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Welcome to The Real America regional news page. If you were not contacted via e-mail about the latest newsletter being posted and would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact [email protected].

Real America News
Volume E7, Issue 4, Spring 2012

In this issue:

Nuts & Bolts from the UK

By Martin Roberts

The Travel Agent in Your Pocket?

Thomas Cook became the first British travel agent in 1841 when he arranged an 11-mile train excursion for 540 temperance campaigners in the UK. The travel industry expanded rapidly but the pattern remained essentially the same for over a century with professional experts booking travel arrangements tailored to the individual needs of the public and taking a commission from the travel companies and hotels that they used.

Then, in the 1960s, along came the packaged tour operator. The growth of air travel had made one or two week holidays perfectly feasible anywhere in Europe. The main obstacles were a lack of local knowledge and the language barrier. It now seems inevitable that entrepreneurs would solve these problems by packaging up accommodation with dedicated flights and an in-resort representative in a glossy brochure, but at the time it seemed wonderful and sold like proverbial hot cakes. By using dedicated charter flights it became affordable, too. Two weeks in the sun on the Mediterranean became the norm for the majority of Brits from the mid sixties right up until the nineties or later.

Fast forward a couple of generations. On the one hand there was a packaged tour industry endlessly churning out almost identical brochures. On the other, there were now very savvy consumers frustrated with anti-social flight times, same old destinations and being herded around in groups. Then two things happened: Airline deregulation and easy Internet access. This meant that the much cheaper airfares offered by the new airlines could be instantly accessed and booked using the web. So could the accommodation, with the Internet and email offering free global communication and a way around the language barrier. The dam burst, changing the whole way that the average tourist selected, booked and paid for their holiday. Nor were travellers restricted just to Europe, anymore. Deregulation had also come to the long haul airlines (particularly the US ones) and distance was irrelevant to the Internet. The travel industry had to rapidly adapt or struggle. It was, though, an opportunity for those offering a specialist personal service-as many UK operators to our region do.

At the time, home Internet access usually meant one desktop PC in a spare bedroom. Now it is much more personal, and on the move! The upsurge of social networking sites has revolutionised the way large segments of the population interact with digital media and each other. The key to this has been the advance of digital mobile technology and this is set to make further quantum leaps over the next few years with near instantaneous access to websites, TV/video and friends and families, with the “cloud” holding both personal and business data, accessible from anywhere.

The potential of this is enormous, and could bring the travel industry full circle. Thomas Cook founded his business on expert knowledge and full service. The package holiday industry brought huge choice to the masses but lost individuality. The Internet brought back choice and flexibility. The industry is now on the verge of being able to offer a total interactive service involved from creating initial awareness, then through the planning and booking process and ultimately being part of the actual vacation itself, offering immediate relevant information throughout the process. This provides opportunities for everybody in the travel and hospitality industries, not only tourist boards, travel agents and tour operators, but also hoteliers, local venues, excursion organisers, museums, outfitters, restaurants, stores and many, many others. It will cover the entire experience from “where shall we go this year” to “where shall we go tonight” and maybe even to “shall we go back?” The only limit is the creativity with which the technology is applied.

This is particularly suited to a diverse region like RMI, where we know that there is high interest, but UK consumers are concerned by a lack of detailed knowledge. Technology can now provide the necessary help in real time and at all stages. The challenge, and the opportunity, is to provide that help. Certainly, the four states have made a very good start with their mobile and social network offerings, but the key to maximising the potential of the impending technology is for the whole industry to work together to provide a mutually advantageous long term relationship with visitors from start to finish. Old Thomas may be long gone, but maybe technology can help bring his original concept back to life through that little plastic box in your pocket!


News from the States:

South Dakota

South Dakota is home to stunning landscapes and warm summers filled with infinite opportunity for outdoor recreation. South Dakota proudly hosts five scenic byways, five national parks, monuments and memorials as well as 54 state parks and recreation areas, making South Dakota an ideal destination for FIT and group tours to experience nature’s beauty.

The Glacial Lakes & Prairies Region in the northeastern corner of the state is covered with pothole lakes and scoured prairies that resulted from erosion caused by glaciers that once covered the area. Evidence of this phenomenon can be found at Big Stone Lake. Located on the South Dakota-Minnesota border, Big Stone Lake is the state’s lowest elevation point and features the Big Stone Island Nature Area and Hartford Beach State Park. Travelers to this region of the state can also visit Fort Sisseton Historical State Park, a picturesque area that unfolds more than 130 years of history. History enthusiasts can take a guided tour and walk among 14 original buildings while adventurers explore the waters in a rented canoe or kayak. The park also features a campground complete with a picnic shelter and restrooms with showers. Also in the northeast is Sica Hollow State Park – 807 acres of hauntingly beautiful terrain. The Hollow's first Indian visitors named it "Sica," (pronounced she-cha) meaning evil or bad due to a series of mysterious happenings in the area. The Hollow has since been recognized on a national level - The Old River Warren and Coteau des Prairies are designated National Natural Landmarks. The Trail of the Spirits, a self-guided interpretive foot trail, was designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1971.

Palisades State Park

In the Southeastern Region of the state is Palisades State Park, known for its unique 1.2 billion-year-old Sioux quartzite formations, walking trails, campgrounds and captivating history – legend has it that the outlaw Jesse James made a remarkable jump over Devil’s Gulch on horseback while fleeing the law in 1876. Also in the southeast is Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, which features three campgrounds, biking trails, sandy beaches and the largest marina in South Dakota.  50 miles west of the Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area is the southern point of the Native American Scenic Byway. This expansive scenic byway ventures through the heart of the Great Sioux Nation. The trail covers the lands of five Sioux tribes and also follows the path of Lewis & Clark’s 1804 journey along the Missouri River.

South Dakota’s Great Lakes Region unfolds as the byway heads north and follows a system of four massive reservoirs along the Missouri River – Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Francis Case, Lake Sharpe and Lake Oahe. Located in the heart of the Great Lakes Region, the state capitol of Pierre is an ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Located just below the Oahe Dam, Farm Island State Recreation Area and Oahe Downstream State Recreation Area allow visitors to take in the beauty of the majestic Missouri River. Nearby Lake Oahe offers world-class walleye fishing and outdoor recreation. The fourth largest reservoir in the United States, Lake Oahe hosts eight recreation areas spanning all the way to the North Dakota border.

Badlands National Park

The western half of the state, known as the Black Hills, Badlands & Lakes Region, features a remarkable contrast to the eastern half of the state. The Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway bisects beautiful Badlands National Park – 244,000 acres of primordial terrain. Further west in the pristine Black Hills National Forest is a must-see destination for fall foliage enthusiasts. The Spearfish Canyon State Scenic Byway features thousand-foot limestone palisades, bountiful vegetation and roaring waterfalls like Roughlock Falls Nature Area. The extensive Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway will delight visitors with its pig-tail shaped bridges, six rock tunnels (see tunnel sizes) and towering granite peaks and pine-laden mountains. In the southern reaches of the Black Hills is Custer State Park, South Dakota’s largest state park. Custer State Park features the Wildlife Loop State Scenic Byway which winds through the southern portion of the park and offers the chance to catch glimpses of free-roaming buffalo, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, burros, mule and whitetail deer, pronghorn and elk.

The Old West town of Deadwood is an excellent stop where visitors can try their luck or enjoy an exquisite meal at one of the towns many gaming halls and restaurants. Another popular drive is heading south via Nemo Road or SD Highway 385 to the central Black Hills. Popular stops in this part of the Black Hills include Pactola Lake and Sheridan Lake. Fifteen miles from Pactola Lake and five miles from Sheridan Lake is the bustling community of Hill City – a charming mountain town filled with unique shops and a calendar full of summer events. If your clients are looking to indulge in the finer things in life, they can visit the Stone Faces Winery and the award-winning Prairie Berry Winery. Located on the outskirts of Hill City, these wineries are sure to satisfy the palates of all visitors.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Overlooking Hill City is Harney Peak, the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. There is a wide variety of hiking trails to the top of the mountain as well as around nearby Sylvan Lake for those looking for outdoor recreation. Also located near Hill City is America’s Shrine of Democracy – Mount Rushmore National Memorial. No trip to South Dakota would be complete without visiting the four granite faces. Seventeen miles from Mount Rushmore, another face is rising from the pine-laden Black Hills – Crazy Horse Memorial is the world’s largest mountain carving in progress and, when completed, will be the largest sculpture in the world. The neighboring community of Custer is located in the southern Black Hills, where jutting granite outcroppings offer a remarkable contrast to the northern Black Hills. Named after George Armstrong Custer, this city hosts nearby attractions Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Each year during the first full week of August, the motorcycles roar through the Black Hills. The world famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has established South Dakota as the cream of the crop destination for motorcycle enthusiasts. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has been an annual event since Clarence “Pappy” Hoel created the rally in 1938 with the exception of two years during World War II due to rationing. This year marks the 72nd Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (August 6th-12th, 2012) – a week full of fun, concerts and the roar of hundreds of thousands of motorcycles riding through the beautiful Black Hills. Some of the most popular attractions in Sturgis during the rally are the Full Throttle Saloon, the world’s largest biker bar and the Buffalo Chip Campground, which features big name entertainment during the rally. In addition to the action-packed events during the rally, the Black Hills offers a wide selection of fun-filled activities. Be sure to book travel accommodations early for your individual and group tours for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

From east to west, each of the four regions of South Dakota offers visitors a vast selection of travel opportunities. The sunny days and cool nights of summer make South Dakota an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts to experience nature’s beauty in a variety of ways.



Custer Country Tourism Region Changes Name to Southeast Montana
Custer Country Tourism, the entity charged with promoting the 13 counties and two Native American Reservations of Southeast Montana, has officially changed its name to Southeast Montana. The change took place during the Tourism Advisory Council Meeting on Tuesday, February 7 when the council voted to recognize the Custer Country Board’s unanimous decision regarding the name.

Lake McDonald

Last year, Custer Country hired Mercury CSC to conduct a nine month comprehensive research project for the Custer Country region. As part of this project, the agency was asked to conduct research seeking to determine whether the ‘Custer Country’ name was the best name possible for supporting the organization’s mission of bringing more tourists to the region. The research agency interviewed members of the region’s target market, as well as constituents from within the region. It was decided that while the name can be offensive to some, it creates many other negative issues for potential visitors to the region. Some of the issues include its confusion with Custer County, confusion as to which state it is located in, and an inability to adequately represent all that there is to see and do in the region. The research agency provided the Custer Country Board with a list of criteria any new name must meet in order to be effective and the board chose ‘Southeast Montana’ based on these criteria.

The name change is effective immediately. The region’s new web address is Please note that though the web address has changed, it will take several months to convert all of the graphic elements from ‘Custer Country’ to the new name. This will be the case with all of the organization’s marketing materials.

Glacier National Park and the Going-to-the-Sun Road opening for 2012
Planning for the plowing of the famous road inside Glacier National Park has begun.  The task at hand is monumental and with ever changing weather the exact opening date is hard to predict.  To stay current on the status of the road check out the National Park Service website at:

Announcing More Flights into Montana
United Announces Non-Stop New York/Newark to Bozeman.
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) has announced new, non-stop seasonal summer flights to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to be operated by United Airlines.  Flights will operate once weekly on Saturdays from June 9, 2012 through September 1, 2012.  The flights are scheduled to depart EWR at 8:25AM and arrive BZN at 11:07AM.  The return flights are scheduled to depart BZN at 12:00PM and arrive EWR at 6:00PM.  These flights are made possible by the cooperation and contribution of 17 entities through the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce, Big Sky Resort, Moonlight Basin and the Yellowstone Club in conjunction with a Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Grant.

United also operates year-round service between Bozeman and Denver, with seasonal service to Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.  The seasonal flights from Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco are also available in Missoula and Billings.

Alaska Airlines Increases Summer Flying from Portland, OR into Montana.
Alaska Airlines has announced it will increase flying this summer from Portland, OR and several cities in Montana.  The carrier will begin flying between Portland and Bozeman, MT and is resuming seasonal service from Portland to Missoula and Billings. The service is scheduled to operate daily between June 4th and August 25th. 

Montana Announces an iPad App
iPad users can witness Montana Office of Tourism’s newest inspirational tool—Get Lost in Montana – The Magazine. There’s only one way to ever really find the real Montana—Get Lost. Plunge down dusty backroads, peer into small towns, tromp into the wilds and shake hands with local characters. This is a magazine of snippets and snapshots of Montana’s real flavor—stories that matter—regardless of whether we’re soaking up sun or making the most of snow. These stories remind us of the things big and small that make up the essence of Montana.  The free app can be found at the App Store under the TRAVEL category. Click on the icon to read a description of the magazine and install the app.

This is a never-ending journey. Get Lost in Montana – the Magazine rounds up the best, year-round stories about Montana—four times a year…it’s the next best thing to being here (even if you already are).  



Seven Zip Lines Across Idaho
Zip Idaho provides a unique eco-adventure that combines Idaho’s longest zip lines with tree based canopy-tour style zip lines. The course offers seven lines, ranging from 175 to 1700 feet in length. Zip Idaho is based in Horseshoe Bend, just a half hour north of Boise and a nature lovers dream. Whitewater rafting, swimming, mountain biking, fishing, and scenic train rides are just a few activities to enjoy in the area.

Tamarack Canopy Zip Line Tours, located in the mountains overlooking Donelly, Idaho promises a thrilling, action packed mountain tour experience. Eight zip lines range in length from 250-800 feet, whisking zippers above 4,425 feet of rugged, scenic terrain with a 1,700 change in elevation.  The tour soars over creeks, canyons, and forest and experienced guides narrate the journey sharing information about plants and animals native to the Payette River Mountains and the history of this area

Heise Hot Springs Zip Line, in Ririe in Southeast Idaho, consists of seven zip lines covering almost a mile of terrain. The experienced tour guides do all the work so riders can experience the adrenaline pumping, jaw dropping thrill ride!  During the two hour tour adventure riders learn the history of Heise Hot Springs while enjoying the beautiful mountains and the valley and river below.  More activities are available at Heise, including swimming, golf and fishing.

Schweitzer Mountain Zip Line is just one of the many activities available at the Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort near Sandpoint in northern Idaho.  Stretching over 700', the zip line begins at the resort village and runs towards Lake Pend Oreille, offering spectacular mountain and lake views.  A dual zip line allows two riders to experience the fun side-by-side.

Lava Zip Line Adventures is located near Lava Hot Springs in eastern Idaho.  The zip line tour covers several thousand feet, travelling through a scenic canyon and can be enjoyed winter or summer.

Silver Streak Zipline Tours, located in Wallace in northern Idaho, is expected to open in May, 2012. Reservations may be made by calling 208-512-3965.

Magic Valley Flight Simulation Zip Line – Twin Falls:  Coming summer of 2012

Old Mission State Park

The Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park near Cataldo, Idaho is now the permanent home for the new and award-winning exhibit Sacred Encounters: Father De Smet & the Indians of the Rocky Mountain West.  The exhibit tells the unique and special history of the Cataldo Mission and its significance to the spiritual life of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe over the years.  Many feel the Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park will become one of the most important historical, educational and cultural sites serving eastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana. The new 9,000 sq. ft. visitor center blends with the existing landscape, while preserving the historical and scenic vistas of the site, all while emphasizing the use of indigenous natural materials to create a space that evokes an inviting tribal village structure.

The Cataldo Mission was named as a National Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places in 1962 and designated as a State Heritage Park and state historic site in 1975.  In a unique agreement signed in spring 2002, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise transferred ownership of the mission, buildings and land to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in recognition of their spiritual and historic connection to the site. The mission was completed in 1853 and still stands as the oldest building in all of Idaho, high above the Coeur d’Alene River.

Sun Valley, Idaho – Knob Hill Inn $750,000 Renovation Complete - Located in the heart of the world-class Sun Valley ski community, the luxurious Knob Hill Inn was recently acquired by a group of investors with strong ties to the Wood River Valley. Built in 1992, this community landmark is situated within walking distance of downtown Ketchum and offers unparalleled views of world-famous "Baldy" and the majestic Sawtooth and Boulder Mountain ranges. The community is thrilled that this much-beloved Inn will be enhanced and cared for by a team of dedicated owners and hospitality professionals. All of the partners share a commitment to service as part of their core businesses and collectively look forward to elevating the exceptional experience for all guests of the Knob Hill Inn.



Sheridan, WY

Sheridan, Wyoming Voted #1 Small Town
Sheridan, Wyoming was recently honored as the #1 Small Town for Cowboy Charm by Western Horseman magazine. This historic town was plotted in the early 1880s and remains an authentic cowboy destination. The magazine’s best cowboy destinations often are not along the interstate or near a major airport. Sheridan is one of 10 small towns that continue to honor their horse, cattle, and cowboy heritage. For full article and more information on Sheridan, Wyoming visit

Proposed Four Star Best Western Premier Hotel To Open In Cody
The Best Western Ivy Inn & Suites in Cody is currently taking reservations, doors to open in spring 2012. The name “Ivy” also evokes the “green/eco” theme the hotel is striving for. This 70 room property also features a full-service American restaurant. For more information contact [email protected]

United Airlines Adds Houston & San Francisco To Jackson Hole Flights
United/Continental airlines will add summer-season flights between its Houston (IAH) and San Francisco (SFO) hubs to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Houston flights will operate twice-weekly from Jun 8 – Aug 27, 2012. The San Francisco flights will operate daily from Jul 1-Aug 27, 2012. The flights are in addition to United’s existing service to Jackson Hole from Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles. The airline has also included a flight from Denver (DEN) to Casper, Wyoming, complementing the four daily flights currently scheduled. For flight schedules visit


Gateway City News:


Paris. Madrid. Denver.
Don’t miss the exclusive U.S. showing of the internationally acclaimed exhibition Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum, March 25 – July 8, 2012. This sweeping retrospective of 40 years of creativity features a stunning selection of 200 haute couture outfits along with numerous photographs, drawings, and films that illustrate the development of Saint Laurent’s style and the historical foundations of his work.

History Colorado Center

Opening April 28, 2012.
Celebrate Colorado’s glorious landscapes on a three-story multimedia presentation. Traverse an 80-foot map of the state using a “time machine.” Virtually travel the plains in a Model T Ford. Don a headlamp and descend into the hard rock mine of Silverton. Soar off the world’s first ski jump in Steamboat Springs. Do all this and more among Colorado’s most historic treasures. True Colorado experiences come alive at the History Colorado Center, located in Downtown Denver.

Opening June 1.

Toyota Elephant Passage, a landmark $50 million exhibit, will occupy 10-acres on the southern edge of the Denver Zoo, and will be the world’s largest bull elephant habitat. Watch majestic Asian elephants care for their young, Indian one-horned rhinos cooling off in a shallow stream, acrobatic gibbons swinging overhead from tree to tree, fishing cats diving for their next meal and the piercing stare of a black leopard, all from the center of an Asian village. These, and a host of other experiences, soon will be possible without leaving Denver.

Toyota Elephant Passage

Colorado Rockies Home Opener, April 9, 2012
Tesoro Annual Indian Market and Powwow, May 19 - May 20, 2012
The Kaiser Permanente Colfax Marathon, Half Marathon & Relay, May 20, 2012
14th Annual Downtown Denver Arts Festival, May 25 - May 28, 2012
Denver Day of Rock, May 26, 2012
Cherry Blossom Festival, Check back later for next year's events
Capitol Hill People's Fair, June 2 - June 3, 2012
Denver Chalk Art Festival, June 2 - June 3, 2012
Denver PrideFest 2012, June 16 - June 17, 2012


Minneapolis/St. Paul/Bloomington

MSP Tours
Do you have clients with a brief layover at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) en route to RMI country?  If so, they can explore the world-renowned architecture, shopping, lakes, art, and diverse culture of the RMI Gateway Cities of Minneapolis/Saint Paul/Bloomington with self-guided audio excursions from MSP Tours.

MSP Tours is a newly launched company based in the Mall concourse at MSP airport.

MSP Tours turns a layover into a short tourist trip that lets clients explore the best of the metropolitan area at their own pace. MSP Tours’ exclusive, customized tours take off every 10 minutes from MSP and utilize easy-access public transit light rail service (LRT) that takes them directly to a variety of destinations and back to the airport in time for their departure flight.  The audio tours offer entertaining oral histories, ensuring they will explore the town like a true local.

MSP Tours provides everything needed to make exploring the city easy: customized maps, designated locations, audio guides, and easy access to the LRT line.

Longer tours are available for guests who are either overnighting or have an extended stay in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul/Bloomington area.



NEW Website and Travel Professionals Guide
We are pleased to announce the launch of our exciting new website that features enhanced content, improved business listings, videos and travel tools to assist in you in selling Chicago to your clients. Coming soon is a newly updated printed Travel Professionals Guide that will be available in April 2012 and a new mobile application that will be released later this year.
Visit to take advantage of these new selling tools.

Waldorf-Astoria Chicago (formerly the Elysian Chicago, now open) Located in Chicago’s Gold Coast, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago creates a new experience in luxury through innovations in service and technology. Each of the hotel’s 188 spacious guestrooms and suites boast elegantly modern furnishings, cozy fireplaces, marble bathrooms with soaking tubs, and Rivolta Carmignani Italian bed linens.

PUBLIC Hotel Chicago

PUBLIC Hotel Chicago (now open) PUBLIC is an entirely new class of hotel. Its fundamental attributes are innovative, sophisticated, authentic style; spot-on, personalized, empathetic "essential" service; lasting comfort with complete functionality, all at an affordable price and offering tremendous value. Ian Schrager has taken the best from the luxury segment, boutique hotels and select service to create a new genre of hotel where everything has been rethought and every original idea updated.

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel (now open) Welcome to the first Radisson Blu in the United States, right in the heart of the Windy City. This newly risen star is the latest in our internationally renowned and award-winning collection of modern design-destination hotels. Designed by the acclaimed Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, The Aqua Tower soars high above Chicago's picturesque lakeshore, with breathtaking views across the city, park and historic Lake Michigan.

Hotel Lincoln (a Joie de Vivre Hotel) (opens Spring 2012) Only two miles from downtown Chicago, Lincoln Park is one of the city's most charming residential neighborhoods. The hotel overlooks the Lincoln Park Zoo and is near attractions such as the Chicago History Museum and Lincoln Park Conservatory. Hotel Lincoln will boast phenomenal views from its guest rooms. Of the 184 rooms and suites, 60% will have direct views of Lake Michigan and the remaining rooms will overlook downtown Chicago. Hotel Lincoln will also feature a new lobby bar and lounge as well as an all-season rooftop bar.

Genghis Kahn - The Field Museum
Now Open! February 20 – September 3, 2012
Learn the story of Genghis Kahn – his life, his land, his people, his culture – and his enduring legacy. Famous as a ruthless Mongol-warlord, but revered as an innovative leader who brought unity, stability, and much more to his people.

MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition - Museum of Science & Industry
World Premiere! March 15 – September 3, 2012
Take science apart through immersive and hands-on experiments just like the real MythBusters crew! Dive into the fact and fantasy behind speed, combustion, gravity and more.

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity - The Art Institute of Chicago
June 30 – September 22, 2013
Were the Impressionists fashionistas? At a time in France when designers changed how clothing was made and marketed, artists were using fashion to communicate modernity as an idea.

Michelin Guide Chicago 2012
The second Chicago edition showcases a selection of 432 restaurants representing 45 types of cuisine. Of these restaurants, 21 earned the coveted star rating. Also 56 Chicago restaurants earned the “Bib Gourmand” designation which denotes good cuisine at a reasonable price in a variety of comfort Categories.

Chicago 2012 Festival and Event Calendar
•Chicago Blues Festival - June 8 – 10, 2012
•Chicago Gospel Music Festival - June 21 – 24, 2012
•Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade - June 24, 2012
•Taste of Chicago - July 11 – 15, 2012
•Chicago Blues Festival - June 10 – 18, 2012
•Northalsted Street Market Days - August 11 – 12, 2012
•Chicago Air & Water Show – August 18 – 19, 2012
•Chicago Jazz Festival – August 30 – September 2, 2012
•Chicago Gourmet - September 28 – 30, 2012
•Magnificent Mile Lights Festival - November 24, 2012
•Christkindlmarket – November 28 - December 24, 2012

That’s Entertainment!
Book of Mormon, Bank of America Theater, Starts December 2012
The Iceman Cometh, Goodman Theatre, April 21- June 10, 2012
Lollapalooza, August 3 – 5, 2012
War Horse, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Starts December 18, 2012


Partner News

Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce

What’s New in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Looking for a new lodging property in the Town of Jackson? The Point Inn & Suites is under renovation and will become a Hampton Inn in the Spring of 2012.  In order to achieve their goals and maintain the timeline to be open for summer, they are going to be closing the hotel during the renovation. At this time they are scheduled to open at the end of May but are working hard to be ready for business closer to mid-May.  A model room is ready to view so you can see what they will have to offer.  They look forward to servicing your groups in 2012!

Wildlife viewing is one of the top 3 activities to do while visiting the area!  Give Scenic Safaris, a guided tour company who offers the opportunity to view wildlife, tour the National Parks and learn about the geological and historical facts of the area, a call. Each of their trips has a different focus. Whether you want to see the Grand Teton Range at sunset, the famous geysers and waterfalls of Yellowstone, or some of North America's most spectacular wild game including elk, antelope, moose, coyote, bison, and the bald eagle – they have a tour for you.  This just in - Scenic Safaris is the only outfitter in Jackson Hole operating guided ATV tours into the Teton Backcountry!  Half day and full day tours will be offered which include hotel pickups and some meals.

Wanting more activity options in Yellowstone National Park? You will enjoy the fun of gliding quickly and quietly as we paddle away from the crowds to parts of Yellowstone that most never see with Yellowstone Geyser Kayak Tours!  They teach you how to safely and properly control your kayak so you are able to relax and take in all of the natural beauty and magnificent wildlife of Yellowstone. The west thumb of Yellowstone Lake is a well-protected area sheltered from the effects of the main body of water. No previous experience is necessary. Their trips are appropriate for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. They have both single and double kayaks available. Let them show you an unforgettable YNP experience!