Thursday, February 25, 2010

Great Escapes Chicago

Great Escapes Chicago
by Karla Zimmerman

This guidebook is divided into four sections; Eat, Play, Learn, and Chill. Centered on Chicago, many of its chapters are a bit far for a quick escape from Kalamazoo: cheese in Green County, WI, beer in Milwaukee, art in the Quad Cities. It does devote a few chapters to west Michigan and northern Indiana escapes and Kalamazoo even gets a mention.

1. Beached in Saugatuck
"They call it a 'drinking town with an art gallery problem.' That's not printed on Saugatuck's welcome sign, of course, but locals proudly declare it."
To see and do: Oval Beach, Douglas Beach, Saugatuck Chain Ferry, Mt Baldhead, dune rides, gallery hopping, Ox-Bow School of Art, fruit picking.
Eating out: Mermaid Bar and Grill (340 Water St), Saugatuck Brewing Company(2948 Blue Star Highway) and in nearby Fennville: Journeyman Cafe (114 E. Main St.) and Cranes Pie Pantry (6054 124th Ave.)
They consider South Haven part of the neighborhood: North Beach & South Beach, Kal-Haven Trail, Sherman's Dairy Bar (1601 Phoenix Rd)
Nearby: Holland (camping at Holland St Park, Dutch heritage); Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo

2. Surfing through Harbor Country

"Harbor Country is the collective name of eight small towns just over the Michigan border, stretching for 15 miles along Lake Michigan's shore. The area was popular in the 1920s and 1930s for Chicagoans escaping the city's summer heart. It fell out of favor until a couple of decades ago when many urbanites fixed up second homes here."
Towns: Michiana, Grand Beach, New Buffalo, Three Oaks, Union Pier, Lakeside, Harbert and Sawyer.
To See and Do: New Buffalo Public Beach, Warren Dunes St. Park Beach (camping), surfing, kayaking the Galien River, casino, backroads biking, gallery hopping, theater, wine tours,
Eating Out: Redamaks (616 E. Buffalo St, New Buffalo), Blue Plate Cafe (15288 Red Arrow Highway, Union Pier), Cafe Gulistan (13581 Red Arrow Highway, Harbert), Luisa's Cafe (Red Arrow Highway, Harbert), Oinks Dutch Treat (227 W. Buffalo St, New Buffalo) Drier's meat market (14 S. Elm St. Three Oaks)

3. Top of the Dunes
"After you slog up the hulking sand dune, look over its golden expanse, and have a Lawrence of Arabia moment, it's easy to forget you're just a few miles outside Chicago city limits. The you look into the distance and see a smoke-belching factory and it all comes crashing back. That's the dichotomy of Indiana Dunes, a joint state and national park whose 21 miles of Lake Michigan beachfront hold rustling grasses, half-buried cottonwoods, bird-filled marshes, and pine forests. It shocks and awes that this much nature coexists next to Northwest Indiana's bleak smokestacked landscape of steel mills and oil refineries."
To See and Do:Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana Dunes St Park, Mt Baldy Beach, Central Beach, Lake View Beach, Miller Beach, Lake St Beach, Dunes St park Beach, bike the Calumet Bike Trail (See Northwest Indiana bike map), outlet shopping
hiking: Cowls Bog trail(5 mi), Heron Rookery Trail(2mi), Bailly/Chellberg Trail (2.5 mi) Long Lake Trail (1.6 mi)
Eating Out: Lucrezia (428 S. Calumet Rd, Chesterton), Miller Bakery Cafe (555 S. Lake St, Miller Beach), Shoreline Brewery (208 Wabash St, Michigan City)
Nearby: Three Floyd's Brewpub (9570 Indiana Parkway, Munster)

4. Indiana's Amish Country

"The Indiana community is the nation's third-largest Amish enclave-- after those around Holmes County, Ohio, and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania-- and it is indeed a different world. Call it life in the past lane. Descended from conservative 16th-century Dutch-Swiss religious factions, the Amish believe modern conveniences detract from family life, and so they shun things like electricity, telephones, and motorized vehicles. They farm the land with horse and plow and travel by bicycle or horse-drawn buggy."
towns: Shipshewana, Middlebury.
To See and Do:Heritage Trail, Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market, Menno-Hof Visitors Center (510 S. Van Buren St , Shipshewana), buggy tours, Gohn Brothers shop, Dutch Country market (11401 County Rd 16, east of Middlebury), RV/Motor Home Hall of Fame
Eating Out: Village Inn (105 s. Main St, Middlebury), Das Dutchman Essenhaus (240 US 20, Middlebury), Kelly Jae's Cafe (133 S. Main St, Goshen)

The guidebook also recommends many escapes inside Chicago that sound interesting: Devon Avenue restaurants, Mexican food in the Pilsen neighborhood, Frank LLoyd Wright & Ernest Hemingway in Oak Park, Chicago Botanic Garden.

You may find this book at your local library or bookstore or through online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble .

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