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Follow These Chicagoans on Your Next Vacation

Follow in-the-know locals on far-flung adventures that tap their unique expertise.

Photo: Courtesy of To’ak Chocolate

A Bean Hunt in South America

What:An Indiana Jones–meets–Kim Kardashian adventure that takes you deep into the cloud forests of Ecuador to find the rarest cacao on earth

Chicago guide:Jerry Toth, cofounder of the überluxe chocolatier To’ak, is working with scientists to save the endangered Nacional cacao tree, the seeds of which he uses in his chocolate.

Expert tip:At tasting events, To’ak chocolate bars (starting at $280) are treated like fine wine. Don’t worry: Toth will walk you through the nuances.

Details:June 22 to 29. From $26,000 (airfare included). brownandhudson.com

A Luxury Campout on a Michigan Blueberry Farm

What:The Fields, the Midwest’s first glamping venue, is set on a working blueberry farm in South Haven, Michigan, with 10 upscale tents promising pillow-top mattresses, AC units, and, of course, chandeliers.

Chicago guide:Hinsdale resident Irene Wood founded the resort on her father’s old farm.

Expert tip:“Grab a bucket,” says Wood, “and go out midday to pluck and eat warm blueberries fresh from the bush.”

Details:June 15 to October 27. From $329 a night. thefieldsofmichigan.com

An Arctic Wildlife Stakeout in Hudson Bay

What:The Shedd Aquarium’s ecotravel adventure to witness droves of belugas and polar bears from a boat on the Churchill River also includes dogsledding through Manitoba.

Chicago guide:The Shedd’s senior director of marine mammals, Steve Aibel, has been working with whales for 32 years.

Expert tip:View wildlife from the predator-proof bus provided by Lazy Bear Lodge, where you’ll stay. Because some bears aren’t lazy.

Details:July 27 to August 2. From $4,000. sheddaquarium.org

An Artisanal Picnic on a Montana Ranch

What:A long-table foodie event at the Resort at Paws Up, a 37,000-acre spot in Greenough, Montana

Chicago guide:The ranch’s owner, Chicago native Larry Lipson, lassoed four chefs from his hometown — Doug Sohn of Hot Doug’s, Michael Ciapciak of Bang Bang Pie, and Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Honey Butter Fried Chicken — to serve at the event they’ve unofficially dubbed Honey Hot Bang.

Expert tip:Say yes to anything made with locally grown huckleberries.

Details:July 20. From $600 a night (food included). pawsup.com


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