Champaign, Il. - Travel expert, Marcia Frost, is back with World Class Arts and Culture for the family in a short drive.
Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal
The Children’s Discovery Museum is definitely a hidden gem. It’s all hands on, with a ton of activities from toddlers to teens. The kids love to create art and play make believe. The theater – where children can pick and wear their own costumes – is a real hit. Check out all their special events for the summer, especially the upcoming Hello from Japan, an interactive traveling exhibit.
Before you leave normal, stop and get something to eat at Medici. They are kid-friendly with a big children’s menu and plenty of delicious dishes for adults, such as this personal pizza. Then stop at Emack & Bolios for some wonderful ice cream.
Indianapolis Theater and Art Museum
I’m originally from New York and always managed to go to Broadway at least once a year for a production. I was extremely impressed with Phantom of the Opera at the Old National Center Theater in Indianapolis. Check out some of the other events they have at this historic theater, which includes concerts and more Broadway productions.
One thing that is not going anywhere in Indy is the Indianapolis Art Museum. This museum can fill a day for the whole family with constant exhibits and hands on activities for kids. In honor of Indiana’s Bicentennial, they also have a special exhibition opening, and a fun Mini Golf that takes you through some of the famous people and things from Indiana. Try to save an extra hour or so to walk through the gardens.
Spend the night downtown at the Homewood Suites. The rooms are huge and they have a complimentary breakfast and evening social, with food. You should venture out for a few meals. Try Georgia Reeses for some great, Southern cooking. You must get the fried chicken, cornbread, and peach cobbler. For breakfast or lunch, go to MilkTooth for the Dutch Pancake.
Grownup Time in Chicago
For a quick Chicago getaway, start at the Art Institute. They just finished up a popular Van Gogh Exhibit and while that is gone, many of Van Gogh’s works remain at the museum. TripAdvisor named the Art Institute the Best Art Museum in the world so anytime you go is a good chance to see amazing art.
Two special restaurants that you must check out. I had lunch at Sepia, a Michelin star restaurant, which always has great food. I discovered some white wines from Loire Valley on the menu which are perfect for summer.
Speaking of wine, finish the evening at III Forks, which has a huge wine cellar. They also just opened up their rooftop for the summer. It’s one of the best steakhouses in Chicago. I’m not a big steak eater, but I loved their short ribs and they have delicious side dishes and desserts so come hungry.
Spend the night at the Hyatt Centric the Loop, whether it’s a getaway for two or the whole family. The rooms are spacious and contemporary, while extremely comfortable. It’s small like a boutique hotel, but prices are reasonable, Wi-Fi is free, and they even have a complimentary area for guests to get coffee, cappuccino and snacks.