La-la Land for Lolla fans
Attending Lollapalooza? Experience the ultimate VIP weekend at The James Chicago, including hotel packages with VIP perks, restaurant and bar offerings, and special events. Book a "Lollapalooza Plus Perks" package in The James' Loft or Apartment suites and get cocktails upon arrival at the Primehouse Bar, two three-day transit passes, classic American breakfast for two at David Burke's Primehouse, and a special welcome amenity. All guests who check in over Lollapalooza weekend beginning on Friday, August 1, snag a custom James Lollapalooza care package while supplies last. The James' common areas will feature a continuous playlist with "best of" tracks from top Lollapalooza artists, too.
Book by Thursday, July 31, for the Aug. 1-3 Lollapalooza weekend at The James Chicago, 55 East Ontario St., Chicago. Rates begin at $439 for a Loft or Apartment Suite; jameshotels.com or (312) 660-7161.
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Take advantage of the 10th year of "Made in Chicago" World Class Jazz at Millennium Park. The free early evening concerts launch with a short set by young, aspiring musicians from Chicago-area high schools followed by seasoned performers such as Milton Suggs, NRG Ensemble, John Moulder, Chicago composer, alto saxophonist and singer Matana Roberts and Fareed Haque.
6:30 p.m. Thursdays, July 24 to Aug. 28, at Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago. Free; cityofchicago.org.
The perfectly located boutique Kinzie Hotel offers locals and tourists cool packages this summer, including the P.O.V. (Point-of-View) for those wanting to experience the city outdoors; the River North Scene and Be Seen for visiting Chicago's top hot spots; and the Home Run Family Package that includes so many amenities for a fun getaway close to home. Kinzie currently has availability for Lollapalooza weekend, too. The River North hotel offers all guests free continental breakfast on every floor as well as an evening reception with complimentary drinks and bites.
Kinzie Hotel, 20 West Kinzie St. Lodging Lolla weekend starts at $289+tax/night. kinziehotel.com or (312) 395-9000
You needn't travel across the plains to attend an old-fashioned county fair -- just to Lake County, Illinois. The 86th year of the Lake County Fair offers a Demolition Derby, Banana Derby, Chicago Flower & Garden Show, 4-H animals, rides, games, competitions, fair queens, tractor parades, fireworks and live performances. See one of Nashville's Top 10 new country stars, Elizabeth Lyons; Veterans Day at the Fair with the Naval Station Great Lakes Band "Horizon"; "Mow Down Show Down" with the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association; Pro Rodeo Stampede; the Lake County Mounted Posse Open Horse Show; and a Craft Beer Festival and Tasting.
10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Thursday, July 23-24; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday to Saturday, July 25-26; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, July 27. Lake County Fairgrounds, 1060 East Peterson Road, Grayslake, Illinois. Admission is $8-$10 for adults; $5 seniors and kids 6-12; and free for ages 5 and under or active military in uniform. On Thursday, July 24, all active military and veterans get in free. Family Fair Pack is $25 for two adults and two children. Cash only. For a schedule, go to lcfair.com or call (847) 680-7200.
Hot dog eating contests? Pshaw! Try downing balls of dough packed with mashed potatoes, kraut, mushrooms and meat at the annual Pierogi Festival in Whiting, Indiana. The annual dumpling extravaganza offers pierogi tossing contests; the Polka Dance Off, hosted by Polkahontas and judged by Mr. Pierogi and Ms. Paczki; a Mr. Pierogi songfest; and a Polka Parade with the Precision Lawn-mower Drill team, the Twirling Babushka Brigade, the Marching MBA's and the World's Original Lazy Boy float. A 25-minute drive from downtown Chicago, Whiting offers numerous budget-priced hotels, too.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday, July 25-26; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 27, Downtown Whiting, Indiana.pierogifest.net or (219) 659.0292.
Forget the Northwoods to get a Taste of Wisconsin -- just get to nearby Kenosha. The free harbor front festival features locally produced specialties as well as cooking demonstrations, gardening workshops and music on multiple stages. Food is all thing uniquely Wisconsin, served at the 40 food and beverage vendors lining the promenade along Kenosha's lakeshore. Sample cheese, oysters, pulled pork, fish tacos, freshly squeezed lemonade, pickles, pulled pork sliders, Kobe sliders, hand cut fries, chicken wings, deep fried pickles, Kung Pao chicken, egg rolls and desserts. Taste of Wisconsin does not use a ticket system for food purchases. All vendors accept cash for food, beverage and products they sell.
3 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 25; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 26; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 27; Downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin. Free admission. tasteofwi.com or (262) 496-9400.