Learn about the different trees in your area with this tree leaf scavenger hunt and check out our favorite books about trees!
From pollinating flowers to trapping mosquitos to aerating soil (and many, many other things) bugs really do make this world go round! This is a great way to introduce some of these concepts to your kiddos as you search for bugs around the neighborhood, a local park or your own backyard.
It's Maple Tapping Season! Which means it’s time for Maple Syrup Festivals all around Chicagoland!
Have you ever wanted to walk underneath a waterfall? Here's your chance! The Lasalle Canyon hike will take you down the bluffs, along the river, and loop you underneath a waterfall before sending you back the way you came. Stop and have a snack with a breathtaking view of the Illinois River before heading back to your car.
Looking for a long hike rewarding hike? Take a hike on the St. Louis Canyon Trail at Starved Rock! The trail begins at the Visitor's Center and leads you through the woods down into St. Louis Canyon where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of colorful sandstone walls, a waterfall, and small beachy area for relaxing and breathing in some fresh air.
Back in July , we went camping with my in-laws at the Marengo KOA. They wanted to get away for a weekend, but needed to stay close because Dennis' Grandmother lives with them and isn't in the best of health, so they wanted to stay close in case anything happened (it didn't). I've really been wanting to check out the Marengo Ridge Trail, but we were only up for one night and they really wanted to take Weston to the Illinois Railway Museum which is really close to the campground. We'd never been there, but thought it would be fun because Weston LOVES trains and, depending on what they have running that day, you get to ride historic steam, electric, or diesel trains!
We arrived at the museum and headed to the gate to purchase our tickets. They offer a family rate, which for us was a huge money saver. We had five adults and three kids with us and were given the family rate of $50. This price covered admission and all rides on all of the trains that were running for the day. We arrived just as the steam engine was leaving so we decided to walk around and check out what the place has to offer. Practically all of the train cars are in covered warehouses and each warehouse has a different theme. Within each warehouse, different cars are open on different days. I couldn't find anyone to ask about this, but since they are historic cars, I am assuming this is to help prevent wear-and-tare and overuse of the train cars. Some of the cars have little displays set up in them to help you picture what it would have been like to ride the train at that time.
One of the cars that I found to be really cool was the Pullman sleeper cars. We didn't get to go in these cars, but you could view them pretty well from the platforms outside the window. There was even an entire 'apartment car' owned by someone with a dining room, kitchenette, and sleeping rooms for them and their family! How cool would it have been to own your own train car?! I imagine back then it was like owning your own airplane. I couldn't get any good pictures of them because the lighting in the barn was so dark, so you'll just have to go check them out yourself! The barns also house some cool historic advertisements for various train-related businesses.
After touring the train cars we headed back to board the steam train. It's about half an hour ride to the end of the line and back.
Then we hopped on the electric train for another half hour ride.
After both train rides we were exhausted and so were the kids so we headed back to camp. Weston loved his first train ride and I can't wait to take him on a train that actually goes somewhere!
This place was really, pretty cool. Trains were such an integral part of our early history and settlement throughout the country. It's great to see a place dedicated to preserving the cars that made early cross-country and commuter travel possible.
Illinois Railway Museum
7000 Olson Road
Union, IL 60180
Mon- Fri: 10am-5pm
Sat & Sun: 9am - 5:30p
CLICK HERE FOR ADMISSION RATES AND TRAIN SCHEDULES
You can bring strollers but not on the train rides. They also won't fit in the railcar exhibits.
Pack a lunch and have a picnic!
Board the train at least 15 minutes prior to departure- especially if you have a larger group.
Bring along sunscreen and water. While most of the exhibits are in warehouses, you'll be walking around outside a lot!
Unplug for a weekend at Mississippi Palisades State Park. Mississippi Palisades offer secluded camping for tents and RVs. All sites come with a firepit and a grate over the fire for cooking. Spots with electricity are available. There are over 10 miles of hiking trails with gorgeous views of rock formations and the Mississippi River, all of which are accessible from the campground.
Its tick season!! And this year I feel like they are everywhere! There is a misconception that ticks are only found in the woods -- they pretty much live anywhere there is tall grass, shrubs, and trees. But have no fear, you can still enjoy the outdoors!
Cases of tick-related disease are rare, but because ticks can infect humans and animals with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause serious illness, it's important that if you find one on anyone or your animals, you remove it immediately and correctly.
Hey, Jenn! Aren't you supposed to be encouraging us to go outdoors, not scaring us with ticks? Haha! Yes! But it's important to be safe too. As I said, disease transmission is rare, but it does happen. I've found plenty of ticks on me and I'm alive and well. If you are concerned about Your state CDC website will usually have information regarding reported cases.
To protect against tick bites light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants should be worn, as well as hats. Insect repellent may also be worn to deter insects. It is important to conduct a tick check of your body after leaving natural areas or areas with high grass and plants.
Insect repellent that contain 20% DEET will repel ticks for a few hours. The CDC recommends treating boots and camping gear with Permethrin to repel ticks as well.
After being in natural area make sure you do a thorough tick check on you, your kids, and your pets. Check Everywhere. Behind the ears, behind the knees, bellybutton, crevices, etc. Everywhere.
If you find a tick on your person or dog and the tick is unattached, remove it with tweezers or flick it off. Really anything that will get it off quickly. Just don't flick it on someone else!
If the tick is attached to the skin, dont panic! Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull the tick away from the skin. Try not to twist, jerk, or crush the tick during removal. After removal, wash the bite si,te and your hands with soap and water. Ticks are very hard to kill so I usually put it on a plastic bag and crush it. Keep the (dead) tick in a plastic bag or taped to a piece of paper for a few days. Watch for any redness, swelling, or weird rashes and if you start to see something call your doctor immediately and bring the tick.
I carry tweezers with me in my backpack in case.
That's pretty much it!
I hope ticks don't deter you from enjoying the outdoors, mosquitos on the other hand.....