowling alley, complete with snacks and a full-service bar. 
It’s a really cool place to hangout when it’s not outdoor season. There were tables for groups and families too.

Guests of the resort can use the facilities of the spa (including a steam room and sauna) at any time.

Day packages are also available if you’d like to just come for the spa and its amenities.

The spa menu here is quite impressive. It covers an array of body treatments, massages, facials, and nail offerings.

I always like to try a signature treatment when I have the opportunity. I chose the Eaglewood Indulgence.

I was relaxed and my muscles felt better than they had in years by the time I left there.
Since it was too early for dinner and too late for lunch, we stopped at The Market for coffee and muffins.

It’s a unique store on the ground floor that combines a little grocery shop and a coffee counter. 
They have prepared food and sandwiches, and even make pizzas.

After a little nap, we had dinner downstairs at the Prairie River restaurant.

We had hoped to eat out by the fire pit, but it was a cool evening so we stayed indoors.
Joan ordered the House Barrel-aged Old Fashioned and I had a glass of their White Peach Sangria, also made on the premises. Both were very good.
We were hungry and couldn’t make up our mind what to get for dinner, so we went ahead and ordered appetizers.

Ramon’s Street Tacos were excellent. They were filled with peppers, onions, and steak, which had been marinated and was quite tender. 


The guacamole served with it were also good.

Joan ordered and enjoyed the Salmon Bites on the recommendation of the waitress. 

They were served with a garlic horseradish crème and think potato crisps.

While we thought the Petite Sirloin and Shrimp combo would be served like a Surf & Turk, it actually came in a stack. Joan really liked it.

I had a soft and flavorful pork tenderloin in a Shandy BBQ sauce.

It was served with a leek and cauliflower mash and a side of broccolini.

All the vegetables we had were fresh.

We couldn’t resist the dessert list when we saw it. We decided to get two different ones and share.

The first was a Mud Pie. At Prairie River they make it with an Oreo crust and fill it with Bailey’s and Kahlua ice cream. It’s then topped with a fudge sauce.

I don’t think I have to say how good that was!


The other dessert was also fantastic. It was called Chocolate Marble Xango. Cheesecake-filled burritos were fried and served alongside a chocolate sauce that was thick like a pudding.

We headed back to our room right after dinner. It had been a relaxing day and evening.

It was the perfect girls’ getaway, and we still had a little more time to go at Eaglewood Resort &Spa.