Quiessence is one of my favorite restaurants in the Phoenix area and the choice for my Birthday dinner. The menu changes daily featuring fresh, local ingredients. The best dining option is in the Tasting Menu that is a 5 course chef’s choice (you do not order any specific food, but you can specify Vegetarian and/or food allergies). An optional wine pairing is available, and highly recommended (if you like delicious wine).
My Birthday Tasting dinner included a chilled vegetarian starter, bread (do not eat too much of the bread, pace yourself!), meat & cheese appetizer (not quite fast enough with the camera), yellow squash salad with yogurt dressing, perfectly fluffy gnocchi pasta, salmon and fingerling potatoes, lamb with stuffed mini bell peppers, and desert course (complete with birthday candle).
Quiessence is only open for dinner. There is limited patio dinning and plenty of window side tables to enjoy the beautiful surrounding area on The Farm. For a more romantic experience try to plan your dinner before sunset. Be sure to make reservations. Open Table is my favorite on-line reservation system and the mobile app is really easy to use.
Arizona Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to try a three course meal at a much reduced fixed price to try out the scrumptious food from Quiessence!
I like visiting museums. I am fascinated by engineering and basically how stuff is made. Recently, while in Chicago, we toured the Museum of Science and Industry. Like everything in Chicago, it was not a cheap visit.
With so many things to do and see, here are my favorites; interactive exhibits, like the tornado and hot-air balloons from the Science Storms, an actual 727 airplane suspended from the building, vintage firetrucks, and displays of vintage & modern aircraft and spacecraft!Above the basic admission, they offer extra tours, exhibits, and other “add-ons”.
A captured German U-boat (submarine) basic exhibit is included in the general admission, with option to add-on a guided tour. If you have time, definitely add the tour! Great for children 10+, the tour is informative and just really neat! Two doorways are cut into the side and you walk (almost) the entire length of the boat! It was amazing to see the navigation stations, kitchen, bunk beds, torpedo storage, and so much more!
Our final add-on was the coal mine tour. This is the original and has been a permanent exhibit since 1933. The coal mine is a great family activity, perfect for Children 5 and up. The tour starts in a working coal mine elevator and includes a quick train ride and lots of fun-facts. There is working equipment that spans old and modern mining techniques.
There were many other exhibits and activities that we wanted to see, but our trip was cut short due to lousy transportation. If you are visiting from a Chicago-suburb, it is much easier to drive directly to the museum and pay to park. Otherwise, you may experience a significant delay on the bus or train. There was an event downtown that resulted in many bus routes being detoured, so we ended up in the worst part of South Chicago for a bus transfer. I would not even recommend walking from the train station at 55th/56th. If you really want to take the bus, or have no other options, the X28 is the best option.
I really enjoyed our visit to the museum and will plan to go back on our next visit to the Chicago area.
June 2014 Update – Made it back to the museum and brought my two favorite little girls, ages 4 & 7 years. They loved the coal mine tour, and earned a ton of stickers for participation and correct answers during the tour.
We went on a “free” day and the museum was packed with people, mostly school children. The extra cost add-on tours were a break from the bus loads of kids and other families enjoying the museum at no cost. For a family of 4 or more, the free day is really worth it, if you can handle the crowds and noise.
There is currently an add-on tour of Treasure of the Walt Disney Archives that displays various Disney props and costumes. There is also a hands-on drawing portion of the exhibit. The girls were mildly interested, but spent most of the entire 10 minutes in the exhibit starting at the cartoon clips shown on multiple screens. I adore all things Disney, but this was just a waste of time & money for the girls and adults. Save your money and spend 10 minutes looking over the images from the website, they offer better views than those in person behind the display glass.
The Fairy Castle was a nice break from the crowds, even thought it is part of the free collection the exhibit enclosure automatically limits the number of people at a time. The multi-level castle has an enclosed garden, ballroom, library, and so much more.
There are many interactive activities and games for the kids. Including solar car racing, life-size hamster wheel, hot-air balloon launches, trains big & small, and a miniature rocket launch.This is absolutely one of my favorite museums, and once again, one of the highlights of every visit to Chicago!
On a recent trip to Flagstaff, Arizona we started the day with a nice warm-up hike. The city of Flagstaff is located at 8,000 ft, and if you are not accustomed to high elevations, I strongly suggest starting with an easy hike. Kendrick Park is located a 20 miles north of Flagstaff on the 180.
The parking lot is well paved with great views all around. Summer or Winter, this hike is worth the stop. There is a 1/4 mile loop that is even paved for wheelchairs & baby strollers! The larger loop is 1.5 miles. Our only regret was not being prepared for such a beautiful picnic spot!
I love unique, boutique-style hotels. Hotels will a bit of history are even better. The Monte Vista is a four story, red brick hotel with a rich history located in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona. Typical for buildings of this age, the rooms are small, but decorated for full use of the space. It was built in 1926 and was visited by old-Hollywood actors, many have rooms named after them. We stayed across from the Jane Russell room, due to a last minute booking. Next time, we will plan better and that Bob Hope room will be mine!
The hotel is off of the famous Route 66 (which offers its own sight-seeing and history), walking distance from NAU campus, near the Amtrak train station, a short drive to Snow Bowl, 81 miles south of the Grand Canyon, and very close to some of my favorite hiking trails!
Flagstaff is a great place to visit year-round. It is a refreshing place to cool off in the summer, at nearly 7,000 ft elevation. Be sure to avoid NAU graduation (usually early May) and homecoming (end of October), as these weekends tend to be crowded and expensive.