Bike Riding – Morton Arboretum

My husband and I love to ride our bikes but, like dinner and a movie, riding through our neighborhood or around the same park district path gets old.  A change of scenery is always nice.  The Morton Arboretum is a great option.

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You can bike the nine miles (or less depending on your stamina) of paved roads through the Arboretum all year round but, from May through August, you can take advantage of “vehicle-free” days/times.  No cars are allowed on their roads on Fridays from 5:30 pm to sunset and on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7:00-9:00 am.  You can bring your own bikes, or they have rentals available.

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We took advantage of one of the Saturday morning rides.  If you don’t have a membership, which we don’t, you have to pay an admission fee.  This one-time fee also includes parking and gets you access to the arboretum grounds.  So, after a long bike ride, it was nice to walk around and stretch out our legs.

Now, when you think of an arboretum, you think . . . trees.  Maybe not the most exciting place to spend a lot of time.  But it is so much more than that.  It is a “living museum” full of life and color.  Something new is blooming all year long whether it be the trees themselves or the flowers in the many gardens that are a part of the landscape.

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Additionally, every year the Arboretum has a special exhibits (generally in the form of art sculptures) scattered around the grounds.  These sculptures become part of the landscape in June and are visible through the summer months.  In the past, some of these exhibits have included treehouses, frogs, Lego, and origami sculptures.  The 2018 special exhibit is a Troll Hunt.

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So enjoy a bike ride and a picturesque walk through the gardens, and make sure to see how many of the special exhibit sculptures you can find.  Then go grab some food – you’ll definitely be hungry after all that exercise!

Saturday Night Live Exhibit

If you were born in the 60’s, like me, you have probably watched Saturday Night Live since it aired in 1975.  Maybe you haven’t watched every episode of every season for the last 43 years, or maybe you have, and you are my new hero.  Especially if you stayed with it during the 1980-81 and 1985-86 seasons.

So, when I came across a link about an SNL exhibit in the city, I had to check it out.  The show memorabilia is currently on display at the Museum of Broadcast Communications.  It runs through December 31, 2018 and tickets are $25.00.  This price also gets you access to the 3rd floor (see description below).

The SNL exhibit is a self-guided tour that takes you past video clips, costumes, and various set mock-ups.  Here is a brief description directly from the MBC website:

“The SNL exhibit is a 500 artifact, self-guided exhibit that takes you through the six-day creative process on how the show is produced and ready to go on air by Saturday night.  It is an immersive experience with much to read, watch and interact.  On average, it takes about 1.5 – 2 hours to get through SNL:The Experience, but admission also grants you access to the museum’s 3rd floor television gallery.  Avid museum goers will find themselves spending at least 2-3 hours with us.”

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There were TVs in a couple of the rooms and, thankfully, they were playing old show content on a pretty short loop.  Otherwise, you would have to deal with people like me who could stand there all day watching old clips of the show.  The sets were really cool too.  You could take pictures on a Jeopardy! set, the basement from Wayne’s World, and the Weekend Update desk.  They also had costumes and other memorabilia scattered throughout the exhibit.

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The 3rd floor is the museum’s regular attraction.  With artifacts from B.J. & Dirty Dragon, Ray Rayner, and the Bozo Show, it was a step-back-in-time visit to my childhood.  I mean, who didn’t have a Cuddly Duddly stuffed dog?  Spoiler alert:  ME.  But my husband did 😊.  We didn’t spend as much time on this floor but it was worth stopping on.  And it was included in your ticket, so why not?

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One great thing about this museum is there is cheap parking right across the street.  The cost is $9.00 (if you use the promo code) for 6 hours.  STOP!  Go back and read that again.  Nine dollars for downtown Chicago parking.  For SIX HOURS.  So, if going downtown just for the museum is not appealing, you now have 3-4 extra hours to fit in other fun stuff.  Plan your trip to include lunch or dinner.  If it’s a nice day, explore the Riverwalk.  Or better yet, schedule a boat tour since you are right near the river.  There are so many options.

One final note:  If you love SNL, and also like to read, I highly recommend finding Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests by James Andrew Miller on Amazon or at your local library.  It is a behind-the-scenes history of the show with commentary/stories from writers, cast members, and hosts.  Full disclosure:  this clocks in at 800 pages.  The nice thing about this book is that you can put it down for a short time and pick up where you left off without having to go back and re-familiarize yourself with plots and characters.

When Dinner and a Movie gets old . . .

There is a commercial for Vegas where the limo driver says that “you need a break from the same-old, same-old.  Because it’s the same.  And it’s old.”  This also applies to date-night.

So, since no one wants to be the same and old, you are going to want to explore new events and activities, and you need to focus on what is fun, not necessarily “date night” approved.  Here are some things to keep in mind when you are planning your weekend time together:

  • Date night doesn’t have to take place at night. Our new-found freedom started out with day-dates.  We still had one son at home who had hockey games at night on the weekends.  There is still a lot of fun to be had during the daytime hours.  When the weather gets nicer there are festivals, hiking, outdoor concerts, and multiple parks to visit.  During the colder weather you can explore museums, see shows, or tour breweries/distilleries.
  • Just because you are moving away from dinner and a movie, doesn’t mean you still can’t eat. I really like to eat.  Exploring new restaurants and foods is something that makes me happy.  Eating at the same place all the time does not.  Plan a fun activity during the day and have dinner afterwards.  Or make your activity about eating.  Attend a food truck festival, explore a food hall, attend a cooking event, etc.
  • Reconnecting with your partner doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Having another couple or two tag along on a fun activity is not taking away from you spending quality time with your significant other.  You are still experiencing the event/activity together.  And some things are just more fun with a group, such as bowling, escape rooms, or game nights.
  • Not everything has to be a repeat activity. Try something new.  If you have fun doing it, keep it in your regular rotation.  If you didn’t enjoy it, at least you can say you did it once.  Ultimately sporting events, casinos, and horseback riding are not for everyone.  Worst case, you spent money on something you didn’t enjoy.  Best case, maybe you have great pictures or a story about it that you can share with others.
  • Not everything has to cost a lot of money. I love a bargain just as much as the next person.  Museums have free admission days throughout the year.  Some festivals have free admission.  Groupon is a great source for saving money.  There are apps to help you find free/cheap parking.  Some adventures might only cost you the gas it takes to get you there like hiking and car shows.
  • Not everything has to take place within a 25 mile radius of your home base. Spread your wings.  Unless you have a time limit, your options are limitless.  Road trips are a great time to talk about what is going on or to listen to music/podcasts that you both enjoy.  Even better, they are a great way to explore new towns.  If you like to do a certain activity, say mini golf, drive 45-60 minutes away to explore a different course.  And then have lunch or dinner at a restaurant you would otherwise never have gone to.

It’s your time now – have fun with it!