In 1910, fourth-generation German immigrant Alvin O. Eckert set up a small produce stand on a roadside in Belleville, Illinois. More than 100 years later, that roadside stand has flourished into the expansive Belleville plot of Eckert's Farm: a pastoral acreage where orchards surround a country-style restaurant, bakery, and handmade-custard shop. The Eckert family's sixth and seventh generations ensure this farm remains a true family affair. Sixth-generation member Jim Eckert is the chief horticulturist, and his cousin-once-removed, Chris, oversees retail operations and the sale of the farm's homegrown produce and spare scarecrow parts. Chris's sister Jill helms the food program, and his wife Angie oversees the Country Store and colorful Garden Center.
Throughout the year, visitors arrive on the Belleville farm's grounds for a range of seasonal activities, including peach-, apple-, and pumpkin-picking. During the summer, a concert series features live outdoor music on Friday and Saturday nights, and in the fall, staff lead bonfires and evening hayrides through the orchards. Inside the farm building, instructors teach cooking classes for adults and children, as well as a wine-pairing class.
Family-friendly activities also abound at the Eckert family's other two farms. The Grafton farm, where public apple-picking began in 1964, offers daily animal feeding and miniature golf. The seasonal Millstadt farm is home to a workshop, haunted hayrides, and an array of warm-weather children's attractions—including a 70-foot underground slide.
Patrons pass platters full of pizza, pasta, and other provisions at this intimate Italian-American eatery, where salads and spaghettis are served fresh and sharing is encouraged. Start off supper by sipping on Marco's freshly made soups ($2.95 for a cup, $3.50 for a bowl) or munching on its original seed salad, tossed with sesame and poppy seeds, crunchy chow-mein noodles, and sprinkled with house-made dressing ($6.95 for regular).
Combining classic pub grub, thirst-quenching drinks, and spirit-elevating entertainment, Shenanigan's has been a staple of daytime and nighttime diversion for more than 20 years. Perfect for a night out with friends or making new buddies by feeding the first group that will talk to you, today's deal gets customers a gargantuan spread of delectable bar fare. The three 16-inch pizzas come with up to two toppings each, including standards such as pepperoni and mushrooms, as well as less common pie-packers such as canadian bacon and pineapple slices. The 50 wings can be slathered in wide array of sauces, including hot 'n' spicy buffalo sauce, sweet thai chili sauce, and honey barbecue, and come with celery and a choice of ranch or blue-cheese dressing. Those looking to bulk up their arsenal of hunger destroyers can load up on toasted ravioli, a hearty heaping of 50 savory squares outfitted in pasta armor and ready for marinara dunk contests.
For Brandy Hitch, being a licensed massage therapist is a dream come true. She sees attending The Body Therapy School of Massage as a turning point in her life and the start of a career focused on helping and healing others. Armed with kneading know-how and inspiration from her teachers and colleagues, Brandy creates a serene environment for her clients where they can completely unwind like a yo-yo in the hands of an amateur. She treats them with a wide range of healing modalities ranging from foot scrubs and deep-tissue massages to trigger-point therapy. Appointments are available Monday and Wednesday from 8 a.m.—9 p.m.; Tuesday from 8 a.m.—3 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m.—1:30 p.m.; Saturday from 6 p.m.—8 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m.—8 p.m.
Licensed massage therapist Anita Gomilla offers indulgence, relaxation, and relief at Quiet Embrace. A serene hush prevails inside this massage spa, where firm hands, sweeping strokes, and guided pressure cause tight muscles to loosen and frayed nerves to settle into a relaxed state.
Acropolis enchants palates with tasty edibles originating from Greece and its breezy, flavor-stocked isles. Daily specials such as Friday plaki, featuring baked cod ($9.95), and Monday moussaka, containing lasagna-like layers of eggplant, tomatoes, spices, and more ($9.95), help diners count down to the weekend without having to check their days-of-the-week underpants.