The long & winding road
Chicago museums are world class, but crowds and high admission prices can be painful. Consider a visit to The Oriental Institute Museum and its new exhibit, "Silk Road and Indian Ocean Traders: Connecting China and the Middle East." Portions of the museum's collections, including antique astrolabes, highlight trade connections over land and sea between China and the Middle East, primarily the Silk Road trade route and Indian Ocean maritime trade. You'll better understand how Chinese inventions inspired craft traditions in the Middle East, particularly production of silk and paper.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Feb. 18-June 29. The Oriental Institute, 1155 East 58th St., Chicago. Free admission. but there is a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and younger. https://oi.uchicago.edu/museum/special/silkroad or (773) 702-9514
The Talbott Hotel unleashes a dog-friendly package so your pup friend can accompany you for an overnight in the city. Cosmopolitan canines no longer need to ruff it with pet sitters when you book the package that includes: comfortable dog beds; food and water bowls; treats; and a 15 percent discount at luxury dog boutique, Tails in the City, across the street from the hotel. Located in the heart of the Gold Coast neighborhood, the hotel offers easy access to Washington Square Park and Oak Street Beach for walks with your pal. The Talbott Hotel welcomes up to two well-behaved dogs per room with a combined weight of 50 pounds or less.
The Talbott Hotel, 20 E. Delaware Place. Standard room rate applies plus dog fee of $50 per room. Stays longer than 5 days will require an additional fee. Restrictions may apply. (800) TALBOTT or talbotthotel.com/dog-friendly
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Getting winey about winter
Wineries on the scenic Leelanau Peninsula near Traverse City, Michigan, have responded to the relentless winter in a most delicious way: a vineyard-to-vineyard ski and snowshoe trail. The 7.5-mile groomed trail connects three wineries in the center of the peninsula, allowing you to explore the vineyards, then go inside to warm up by a fire, sample some wines, and move on to the next place. Ski and snowshoe rental available from Suttons Bay Bikes.
Available for the duration of winter. Learn more about equipment rental, lodging and other winter attractions at TraverseCity.com, or call (800) TRAVERSE.
Monster & Mastodons Jam
The Indiana State Museum has been discovering, digging, studying and preserving the remains of mammoths, mastodons and other Ice Age animals for decades. You can see these giants for yourself in the "Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons" exhibit. See Fred, the museum's iconic mastodon, as well as the equipment used on an actual dig. Examine the remains and learn what it might have been like to hunt a mammoth.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Now through Aug. 17. Indiana State Museum, 650 W. Washington St. Indianapolis. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $5.50 for children; indianamuseum.org.
Ready for your close-up
You've got your Sundance, Festival de Cannes, South by Southwest and other famed film fests, but where will you find the next cool cinematic festival? Beloit, Wisconsin. The Beloit International Film Festival has been called the "next big thing" by Moviemaker Magazine and has been listed as one of six alternatives to "Sundance" by The New York Times. The festival draws thousands of filmmakers and fans from around the world, screening 120 features, shorts and documentaries in downtown Beloit, a charming Midwestern city that provides big city amenities minus film festival attitude. Films are screened in a dozen venues, from 40 seats to the 700-seat Eclipse Center.
10 a.m. to 10 p.m. now through Sunday, Feb. 23. Venues vary in downtown Beloit, Wisconsin. For a complete schedule, go to beloitfilmfest.org. Plan your trip at visitbeloit.com.
Worth the Trip
Trips to Cody, Wyoming and the surrounding area -- including Yellowstone National Park -- will be easier this summer as United Airlines has added nonstop weekend service between Cody's Yellowstone Regional Airport and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The airport is only five minutes from town so you can grab your bag from the luggage carousel, walk around the corner to the rental car desk, get your keys and car and be checking into your hotel in a snap. The town offers a wide variety of activities including Cody Nite Rodeo, the entertaining Cody Gunfighters, the world-class Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Old Trail Town/Museum of the Old West, Tecumseh's Old West Miniature Village and Museum and great music such as Dan Miller's Cowboy Music Revue. The region features blue-ribbon trout fishing, opportunities for hiking and riding horses, and two entrances to Yellowstone National Park are easily accessible from town.
The new flights will run weekends June 28-Aug. 17. See united.com for pricing.