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Entries in summer guide 2012 (18)

Tuesday
Aug212012

10 Things to Do Before Summer (Officially) Ends

Sure, the kids are heading back to school. And it's been weeks since the temperature hit 97 degrees. But the summer season does not officially end until Sept. 21. So here are 10 easy things your family can do over the next month to try to capture a few more golden moments to savor for the next nine months. Sorry, is that depressing?

Photo by Teo's photo on Flickr.

  1. Spend a day at the Sandwich Fair, being held from Sept. 5 through 9 in the DeKalb County town of Sandwich. While there, wish the fair a Happy Birthday -- it's celebrating 125 years this year!
  2. Cheer on the boys of summer as they play a game at Fifth Third Ballpark in Geneva. The Kane County Cougars are at home Aug. 25 through Aug. 28, then again Sept. 1 through 3 before the Midwest League Playoffs get underway.
  3. Make a day of it at Arlington Racetrack - it's amazing how close you can get to the horses in the paddock. The track's final "Family Days" -- when kids get in free -- are on Sept. 2 and Sept. 3 (Labor Day), but racing continues through Sept. 30.
  4. Go miniature golfing. River View Miniature Golf in St. Charles' Pottawatomie Park is especially scenic, with views of the Fox River.   
  5. Check out Water Wonders in North Aurora. Unlike the pools and splash parks, it won't close come Labor Day! 
  6. Visit a Farmers Market, perhaps one that you've never been to before.
  7. Get nostalgic and enjoy a movie at the drive-in theater.  
  8. Enjoy music in the great wide open. While most outdoor concert series have wrapped up for the season, Cantigny in Wheaton has afternoon concerts on Aug. 26, Sept. 2, and Sept. 3. And in North Aurora, the final Rhythm on the Riverfront concert at Riverfront Park will take place Aug. 23 with Small Shiny Things playing at 6:30 p.m.  
  9. Make someone else's kids happy by stopping at a lemonade stand or a car wash fundraiser.
  10. Admire the stars at a free public star party; Cantigny in Wheaton will host one on Saturday, Sept. 1. Peck Farm Park in Geneva will host one on Saturday, Sept. 8. 

Go West readers: Are there any activities or events that you hope to fit in before summer is over? Share them with us in the comments section! 

Wednesday
Aug082012

Summer Guide 2012: The Illinois State Fair in Springfield

Where can you find country star Miranda Lambert, a 130-foot-long banana-yellow slide and some of the best French fries you've ever tasted? Why at the 2012 Illinois State Fair, of course! The State Fair runs from this Friday, Aug. 10 through Sunday, Aug. 19, at the fairgrounds in Springfield, about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Geneva. If you want to extend your trip a bit, check out our guide to a family-friendly Springfield getaway.

The Midway at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. Photo by myoldpostcards on Flickr.

THE BASICS:

As a Springfield native and devoted fair-goer, I can assure you that any day is a good day for the fair. Cooler days are better, though, and if you can manage to visit on a weekday, you'll find it to be less crowded. 

Make sure to take a good look at the schedule of events for the day of your visit and also to surf around the State Fair’s website, especially the tabs called “Rides & Attractions” and “Concerts & Entertainment.”

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul302012

Get Your Football on at Chicago Bears Training Camp

Thanks so much to Laura Weisskopf Bleill (a fabulous former sportswriter) for sharing this with us. Laura is one of the co-founders of chambanamoms.com, a great resource for families in the Champaign-Urbana area. If you have friends or family in that neck of the woods, please make sure they know about chambanamoms.com.

Cornerback D.J. Moore meets with fans at Bears Training Camp in Bourbonnais, Ill., last week. Photo by alex_dittmer on Flickr.Does your family love the Chicago Bears? Can you hardly wait til the NFL season begins? Then you'll want to know how you can catch a glimpse of the Chicago Bears this preseason: head down Interstate 57 to Bourbonnais and watch some Bears training camp. Admission and parking are free!

Here’s how: Beginning last Thursday, the Bears took up residence at their preseason training facility on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University. Practice times vary between 2 and 2:30 p.m., with a couple of 7 p.m. times. They will be on campus most days through the end of training camp, with the last practice open to the public on August 17. (Here is a link to the complete schedule). Gates open one hour before practice starts.

It’s not just the training camp that is the attraction – there is a kids fun zone for children ages 4 through 12 with inflatables and other activities.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul262012

Ten Tips for Tackling a Fair With Kids

The The Lake County Fair and the DuPage County Fair are both underway through Sunday. Tackling a fair with little kids can be intimidating, so we're sharing with you here a list of tips compiled by the editor of Little Lake County. It's a wonderful website for young families in -- you guessed it -- Lake County. If you have friends or family in that area, please make sure they know about Little Lake County

This is also great advice if you plan on visiting the Wisconsin State Fair, the Illinois State Fair of the Sandwich Fair later this summer. 

  1. Bring snacks and drinks to avoid waiting in line while your little ones have a hunger meltdown. 
  2. Try to visit the fair on a weekday if your schedule permits. 
  3. It’s been a hot summer, start with outdoor events and visit the expo hall or other indoor attractions to cool off when everyone gets too hot. 
  4. Bring a stroller for little ones who may get tired out quickly from all the walking. (Melissa from Little Lake County says: "I bring both my Ergo baby carrier for the toddler and my double stroller. At the start of the fair my two youngest ride in the stroller, by the end even my 7 year old wants to sit in the stroller! Having the carrier also helps with crabby/tired baby meltdowns.") 

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Wednesday
Jul182012

Cool Meals for Hot Nights: Tuna and Shells

The latest recipe in our “Cool Meals for Hot Nights” series is for Tuna and Shells. It comes from Annie, the creator and writer of {kidlist} activities for little kids, a resource for families in the near west suburbs of Chicago. If you have friends or family in LaGrange, Hinsdale, Western Springs or any other suburb in that general area, please let them know about {kidlist}

Recipe: Tuna and Shells

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups medium shell pasta (8 oz.)
  • 1 (7 oz.) can of tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1/2 cup celery (about 2 stalks), minced
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup swiss cheese, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons white onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste

Click to read more ...