The Top Five–Episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe

Time for another Top Five list! I’m not even going to pretend I can pick just five of my favorite episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe, though, but I did narrow it down to seven, which honestly, I think is pretty good. Not up for consideration on this list are the specials, especially Rick Steves’ European Christmas, because if I had included them when I was compiling the list, it would be even longer!

  • “Switzerland’s Jungfrau Region: Best of the Alps” (season two)–While I’ve always thought it would be cool to visit the Alps (probably because I’ve seen The Sound of Music so many times!), I didn’t realize just how many charming places like Gimmelwald there are in Switzerland until I saw this episode.
  • “Normandy: War-Torn, Yet Full of Life” (season three)–This episode introduced me to Mont St. Michel, an Abby built on an island which is sometimes accessible by foot. There is so much history in this episode, from the old tradition of keeping the beat while making omelettes for people on a pilgrimage to the abbey, to Monet’s lilies, and especially the beaches of Normandy, which still echo with memories of D-Day.
  • “Dubrovnik and Balkan Side Trips” (season six)–Continuing with the theme, I had never heard of Dubrovnik until Rick Steves took me there. I have learned so much about the world from watching the show, and this was no exception, but now that I know about it, I think it would be an amazing place to visit, evening if watching the guy dive off the bridge does always make my heart race!
  • “Florentine Delights and Tuscan Side Trips” (season seven)–This might be my very favorite episode of Rick Steves’ Europe (other than the Christmas special). I never really thought Italy would be at the top of the list of places I’d want to visit in Europe, but seeing Pisa and watching Rick dine at a local restaurant sold me on the experience!
  • “Paris: Regal and Intimate” (season seven)–It’s Paris…what more do I need to say?
  • “London: Historic and Dynamic” (season seven)–I guess it’s not really fair to include this episode on my list, since I want to visit London so badly, but I think I did pretty well to only have one London episode represented here. It’s my favorite look at that city because Rick visits all the places I would want to go!
  • “France’s Loire: Château Country” (season eight)–The Loire Valley is another region I never really thought about visiting, but looking at all of the beautiful, stately homes makes me want to spend a day or three exploring the history of the area!

Maybe someday, I’ll even be able to travel to some of these places, and see them for myself! It’s nice to dream of a world where international travel is a possibility, isn’t it?

The Top Five–Things I Miss

I’m sure we’re all missing things from our old “normal” lives…here’s a look at the top five things I’m missing, and for once, it’s exactly five items, and I didn’t even have to think to come up with them!

  • Church/Choir–This one was a no-brainer. I am thankful for our online church services, because we can still hear the Word, but it’s just not the same. I also really miss hearing my family sing in their various choirs at church, even though I am not musically gifted myself.
  • Extended Family/Friends–Another no-brainer is missing visiting family and close friends or having them visit us. Again, I’m thankful for other ways to communicate, like phone, text, or video chats, but it’s still not the same. We’ve already missed out on so many opportunities to gather that should have been on the calendar, and that’s just sad.
  • Chicago–I really missed our annual Memorial Day Weekend trip to Chicagoland. I missed it so much, I even created a virtual vacation. Not getting to see the skyline, and especially Lake Michigan, was really hard for me, and even though I enjoyed looking back through photos from previous trips, once again, it’s just not the same.
  • The Missouri Botanical Garden–I guess this is the number one St. Louis area location I’m missing. Normally, we go to the Garden at least once a month, and in the springtime, it can be more like once a week. Besides missing walking around the Garden and seeing all of the beautiful flowers in bloom, I’m also sad that I had to abandon my yearly photo project.
  • Wandering Around Target for No Reason at All–This is a silly one, but still a big deal to me. I really miss just impulsively stopping at Target and looking for absolutely nothing in particular. There have been some weeks (including one right before COVID-19 became a big deal), where I have literally stopped at Target five days of the week. Even if I don’t come out with anything, there’s something fun about shopping there, but I haven’t stepped in a Target for over two months!

What do you miss most from life pre-COVID-10?

The Top Five–Episodes of M*A*S*H

Time for another “Top Five” list…this time, I’m taking a look at my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H! This could have easily been a “Top Ten” list, but for once, it was easy for me to pick my five very favorite episodes, so I’m going to leave it right there.

  • “Movie Tonight” (season 5)–This episode, where the camp gathers to watch Colonel Potter’s favorite movie (with many interruptions), always makes me laugh, and also has me singing along!
  • “The Party” (season 7)–I love the idea of the family members of those working at the 4077th getting together and having a reunion of sorts…and when Klinger’s mom told them all that of course she knew he was in Korea, it always make me cry.
  • “Nurse Doctor” (season 8)–This may be my very favorite episode ever, because it has me laughing from “I think the sun was in my ears” to “You stop talking about her, you stop hating her, and you stop dating her!”
  • “A War for All Seasons” (season 9)–Because of how fluid time usually is in M*A*S*H, this episode is especially interesting, because it looks at the events of a whole year. It’s funny, but also bittersweet.
  • “No Sweat” (season 9)–Between Colonel Potter being constantly dragged out of bed after taking sleeping pills and Margaret’s unfortunate case of prickly heat, this episode is hilarious from start to finish!

I realize that there are no episodes on my list from the time Colonel Blake and Trapper John were on the show, and there’s a reason for it…I hate those three seasons. I know that’s sacrilege to some, but I don’t like those two characters at all, while I love Colonel Potter and B.J. So when we watch through the show, as we’ve been doing recently, I always start with “Welcome to Korea” and just pretend the show started from there!

The Top Five–Christmas Albums

We’re still Christmas-ing here!

As the season winds down, I thought it would be fun to take a look at my top five favorite Christmas albums. Yes, there are six albums on the list, but in my defense, the last two are fairly short, so I think together, they make up one space!

  • Classic Christmas Carols–This album (actually, a two-disc collection), featuring the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, is my absolute favorite collection of sacred Christmas music.
  • Christmas with the Rat Pack–This is not just one of my favorite Christmas CDs, but also my favorite collection of music sung by Frank, Dean, and Sammy!
  • The Christmas Song–My version of this classical Nat King Cole album is slightly different from the one currently available, which is too bad, because one of my favorite things about it, the “Toys for Tots” song, is one of the most delightful aspects of the album. But I also love all of the different versions of “The Christmas Song,” as well as all of the other Christmas songs on it.
  • A Classical Kids Christmas–This started out as a school album, but I love the way a story is woven into the Christmas music, and how different Christmas traditions are explained.
  • White Christmas–The classic Bing Crosby Christmas album will always be one of my favorites!
  • The Andy Williams Christmas Album–There’s something special about Andy Williams and Christmas, and so many of the songs on this album remind me of my childhood!

The Top Five–Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2020

Here we are, at the beginning of a new decade! I thought it would be fun to come up with a “Top Five” of the things I’m most looking forward to this year. I kind of wish I had something really big on my list, such as a family vacation like the one we took to Florida in 2018, or a trip to London, but I really don’t need grand events to come up with things I’m excited about! So here are the things I’m thrilled are coming up in the next year (more or less in chronological order):

  • Lego Modular Bookshop–I always look forward to the release of the new modular building on January 1st, but I’m especially excited about this year’s set, because like the Pet Shop, it is a building in two halves, which will offer me lots of options for displaying it on my Main Street! Actually, I was so excited about the set, I was in line outside the Lego Store 20 minutes before they opened this morning, just to make sure I got one of the 29 sets they had in stock (I did)!
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons–I feel like I’ve been waiting for a new Animal Crossing game forever. Sure, I’ve played (and enjoyed) Pocket Camp for the last two years, but it’s not a full game, and it’s just not the same. So if you’re looking for me on March 20th, I’ll be living the island life with my animal friends!
  • Katheryn Howard: The Scandalous Queen–One of the highlights of every year for the last several years has been the release of the latest book in Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series. We’re nearing the end, with the last book set to come out in 2021, but until then, May will be a great month for reading for me!
  • Tokyo 2020–Everyone knows I love the Olympics, and I’m especially looking forward to this year’s summer games, because our whole family has an interest in Japanese culture. It will also be a bit bittersweet for several reasons, including the fact that it will be the closing bookend on Turkey and Bunny’s homeschool summer school experience (summer school began in 2008 with the Beijing Olympics), but in spite of that, it’s still going to be a fun time!
  • Great North American Oktoberfest–I actually thought this event, which is the first in what appears to be an annual event traveling to different cities, was going to be held in 2019 (and, as it turns out, I was right…originally it was scheduled for last year), so you can imagine my disappointment when we didn’t get to attend. I’m hoping that it won’t be postponed again, and I will be able to enjoy this experience in St. Louis in the fall!

The Top Five–Photos of 2019

Time to take a look back at my five favorite photos from 2019! Notable this year is that a lot of my pictures were taken (or cropped) in “square” mode, since I’m using Instagram more than ever.

First, a picture from early in the year, when we enjoyed a snowy day in the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden:

Another winter picture, this time of two snow leopards at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago:

A spring photo featuring cherry blossoms in the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Japanese Garden:

The Red Arrows in flight!

Fall at Forest Park’s Pagoda Circle:

And an honorable mention…a photo taken at the holiday flower and train show at the Missouri Botanical Garden just a few days ago!

Obviously, I have my favorite places to take pictures, but I like that I’m constantly finding new ways to highlight them!

The Top Five–Star Trek Secondary Characters

When coming up with a list of my favorite secondary characters from the non-Kelvin Star Trek universe, I decided not to choose one from each of the five TV shows…instead, this is a list of my top five true favorites! You can tell Deep Space Nine is my favorite of the Star Treks, because three of the characters on the list are from that show. And, yes, Jeffrey Combs is on this list as two different characters…he’s definitely my favorite Star Trek guest star!

Shran–I love how the longer you watch Enterprise, the more Shran’s story unfolds…he’s definitely more complicated than he appears at first glance. I also love the way he gestures with his antennae, and I especially love how he keeps a running tally of how much Captain Archer owes him!

Q–Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? He’s definitely the universe’s biggest all-powerful troll, and I can’t help but wait and see what he does next. When we played Chrono-Trek, I was really hoping I would have the chance to join the Continuum and win the game!

Weyoun–Appearance number two of Jeffrey Combs on this list is as the Vorta, Weyoun. There’s no doubt he’s a bad guy, but he also has his moments, and he’s impossible to hate, especially when he talks about his background in creative genetics.

Martok–No top five Star Trek list of mine would be complete without a Klingon, and I had to choose Martok, who is not only a Klingon general, but also basically Worf’s adoptive older brother. He has an excellent sense of humor, and is also a fierce warrior…what’s not to love?

Garek–And for my third Deep Space Nine character, I had to choose the Cardassian tailor…the plain, simple, tailor. The more you know about him, the less you know, and every now and again you’re reminded of all of the horrible things he has done. But he’s also a good friend and a patriot, which makes him all the more lovable.

The Top Five–Star Trek Main Characters

This year, we’ve been watching through all of Star Trek (not including the Kelvin Timeline) chronologically. While we’re just now at the point where Deep Space Nine enters the picture, I think it’s time to list my favorite main characters from across the five series of Star Trek we’ll have watched when we’re through. I decided that since there are five shows, it would only be fair to pick one character from each, which helped narrow the list down some, too!

Enterprise: Commander Trip Tucker–I think this was the hardest choice for me. I really like Enterprise, but I’m not sure that I like any one character better than another. If forced to choose, however, I guess Trip is my favorite. You know, as long as I ignore the series finale!

The Original Series: Dr. McCoy–An irascible old gentleman, McCoy really speaks to me. The older he gets, the crankier he gets, and I know how he feels. I also really admire his dry sense of humor!

The Next Generation: Worf–I could choose Worf in not only Next Gen but also Deep Space Nine if I wanted to. He’s an interesting and complex character, and I love seeing how he adapts to serving with humans (and embracing his Klingon-ness) over the years. He may be my favorite character in all of Star Trek. Even though I could choose him twice, I had to leave a space for his wife, so next up is…

Deep Space Nine: Jadzeia Dax–Just Dax isn’t good enough, because I really, really don’t like Ezri. But Jadzeia is one of my favorite characters ever, and my list wouldn’t be complete without her. She’s strong and confident and cheeky, and she can kick anybody’s ass…there’s so much to admire!

Voyager: B’Elanna Torres–Obviously, I really like Klingons, and in some ways, B’Elanna is the mirror-image of Worf. She’s not a full-blooded Klingon like he is, but they deal with many of the same issues, and I like her unique perspective.

Up next…my favorite supporting characters!

40 Of My Favorite Things

In honor of my “Second 39th Birthday,” I thought I’d put together a list of 40 of my favorite things. I’ve been working on it for months–adding to it, taking things away, rearranging, trying to figure out what deserves to be here. It’s like an epic Top Five list! Some are serious, some are things I seriously love, and some are whimsical. If you don’t know me very well, or even if you do, it’s a great snapshot of the things I love the best!

  • Family–If this list wasn’t limited to a set number, I’d list each member of my family individually. But I have a big family, so my list would disappear pretty fast if I did! So I will just say that I love my entire family dearly, and they are definitely the best part of my life.
  • Easter Vigil–Without question, the Great Vigil of Easter is my favorite church service of the year, even more than Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday. The transition from darkness to light, the joyful moment the Lord’s resurrection is celebrated…it is, to me, as close to Heaven as I can get in this earthly life.
  • Albert–My black lab pound puppy, who is over three decades old himself, originally belonged to Ryan when he was a little boy. I’m not exaggerating when I say this one stuffed animal is my most precious material possession!
  • Animal Crossing–I’ve played this series of video games since the very first one (and every version since). They’re really the only video games I like to play and the only ones I’m really good at, probably because they’re fun and happy, and not stressful or even competitive, really. I can’t wait for Animal Crossing: New Horizons to come out next year!
  • Friends–I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve watched through the entire run of this show, but all these years later, it’s still one of my favorites, especially in November, when I always watch all of the Thanksgiving episodes.
  • Star Trek–I have my favorites within the Star Trek franchise (Deep Space Nine will always be number one, with Next Generation a close second), but I love it all…as long as it’s prior to the reboot. And to be honest, I’m still not sure about Nemesis. But I love the rest of it, even the Original Series, which may be completely hokey, but is fun to make fun of!
  • History–I have my favorite periods of time to study (medieval/Renaissance and mid-century are at the top of my list), but I love learning about the flow of history in general, and learning how past things influence people and events, and I especially love teaching it in school!
  • Lego–A toy that I played with as a child came back in a big way into my adult life when I had children of my own. And then came back in an even bigger way when I discovered that it’s ok to be an AFOL (adult fan of Lego)…I started building and displaying sets myself, and I love that it’s something that the whole family can share!
  • Chicago–The most beautiful city I have ever seen in person, Chicago will always be one of my favorites, and I’ve come to treasure our yearly (and occasionally more frequent) trips up north.
  • St. Louis–I originally didn’t really want to live in St. Louis permanently, but life has a funny way of making other plans, and now I can’t think of any place I’d rather be! This city, home of the 2019 Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues, has such an interesting history (which we learned about in great detail during the STL250 year) and culture, plus so many favorite spots that I can’t imagine not living near!
  • London–I may never have seen London in person (although I hope to fix that someday), but I love it, and when I do see it for myself, there’s a good chance it may take over Chicago’s space in my heart as the world’s most beautiful city!
  • Christmas–The day, the season, I love it all…I even finally visited the World’s Largest Christmas Store just last week! I love the preparation during the season of Advent, the twinkling lights on the tree, and selecting and wrapping gifts for loved ones, and planning special holiday meals, and listening to Christmas music, both sacred and secular, and everything else about that festive season, especially the celebrating of Jesus’ birth!
  • Capers–Yes, I will try a new recipe just because capers are an ingredient…but there’s a good chance I’ll at least triple the amount the recipe calls for! It’s become a family joke that I’m always on the lookout for capers (especially the giant ones Schnucks occasionally sells, or the even more giant ones in the salad bar at Texas de Brazil!).
  • My Wardrobe–Originally, I was going to say fashion, which I do appreciate. But what I love more than fashion in general is the wardrobe I’ve curated (yes, like art!), over the years, with pieces from all my vintage reproduction favorites: Pinup Girl Clothing, Splendette, and Erstwilder.
  • Giraffes–Everyone has a favorite animal, right? Giraffes are mine. They’re so tall and leggy, and you’d think they’d be totally awkward, but they have a grace and gentleness, and they’re so sweet!
  • Apollo 13–This has been my favorite movie for a long time, starring my favorite actor (Tom Hanks), and I watch it at least once every year, on New Year’s Eve.
  • Missouri Botanical Garden–It took us a long time to visit the Garden for the first time, but once we did, we were hooked, and we’ve had a membership ever since. It’s one of my favorite places to walk around, at any time of year, because it’s always beautiful!
  • Beast Craft BBQ–Originally, Seamus McDaniel’s, the home of the best burger in St. Louis was going to be on this list. Heck, not only did I create a family holiday for Seamus, I was even on the news once, to talk about how great they are! But then I looked back at my website, and at how many times I’ve reviewed different Beast specials over the 4+ years they’ve been in Belleville, and I realized that out of all of the local restaurants I’ve eaten at, they’re my very favorite!
  • Cooking/Baking…especially for family feasts and tea parties!–I love preparing special meals and treats for my family, and trying new things along the way.
  • Baseball–Obviously, the St. Louis Cardinals are my favorite. But I also just love the sport, so we’ve visited other major and minor league ballparks on our travels, seen Frontier League games, and even caught a few outings of vintage baseball!
  • Olympics–I have always said there’s no Olympic sport I won’t watch, whether it’s a winter or summer event. Sure, I have my favorites (gymnastics, figure skating, skeleton), but I just love the games, from the Opening to the Closing Ceremonies, and every last thing in between…I’ve literally watched it all, even more than one marathon in its entirety!
  • Books–I love books of all kinds…fiction, non-fiction, series, children’s books…and I really love how books have become the foundation of so many happy family memories (Harry Potter, anyone?)!
  • Royal Families–Originally, I was going to say “The Royal Family”…as in the British royals. But Ryan pointed out that my interest extends to all of the European royals (and even some royal families outside of The Continent)…I’m just fascinated by the workings of a royal family in general! (Although the Brits, and especially Queen Elizabeth II, will always be number one to me…)
  • “Six Tudor Queens” Series–It has been over a decade since I liked a book series so much that I anxiously looked forward to the next installment every year. Added bonus: I have also been introduced to more of Alison Weir’s books, including non-fiction titles, which is a major win!
  • Downton Abbey–Given that I love history and royal families, it should be no surprise that I love a period drama about the British nobility, and I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the movie later this year. We’ve even traveled to Nashville to see a special fashion of Downton Abbey exhibit, and if the big exhibit ever comes within driving distance of St. Louis, we’ll travel again!
  • Old Time Radio–I used to hide my love of Old Time Radio, because I thought it was something I should be embarrassed of. But I’ve learned to embrace it, and now I have no problem with anyone knowing I love listening to Jack Benny, Fibber McGee & Molly, Burns & Allen, and any number of other programs…and now the Fab Five love them, too!
  • Photography–I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures, but in the last few years, I’ve really loved learning how to take better pictures. I hope I’m always continually improving and finding new ways to capture special people, places, and moments in a photo.
  • White Christmas–Yes, it’s my favorite Christmas movie, but let’s be honest…I can be convinced to watch it any time of year! I love the setting, the clothes, the music, the dancing, and did I mention the setting? Plus, Bing Crosby!
  • Mister Rogers–Who doesn’t love Mister Rogers, right? Just turning on an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood has an immediately calming effect on me, and it makes me so happy that I’ve been able to share the show with my children!
  • Pheasant Run–This resort in the Chicagoland area was a place I often heard of growing up…but I never even saw it back then. Now, however, it’s become a very special place to our family, first as the home of Combo Breaker (which we’ve attended four times), and more recently, as a great Christmas getaway!
  • Rick Steves’ Europe–I frequently dream of going to Europe, and I hope that dream comes true someday. But until then, Rick Steves helps me feel like I’ve been there through his TV show.
  • Blogging–I’ve been blogging for over a decade now, and I love having the chance to share my views and experiences with whoever happens to be reading, as well as keep a record of all of the things we’ve been up to.
  • Bob Ross–Along with Mister Rogers and Rick Steves, Bob Ross is another PBS personality who has brought much joy to my life through his show. And his encouraging words even make me feel like I could actually paint a beautiful picture!
  • I Love Lucy–This show may have been the gateway to my love of all things retro, and it’s still my favorite black and white TV show. I’ve watched every episode more times than I can count, I never get sick of it, and it always, always makes me laugh!
  • Ticket to Ride–The Ticket to Ride series of board games is my favorite family of board games. Of course I have a favorite within the series (Nordic Countries, or as I like to call it, Ticket to Ride: Christmas Edition), but I love all the maps (and I can’t wait to play the new London map that’s scheduled for release this summer!), and it’s so much fun to “travel the world” while playing!
  • Food Network–I love watching the Food Network on cable TV when we travel, or on Hulu at home…I even love the Food Network magazine! I’ve gotten so many good ideas over the years, and now the children love watching with me, too!
  • Tiramisu–This is my very favorite dessert, and I love it in all its forms…traditional, cheesecake (my favorite thing to get at the Cheesecake Factory!), trifle, and the layer cake I make (often for my birthday). It’s so delicious!
  • Cabana Bay–The location of last year’s summer vacation didn’t make the original cut of this list, but Turkey pointed out that he had never seen me so happy as when we were there, and I willingly admit that it was literally like they looked inside my head when they designed it, so I had to bump the Rat Pack (who featured heavily on the resort’s speaker system) in favor of my favorite hotel ever!
  • Skee Ball–If an arcade has skee ball, it’s a winner in my book…but you may have a hard time getting me to leave!
  • Pineapples–My favorite fruit (I think I could sit down and eat an entire pineapple by myself!), and my favorite code word for trouble (from Chuck)!

The Top Ten–Chicago Attractions

I’m doubling my usual “Top Five” list…there are so many great attractions in Chicago, I had to choose ten! These are pretty touristy, but they’re the places I’ve been trying to make sure the Fab Five see at least one of each time we visit because they’re important to me. If you’re going to Chicago for the first time and/or have limited time to spend there, these are the places I think you should visit first for the quintessential Chicago experience!

  • Art Institute–This museum has, in my opinion, some of the best art in the world, and also some unique exhibits, like the Thorne Miniature Rooms. Make sure to take time to see the Chagall windows while you’re there!
  • Museum of Science and Industry–Where else can you tour an actual U-505, visit a coal mine, see a Tesla coil in action, and watch baby chicks hatch? If you’re lucky enough to visit at Christmastime, you can also see an amazing display of Christmas trees from around the world!
  • Adler Planetarium–All about space…need I say more? Oh, and the views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline are amazing!
  • Field Museum–This museum, named after Marshall Field, the Chicago department store magnate, is home to one of Chicago’s most famous residents: Sue the T. Rex. There are many other exhibits, too, which bring the history and culture of many civilizations around the world to life.
  • Shedd Aquarium–If you want to see fish and other sea creatures from around the world, this is the place to be! You can also touch sea stars, stingrays, and sturgeons, and take in a show at the Oceanarium featuring dolphins and beluga whales.
  • Boat or Bus Tour–I’m a fan of the Wendella boat tour, but any chance to get out on the water (Chicago River and/or Lake Michigan) or on the top of a double-decker bus and see the city from a unique point-of-view while hearing a guide share some of the city’s history is a great experience!
  • Brookfield or Lincoln Park Zoo–The two Chicago area zoos are very different from each other, so you’ll have very different experiences at each. My favorite is the Brookfield Zoo, but I’ve been to both, and they’re both fantastic spots to see wild animals!
  • Sears Tower Viewing Deck or John Hancock Observatory–I suppose I should refer to these as Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower and 360 Chicago at 875 North Michigan Avenue, but I’m old school. Whichever you choose, you’ll get great, bird’s-eye views of the city…just make sure to go up on a clear day!
  • Wrigley Field–I feel a little guilty even mentioning this, being a St. Louis Cardinals fan, but there is something special about historic Wrigley Field. Whether you go for a Cubs game (I’ve only been once) or for a tour (something I’d like to do in the future), you’ll have a unique Chicago experience and get to see the famous “Ivy on the walls.”
  • Chicago Botanic Garden–This is a new favorite Chicago-area location (it’s technically in the northern suburbs, in Glencoe), for me…I visited it for the first time last year. But it’s a beautiful place to take a walk in the winter and spring, and there’s always something new to see!

Bonus item: Christkindlmarket–I didn’t think it was fair to put this in the main list, because it’s open for such a short portion of the year. But if you find yourself in Chicago in late November or December, this is definitely worth a visit, and one of my very favorite things to do in Chicago!

Not mentioned…the FOOD! I couldn’t narrow it down to just one restaurant, or even one type of food, because there’s so much to love to eat in Chicago. But you’re going to need to stop and eat while you’re visiting all these amazing attractions, so grab a Chicago-style pizza, some Italian beef, gyros, a Chicago-style hot dog, or a Rainbow Cone while you’re out exploring!

And, yes, I know Navy Pier and especially the Centennial Wheel are missing from this list. So here’s my confession…I’ve never been to Navy Pier. I actually would like to take the Fab Five there in the future, if only to say we’ve been, and if I do, and I like it enough, I may have to modify this list at a later date!