Beginning on April 27th, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium will offer guests the opportunity to explore the grace and wonder of stingrays in its new, hands-on special exhibit Stingray Touch.
The outdoor, seasonal exhibit will allow guests to see – and feel – the texture and movement of these gentle animals.
Located under a tented structure on the aquarium’s south terrace, the new 18,000-gallon pool will feature approximately 40 cownose rays and yellow rays. The diamond-shaped cownose ray glides through the water with a wingspan of up to three feet long. Cownose rays are commonly found living near the water’s surface, and they are constantly on the move.
Guests will have exceptional views of the rays’ natural behaviors across the 80-foot-long and 22-foot-wide habitat. The smaller, round yellow rays are bottom-dwellers known for their unique spotted coloring and will be admired through varying vantage points of the two-and-a-half-foot-deep pool.
In the wild, the stingrays’ barbs are a defense mechanism used against predators. Without those threats, Shedd’s animal health team painlessly trims the barbs on the rays in Stingray Touch (similar to clipping fingernails).
At the seasonal special exhibit, Shedd staff members will guide guests through the 15-minute touch experience, while providing interesting facts about stingrays, including information about how choosing sustainable seafood protects stingrays in global waters.
Like many other fishes, cownose rays are accidentally taken as bycatch – marine life unintentionally caught and discarded during fishing – by commercial fisheries. Choosing sustainably-caught seafood is an easy and important way to protect rays beyond Shedd.
Illuminated with a combination of natural light and creative lighting fixtures, the habitat will accommodate curious explorers of all ages, inviting them to see the stingrays through various angles during this up-close encounter. The sleek and vibrant interior of the exhibit will be matched outside with colorful gardens filled with seasonal native plants and flowers wrap around the tented structure.
Shedd has an extensive history of caring for several species of stingrays, including freshwater rays in Amazon Rising; blue spotted rays, ribbontail rays, fiddler rays and whiptail rays in Wild Reef; and southern rays, yellow rays and cownose rays in Caribbean Reef; and starting this spring, cownose and yellow rays in Stingray Touch.
This limited-time experience is scheduled to run from April 27 through fall 2013, weather permitting. For more information, visit www.sheddaquarium.org.
There’s still time! Bring the family to Navy Pier and enjoy 170,000-square-feet of delightful fun for all ages at Winter WonderFest, running now through Jan. 6th.
A beloved holiday extravaganza, Winter WonderFest features dozens of rides, games, and live entertainment in addition to an expansive indoor ice skating rink, inflatable slides and so much more.
New Winter WonderFest activities this year include Zero Gravity, a thrilling ride that spins adventurers at high speeds and holds them in place with full Winter WonderFest force while tilting at a 45-degree angle! Also, don’t miss Winter WonderTown where families can mingle with townsfolk and explore their favorite hangouts. Mayor Burl Evergreen in City Hall presides over the town that includes Café Ambrosio, Miss Jackie’s Frost and Highlights Salon, Theodore Behr’s emporium and the gorgeous brownstone at the end of the block where the townspeople like to gather to meet new friends.
Attendees are also able to watch some amazing performances by live bands on the Winter WonderFest Stage. The fest’s remaining lineup of talent includes:
So what are you waiting for? Shake off that cabin fever and head down to Navy Pier while this uber-fun fest is still in full swing.
While there, make sure to check out the Chicago Children’s Museum’s new exhibit Snow Much Fun (open through Jan. 6)! It’s an ideal indoor snow day featuring all of your tyke’s favorite winter activities.
Where else in Chicago can you build a snow fort, throw snowballs, dress up a snowman and skate…inside? Lose your shoes and practice the perfect pirouette or fancy figure-eight on our indoor “ice” rink. Deck out a family of snowmen fashionistas, and then build a pretend snow fort or castle out of specially-made “ice” blocks. In Snow Much Fun, kids and families can even engage in a friendly snowball fight—no mittens required!
Adding even more cheer to the holiday season, Water Tower Place will offer guests QLess, a mobile queuing solution, to help avoid long lines to visit the jolly guy. With this mobile system visitors can check-in on their smart phones and continue shopping or spending time with family until it’s their turn to visit with Santa.
In addition to Santa’s visit, other new features also will greet shoppers during the holidays. Glowing snowflakes will adorn the exterior, and hanging lights and snowflakes will decorate the sweeping Water Tower Place atrium, creating a visually striking seasonal landscape. Also inside the center, a new interactive screen on Level 6 will depict a wintry background and allow guests to view themselves amidst falling snowflakes.
Hours for Santa are Monday-Saturday, noon-8 p.m. with breaks from 1-2 p.m. and 5-6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-6 p.m. with a break from 2- 3 p.m. Santa will be available on Christmas Eve from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with a break from 12:30 p.m.– 1:30 p.m.
Luna Negra Dance Theater continues its family-oriented winter series, Luna Niños, with the second dance “episode” of the adventures of Moniquilla and friends, this year titled “Moniquilla and the Moon Monster,” presented in three performances at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts (1016 N. Dearborn St.) on Nov. 30th at 7 p.m. and Dec. 1st and 2nd at 3 p.m.
This hour-long, narrated dance performance finds Moniquilla and friend Veronica at school one day when they realize that pal Matias is missing. After a little exploration, they realize that Matias has been abducted by the Moon Monster, who’s in search of the mysterious Book of Magic, and Moniquilla must enlist the help of former nemesis Nico (from the previous installment, Moniquilla and the Thief of Laughter) to help save him.
With illustrations by Patricia Marín Escutia, animations by Gustavo Suarez, lighting by Jared B. Moore, and a giant moving set designed by Zuñiga, this immersive and interactive multi-media adventure delights children (and adults) of all ages while serving as an introduction to the dramatic power of contemporary dance.
The on-going adventures of Moniquilla, presented in annual installments as part of Luna Negra’s Luna Niños artistic initiative, was conceived by Luna Negra Artistic Director Gustavo Ramírez Sansano specifically to reach young audiences through a unique dance experience tailored to their needs.
Tickets for “Moniquilla and the Moon Monster” are $15 and are available online at www.lunanegra.org.
Enjoy the best of the winter season – food, ice skating and so much more – in the indoor warmth of Navy Pier’s annual Winter WonderFest.
From Nov. 30 through Jan. 6, Navy Pier is transformed into a winter wonderland filled with everyone’s favorite holiday activities. Ice skate on the Arctic Ice Skating Rink, take a ride on the 50-foot indoor Ferris wheel, and pick your favorite animal to ride on the ever-popular Kringle Carousel.
Feeling adventurous? Check out the Extreme Ice Trail Ropes Course or the fast-paced Winter Wind Glider. Sit back and relax at the Winter WonderStage where musicians and magicians will regale you with their music and magic acts. And of course don’t forget a visit with the big guy himself, Santa Claus!
Admission to Winter WonderFest is FREE. Activity Wristband purchase is required to participate in rides and attractions within the event. There are two wristband types: Premium (includes indoor ice skating with skate rental) and Regular (excludes indoor ice skating).
Winter WonderFest hours:
Nov. 30 – Dec. 15
Dec. 16 – Jan. 6
Special Holiday Hours:
Chicago Loop Alliance’s fourth annual Winter WonderLoop will surprise and delight pedestrians in downtown Chicago this winter with “Random Acts of Holidays” from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Black Friday, Nov. 23, and each Saturday from Dec. 1-22. Specific details on these free, spontaneous, family-friendly experiences around the Loop will be announced each morning on the Winter WonderLoop website.
Visitors in the Loop will encounter “Random Acts of Holidays” that include: street performances from Goodman Theatre and Joffrey Ballet; giveaways of hot beverages, pastries and prizes from Corner Bakery; free pop-up photo booths, complete with props, from SmileBooth; strolling carolers and bands from local colleges and high schools; and Berghoff Restaurant mascot “Herman the German” giving away custom steins, ornaments and treats.
Along with these events, Winter WonderLoop gets pedestrians into the holiday spirit with seasonal displays and decorations, including CLA’s unique year-round light and sound installation Lightscape: a Multisensory Experience on State Street—which will provide a special treat this year as socialite Candace Jordan wishes passersby happy holidays. In partnership with Time Out Chicago, CLA also celebrates the “10 Wonders of the Loop,” providing visitor maps that highlight ten must-see holiday destinations and activities, such as the wreathing of the Art Institute lions, ice-skating in Millennium Park and gazing down on the frozen city from the Ledge at Skydeck Chicago.
Holiday revelers can also visit the Winter WonderLoop website for more than 100 special offers, events, promotions and destination ideas from CLA member businesses and organizations from Nov. 23 to Dec. 31.
Brunch is always a welcome respite from the regular eating of three squares a day. But there’s more to it than eggs and pancakes, folks. I always like eating brunch at restaurants that focus on international cuisine, as I get some variety on my plate. A great place to do this is Cafe 28. I’ve written about this wonderful Cuban joint on the blog before, but I figured it warranted a repeat since I finally got to experience their weekend brunch menu.
In general, latin brunch is where it’s at. I think that the texture of beans with over easy eggs is a match made in heaven. Add some corn tortillas into the mix? Well, I’m all set to go. Cafe 28 does a great job on their brunch menu. They’ve got the things we’ve come to know and expect, like chilaquiles (a casserole-like plate of delicious), and huevos rancheros (doesn’t really need a parenthetical, right?). But there’s more to choose from…
I’d recommend the pork belly jalapeño hash, complete with plantains, queso fresco, and a tomatillo jam. It’s sweet and spicy bite will wake you up and delight the senses. I also enjoy their “Medianoche en la manaña.” This brings together elements of the ubiquitous medianoche sandwich—designed to please people after a night of drunken debauchery—with the ever-charming croque madame. The ham and swiss sandwich is topped with bacon and eggs and doused with syrup. If you don’t get a sugar high from this, there’s something wrong with you, but it is delicious without a doubt!
So this weekend, try something a little different. Spice things up, if you will?
Cafe 28 is located at 1800 W. Irving Park Rd at Ravenswood.
The self-proclaimed Encased Meat Emporium Hot Doug’s is most certainly a landmark in Chicago’s culinary scene. Amazingly, I’ve made it over three years in this city without dining there. Their hours are quite specific, only 10:30 – 4pm Monday through Saturday. They may have a line extending far out the door. But no matter, you will be enchanted by their sausages, making the entire experience worth it.
The menu is packed with clever names and unusual ingredients. Their static choices offer a wide variety of dogs. You can’t go wrong with the Chicago-style dog, but if you want to take a walk on the wild side, go for the Brigitte Bardot. It’s built around Andouille sausage, and like Bardot, is “mighty, mighty, mighty hot!”
One of the things that makes Hot Doug’s special, however, is the variety in their rotating menu. Click on the menu section of their website to see what they are cooking up each day, but I’m happy to provide you with some samplers.
Though it wasn’t offered when I was in the restaurant, I have it on good authority that the ribeye steak sausage with chimichurri and caramelized onion cheddar cheese is as good as it gets. The juciy, rich flavor of the ribeye translates wonderfully to sausage form.
Other stars include the bacon and sharp cheddar elk sausage with beer mustard and garlic-cheddar cheese spread. The sausage itself is just a little dry, due to the elk, but the great paring with cheese spread makes each bite juicy and packed with flavor.
My personal favorite is the spicy thai chicken sausage. It’s packed with sriracha mustard, sesame seaweed salad, and duck cracklings. A wonderful combination of flavors, it simply delights in the mouth.
Get there early! At 11 a.m., we had no wait for our food or table. But by the time we left at noon, the line was well out the door. This is the best excuse for an early lunch break!
Hot Doug’s is located at 3324 North California just south of Roscoe.
The weather is turning cooler, and comfort food is sounding better and better. After a meeting in the west loop, I was craving a sweet treat, and I was told to proceed immediately to Glazed and Infused. I was not disappointed. Their extravagant doughnuts will bring a smile to your face any day.
I was told that I simply had to try the maple bacon doughnut, and when I saw it with my own eyes, it’s no wonder. The giant long john is topped with fresh maple glaze. Laid out gracefully atop the frosting is a whole strip of thick-cut bacon.
A recommended favorite from the staff was the chocolate chip cookie. It is made with chocolate chip cake, and topped with a milk chocolate glaze, crumbled cookies, and pecans. It’s rich and satisfying, and unlike any doughnut I’ve ever had.
Other highlights include the taffy apple, apple fritter, carrot cake, concord grape glazed, and more. I can’t wait to go back and try more! Luckily, I had enough will power to leave only with two (which I shared, thank you very much). I recommend going with as many friends as you can gather up. Just walk in and say “one of each!” I would.
Locations for Glazed and Infused can be found here.