Nov 19, 2015

Scenes from The Great Pumpkin Patch, Arthur, Ill.

Remember that “Peanuts” holiday special where Linus and Sally sit outside in a sad looking pumpkin patch waiting for a mythical entity known as the Great Pumpkin to bring Halloween cheer?  Granted, Linus was one confused kid, but I’m betting he’d be ecstatic with The Great Pumpkin Patch in the heart of Illinois Amish country outside of Arthur, Ill.

Nov 12, 2015

Renewing my membership in the DFV cult

Since its official opening in 2013, Danenberger Family Vineyards, located just west of Springfield, Ill., and just outside of the small town of New Berlin (which used to be better known for hosting the annual Sangamon County Fair) has become a huge hit with a growing following frequent visitors and friends of the winemakers who are affectionately known as #DFVCult members (hashtag intended).

Nov 9, 2015

No runs, no hits, no worries in Wrigleyville

As I continue to catch up on all of my delinquent blog ideas from the summer, I’ve decided to look back at a particularly important day at Wrigley Field this year, as The April finally saw her first Chicago Cubs game at the Friendly Confines.  

Nov 4, 2015

Feeling perfectly frank in Plainfield, Ill.

(Editor's note: We would like to report, sadly, that Frank's Night Out has apparently closed permanently as of Dec. 31, 2016. So many of the good ones go too soon. Thanks for the memories, Frank's!)

I like to think of myself as being pretty savvy when it comes to finding unique, enjoyable places to drink and dine during my travels.  Sure, I’ve been known to blindly stumble upon an occasional great find, but I try to do my research on any place my travels may potentially take me.  But sometimes, however, The April beats me to the punch.

This was the case when, after lamenting the fact that I was unable to visit the famous Hot Doug’s gourmet dog establishment one last time before it closed, The April discovered Frank’s Night Out in Plainfield, Ill.

Plainfield is about as far west as you can get and still be considered a Chicago suburb, but I was familiar with the area, so I knew it had potential.  We added Frank’s Night Out to a weekend itinerary that included The April’s first ever baseball game at Wrigley Field.   

Nov 2, 2015

A commoner dines at Crown Candy Kitchen, Saint Louis

When it comes to dining establishments, it’s one thing to be trendy by trying to replicate the past.  It’s another thing entirely to stand the test of time year after year, generation after generation.  The Crown Candy Kitchen, a Saint Louis tradition since 1913, definitely qualifies as a prime example of the latter.  After all, fewer dining experiences are as old-school as a turn-of-the-century -- as in 20th century -- family-friendly soda fountain.  And while Crown Candy Kitchen may not be the last of its kind, it’s a good bet they’re one of the best still going.

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...