Get Out of Town: Weekend or Week Long Trips


A Day at the Zoo and 7 Family Vacation Ideas

If the weather is any indication, summer has arrived. School is out and everyone is trying to decide what to do with the family. I’ve got plenty of options that will fit any budget, but if you don’t have the time to get away, a day the Lincoln Park Zoo is an excellent option.

If you’ve never been to the Lincoln Park Zoo, you can’t imagine what a treasure it is in the middle of Chicago. The zoo is opened 365 days a year and it is FREE. Kids of all ages will enjoy the hundreds of animals, as will their parents.

You can get close up to the animals at the Goat Yard within the Farm-in-the-Zoo, as well as at the Small Mammal-Reptile House everyday (check here for the up-to-date schedules), when zoo representatives will introduce you to the animals.

Some of the other highlights at the Lincoln Park Zoo include the Penguin Encounter, sea turtles, the Regenstein Center for African Apes, the Lion House, and the Polar Bears in the Artic Tundra.

Another thing you can’t miss are the views of the Chicago skyline from the Zoo. One of the better ways to see it is while enjoying a meal at Café Braun. The patio is open now so you can even relax outside and feel the breeze and sip handcrafted cocktails, such as their Peach Old Fashioned. They even have live music every Tuesday, from 5:30-7:30 pm, and special events, such as a Father’s Day Brunch.

While at Café Brauer I recommend started with the Mini Beef Tacos. There are lots of great choices on the main menu, but the Cuban Sandwich and Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast are wonderful options. As for dessert, I’d definitely go with the Cookie Skillet.

9 Family Vacation Ideas for Summer

By Marcia Frost

It’s time to plan a warm-weather getaway with your family. Here are some of my favorite places, both near and far. It’s not too late to book a great trip – and even get some great bargains!

  1. Nova Scotia, Canada

With the current value of the U.S. dollar at .77, you can recoup the airfare you spend to get to Canada with a big savings on hotels, attractions, and food. Head to Nova Scotia, where there is plenty to explore in Halifax, including the history of the Titanic (check out this article for more money saving ideas).

Just about an hour from there, and across from Anne of Green Gable’s famed Prince Edward Island, you can stay at the luxurious Fox Harb’r Resort without breaking the bank. Take a look at some of their summer packages.

  1. Florida
    Head to some of the Florida cities you may not know as well, but will offer just as much to do, see and eat. Daytona Beach is a favorite and has plenty of hotel and activity options. Also think about flying into West Palm Beach and also spend time in nearby Delray Beach and Boca Raton. Boca’s Mizner Park is a fun spot for a day or evening. They even just opened a new Junior’s Restaurant, a favorite of mine, with the best cheesecake and NY style sandwiches.
  1. Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota
    I had a lot of fun at the Mall of America (see this CILiving segment for details). Since that time, they have added new stores, a Rock of Ages Mini-Golf, and The Escape Game. Make a vacation out of it with a stay at the Radisson Mall of America.  You can even snag a bargain trip with their $5 room deal to celebrate their 5 year anniversary.

  2. Generations Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico
    It’s not too late to plan a Mexican all-inclusive vacation and Generations Resort in Riviera Maya is one the whole family will love. They have a “Suitest Summer” deal right now so you can snag a suite and all the activities (including a kid’s camp), meals (even room service), and drinks at a great rate. Visit their website for details.

  3. Branson, Missouri
    Last summer I was on CI Living talking about my trip to Branson. In addition to all of the things I got to do then, they have added in some news attractions, such as: Silver Dollar City’s new Time Traveler, the World’s Fastest, Steepest, and Tallest; the Stunt Dog Extravaganza; and 7D Dark Ride Adventure. Plan your trip at the Explore Branson website.

  4. St. Louis, Missouri
    You’ll always find plenty to do in St. Louis, including a free zoo and lots of complimentary museums, and fun dinner cruises. This summer is the opening of the new Gateway Arch National Park experience.

  5. Santa Claus, Indiana
    Holiday World is easily one of the best amusement park experiences in the country, an a fantastic deal for the family with free parking, free soft drinks and water, and free sunblock. You also get to cool off at Splashin Safari for the one price ticket.  Stay at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort just across the street and spend another day or two exploring this fun town.


Be sure to Like Midwest Travel with Marcia Frost on Facebook for more information on her trips, and read her stories on her Wine And Spirits Travel blog. You can also follow Marcia @Spiritstraveler on Twitter and Instagram.

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