Four Things You Need To Do In South Dakota

Recently my family and I took our summer road trip, which included a stop in Rapid City, South Dakota. I haven’t been there since I was a small child so I forgot how beautiful it is! If you’re taking a road trip or planning a trip to South Dakota, here are four things you need to do!

First stop, head to the Black Hill Mountains. The views are incredible, the air is crisp, and there are so many things to do. There are over 400 hiking trails. Two of our favorites are Lover’s Leap and Cathedral Spires. For camping, I recommend you check out Sheridan Lake and the Iron Creek Horse Campsite.

You can pop into some mom-and-pop eateries and souvenir shops. We stopped in Custer and you really feel the small town historical vibes. Some others that were recommended to us were:

  • Deadwood
  • Dell Rapids
  • Hill City
  • Keystone
  • Hot Springs
  • Pierre
  • Spearfish

If you have kids with you, stop in the Rush Mountain Adventure Park for some family-friendly thrill rides including a mountain coaster, and a sky climbing course. You can also explore a cave.

The next stop is, of course, visiting Mount Rushmore. I went in the 80s when I was a small child and boy has it changed! The monument is pretty incredible by itself but now they have a museum, an eatery (with ice cream!), a gift shop, and an amphitheater. You can even walk up the mountain (weather permitting), on the Presidential Trail (0.6 miles long, 422 stairs) to get up close and personal with the mountain sculpture and perhaps glimpse some of the area’s wildlife.

You need about 1.5 to 2 hours there. Admission is free to get in however parking is $10.

Speaking of memorials, another memorial to visit not too far from Mount Rushmore is Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse Memorial is 70 years in the making and is the world’s largest mountain carving located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is considered The Eighth Wonder of the World in progress.

You’ll need about 1.5 to 2 hours here as well. Entry per car is $30 to get in. For $125 you can go to the top and explore what will one day be Crazy Horse’s outstretched arm.

Lastly, you have to check out Badlands National Park. You can drive the 1.5 scenic route around the entire park to see some buffalo, wildlife, and be surrounded by the geographic formations. You’ll also see a ghost town that once was thriving during the Gold Rush. If you don’t have time for that then make a stop at Pinnacle Overlook which provides sweeping views of the Badlands. The best time to go is at sunrise and sunset! Parking is available and is free. It is also a quick 15 minutes from the main interstate.

My family and I loved spending time in South Dakota and recommend making a stop if it’s in your future road trip plans.

Holiday Activities In Chicago

It’s that time again! The holidays in Chicago are truly magical. There are so many things to do to celebrate the season and keep the spirit alive. Below is a list of all my favorite Chicago holiday activities you can do with friends or family over the next several weeks.

Head over to Gallagher Way. They just opened their Christkindl Market where you can shop unique gifts from all over the world and sip on some hot spiced wine. They also have Winterland which features ice skating every day of the week and you might even get a photo with Santa. There are some great restaurants nearby to grab a bite to eat too!

Next to Gallagher Way is Hotel Zachary. They host an upscale Breakfast with Santa every year that is what kid dreams are made of. The brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays beginning November 27 through December 19, from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. Adults for $50 per person and children 4 to 12 years are $20.

Need a little holiday magic? Book a ride on the Polar Express. We’ve been a few times and heading back this year and can’t wait. It truly is a magical experience.

If you want to explore Christmas and holiday traditions from all around the world, I highly recommend the Christmas Around The World and The Holidays of Light Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. This tradition started in 1942 and each year the exhibit gets even better. It’s a must-see of the season. The exhibit runs through January 6th.

Seeing The Joffrey Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker is also a favorite holiday tradition in my family. From their website: The Joffrey’s beloved version of The Nutcracker takes inspiration from Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, one of the city’s great historical attractions of the late 19th century. The performances start on December 4 and run through December 26th.

Need a fun activity for the whole family? Grab tickets for the Light Up The Lake experience at Navy Pier. This is a new event this year and I can’t wait to check it out. Years past we would go to the Winder Wonder Fest and loved it so I know this will be a great experience too. From Navy Pier’s website: The indoor, temperature-controlled experience features a sprawling light garden of large-scale sculptures comprising more than 600,000 twinkling lights; an Alpine ice rink; authentic holiday beer garden; kiddie train rides; Santa’s Merry Main Street and gift market; and other family-friendly and date-night activities.

Light Up the Lake runs from Nov. 26 through Jan. 2. Tickets start at just $15.00, including a ride on the iconic Centennial Wheel, offering inspiring views of the city all decked out for the holidays.

Amaze Light Festival in Rosemont just opened at Impact Field and features millions of twinkle lights for an immersive experience. You can visit seven different “worlds”, visit Santa’s workshop, take a ride on Thrill Hill, or loop around on the Arctic Train. We just went this weekend and it is a must-visit!

If you’re looking for an inexpensive activity? Grab some friends or the family and head to a Christmas-themed bar! I always say you haven’t lived until you’ve been to a Christmas bar! Santa Baby and Rudoph Bar are my favorites. They are family-friendly if you go before 9 pm and the kids will love it. If you want some holiday fun with a view, book an Igloo at London House Chicago.

Don’t worry, I have some free things to do too! You can head to the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo (Free Admission on Monday/Tuesday) or take a quick drive up to the North Shore to see the famous house in the holiday movie classic, Home Alone.

Lastly, I’m going to share some Santa sightings! If you want to get some pictures with the kiddos and Santa, here are some of our favorite locations.

900 North Shops Santa has now arrived at 900 North Michigan Avenue on Level 3 on Saturday, November 19 – Saturday, December 24.

Skydeck Chicago at (Sears!) Willis Tower is hosting Santa at Skydeck! This event is held in the lower-level museum portion of Skydeck Chicago in a full-scale ‘L’ train replica where Santa will be riding and be available for photos from December 18–24, from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Macy’s Santaland This is our favorite Santa. We’ve been going to Santaland since my kids were newborns. The whole experience is something we look forward to each year.

Museum Of Illusions now has Santa Sundays at the museum every Sunday morning between Thanksgiving and Christmas. From their website: It’s time to get silly with Santa! Santa will be strolling through the Museum of Illusions every Sunday morning between Thanksgiving and Christmas from 9am until 12pm. Now’s your chance to size up Santa in the Ames Room and get dizzy with him in the Vortex Tunnel. Children will be thrilled to share their Christmas wishes with the big guy and parents will get photo ops galore. All children attending Santa Sundays will receive a special holiday treat at the end of their visit. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance at

Happy Holidays, friends! Here’s to a fun season.

Best Pumpkin Patches – Chicago

The time has come! Fall is almost here and there’s no better place to be during fall than Chicago. Not only is the landscape breathtaking with all the different colored foliage but there are endless activities. One of our favorite family fall activities is visiting pumpkin patches in and around Chicago. Who doesn’t love all things pumpkin?

I put together a list of pumpkin patches we love and I know you’ll love them too. Pro tip: Plan ahead. Buy tickets online. Try to get there when they open so you don’t have long wait times to get in or for the attractions.

Jacks Pumpkin Pop Up This is a popular one if you live in the city. It’s great for families during the day but also fun for a girl’s night or date night. The patch has it all. They have fortune tellers, ax throwing, carnival games, food trucks, a bar, photo ops, a corn maze, and of course, a pumpkin patch.

Chicago Park District  Many parks around the city feature movies in the park, pumpkin patches, and more. Check the site to see if any activities are in parks near you.

Lincoln Park Zoo  LP Zoo has a great fall fest that is free! You do have to pay for tickets to the rides, but entry is free. They feature several bounce houses and slides along with a corn maze and corn pit.

Now for our favorite patches outside the city:

Goebberts Just a short drive from the city, Goebberts offers it all and is famous for their Fall Fest. The admission includes most of the rides and attractions which is great. Parking is also free. Attractions include: Animal Land, Pedal Karts, Tire Mountain, Corn Stalk Maze, Wagon Ride to the Field /Orchard, Haunted House, Munchkin Maze, Straw Bale Maze, Western Town, Pumpkin Eating Dinosaur, Goebbert’s Pumpkin Express Train Ride, Pumpkin Slide, Jumping Pillow, Chicken Show, Pig Races, and Corn Box. In October they also do magic shows! Plan on a full day here, you’ll need it!

Didier Farms Another short drive from the city, Didier is a great pumpkin farm for the whole family. It’s not as big as some of the other suburban patches but it’s perfect for young kids. They feature a petting zoo, kiddie rides, and a pumpkin playland.

Bengston’s Pumpkin Farm This is our number one choice and we go every year. This farm is great for small kids and school-aged kids. There are rides and attractions for all. They even have a mini roller coaster. There’s a haunted house, pig races, slides, hayrides, and more. They have great food and don’t forget to get those pumpkin donuts before you leave!

Sonny Acres Farm Another great one especially for small kids. They feature a petting zoo, pony rides, kiddie rides, and bounce houses.

Bear PAW Adventure Land  If you want to go a little further, Bear Paw Adventure Island is a must! We go here often for summer activities but they have a great Fall Fest complete with a drone light show, zombie laser tag, haunted hayride, apple cannons, a haunted maze, inflatables, and more. The Adventure Park is attached to a campground we visit often so if you want to make a weekend out of it pack the tent or rent a cabin and enjoy!

Discovering Starved Rock –Illinois Travel

Thanks to Covid, I haven’t been on a plane in almost a year but, as always, there are silver linings. This year made our family look in our own backyard for fun places to visit and who knew there were so many! One of our now favorite places to visit is Starved Rock National Park.

Starved Rock is located on the south shore of the Illinois river just under two hours from Chicago. This 2600+acre National Park showcases dramatic sandstone caverns, lush forests, and twenty hiking trails ranging from beginner to experienced hikers. The views over the Illinos River alone make the park a must see. The park is best known for its fascinating rock formations, primarily St. Peter sandstone, laid down in a huge shallow inland sea more than 425 million years ago and later brought to the surface.

You can make a day trip out of your visit to Starved Rock or stay at one of the several campgrounds in the park. If you do want to camp be sure to check out my post on must-have camping gear. The park is busiest during Spring, Summer and early Fall. I recommend going in Fall because then you get the added bonus seeing all the lovely autumn leaves changing colors. The cooler temps are nice to have when hiking, too. It also wasn’t nearly as busy as summer days.

Some things you need to know before you go:

Basic Info: Admission is free and so is parking!

They start turning people away once the parking lots are full to help maintain safe social distancing guidelines.

There is one main parking lot and one overflow parking lot, both are pretty large.

The park is open at 6 am and closes at dusk. Hiking the trails at night is forbidden.

Get there early because it gets VERY busy, especially in summer.

Dogs are allowed, but must be on leashes at all times.

Masks are required when social distancing is not possible. Luckily it wasn’t too busy so we only wore our masks if we were in a crowded area and unable to distance ourselves.

Extra tips:

Wear hiking boots or some sort of shoes with grip. The sandstone in some areas is very worn and you can slip easily if you don’t have proper shoes.

Wear water proof shoes or shoes you don’t mind getting wet. If you want to see the waterfall in French Canyon, you have to walk through some wet areas to get there.

It’s best to go in Fall after some rain so the waterfall area is full of water.

Expect to spend several hours here if you want to take full advantage of the trails. If you don’t have a lot of time, I suggest walking the French Canyon, Eagle Cliff or Starved Rock trails for the best views.

Do NOT bring a stroller. You will not be able to use it on any of the trails. Wear your little one if you can in a wrap or a carrier.

There are A LOT of stairs on all of the trails. A LOT. Be prepared.

My 6-year-old made it almost seven miles of the trails, so it’s kid-friendly and doable for smaller kids. Toddlers might not make it far.

We brought some sandwiches and stopped along one of the trails to have a picnic and we loved it. I highly recommend bringing extra snacks and lots of water for the trails. There are no water fountains, etc. along the paths.

Check the website before you go as they close periodically for upkeep and/or for stay-at-home orders during Covid.

The last tip – take lots of pictures!

Starved Rock is definitely a place we will return and may even plan a camping weekend there. Walking through the trails is good for the soul. Fresh air and green space was just what we needed and I know you’ll love it too!

Living The High Life in LA – A Travel Guide

I haven’t been to Los Angeles in a good fifteen years so when we added LA to our west coast adventure, I was thrilled to head back. Palm trees, perfect weather, an ocean breeze, and hiking – what more could you want? We only had three days there so we had to squeeze in as much as possible. Any of these recommendations are great for kids too if you’re traveling as a family.

OUE Sky Space.

Once we arrived we headed to the OUE Sky Deck and it was so much more than I expected. OUE features unparalleled 360° views from California’s tallest open-air observation terraces where you can see iconic landmarks such as the Hollywood Sign and Capitol Records. You also get a bird’s eye view of Dodger Stadium and can see as far out as the Santa Monica Pier. On your journey to the top, you walk through an interactive space filled with Los Angles history, fun facts, and displays of artist’s work. My favorite space was standing in front of a screen with a red carpet and paparazzi jump out to take your picture to give you the true Hollywood experience. If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the Skyslide! This slide sends you sailing down to the floor below on a small carpet in a glass encapsulation. It’s a separate charge but totally worth it. If you’re headed to LA, make sure to add this to your list.

Griffith Observatory

Another must. Griffith Observatory is Southern California’s gateway to the cosmos! Visitors can look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and enjoy spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign. We went during the day, but I bet it is even more magnificent at night. There is parking up at the top, however, it fills very quickly. I recommend getting there early if you want to get those prime spots. Otherwise, there are parking spots all up the mountain. Once you get to the top, I recommend strolling throughout the museum and going to the top of the observatory. You can also have a picnic on the front lawn. Before you leave don’t forget to take a picture featuring the Hollywood sign behind you. You have great views of the sign from many areas of the property, but the best is on the north side by the outdoor restrooms.

Hollywood Sign

Speaking of the Hollywood Sign, there are so many great areas to get the perfect photo. You can head up to Runyon Canyon for a hike and get a great view there, you might even spot some celebs. Another spot to get a great picture of the Hollywood Sign is from the 3rd floor of the Highland Shopping Center on Hollywood BLVD. If you want an Instagram worthy shot then head over to 5th Street and S. Windsor BLVD. On a clear day, the Hollywood Sign will be your perfect backdrop. There was smog when I was there so my picture didn’t turn out clear, but still a beautiful shot! If you enlarge it you can barely see the sign.

Pop-Up Museums

There were two places I wanted to go but unfortunately, we didn’t have the time. The Museum of Illusions and The Museum of Selfies came highly recommended. You can’t NOT have fun at a pop-up museum!

Los Angeles Museum of Art

Another spot on my list to visit was the largest museum in the west. The LACMA has an installation called Urban Light and it’s a sight to see. Composed of 202 historic streetlamps dating from the 1920s and 1930s originally spread throughout Southern California, the large-scale sculpture, the Gordon Family Foundation’s gift to Transformation: The LACMA Campaign, has become ubiquitous as the face of LACMA, a point of pride for many Angelenos, and a destination for visitors from around the world. 

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Even if you can’t catch a show here at least drive by to check out the architecture and snap some pics. It’s breathtaking.

Walk Of Fame and the TCL Chinese Theatre

Both very touristy spots but worth it if you haven’t been before. It’s similar to Time Square where there’s a ton of people, it smells, and it’s complete chaos with street vendors and people trying to sell you stuff. My advice is to find the stars you want to see on the walk of fame, check those out, and skip the rest. Walking through the TCL Chinese Theatre is fun, historic and worth it if you move through it fast during a downtime.

We were with the kids so we didn’t get to experience too many nice restaurants but we did get a chance to go to Yamashiro. Not only do you get incredible scenic views here but the food is incredible! We had a few celebrity sightings, too. I read it is a popular place for celebs. I don’t really care about celeb sightings, but it was cool to see Russell Brand and Nick Cannon there. We also had an incredible brunch at Blue Jam.

If you’re an Instagrammer, two spots you have to check out are The Pink Wall and The Dream Butterfly Wall for some photo ops!

Santa Monica

If you want to head to the beach or see another beautiful area north of LA, head to Santa Monica and Malibu. We stayed in Santa Monica one night to stroll the Promenade Shops and have a beach day. The Santa Monica Pier is fun to see but it gets insanely busy with some interesting people, so I would plant too much time there. The Beach was clean and not that crowded. Across from the beach, there were a ton of awesome restaurants to visit. I advise making reservations anywhere you go. A little further North is Malibu and equally as beautiful and less busy.

I hope this Los Angeles travel guide helps with your future travels. Feel free to share your top spots below!

Vegas Off The Strip – A Travel Guide

When people think of Vegas they think glitz, glam, gambling, night clubs, food, and fun. Vegas definitely is a fun place to be, and wait for it – even with kids! Gasp. I know. I know. I said it and it’s true. My family recently did a west coast adventure over the span of two weeks and we had a stopover in Vegas. When planning this trip I had to find some alternative things to do and was surprised at how many activities we could do outside of the Vegas Strip. We had a blast and it ended up being a favorite stop on our trip.

Here are the must-dos off the strip when in Vegas.

Hoover Dam

This may be the nerd in me, but combine architecture, engineering, and history – I’m sold! The Hoover Dam has always been on my list of places I wanted to see and let me tell you, it’s magnificent!

There’s a couple of ways to enjoy the Hoover Dam. You can not see it from the highway anymore as they built a pedestrian bridge blocking the view. You can park on either side of the dam for free to walk the pedestrian bridge. There is free parking on the Arizona side if you want to walk the dam, take a tour, or visit the gift shop. Parking on the Nevada side is $10. You have to go through checkpoints on either side to enter the property.

If you just want to walk the bridge it’s a great way to catch an aerial view of the dam. There are stairs and accessible paths to walk up to the bridge too. There are also portable restrooms in the parking lot. I recommend you do not go without water, especially if in the warmer months. We were there in summer and it was dangerously hot – like you feel like the sun is sitting on your shoulders hot. If you don’t stay hydrated you could put yourself at serious risk. There are warning signs everywhere on the path to make sure you have water.

If you want a tour you can do a guided or self-guided. Guided tours will run you about $30, non-guided only $10. If you have the time, I highly recommend a guided tour and walking the bridge. Hoover Dam is only a 42-minute drive from Las Vegas.

Our next stop, The Neon Museum.

This gem showcases the history of Las Vegas through neon. The museum was founded in the late 90s and preserves iconic Vegas hotel and casino signs. The museum has grown so much they recently had to purchase more surrounding land to hold their growing collection. As you walk through the rows of signage employees are around to give you background information and fun facts about the signs. The whole museum might take you about an hour to walk through.

The museum is located not far from the strip so easy to Uber or drive to. I will warn you of the heat. I mean, Vegas is in the desert and it’s always hot, but the employees warn you of extra heat radiating off the metal of the signs. It was HOT. Luckily they give you a sun umbrella and have bottled waters on hand. The Neon Museum is definitely a must-see.

Our last stop was a beautiful sight in the middle of the desert, Seven Magic Mountains.

From their site: Internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale site-specific public art installation located near Jean Dry Lake and Interstate 15, approximately ten miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada. Comprised of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than thirty feet high, Seven Magic Mountains is situated within the Ivanpah Valley adjacent to Sheep Mountain and the McCullough, Bird Spring, and Goodsprings ranges of mountains. A creative expression of human presence in the desert, Seven Magic Mountains punctuates the Mojave with a poetic burst of form and color.

Next to the large scale boulders, there was a small pebble replica by the parking lot which I thought was so cute! We only spent about 30 minutes there as we were on our way to Los Angeles, but I’m so glad we made the stop. The kids loved it and we got to take some pretty awesome pictures.

Aside from these, there were several kid parks near the strip, a town center, the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, and my all-time favorite west coast destination: In & Out Burger. What are your fave Vegas spots?

Holiday Fun In Chicago

Chicago is such a great city with endless things to do in every season. There are almost too many things to do so it makes it hard to choose! I put together a list of some of my faves and new events to make your season bright (and fun!)

First, we will start with family outings.

Santa outings are always a must in December and there are some great Santas out there.

Macy’s Santaland on State Street. Not only is Macy’s (Marshall Fields, I still call it!) gorgeous inside with holiday decor and adorned windows, but Santaland really feels like you’re walking through Santa’s Elves’ workshop as you wait in line for your picture with Santa. Santaland is free and picture packages start at $17.99. You can also make reservations to dine with Santa, there are several dates to choose from and ticket prices are $25 and under.

900 North Shops Hands down one of the most real looking Santas out there. He makes me believe! Open now through December 24th.

Santa Suite at Swissotel Chicago. According to their website: Opening Dec. 7th, the Presidential Suite is transformed into a stunningly whimsical display, only suitable for a visit from Mr. Claus. This over-the-top space is decorated in the spirit and magic of the season, complete with fifteen Christmas trees, a table set for Santa and his special guests along with snacks and giveaways to spread good cheer. Tickets for Santa Days went on sale on October 1st. For more information or to buy tickets, click here. We are headed there this weekend!

 Image provided by Glitter and Bubbles + Hallie Duesenberg

Zoo Lights Presented by ComEd at Lincoln Park Zoo. A yearly family tradition for us, the zoo lights feature 100s upon 100s of twinkling light displays and adventures for the kids. They host family nights on Monday, December 16, 23 and 30. Kids eat free at the Park Place Cafe and they have unlimited free rides on the Lionel Train and the carousel. Admission is always free.

Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier. This is another family favorite every year. I recommend getting there when they open as that is when lines are short and it’s way less crowded. Right around lunchtime through the evening it gets very busy. There are rides and bouncy houses for all ages. They also have an ice skating rink. The kids love it! You can usually find discounted tickets on Groupon, too.

A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre. I’ve seen this twice and it really is a great recreation of the timeless classic. With or without the kids, I highly recommend!

The Polar Express. Tickets are now on sale and they sell out fast! This will be our first year going, but I hear it is a blast. It’s a one-hour train ride of fun, snacks and hot chocolate on your way to meet Santa. Tickets run $48-$70 for adults and $38-$62 depending on peak times.

The Nutcracker. An all-time favorite of mine. I can no longer force my husband to go with me as he’s had enough, however, my oldest son is now interested in going. Yay! Running now through December 29th.

Hotel Zachary Breakfast with Santa. Guests can start a new holiday tradition with Breakfast with Santa at Hotel Zachary. On Saturdays and Sundays beginning November 30 through December 22, families are invited to enjoy a special holiday-inspired breakfast buffet featuring assorted pastries and bread, yogurt parfaits, scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, white chocolate peppermint pancakes, an omelet station and more, while Jolly Old Saint Nick relaxes near the fireplace, waiting to visit with good boys and girls, and listen to their holiday wishes. Reservations are recommended in advance and will be available beginning November 1, 2019.

photo credit: Chicago Parent

Gallagher Way Holiday Movies. Bundle up for movie nights in the park at Gallagher Way. Holiday movies show every Thursday night in December. If you want to head to the park another day you’ll be met with a Christkindl Market and ice skating rink.

Now for some adult-only fun.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you haven’t lived until you’ve been to a Christmas pop-up bar!

Frosty’s. A must-see for some holiday fun, a Santa spotting, and some delish holiday-themed cocktails. You have to have tickets and on weekends they usually sell out – so plan ahead!

Santa Baby. Another pop-up Christmas bar in Wrigley. Santa Baby is a multi-room, multi-level, over-the-top Christmas experience. I’ll be there just for the spiked hot chocolate! Who’s coming with me? I mean look at those photos from their website! You need to buy tickets for Santa Baby, which can be purchased through their website.

Happy Holidays, Chicago!

Feeling The Fall Vibes at Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up

I love Fall in Chicago. Aside from the weather, football, changing leaves and making soups every weekend, the family activities make fall one of the best seasons of the year. Chicago is a very kid-friendly city with so many options, it’s hard to keep up. This year we kicked off the season with a visit to Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-up.

I’ll start by saying this place is equally as fun for adults. It would be a great date/girls’ night, but we took our kids along this time.

Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up is a great Fall interactive pop-up experience. It spreads across two acres in Goose Island. Open for one month only, you definitely need to check out this larger than life, outdoor, multi-sensory adventure in the heart of Chicago. Jack’s has the city’s largest corn maze, four full-service bars (one that’s hidden inside the maze!), ax throwing, gypsy caravans, music, carnival games, arcade, food trucks, and fun Instagrammable moments the kids (and you!) will love. You can even pick out a pumpkin on your way out if you want to.

We took the kids around 11 am on Sunday and that seemed to be less busy, so we had plenty of time for photo ops, the large sensory toys and lost ourselves in the maze.

The oversized rocking chair, maze and carnival games were the favorites with my boys. My favorites, of course. were all the photo ops and making memories with my babies. Definitely worth it if you’re looking for a fun activity with the kids.

If you go before 6 pm, you get discounted ticket pricing. I recommend getting your tickets online before you go. There are several packages to choose from that include drinks, etc., but basic entry before 6 pm is $15 for adults, $12 for kids (4 and under are free!). You can get deals through Groupon too.

If you are looking for more pumpkin patches to visit – check out Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago Park District website for more in your area. We plan on going to a lot more so I’ll keep you informed.

What are your favorite fall activities in the city?

Here are some more pics from our day at Jack’s.

Finding The Magic At Bixbee

Chicago families rejoice! There’s a new pop-up in town and it’s totally worth the visit. Conveniently located in Lincoln Park right off North Avenue just east of Sheffield. The Bixbee Imagination Station offers about an hour of fun installations and interactive stations for kids. There are five rooms to roam through all with different themes.

You start out walking through the jungle to get to the jungle-themed room.

Then head into the unicorn room and experience the magic of light installations, hula hoops, a unicorn and a sensory wall you could spend an hour playing with by itself.

Next up is a secret garden filled with beautiful flowers and butterflies. It’s a mystical room that will make your little ones smile.

Next, you’ll travel into space to see cool orbit light features and cosmic food.

You’ll finish out under the sea and get lost in a giant octopus that takes up a fourth of the room. You can crawl into the mouth of a shark – YIKES – and even claim your spot as the king (or queen!) of the sea.

If you’re in the Chicago area, I highly recommend this fun exhibit – but hurry as it ends at the end of September. You buy your ticket in advance and choose a time slot. This is great because it keeps the rooms less busy for more fun. I took my 5-year-old and he loved it. I think any age will find it fun for the imagination, however, I think 10 and under will enjoy it most.

There’s street parking on several streets nearby and also a parking garage on Sheffield right after you cross North Ave.

Per the website:
Bixbee Imagination Station is an experiential pop-up bound only by the limits of your imagination.

Inspired by a child’s innate ability to transform their reality into a fantasy world powered by nothing more than their own creativity, Imagination Station is equal parts funtastical playground and imagination jump starter!

Come discover a world every kid (and kid-at-heart) wished truly existed. Enter an un-charted playground where you can ride with a polka-dotted elephant and spot cheeky, technicolor monkeys. Ignite a brilliant light show with just the beat of a drum. Ride a mythical unicorn blazing across a disco rainbow sky. See human connectivity come to life like an electric spirograph. Share secrets with your bestie via flower blossoms. Explore outer space with a surfing, taco loving dinosaur, and take a selfie inside a ferociously, friendly shark!

Bixbee Imagination Station is so much more than just a great photo op, or fantasy play date. It’s a safari into the imagination.

Bixbee Imagination Station: Come Curious – Leave Inspired

Imagination Station is in Chicago for a limited time only. Don’t miss out and reserve your tickets today!

Learn more about Imagination Station here. Use code: FACEBOOK30 as a discount code.

* Mon to Thur, Sat & Sun (10am – 5pm), Fri (10am – 7pm) 
* Tickets: Adult $23, Kid (3-11 years old) $15, Children 2 and under are FREE
* For groups of 11 or more, birthday parties, or special events, please email’

*Sensory-friendly experience offered on August 13th and September 10th from 10am-12pm – Enjoy the Imagination Station with lowered lighting, sounds, and effects

If You’re Wondering What To Do In Chicago – Wnder No More

No, I didn’t make a spelling error in the title I promise. I’m referring to the Wndr Museum in Chicago. This weekend my family and I headed to the West Loop to check out the Wnder Museum and it did not disappoint.

Of course, as a blogger and an Instagram junkie, this place was a dream come true. Every turn provided a one of a kind photo op. But, besides that, the space offers an hour or two of browsing through rooms of experimental art installations that are sure to bring wonder to all.

When you first enter the museum you get the opportunity to wander around and check out a few interactive installations. There’s a station where a poet will customize a poem for you, too. The kids really loved this. There’s also a wall of candy dispensers – which I don’t know if that’s a good idea or a bad idea. The kids seemed to love it though.

Before you enter the main space, there are complimentary lockers you can put your coats and items in if you don’t want to carry them through the museum. Once in the museum, you’ll be guided through each room by an employee who will share all the information about the installation.

There are a few rules, you can’t climb on or touch a lot of the art installations – so I wouldn’t recommend it for very small children (crawlers or new walkers). Or, if you take them just be sure to watch them closely. We did see a few toddlers get in trouble for throwing some of the art bulbs lying around and grabbing sections of the art. There was also a baby crawling around in some of the dark rooms – which is not safe for anyone. Comes down to common sense parenting really. This is not a play space per se, it’s an interactive museum. Mentioning this so you can determine if it’s something you want to do with your young kids.

There are about 10 spaces to walk through, all very different and cool in their own right. The last space offers a room with balloons everywhere and kids are welcomed to play in there. There are fans on the floor which keep the balloons floating upward and the kids loved it.

My favorite installations came at the end. There is an area to take cans and hold them up to wires to hear sound from the wires. If you walk around the whole structure the sounds change. Pretty cool!

Once you reach the last part of the museum you walk through the installation featuring the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room. Yayoi Kusama is an 89-year-old Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts. She’s spent the last four decades voluntarily living in a psychiatric hospital due to mental illness. Her work is adored by millions all over the world.

You only get one minute in the Infinity Mirror Room and have to wear booties over your shoes. They are very strict and have a person manning the exhibit to protect it, but 60 seconds was enough time to capture the awe and beauty of the room and snap a few pics.

Upon leaving you pass by an interactive wall that captures you as the art piece and then you’re asked to leave a note on the exit wall. There were little snippets of advice, comments about the museum experience, and funny quotes adorning the wall as you exit the museum.

Definitely a fun winter activity and one you don’t want to miss before it leaves Chicago. Tickets are $32 due to the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room, but well worth it. You can read more and buy your tickets here.

Here’s some moments we captured at Wnder: