We're just a few days away from summer and it's not looking particularly cheerful, is it? The word "summer" tends, for many of us, to be associated with the word "vacation." Let's see:
Rising fuel costs, with gas already more than $4.00 a gallon, leading to higher airfares, skyrocketing food prices and a big "ouch" every time you fill the tank. Then - there's the weather. Storms have wreaked havoc on our graduation parties and early warm weather celebrations. Worse, they've devastated areas in surrounding states like Indiana, Wisconsin and particularly Iowa. Not exactly a recipe for summer fun.
Of course I'm going to tell you: spend your summer at the Library. We've got "tours" of Paris and China, music and dance performances of every flavor, an Australian Great Shark Expedition, free movies and gaming - even a visit to Michigan beachtowns, if you prefer to stay in the Midwest. Click on any of the links in that last sentence and you'll find out more about the full schedule of events here at the Library this summer. See a full calendar here.
But, maybe you also need a little more distance between you and Des Plaines or wherever it is you call home -- at least for a long weekend? We can help in that department, too, with our great selection of guidebooks.
For today's post, I'll focus on our friends in neighboring states. I had the shock of a lifetime last week when my childhood haven of happy summer memories, Lake Delton in Wisconsin, literally disappeared, swallowed up into the Wisconsin River. It's a place I know like the back of my hand - every curve of the lake, every cozy cottage and A-frame dotting the hills, every bait shop, every tacky water park. We used to fish right by the dam that, until now, kept the river from absorbing the lake. The photographs of the drained lake are shocking, but even more serious is the flooding in parts of Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and yes, Illinois.
While it might be tempting to think that a Midwestern summer getaway is a lost cause in 2008, staying local will help keep your costs low and will support these states that are struggling with the destruction caused by bad weather. After all, what could be more Midwestern than pitching in to help out a neighbor?
Indianapolis has one of the finest children's museums in the country and a great zoo. Michigan has beaches galore, and quaint if touristy attractions like Holland and Mackinac Island. Iowa is the place to explore small-town America, from the peaceful Amana Colonies to Dutch-influenced Pella. St. Louis is just five hours away by car, known for its baseball team (causing much unhappiness to our Northsiders...), barbeque and live music. Wisconsin, my personal favorite, has stuff to do from Milwaukee to Madison to Door County to La Crosse. You will eat more food in Wisconsin in a week than you typically do in a month, for example, so you'll save on groceries and restaurants right away. :)
Below you will find some one-click links to guidebooks in our Library for planning a vacation in a surrounding state. I'll follow this up soon with some suggestions outside the Midwest, but this makes a good start. Happy planning!