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PA and Chicago

Several weeks ago I had someone contact me about joining with her to do a post about the areas we live in. I thought it sounded fun. Let me tell you a little bit about my new friend, Kendra. She's a mom of 3 and before being promoted to the full time position of mom, she was the former Orbitz Director of Communications where she was able to travel a great deal.  She now lives in Chicago with her family, where they are her number one priority in everyday life. It was neat learning about what her family enjoys about the city. This is a two part post with the first part being all about my "stomping ground" here in PA and then the second part is all about hers'.  Hope you enjoy it and if you'd like to share about "your neck of the woods" please let me know and I'll pass your email onto Kendra.

I say living in Pennsylvania allows you to experience every season of life fully. Our four seasons seem to never slip in quietly but come in with a roar whether it's summer to fall or fall to winter. Pennsylvania offers such a wide variety of things to do that everyone in the family can find something that interests them. Here are just a few of our favorite things....

Gettysburg National Military Park - This is truly where history comes alive! We have spent countless hours here walking the paths, climbing Little Round Top, learning our history and enjoying picnics and bike rides. The new visitor center opens the door to learning and the specific historic tours that you can take deepen and enrich the experience even more.  

Utz Potato Chip Tour - Who doesn't love a "how do they do that?" tour! We have done this tour several times as our family continued to grow. When the newest child is old enough off we go to see how these fabulous chips are made. It really is educational, fun and the smell is delicious! LOL! 

Caledonia State Park - I can't say enough about this place. Hiking, swimming, fishing, camping, fabulous nature programs, the Appalachian Trail, lots of much to do. A must for anyone travelling this way.

Totem Pole Playhouse - A fantastic little playhouse right smack in the woods! It may be small but it offers BIG entertainment from the very well known to the little known actors and actresses. Every single show we have seen has been very well done and the shows vary from musicals to drama to comedy. 

Antiques and crafts galore - Fayetteville has it's own antique mall and there are plenty of craft shoppes to pique your interest. I'm not much of a shopper but I can attest that the parking lots at these places are usually full. I do know that many people travel to this area because of the quality and quantity of antiques available. 

Let's Eat! - The Chambersburg area offers any kind of cuisine your heart desires. From Aki Steakhouse and Sushi Bar to Windy Knoll Farm Market and Creamery. Our personal favorite is Ciao Bella which is owned and operated by Vince and Nadia. They have the BEST pizza and subs and most everyone we know "in these parts" frequent this restaurant weekly. LOL! 

So that's a quick glance at life around this area. I feel so blessed to have these amazing opportunities and experiences available to us. Most weekends find us out enjoying nature as we hike, kayak and play in the great outdoors. As a homeschooling family, the educational opportunities, as you can see above, are enormous. So even during these snowy, cold months we can say with certainty, we LOVE PA! :)

Chills and Frills in Chicago
Living in Chicago usually means that there are two seasons to think about during the year. Those seasons are spring and summer, and my family figures out things to do during both. We love being in Chicago because there is a wide variety of things to do like going out to eat or shopping. It is a city full of entertainment at any time of the year. Spring is perhaps the best time of the year because we can go outside and walk through the parks.

1. Shopping for a Steal
Wicker Park is a fun place to go when we want to window shop. There are several stores in the park where we go to find bargains on clothing and crafts. Some of the shops are for the luxury shoppers who have a little more money than us to spend. However, it is an area where I like to find birthday gifts for family and friends. There are also special events held outside through the year.

2. Walking Through the Wilderness
Although Grant Park is not in the middle of the woods, there are times I take my children when there are very few people there. This is when it feels like we are in the middle of nowhere. We enjoy going early in the morning before it gets crowded so that we have all day to play. We pack a picnic lunch, and if it hasn't rained, we sit in the grass to eat. It is amazing as to how many children play in the park and how many families enjoy the wonderful area. There is a large fountain in the middle of the park, and I always try to throw in a few pennies to make a wish.

3. Sleeping the Night Away
I have had several friends and family members who have come to Chicago to stay weekends with my family. There are numerous hotels in the city that have history behind them. The Drake is a large hotel with a grand design. It not only offers a spectacular view of the city at night, but the rooms are full of luxury and comfort. A large swimming pool awaits guests, and there is delicious food served in the restaurant. I have stayed in the hotel a few times with my children just to pretend like we are on vacation. There are so many great hotels in the city itself and sites like Gogobot make it easy to find user reviews on the various hotels.

4. Pizzas and Pasta
Glenn's Diner is perhaps one of the best places I have ever been to when it comes to food. The staff is fabulous, and they will make just about any kind of pizza you want. It has always been clean, and the service is fast. Before I go to work, I like going by the diner to get a big plate of eggs and hash browns. This is the place that serves authentic diner food with a Chicago twist.

Whether we go to the park to relax or to stay in a luxury hotel, my family enjoys every bit of the windy city. Chicago has a lot to offer residents and visitors. While there is a lot of snow in the winter, we tend to get through it by staying inside, watching movies and eating junk food. When there is no snow on the ground, we like looking at the tall buildings and looking at the shops in the historic parts of town. There is no other place I would rather be.


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