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This Weekend: Memorial Day getaway ideas

Relax at Ephraim Bay
Relax at Ephraim Bay
Jodie Jacobs

Oops. How did Memorial Day Weekend come into view so fast? Last minute planning is sometimes fun but what are people to do if life was too busy to think ahead to this coming weekend? Here are three suggested destinations for late planners.

Relax by Ephraim's beach and park with a view of the Bay and Peninsula State Park
Relax by Ephraim's beach and park with a view of the Bay and Peninsula State Park
Jodie Jacobs

The entrance to the Door County Peninsula is about a three-hour straight drive north from Chicago. It can be another hour’s drive out onto the Peninsula depending on where someone stays.

What to see and do and where to stay is almost a chicken-egg story. A helpful guide is the Plan Your Trip link on the Door County website because if you know what you want to do you may have an idea of which part of the Peninsula you should call home for the weekend. The north or topside of the Peninsula (Green Bay waters) is an active shopping, driving, eating and art gallery area. The south or underside (Lake Michigan waters) is known as the quiet side even though it also has places to eat and shop for art. Both sides are scenic, have lighthouses and good hiking and biking trails.

Then again, what you end up doing might relate to where you stay. Check out the different accommodation types at Where to Stay and find what is available in B&Bs, condos and inns. Also look at the restaurant list because tables fill fast Memorial Day Weekend so making at least one reservation before arrival is a good plan. For casual food and good ice cream stop at Wilsons, it's a Door County tradition.

BTW, there is so much to see and do on The Door that boredom is not possible and the weekend sampling will likely lead to a return trip.

Closer to home, Lake Geneva, WI is about 90 minutes northwest of Chicago. Its two large resorts are the Grand Geneva on the edge of town and The Abbey in Fontana on the other end of Geneva Lake. In between B&Bs, inns, condo buildings and other resorts dot the roads and lake. A must-do for first-timers is a boat ride around the lake to hear about its mansions owned by former “who’s who” in Chicago society.

As with Door County, after finding a place to stay, next on the list should be a restaurant reservation because Lake Geneva really is a popular weekend getaway. However, instead of the several village downtowns on The Door, the main boutique shopping and galleries are downtown Lake Geneva. To do more, check out wineries, breweries and apple orchards in the area

Or plan a “stay-cation” in Chicago. Don’t take your own city for granted. Tourists come to Chicago to see a show, dine casually or upscale at ethnic, seafood and steak houses, visit museums, hear concerts, learn about and admire its architecture, shop North Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile and see what’s new in Millennium Park.

What tourists and residents like is an architecture or other boat tour on the Chicago River.

They also want to step out on the Willis Tower Skydeck, get deep-dish pizza and grab a bag of Garretts Pop Corn. A good list of suggestions is at Choose Chicago's Uniquely Chicago site.

If you like to bike, know that Bike the Drive is Sunday when Lake Shore Drive is only open to bicycles.

Make it a real getaway by staying downtown. Check out Find Accommodations on the Choose Chicago website for price and availability.. Look near where you think you will spend most of your time such as near Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

Enjoy your city and the weekend as a visitor, not a commuter.