200 Things To Do In Illinois – Rialto Square Theatre

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  With the state shutting down tonight due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We kick things off with one of the entries from the Culture category: Rialto Square Theatre, from Joliet, IL.

Putting on more than 150 events a year, this Jewel of Joliet evokes a bygone era with its Greek, Roman and Byzantine architecture.

Afternoon tours are offered most Tuesdays.  The nearly century-old theater gets especially festive at the end of the year with its monthlong Home for the Holidays programming, with movies, concerts and other special events.

My one and only trip to the Rialto Square Theatre came in 2015 to see Craig Ferguson during his Hot & Grumpy tour.  To be honest, I don’t remember much about the theater itself, so I can’t say that it left much of an impression.  I certainly would be willing to go back if something interesting was coming to town.

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Chocolate Cake Shake

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  With the state still shut down due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We continue things this week with one of the entries from the Drink category: Chocolate Cake Shake, from Villa Park, IL.

Portillo’s chocolate cake is legendary, and it’s a treat made all the more lip-smacking when jacked up with ice cream and given a run in the blender.  Indulge at the Portillo’s in the western suburb where the hot dog empire was born in the early ’60s.

Truth be told, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a chocolate cake shake.  I’ve certainly purchased my fair share, though, as it’s a favorite for both Danny and Michael.

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Lake Michigan

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  With the state still shut down due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We continue things this week with one of the entries from the Nature category: Lake Michigan, from Chicago, IL.

You didn’t think we’d forget about this freshwater ocean at Chicago’s front door, did you?  Don’t just look at it.  Get in it.  And on it.  Departing from Navy Pier, Shoreline Sightseeing’s Classic Lake Tour is a 40-minute nautical jaunt along 6 miles of the Third Coast.  From the water, you get a better appreciation for the city’s skyline, a human-made mountain range.

It’s hard to document my experiences visiting Chicago’s lakefront.  I’ve taken the occasional lunch cruise as part of work outings.  I’ve spent a little time on the beach, most notably for a mid-80s television competition between the Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks.  The picture above is from the museum campus, over by the Adler Planetarium.

If anything, I wish I could spend more time down by the lake.  Living far out in suburbia doesn’t make it easy, though.

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Fighting Illini Basketball

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018. To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities. With the state still shut down due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We kick things off with one of the entries from the Sports category: Fighting Illini Basketball, from Champaign, IL.

Get swept up in Big 10 school spirit at the University of Illinois’ recently renovated State Farm Center.  The space-shiplike dome contains an intense student section, the Orange Krush, created at the urging of former coach Lou Henson in the mid-1970s.

Decades later, the Krush conyinues to put the squeeze on opposing teams with an intimidating sea of orange and trademark cheers.

I’ve attended 2 Fighting Illini home basketball games, one in 2016 and the second this past January.  In both cases, I’ve left the State Farm Center disappointed as the Illini managed to defeat my beloved Purdue Boilermakers.  With Danny now committed to Purdue, there probably isn’t a reason why I’d need to go back to Champaign to see another game.

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Superdawg

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  With the state still shut down due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We kick things off with one of the entries from the Food category: Superdawg, from Chicago, IL.

A Chicago-style hot dog with all the trimmings comes with a heaping side of nostalgia at Norwood Park’s 70-year-old Superdawg Drive-In.  No need to leave the car; place your order via the intercom and wait for a server to emerge with your order in a retro cardboard box filled with stubby crinkle-cut fries.

Another north side tradition that I was unfamiliar with growing up, but was introduced to after starting to work up north in 1997.  I don’t remember the first time I went to Superdawg, but my most memorable trip would have been on September 11, 2001.  There weren’t many cars in the lot that day, but it was a nice opportunity to catch up on the radio news of the events of the morning.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been down to the original location, thanks to the Wheeling location opening in 2010.  It may be worth a trip, once this whole shelter-in-place business is over with.

200 Things To Do In Illinois – The Second City

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  With the state still shut down due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We continue things this week with one of the entries from the Culture category: The Second City, from Chicago, IL.

Profoundly influential in American comedy, this nearly 60-year-old theater retains its edge by putting on a regular schedule of new, sketch-based shows that skewer politics and contemporary life.

It’s like Saturday Night Live, but right in front of you, and with sketches that know how to end.

I made my one and (so far) only trip to The Second City on November 4, 2017, in the midst of what turned out to be one of the worst weekends of my life.  Without getting too much into the drama of the beginning of the end of (at least what I thought was) an important friendship, a night out with my college friends was a nice respite from everything else that was swirling around me at the time.  I’d certainly like to go back sometime, perhaps to see what they make of this whole shelter-in-place craziness.

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Ravinia

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  With the state still shut down due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We kick things off with one of the entries from the Culture category: Ravinia, from Highland Park, IL.

 

The oldest outdoor music festival in North America draws 600,000 listeners each summer – many touting picnic baskets, blankets, and lawn chairs to stake their claim on the manicured grounds of the 36-acre park.

Performers across a panoply of musical genres have graced the pavilion stage at this summer crib of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Ravinia is a summer tradition for people on the North Shore.  Growing up on the south side, it really didn’t enter my consciousness at all, at least until I started working up north after college.  Even then, I managed to avoid going for 20 years.  Until Garbage and Blondie came to town in 2017 for their Rage and Rapture Tour.  This was my 6th Garbage show, and the first outdoors.  Shirley Manson and the boys did not disappoint, putting together a strong set and overcoming a crowd that seemed more interested in sitting down and relaxing than rocking out.  We abandoned the pavilion for Blondie’s portion of the show, roaming the grounds before eventually heading back to the train for the ride back in to Chicago.  I’m sure I’ll go back again someday, but nothing has drawn me up north just yet.

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Chicago Sports Museum

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  With the state still shut down due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We continue things this week with one of the entries from the Sports category: Chicago Sports Museum, from Chicago, IL.

Take a break from the sport of shopping to check out this museum on the seventh floor of Water Tower Place.  Peruse an impressive collection of Cubs 2016 World Series memorabilia, including Grandpa Rossy’s Game 7 catcher’s gear.

All of the city’s major sports teams are represented in interactive exhibits and virtual reality games, where you can shoot hoops with Scottie Pippen and do a quarterback challenge with Richard Dent.

On July 5, 2018, the family headed down to the city to see Heartbreak Hotel at the Broadway Playhouse.  Before the show, we ate dinner at Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch, which is connected to the Chicago Sports Museum on the 7th level of Water Tower Place.  While there were some interesting pieces in the museum, including Steve Stone’s Cy Young Award and Sammy Sosa’s corked bat, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a must-do attraction.  If you’re looking to kill time while in the mall, sure, but it isn’t somewhere I feel the need to visit again.

200 Things To Do In Illinois – Superman

Illinois celebrated its bicentennial as a state in December of 2018.  To celebrate, the Chicago Tribune published the Bicentennial Bucket List: 200 Things To Do In Illinois, celebrating the best the state has to offer in history, food, architecture, culture, sports, nature, drink, and oddities.  With the state shutting down tonight due to the corona virus outbreak, I figured this was the second-best time to look through this collection and cover the ones I’ve done/eaten/seen.

We kick things off with one of the entries from the Oddities category: Superman, from Metropolis, IL.

DC Comics proclaimed this small town with a big statue the official home of Superman in 1972, and Metropolis isn’t about to let you forget it.  A 15-foot-tall bronze Man of Steel overlooks Superman Square, where you’ll also find the Super Museum packed with toys and props, amassed by Superman super fan Jim Hambrick.  This town on the banks of the Ohio River – from here, you can practically throw a chunk of Kryptonite into Kentucky – hosts an annual four-day Superman Celebration.

My one trip to Metropolis occurred in 2015, as part of a Mother’s Day Elvis trip.  On our way home from Tupelo, Mississippi, we decided to make a detour towards Metropolis, IL to see the symbolic home of Superman and, at least according to the travel guide we picked up at a rest station along the way, the world’s largest Dippin’ Dots store.  Sadly, the Dippin’ Dots store had closed and was replaced by a gift shop filled with DC merchandise and a cooler in the corner that did supply said Dippin’ Dots.  In the center of town, we found the giant Superman statue and posed for pictures.  We decided against going through the museum, which was probably the correct call.