As summer approaches, Chicagoans are looking to get out of the city and hit up popular vacation spots from the lake to the dunes. Here’s a look at some of the top vacation spots for city dwellers.
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Six Flags: Great America, Illinois
Distance from Chicago: 42 miles
Location: 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, IL 60031
Located on I-94 at Route 132 (Grand Ave.)
Contact information: Guest Services Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. CST and during park operating hours. Contact the park at (847) 249-INFO (4636).
Why Chicagoans go: With dozens of attractions for riders of all ages, Six Flags is a magnet from the city for anyone looking to take a day off with family and friends. With Opening Day celebrations on May 7, events and special entertainment are a regular occurrence. Great America also boasts the “best waterpark in the nation,” making it an even better way to get out of the heat on those long summer days.
Harbor Country, Michigan
Distance from Chicago: 75 miles
Location: Eight towns along the Lake Michigan coast in Michigan: Three Oaks, Sawyer, Harbert, Lakeside, Union Pier, New Buffalo, Grand Beach and Michiana
Contact information: Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce Phone: 269-469-5409 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lakeside Cabins Resort
Location: 7650 Warren Woods Road, Three Oaks, MI 49128
Contact information: Phone: 269-469-3894 Email: email@example.com
Why Chicagoans go: The resort is spread across 110 acres of wooded ravines, hiking trails, grassy areas and lakes, with Lake Michigan located just two miles away. Visitors can choose to purchase or rent cabins for their stay, and have access to two outdoor, heated pools, two lakes for fishing and kayaking, as well as basketball and beach volleyball courts and a playground. The resort also offers daily and weekend activities and themed events.
Author Caitlin O’Neil is related to resort owners and managers Tim O’Neil and Ted O’Neil.
Garden Grove Bed & Breakfast and Carriage House
Location: 9549 Union Pier Road, Union Pier MI 49129
Contact information: Phone: 269-469-6346 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Chicagoans go: For couples looking to escape from the city for a weekend to the beaches and dunes of southern Lake Michigan, Garden Grove offers trees, gardens and relaxation on the decks and enclosed sun porch. All rooms have private baths and a double jacuzzi, hardwood floors, cathedral ceilings, fireplace and a wet bar. Garden Grove is also located less than a mile from the shops, restaurants and galleries in the Harbor Country area.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Distance from Chicago: 80 miles
Location: Lake Geneva Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, 201 Wrigley Drive, Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Contact information: Phone: 262-248-4416 Email: email@example.com
Why Chicagoans go: Lake Geneva showcases beautiful local lodges, cottages, campgrounds and hotels to stay at along the lake, with over 40 restaurants and unlimited entertainment during your stay. For those wishing to get out of the city and into nature, Geneva offers outdoor adventure parks for ziplining, hiking/biking trails, festivals, orchards, parks, petting zoos, farms and even boat cruises. Geneva also offers a vast number of local shops for those looking for antiques, art and gifts.
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Distance from Chicago: 195 miles
Location: Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau Administrative Office 115 La Crosse Street, PO Box 390, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965-0390
Contact information: Phone: (608) 254-8088 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Chicagoans go: Named the “Waterpark Capital of the World” on its website, the amusement parks and rides are the biggest attraction for Chicagoans looking to get away. For animal lovers, the Dells offers petting zoos of exotic and heartland animals, as well as horses available for riding. You can also observe the world’s rarest crane, the Whooping Crane, at the Dells. Festivals, golf, live entertainment, museums, tours, shopping and even spas complete the experience. To get away from it all and get a little bit of everything, travel out of the city and to the Dells.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area, Michigan
Distance from Chicago: 221 miles
Location: Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area Chamber of Commerce, 2388 N. Comfort Drive, Hart, MI 49420
Contact information: Phone: 231-873-2247
Why Chicagoans go: Nominated by Travel & Leisure as one of America’s Best Little Beachtowns (http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/americas-best-little-beach-towns/8), the sand dunes are what make your stay in Hart. When you’re sick of the sand in your shoes, the dunes also offer golf courses, bike trails, farmers’ markets, fishing, parks and even boat and canoe rentals. Shopping, wineries and salons are also open to pamper you.
What fun are pub crawls, beer brewing and beer tasting without some phone and tablet applications added into the mix? From drinking game apps at parties to at-home brewing apps to apps that test your sobriety, smartphones and tablets have thought of everything to make tossing back a beer a whole new technological experience. Here are some of the most popular beer apps for Android and iPhone smartphones, as well as iPod Touches and iPads.
-iQuarters–$1.99 on iPad, iPhone. 3.5 out of 5 stars latest rating
It’s no surprise that one of the most popular beer games for iPhones is Quarters. And the app is played just as the real life drinking game of quarters. Players flick a virtual quarter into a glass to pass a level, with points varying based on difficulty. Players can also try for ricochet shots.
Besides the obvious appeal, reviews listed realistic graphics and physics as well as fun music as reasons to get the game.
-Beer Pong Challenge–$0.99 on iPad, iPhone. 2.5 out of 5 stars latest rating
No more need to turn a disgusting door into a pseudo-table and dip a dirt-covered ball into your beer—now Beer Pong Challenge allows players to play the game of beer pong on a touch screen by flicking a virtual ball to simulate tossing a ball into cups of beer. Players can challenge friends to a game of beer pong, or compete against themselves in single-player mode.
The downside to this virtual beer pong seems to be an update to the app that was released last fall. Reviewers are now complaining that targets move slower, the music is worse and the game often doesn’t reset once a player shoots.
Toss at your own risk.
-Power Hour Drinking Game–$0.99 on Android
The game is simple: take a shot of beer, every minute, for one hour. This app helps you with that slow countdown to victory. The app burps every minute alerting a user to drink again, and even will run in the background if a user gets an incoming call. Start gulping.
Out on the Town
-Find Craft Beer–$0.99 on iPad, iPhone. 4 out of 5 stars latest rating
This simplistic app lets users find the closest location with craft beer, using GPS to determine a user’s current location. You can also search for craft beer within a specific city, and even limit the types of locations you’re interested in, such as brew pubs, breweries, bars and stores.
The app got a major revamp when it was released again in early April. Users conclude it’s a must-have for any beer lover, and that it’s useful for finding places that serve more than just Bud Light, Miller Light and Coors Light.
-College Bars–$0.99 on iPad, iPhone. Not enough ratings to display an average for the current version, released on April 10
This app is perfect for visitors to a new college campus who just want to find a bar. The app describes itself as a reference guide to locating popular college bars, with more than 500 establishments registered. Users can find a bar using the state/city directory or through a map. The app also provides links to a bar’s Yelp and Facebook pages.
-BeerChooser—free on iPad iPhone, 2.5 out of 5 stars latest rating
For the beer novice, this app is a must have at a bar. A user rate beers on the app and teaches BeerChooser what he likes and doesn’t like. After a few beers have been rated, the app gives recommendations tailored to a user’s preferences. The app also keeps a list of all the beers he or she has tried. Users can also browse what other app users are drinking at the moment, and can even see what beers are trending near him or her at the moment.
-Beer Ratings Guide–$2.99 on iPad and iPhone, 4 out of 5 stars latest rating
This app promises to help you find a great beer, and offers more ways to search. Its database includes searching for beer by name, price, style, food pairing, flavor profile, region, producer and designation. Users can also keep track of discovered beer with the personal ratings list.
Reviewers overwhelmingly enjoy finding and learning about new beer with this app, so the next time you’re wondering what beer to pair with what food, try this one out.
-The Beer Expert–$2.99 on Android
This app helps you identify every beer you’ve ever tasted by taking a picture of the beer’s UPC code, typing in its name, or speaking it into your phone. The app will provide the user with the beer’s commercial description, style, user reviews, and even a picture.
And once users have sampled the beer they can also give it a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down,” adding to the app’s usefulness.
-iBrewMaster–$9.99 on iPad, $6.99 on iPhone, 4.5 out of 5 stars latest rating
Always wanted to brew your own beer? Get started with this app. Users can add, edit and manage your own recipes, but the app also comes with 50 pre-installed recipes that include grains, hops and yeasts from all over. The app instructs you to create a batch of beer from the recipe database, and then track its progress along the way. The app will calculate alcohol content, color and calories for you as it lets you know where your batch is in the process (primary, secondary, bottle, aging, etc.)
-Home Brew Calculators—free on Android
This app also helps a home brewer with the process by offering a boil timer with saved hop schedules. The app also offers calculators to help with carbonation, hop bitterness, strike temperature and yeast pitching.
Random Beer Apps
-Beer Counter—free on Android
This app does just what it says: keeps track of beer consumption. The app also plots the number of beers you’ve had at your location on a map, so you can keep progress of where you’ve been and how many beers you’ve downed. Perfect for crawls!
-iBeer Keg–$2.99 on iPad (the iBeer app on iPhone is $1.99), 4.5 out of 5 stars latest rating
Ever wanted to simulate brewing, pouring and drinking beer out of a keg? With the iPad app iBeer Keg, you can. The app can be paired with the iPhone/iPod Touch’s iBeer app for those users who want to pour beer out of a virtual keg into a virtual cup. More drinks are available for virtual pouring besides beer—champagne, wine, water, cola and milk can all be waved around in this interactive liquid simulation.
-DrinkFit–$1.99 on iPhone, 3 out of 5 stars latest rating
How many calories are in a beer or any other kind of alcoholic beverage is usually a concern to most after a weekend at bars and parties. If you dare to find out how many calories are in your favorite beer, this app provides nutritional information on beer, cocktails, liquor, wine coolers and mixed drinks. Facts include serving size, calories, total fat and percentage, total carbohydrate and percentage, total protein and percentage and total sugar.
-Drunkometer–$0.99 on iPad and iPhone, 4 out of 5 stars latest rating
The Drunkometer app is something every college student has needed at one time or another. Its top feature? It tests whether you’re drunk by checking your reaction time and stability. If the app then determines you’re drunk, it gives you the option to email your current location to a friend. If a friend can’t come get you, the Drunkometer also looks for nearby taxis.
The app, however useful it may be, does give the caveat: don’t drink and drive. Even if the famed Drunkometer determines you’ve passed the test.
Beer apps for Android were found with the help of http://www.appbrain.com.
Beer apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch were found in the App store on those devices.