When Irish eyes are sailin'
You'll be testing your best Irish brogue while floating upon the Kelly green Chicago River via a Spirit of Chicago St. Patrick's Day cruise. Cruise the river dining on a grand buffet of traditional foods, sipping green beer, enjoying iconic views, and dancing off the calories with interactive DJ entertainment.
Boarding begins at 3 p.m. and cruise is from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 15. Tickets start at $49.90. Reservations are required; (866) 273-2649 or spiritofchicago.com.
Color outside the lines
If you can't take off to faraway warmth for spring break, you can at least play like a kid again at the Museum of Contemporary Art's "MCA First Fridays: Spring Break." The museum will offer spring break-inspired projects designed by artists from Chicago's creative communities. The program begins with a school-inspired variety show: Robbie Q. Telfer's The Encyclopedia Show, during which people present encyclopedia entries in odd and creative ways. Then, it's a spirited evening with music from Latin DJ collective Sonorama, and Cheryl Pope performing with fashion students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. First Fridays tickets include museum admission and live entertainment.
6 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 7. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $14 in advance or $18 at the door. Guests must be 21 and over; (312) 280-2660 or mcachicago.org.
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The only museum in the Chicago area that focuses exclusively on the history, culture and arts of the Native people of North America, the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, contains collections ranging from the Paleo-Indian period through the present day. Explore it when admission is free. Discover how American Indians from multiple cultures and races identify themselves, pre-European contact and today; learn about contemporary issues facing American Indian cultures from language preservation and land ownership; and see how American Indians use storytelling traditions as tools.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, March 7. Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central St., Evanston. Free admission on the first Friday of the month; (847) 475-1030 or mitchellmuseum.org.
Don't (spring) break the bank
Consider one of the special spring break getaway deals offered by the AAA Four-Diamond Chateau on the Lake Resort & Spa in Missouri, just minutes from Branson's attractions and shows. Choose the "Family Suite Deal" for 25 percent off any room or suite type (except standard rooms); or "The Spring Break Family Deal" -- reserve one room at the regular rate and receive 50 percent off the second adjoining room. Both options include: kids 5 years and under eat free from the Kids Menu when accompanied by an adult with a purchase of an entree; complimentary in-room Wi-Fi; use of the resort's 24-hour fitness facility, indoor heated pool, hot tub, tennis courts, nature trail, and outdoor playground; as well as nightly movies in the resort's Sassafras Theatre.
March 1-May 1, Chateau on the Lake Resort & Spa, Branson, Missouri. Rates for a Lakefront Ambassador Suite start at $195 per night and with a two-night minimum, available for Sunday-Thursday stays. Rates vary based on dates of stay and room type selected. The offer is subject to availability, and taxes are additional. Some restrictions apply. (888) 333-5253 or ChateauOnTheLake.com.
One of the largest and most festive spring parties in the north is held every year at Michigan's Boyne Mountain. Considering there are 415 skiable acres and 60 trails, skiing and snowboarding are at the core of Carnival Weekend, but there's also music, six different parties on Saturday, cookouts, a snow bar, free swag, costume contests, and live entertainment from dueling pianos and The Waxies, an Irish folk-rock band.
March 14-16. Boyne Mountain Resort, 1 Boyne Mountain Road, Boyne Falls, Michigan. Carnival Weekend Ski & Stay Packages including Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa accommodations, lift ticket and buffet breakfast are available from $195 per night. (800) 462-6963 or boyne.com.
The Michigan Maple Syrup Association offers three weekends of activity focused on the state's oldest agricultural activity during the annual Michigan Maple Weekend. More than 25 sugar makers are participating in family-friendly events held around the state are to get a firsthand look at how maple sap is collected, boiled down, and turned into sweet maple syrup and other maple treats. Many of the farm tours include tree tapping demonstrations, samples of products, recipes and local maple syrup products available to purchase.
March 15-16, 22-23 and 29-30. Get details on participating farms at Mi-MapleSyrup.com.