Royal Oak Farm Orchard Harvard McHenry County Illinois

Our McHenry County trip visits Royal Oak Farm Orchard in Harvard, Illinois where apples rule. We found crisp fresh apples, apple pie, apple slices, caramel apples, apple donuts and apple cider. This third generation Harvard, Illinois farm is family friendly. As you cruise the scenic driveway, notice the namesake oak trees lining the road.

The orchard began with a few trees planted on Grandpa’s retirement homestead. The sprinkling of saplings grew into 13,000 apple trees in 29 varieties. U-pick apples are available July through November each year. Check with the farm for current crops as each variety matures at different times of the season.

Our tractor pulled wagon ride took us through the orchards where Justin Bell explained the history of the farm and how they create new trees through grafting. Each year 1000 new trees are planted. As we continued our ride, we passed u-pick raspberry and blackberry bushes. Choose your own pumpkins and gourds. The farm has their own bee hives and their Apple Blossom honey is sold in the gift store.

Royal Oak Farm Orchard Market produce

A bounty of produce at Royal Oak Farm Orchard Market

Stop by the market to stock up on farm fresh produce, bakery items and gifts.

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Try the blackberry pie at Royal Oak Farm County Restaurant

The Royal Oak Farm Country Restaurant is a popular comfort food lunch stop. Breakfast is available on Saturday mornings. I recommend the blackberry raspberry pie with ice cream.

Click on the picture below to watch a video of our visit.

Kids will keep busy in the entertainment area. Feed and pet the animals in the petting zoo, ride the carousel or the “Royal Oak Express” trackless train.

Connect with Royal Oak Farm Orchard on Twitter and Facebook for updates. Corporate groups, family reunions, birthday parties, weddings, receptions and large groups welcome.

ROYAL OAK FARM ORCHARD
15908 Hebron Road
Harvard, Illinois 60033
815-658-4141
www.royaloakfarmorchard.com

Royal Oak Farm is open for apple picking July through November. Hours and prices vary. Check their website for PumpkinFest and AppleFest special events.

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Royal Oak Farm Orchard.

Royal Oak Farm Country Kitchen Restaurant on Urbanspoon

A-Mazing Meadow View Maze Harvard McHenry County

Our tour of McHenry County continues with a visit to Meadow View Farm maze, pumpkins and more in Harvard, Illinois in McHenry County. This adventure farm is the perfect fall outing for the whole family where you can enjoy a day in the country atmosphere. Brothers John, Joel and their families opened the affordable, family friendly attraction on the family farm. Their grandfather purchased the farm 36 years ago and their parents, aunts, uncles and grandmother still live on the property.

The ten-acre corn maze has 2.66 miles of paths depicting a farm scene with tractors and barns. Start out with your blank punch card and see if you can find all 12 stations where you can make a special punch mark on your card.

Take the wagon ride, pulled by a tractor out through the corn fields to the pumpkin patch to select your perfect pumpkin in the pick your own pumpkin field. Jump back on the wagon to complete your ride.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Even the littlest ones can select pumpkins and gourds while shopping on their own in the ready picked area. It was fun to watch the little ones pulling their wagons full of colorful gourds. They will also enjoy playing in the corn sensory tables.

Ready for more fun? Kids will burn off energy jumping in the bounce house and climbing the hay mountain. Test your accuracy launching corn or pumpkins at targets.

When you are ready for relaxing, head out the eight fire pit areas or the pavilion you can call ahead to reserve.

Serving locally grown Mirai corn at Meadow View Farm

Serving locally grown Mirai corn at Meadow View Farm

The farm features locally grown Mirai sweet corn. Save room for other tasty treats like kettle corn, burgers, hot dogs, brats, hot pretzels and more while sipping hot apple cider.

Connect with Meadow View Farm on Facebook for updates and savings. Corporate groups, family reunions, birthday parties and large groups welcome.

MEADOW VIEW CORN MAZE
17020 Streit Road
Harvard, Illinois 60033
815-482-0908

Meadow View Farm is open August through October. Hours are Friday 5-11 PM, Saturday 11-11 PM, Sunday 12-10 PM. Special events each weekend.

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau andMeadow View Farm.

Port Edward on the Fox River Algonquin McHenry County Illinois

We dined at Port Edward in Algonquin, guests of Port Edward and McHenry County Visitors Bureau. The nautical themed restaurant and seafood menu has been a fixture of Algonquin and Fox River valley since 1952. It is a favorite fine dining locale for McHenry county residents and visitors alike.

Flat Iron Steak at Port Edward

Try the Flat Iron Steak at Port Edward

Owner Ed Wolowiec is a gracious host involved in all details of the restaurant. His background includes diving the oceans for treasure, classical musician and teacher. Ed designed and supervised the building of Port Edward Restaurant doing much of the work himself. You may see him driving around town in his classic Stutz Bearcat. Ed is active in the community including the Rotary Club.

Here is Ed holding the 1st production Materra Merlot wine.

Ed Wolowiec at Port Edward Restaurant with 1st production Materra Merlot

Ed Wolowiec at Port Edward Restaurant in McHenry County with 1st production Materra Merlot wine

The Friday night international seafood buffet and Sunday champagne brunch are highlights of the week. The selection of seafood treats is like no other you will find in the area. Limited vegetarian selections are on the menu. While known for seafood delights, Ed and Chef Randy have a little secret to share with you.


Diners can customize their experience with a choice of seating options available in the spacious restaurant. The well lit main dining room offers accessibility for all and is perfect for everyone. For a romantic dinner, request a quite table in the Lobster Cove or Secret Room. The Red Room is often used for cabaret shows or special events.

For those who plan ahead, reserve a table aboard the “Porpoise” up to one year in advance. Your party can enjoy a private meal while floating in the koi pond.

Savor scenes that change with the seasons from the Salem Lounge’s over-sized windows overlooking the Fox River. Enjoy cocktails or dinner as the wood bar radiates a warm glow in the sunshine. Evening crowds range from after work business colleagues to girls night out to couples.

Summer time dining dockside on the patio is a favorite for boaters who tie up and come ashore for lunch or dinner. Even dogs have their day with Tuesday evening outside Doggie Dine Out for owners and their pets.

Chicago’s WTTW Check, Please! filmed a segment at the restaurant last year. We were there for the shoot and took video of their video taping. Our favorite was producer David Manilow pretending to dive into the huge dish of paella.

You can keep up with Port Edward on Twitter and Facebook.

PORT EDWARD RESTAURANT
The Fox River and Algonquin Rd. (Rt. 62) in McHenry County
Algonquin, IL 60102
Phone: 847.658.5441 Fax: 847.658.5690

Our visit was sponsored by Port Edward and McHenry County Visitors Bureau.

Port Edward Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Port Edward Restaurant on Foodio54

Richardson Corn Maze and Richardson Adventure Farm Spring Grove McHenry County Illinois

The Richardson Family invited us to be their guest and tour the Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, Illinois including the Richardson Farm World’s Largest Corn Maze. If you think the destination is “just” a corn maze, you will be surprised to find there is something for the whole family to enjoy on their visit and each year a new activity is added.

The 28 acre corn maze with 11 miles of trails is the star attraction. Four of the mazes are connected via bridges celebrate the 100th anniversary of scouting. A fifth maze celebrates the 500 anniversary of the first decorated Christmas tree in Latvia is located near the U Pick Christmas trees. Within the  corn maze are checkpoints and games you can play while you navigate the trails.

Richardson Adventure Farm, Spring Grove, McHenry County, Illinois

Photo Credit: Richardson Farm World's Largest Corn Maze in Spring Grove, McHenry County, Illinois

After the trails, you can gather your group around one of the picnic areas for a snack you purchase or bring with you. As the weather cools, up to 60 campfires will keep visitors toasty warm. Don’t forget your marshmallows.

When you are rested and ready for more adventure, take the kids for a ride down the giant tube slide or to climb the Mulch Mountain. Look “eye to eye” with the goats while feeding them handfuls of food. Then take a spin on the tyke track or play with the buckets and shovels in the corn crib. Teens can race each other on the pedal cart track or go for a wagon ride. Don’t miss the view from the top of the five story observation tower where you can overlook the entire corn maze and Richardson Christmas tree farm. Visitors could easily spend two to four hours with all the activities which are included in the entrance fee.

The Richardson family are fifth and sixth generation owners who plan to bring new attractions to the Richardson farm each year. If you are adventurous, check out two of the latest additions to the farm: zipline and zorbing.

New to the United States, zorbing is a sport where one or two participants are strapped inside a 10 foot diameter ball which is then rolled down a hill. The Richardson’s tell us there are just five zorbing locations in the United States. Click to watch our video as April rides the zorbing ball like a human hamster.

I rode the 700 foot zipline ride, new to the farm last year. I climbed to the top of the five story observation tower and stepped off the platform for a thirty second thrill glide over the corn maze, pumpkin patch and Christmas trees. The ride is exhilarating and you can watch as I take my ride in the video below.

The Richardson Farm corn maze is open until Halloween. The farm reopens after Thanksgiving for You-Cut Christmas tree, wreaths, garlands, wagon rides and hot cocoa.

Admission to Richardson farm includes all activities except zorbing, zipline, reserved picnic tables and concessions, also providing wheeled coolers.

You can find “Richardson “World’s Largest” Corn Maze” on Facebook and Twitter. Follow their updated for the latest weather reports from the farm, updates on special events and news. Learn more about the upcoming Midnight Storytelling event.

The Richardson Adventure Farm is located at 9407 Richardson Road near Spring Grove, IL. in northern McHenry County. It is about one hour northwest of Chicago, one hour southwest of Milwaukee or 15 minutes south of Lake Geneva. For more information call 815-675-9729.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” and see me ride the 700′ zipline across the farm.

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Richardson Corn Maze and Richardson Adventure Farm.

Read more about Richardson’s World’s Largest Corn Maze and Adventure Farm

One Room Schoolhouse at Richardson Farm “World’s Largest” Corn Maze

Zorbing Richardson Corn Maze Adventure Farm Spring Grove McHenry County Illinois

Zipline Richardson Farm and Corn Maze Spring Grove

Kualoa Ranch Oahu Hawaii Tours and Hawaii Activities

David Morgan, 6th generation owner, invited us to visit the 4,000 acre Kualoa Ranch cattle ranch and recreation destination.

David is a descendant of Gerrit Judd, who was one of King Kamehameha III cabinet members. Judd purchased the initial land and offshore fishing rights from the king in 1850.

While still an active cattle ranch, the family has diversified operations including vegetable and fruit farming, flower nurseries and producing fish and prawns for local markets. There are a variety of non invasive visitor activities they were happy to show us including hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, concerts, sporting events, education sessions and TV and film production.

After our breakfast orientation meeting, we were off to a tour of the Moli’i fish ponds and gardens. These preserved fish ponds were built 800 years ago using lava rock walls and a series of wooden sluice gates where small fish could enter. Growing as they fed on the alga in the pond, the fish became too large to exit the gates. Photo credit Kualoa Ranch.

Kualoa Ranch Oahu Hawaii fishpond tour on 800-year old ancient pond

Kualoa Ranch Oahu Hawaii fishpond tour on 800-year old ancient pond

Our next stop was the garden where taro, breadfruit, papaya, jack fruit, banana, pineapple, bamboo, sugar cane, coffee and a rainbow of flowers grew. We stopped near the macadamia nut trees seeking out a few overlooked nuts. The effort to required to crack these shells was impressive. By smashing the nut between two stones we were able to taste a few raw nut meat treats.

Kualoa Ranch Oahu Hawaii Stepping in the Footprints from Godzilla’s movie

Kualoa Ranch Oahu Hawaii Stepping in the Footprints from Godzilla’s movie

After our stop for the lunch buffet in the main lodge we were off on our next tour. We chose the movie tour which took us out in a scenic part of the ranch valley. Cowboy, our tour guide took us through the former military bunker which has been used to film Lost and now houses movie relics and posters. As we rounded the bend the valley opened up in front of us. Here is were many movies and television shows are shot including Jurassic Park, George of the Jungle, Fifty First Dates. “@nctrlbst @alohayaling @alohabruce and @noelwilliamsinside one of Godzilla’s footprints. Photo credit April M. Williams”

The sites are marked by signs and our guide Cowboy had a story to tell of each one. Photo credit Kualoa Ranch.

Kualoa Ranch is about an hour drive from Honolulu. The ranch offers shuttle service from Waikiki and The Bus route 55 stops at the entrance to the ranch.

Follow Kualoa Ranch on Twitter.

For more information or to make reservations for a day at the ranch call (808) 237-7321 or email activityinfo@kualoa.com.

Watch video of our trip to the fish ponds, gardens and movie location sites.

Oahu Revealed

Oahu Revealed

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

So You Think You Know Hawaiian History?

We travel to Hawaii often and likely know more about Hawaiian history than the casual tourist to the islands. Our visits include stops at cultural and history sights important to making Hawaii the diverse location that it is. Then we met Richard Wong, tour guide for Ohana Tours. When our friends at Ohana Tours heard about our love of history and Honolulu they invited us to check out the weekend walking tour of the downtown area. We took our ohana (family) to meet Richard on a recent Sunday morning.

Our adventure began in downtown Honolulu in front of the golden Kamehameha Statue in the heart of the city. You can see this statue on the Hawaii state quarters released as part of the state series. For the next two hours Richard shared history of Hawaiian culture, religion, politics and people. As history buffs ourselves, we were overwhelmed by the detailed stories our guide shared with us. Richard is a gifted story teller. His vivid words and smooth delivery made the tales come alive for us. Drawing on a long career as a Honolulu police officer, he personalized his tales with accounts from his time on the force.

We found another link between us and our guide. To bring the islands to us when we are in the Midwest, we started watching the Hawaii 5-0 television series starting at the pilot. I get chills every time I hear the Hawaii Five-0 theme song playing. The show ran for 12 years from 1968 to 1080 and was filmed in Hawaii. The second floor of the Iolani Palace was the fictional state police headquarters. Many scenes were filmed at the iconic Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki overlooking Duke Kahanamoku’s Lagoon and the Honolulu Marina. Richard worked security during many of these shoots and shared stories of the cast and crew. He even had a few on screen parts.

You can read more about our tour on the www.808talk.com article. Listen to how Richard started out our tour below. If you are  staying in Honolulu over a weekend, check out Ohana Tours for information or reservations.

Check, Please! Visits Port Edward in Algonquin

David Manilow, creator and producer of Check, Please! was at Port Edward in Algonquin Aug. 14, 2009 to tape a segment for the fall season. My friend Ed Wolowiec invited my husband and I to watch the shoot. As a Check, Please! viewer it was interesting to watch the efforts and time involved in shooting the episode. In a typical show host and Master Sommelier Alpana Singh and three guests discuss three restaurants they all have dined at. During the episode viewers see pictures of the food and atmosphere while folks at home get a real flavor for the restaurants.

Port Edward Restaurant in Algonquin, McHenry County, Illinois

Port Edward Restaurant in Algonquin, McHenry County, Illinois

Friday night is international seafood buffet at Port Edward’s and I asked David about his favorite item. He must have been very hungry. Check this video out and see what I mean! Click on the picture below to watch.

Port Edward is located at the Fox River and Algonquin Road.
Port Edward Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Port Edward Restaurant on Foodio54

Chessies 111 Grill Meetup at Ice House Barrington Illinois

We will be at the Chessie’s 111 Grill (formerly Chessie’s) in the Ice House Mall Barrington, Illinois. Stop by and say “hello” at Chessie’s 111 Grill. Bring your business cards and make new contacts.

Check out the special 1/2 Price Bottles of Select Wines. Appetizers, sandwiches and steaks too. Daily specials are favorites of the regulars.

Chessie's 111 Gril Barrnington, Illinois

Chessie's 111 Gril Barrnington, Illinois

FREE WI-FI
Chessie’s 111 Grille
200 Applebee St
Barrington, IL 60010
847-382-5020

Chessie's 111 Grille Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Chessies 111 Grill on Foodio54

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