Photo: Courtesy of Nina Kokotas Hahn

Dale Levitski, this summer’s guest chef at The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana

Chicago connections have always run deep at The Resort at Paws Up, a sprawling luxury ranch in the wilds of western Montana: Owner Dave Lipson was born and raised in Forest Glen, and his son, Larry, grew up in Kenilworth. (Throughout his childhood, Dave divided his time between Chicago and the Rockies; his family owned a ranch in Edwards, Colorado, before buying the property in Greenough, Montana, in 1997 that would become Paws Up in 2005.)

This summer, Dale Levitski, the Top Chef runner-up and executive chef at Sprout and Frog n Snail, is serving as the ranch’s guest chef for the season. Levitski got to know Paws Up during Montana Master Chefs, the resort’s annual food and wine event, in which he has participated as a featured chef for the past three years. He says he jumped at the chance to return for an entire season, not just to cook with produce from the town’s farmer’s market but also to enjoy himself in the pristine setting. “I like to call it a sabbatical,” says Levitski, who arrived in earlier this month for his stint. “My shoulders are down and I’m not stressed out. Being here is literally like taking a weird earthly Xanax. It totally calms you.”

(You can also catch Chicago musicians Scott Besaw, of the Old Town School of Folk Music, and Scott Schaefer, a local indie rocker, from July 8 to 20, when they’ll be on hand to lead family drum circles and sing-a-long activities.)

Levitski will return to Chicago and his restaurants here in October.

If you go, read up on what to do and where to stay at Paws Up in Chicago’s June 2013 travel feature “Five Summer Trips for Adventure Seekers.”

The Pros Weigh In on What to Do in New York With Kids

A family vacation in New York must include a Broadway show, Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty (which re-opens on July 4th; it has been closed for repairs following Hurricane Sandy). Then what? Get a great itinerary from the In Transit blog at the New York Times, the first in a new series about traveling to major cities with kids.

Chicago’s Virgin Hotel Might Have a Rooftop Lounge

Despite some concerns that the project would never happen, the development of the Old Dearborn Bank Building (at Wabash and Lake) as Richard Branson’s first Virgin Hotel in the world is indeed underway and slated to open in the first half of 2014. Adding to the buzz, Lionstone Development, the developers behind Virgin Chicago, recently hinted that the hotel will sport a rooftop bar and lounge. Read the HotelChatter blog for more.

Do Great Views Inspire a Good Sweat?

Gone are the days of settling for a hotel fitness center banished to a windowless lower-level dungeon. Many hotels are elevating their gyms with spectacular views, including Dubai’s Burj Al Arab above the Persian Gulf and the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel on the Pacific. Take a look with Conde Nast Traveler’s “Hotel Gyms with Great Views.” One omission? The panoramic 14th-floor gym at Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower.