CHICAGO – February 14, 2019 – When your family piled into the car for a vacation, where did you go? Starved Rock? Lake Geneva? The Wisconsin Dells? Maybe the Indiana Dunes? Or Michigan’s Harbor Country? The road trip is a time-honored tradition, and “are we there yet?” is a familiar refrain. But with Geoffrey Baer behind the wheel, you’ll be asking, “Where are we going next?”
CHICAGO ON VACATION WITH GEOFFREY BAER is a 90-minute documentary and companion website that premieres on Tuesday, March 5 at 7:30 pm on WTTW11 and wttw.com/vacation. Geoffrey hops in a 1973 Chevrolet Impala wagon (the same car his family drove) and takes us all on a nostalgic, fun-filled and scenic adventure throughout the Midwest. You’ll relive the family road trips from your youth through archival film and old home movies while you visit again — or for the first time — the Midwest’s favorite vacation spots and not so well-known treasures.
Along the way, Geoffrey uncovers hidden history and the back stories of favorite Midwestern tourist destinations. You’ll meet a cast of local characters including an intrepid all-female ice-fishing group, lumberjacks in love, roof-dwelling goats, costumed reenactors, and teenagers who deliver the mail by jumping off a moving boat. Enjoy the spectacular scenery as Geoffrey and his team take the ultimate road trip to the beloved lakes, resorts and towns we visited growing up and still enjoy.
“Our aim is to capture the nostalgic feeling of a classic road trip, and to showcase the many amazing places just a few hour’s drive from Chicago,” said Geoffrey. “We logged more than 7,000 miles on the WTTW production van over eight months of filming. And everywhere we went, people were so excited to learn we would be featuring their beloved vacation spots. Those destinations really do have a special place in our hearts.”
On the companion website (wttw.com/vacation), visitors can explore dozens of vacation destinations around the Midwest; dive into Geoffrey’s personal travel journal and behind-the-scenes snapshots; plan their own unique adventures; and watch the show and a selection of web extra videos.
Travel with Geoffrey to:
Explore Lake Geneva mansions built by Chicago industrialists during the Gilded Age.
Retrace the tracks of Prohibition era gangsters in the resorts and lodges of Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
Slip and slide through Wisconsin Dells, the Waterpark Capital of the World (yes, it’s a registered trademark!).
Gather for the kerosene-fueled inferno that caps an iconic Door County fish boil (followed by a hearty helping of fish stew originally served in Wisconsin logging camps).
Sample a signature Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet and indulge in comfort food at a classic Wisconsin supper club.
Learn the real story behind the tragic legend of Starved Rock on the Illinois River.
“Get your kicks on Route 66” on the way to reliving that Civics class field trip to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, and tag along on a tour from a mystery guest.
Walk in the footsteps of President Ulysses S. Grant in the picturesque former lead mining town of Galena, Illinois.
Take the South Shore Line to the Indiana Dunes, and encounter a little bit of Florida on the National Lakeshore.
Ride a restored miniature train through the ghostly remains of an amusement park built by an apocalyptic religious community in Benton Harbor that also fielded a legendary longhaired baseball team.
Discover the “Black Eden” of Idlewild, Michigan and the once-booming Jewish resorts in South Haven, both of which thrived in the days when now-illegal restrictions limited vacation options for Jews and African Americans.
Check out the Midwest’s iconic gay resort in the artsy LGBTQ haven of Saugatuck.
Marvel at a dazzling musical fountain, an authentic Dutch windmill, and the towering Sleeping Bear Dunes along Michigan’s western shore.
See how Traverse City celebrates cherries in every way you can imagine (and some you can’t!).
Venture out to sea on a tall ship, a U.S. Coast Guard rescue vessel, and one of the last commercial fishing boats on Lake Michigan.
Go for a Mackinac Island carriage ride, view the sunset from the sweeping (and exclusive!) front porch of the storied Grand Hotel…and much more.
This is a road trip down memory lane you’ll never forget.
“The family road trip is becoming increasingly rare in today’s ‘constantly connected’ culture,” said producer Eddie Griffin. “We wanted to recapture that experience for our audiences, and also shine a spotlight on unique places that were such a memorable part of it.”
CHICAGO ON VACATION is hosted and written by Geoffrey Baer. The television program is produced, directed, and co-written by Eddie Griffin. Associate Producer is Erica Gunderson. Director of Photography: Tim Boyd. Edited by Paul Thornton. Executive Producer is Daniel Soles. The website is produced by Jessica Pupovac, designed by Jenny Macchione, and developed by Justin Henderson. Executive Producer is Anne Gleason.
About Geoffrey Baer
Multiple Emmy Award-winning producer Geoffrey Baer is best known as the host and writer of WTTW’s popular feature-length specials about Chicago architecture and history including The Chicago River Tour, Navy Pier: A Century of Reinvention, Chicago’s South Side, Chicago’s Lakefront, Chicago’s Loop: A Walking Tour, Chicago by ‘L’: Touring the Neighborhoods, Biking the Boulevards, and Chicago Time Machine, as well as six programs covering virtually all of Chicago’s suburban areas. He took viewers on a culinary tour in The Foods of Chicago: a Delicious History, which was nominated for a coveted James Beard Award, and explored the surprising side of the city in Hidden Chicago, and also hosted the national PBS series 10 that Changed America. Mr. Baer also appears regularly on WTTW’s flagship nightly public affairs program Chicago Tonight answering viewers’ questions about Chicago architecture and history in a segment called Ask Geoffrey.
About Eddie Griffin
Eddie Griffin is a three-time Emmy Award-winning producer and Chicago native. He has produced the WTTW documentaries The Chicago River Tour, the Emmy Award-winning Navy Pier: A Century of Reinvention, Chicago’s South Side, and the street quiz show Where in Chicago? A child of the 1980s, Eddie was a natural choice to co-produce the WTTW anthology series Remembering Chicago: The’70s & ’80s. Eddie co-produced Local, USA, which aired nationally on PBS’s World Channel. Partnering with Chicago comic Pat McGann and host Ana Belaval, Eddie developed and produced the Emmy Award-nominated The Chicago Stand-Up Project. In 2007, he took over the long-running WTTW independent film showcase Image Union, which won two Emmy Awards. Eddie is a White Sox fan living in a Cubs fan’s world.
WTTW is the PBS member station in Chicago, committed to creating and presenting unique media content across distinct television and digital channels – WTTW11, WTTW Prime, WTTW Create/WTTW World, WTTW PBS Kids 24/7, wttw.com and the PBS/WTTW video app. Recognized for award-winning journalism and local productions such as Chicago Tonight, Chicago River Tour, Check, Please!, digital-first series Urban Nature and Foodphiles and national productions 10 That Changed America and Nature Cat, WTTW presents the very best in public affairs, arts and culture, nature and science, history and documentary, and children’s public media content. Connect with WTTW on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.