I celebrated the anniversary of my move to the Midwest by visiting the largest city in the Midwest: Chicago! Adam and I had not had the opportunity to go to Chicago together yet (although both of us have visited the city many times before) so when I had a friend’s wedding invitation for Sunday, July 2nd, we decided it was the perfect excuse for a long holiday weekend! We stayed in Chicago from Saturday – Wednesday and soaked in a mix of old friends, tourist sites, and local haunts. Here are some of the highlights!
Adam decided to splurge on our weekend since we would be staying for a few days and our last couple Airbnbs had less than amazing bed situations (no sleep + busy days = grumpy tourists!). We stayed at Hotel Lincoln in the heart of the Lincoln Park neighborhood with view of the lake. It was gorgeous! A really amazing renovated space in a great location with a fantastic coffee shop on the first floor; connection to a high quality restaurant through the first floor; and a rooftop bar with views of the whole city. We walked nearly everywhere, borrowed bikes from the hotel the first morning in town, and went to the rooftop bar twice (more on that later!). I had never spent much time near Lake Michigan and it made me feel like I was back in Florida being near a hug body of water! I loved it and would definitely recommend the hotel to anyone looking for a boutique spot in a quiet neighborhood close to everything!
- Happy Camper – For our first night in town we met up with Adam’s college friends at Happy Camper for dinner and drinks. They have a wide selection of beer and hand out koozies if you get a can or bottle! (I love a good koozie so they won me over immediately!) Located in Old Town within walking distance of our hotel, they are know for their pizzas and they execute them well! We ordered a meaty pizza and veggie pizza to share (I was the difficult one requiring a vegetarian pizza… but they were so nice to appease me!) For appetizers we ordered the bean dip and goat stix and for pizza had the Matt and Gaurav. Everything was amazing and it was more for than we needed despite being split among 3 couples! I would go back in a second when I am in town again!
- Kuma’s Corner – Monday morning after the night of the wedding, Adam and I got up early to go to his friend’s gym class (more on that class below!) and then decided to take it easy all day before meeting up with friends that night. One of Adam’s favorite Chicago restaurants is Kuma’s Corner so we decided to have lunch there before walking around Lincoln Park. Aside from the music (the whole place is apparently themed around hard rock music) I loved everything about this place! First off, the service was great! Adam and I sat at the bar, as we usually do when it’s just the two of us, and the bartender was happy to offer us multiple beer samples of the local beers before we made our choice. For lunch I ordered the Neurosis with a veggie burger and Adam had the pantera. It was delicious and we ate so much we both felt sick afterwards (unfortunately a common problem for us…) so we were happy to go on a couple mile walk afterwards. If you can get past the loud music (or maybe sit on the porch), I highly recommend eating here! We even sent a 6 pack of PBRs to the kitchen afterwards for a job well done 🙂
- The Kennison – Our first stop when we arrived was at the restaurant connected to the hotel. Little did we know it was a SUPER soft opening that day! We only tried the cocktails but they were unique and delicious! I had the “Sting like a Bee” cocktail with bahnez mezcal, raspberry, jalapeno honey, so good! I highly recommend checking this place out, even if only for swanky drinks (and maybe if the rooftop bar is super packed). I can’t speak to the food but if the pictures mean anything, it’s a great spot!
- The J. Parker – Although we struggled to figure out their normal hours, and one of the days we were there they were closed until 5pm for a party, this bar is really special. Apparently it is often ranked as the best rooftop bar in Chicago, and while it is the only one I have been to, I would believe that claim! The cocktails were awesome. I fell in love with one that had jalapeno-infused vodka and Adam loved one with beef bouillon (weird, right?? But he said it was so good!). The views are incredible and there is a variety of sitting/standing/perching options. It was very crowded around happy hour (even though there wasn’t a happy hour from what I could tell…) but we still always managed to find a seat. Aside from the super slow elevator, this place is a winner! We even spent the evening of the fourth here and watched fireworks from around the city and suburbs. Unfortunately you cannot watch the big fireworks from Navy Pier here (A TON of people were surprised by this fact that night…) but the suburb fireworks seem to surround the whole city and really create a cool atmosphere!
- Castaways – I wanted to go to this place since I saw where we were staying! This bar screams Florida despite being on a Lake Michigan beach. I failed to get any pictures but Adam and I stopped by here after our walk around the beach to the pier after Kuma’s Corner. The bar and restaurant is two stories and shaped like a cruise ship. We went to the bar area on the second floor and had a couple fruity cocktails (mine was frozen!) and people watched for a little bit before walking back to the hotel. It was a fun spot to stop by and I would love to go there again if I was spending a day on the north shore beach.
- 1959 Kitchen & Bar – Monday night I met up with another high school friend at a gastropub located on the second floor of Second City Comedy Club. Adam was out grilling at his friend’s apartment (I met up with them there later that night) but it was perfect to have a few hours to just catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. The bar was great, quiet and classy. I had the Pick Up cocktail with vodka, lemon juice, fresh muddled blueberry, topped with hibiscus and lavender water. Lots of ingredients but it worked well! I had three so obviously something was working right!
- Stretch – After the Cubs v Rays game (discussed more below) Adam and I went to Stretch Bar & Grill for a drink. A guy from Adam’s teeny tiny hometown owns the bar, so all the Dwight locals tend to flock there, but that reason aside, it is a great, nice bar. Very clean with lots of seating and apparently a back area I didn’t realize existed! I had a family friend meet up with me there with her husband and brother (and two of his friends and girlfriend). Everyone was at various levels of intoxication after the game, but my friend and I were among the most sober of the group which allowed us to catch up while the rest of them drank and took shots (man, I think I was always too old for shots…). I recommend this spot after Cubs games for sure! Fun atmosphere, good looking food, and it didn’t feel yucky the way a lot of bars down there can!
- Tommy Nevin’s Pub – My high school friend met her now husband at a pub in Evanston and after their wedding they encouraged everyone to go enjoy an after party there! Adam and I stopped by for one drink to check it out. Aside from the really sketchy local who was harassing every female in the bar, it was a really cute and surprisingly large space!
- Lakeshore Bike Path & Millennium Park – We had talked about renting bikes from divvy to go hit up a couple of the touristy spots downtown but lucked out when we realized the hotel had bikes we could use for free! We grabbed two one morning and took a little over an hour to bike down to Millennium Park. Adam had never seen the Bean (or Cloudgate…) and I just couldn’t let that continue to be true! The ride only took about 25 minutes but it was a test of our biking skills! Dealing with all the pedestrian and cycling traffic was exhausting but somehow we managed without falling or running over anyone! We only stayed at the park long enough for the obligatory pictures and then made the trek back to the hotel to prep for my friend’s wedding but the trip was a highlight of my weekend! I hope to someday live back in a city where there is a large body of water I can bike, walk, or run next to!
- Wedding – I still cannot believe that I am old enough to have friends getting married and having kids… Denial is a very real part of my world! Haha! This wedding was especially special to me and I am so happy I was able to attend. I do not do as good of a job as I should staying in touch with high school and college friends but this friend has always worked to stay in touch with me and I am forever grateful that she invited me to be a part of her special day. Meeting in high school, we shared both IB and crew together, the two most central elements of my high school career. She is one of my most driven, sweetest, and smartest friends from high school or any part of my life. I love that she found someone equally as amazing to spend her life with and I wish them every happiness in the world! It was a mixed-religion wedding, my friend is Jewish and her husband is… not… but they incorporated many Jewish traditions, explaining each one as it happened. It was really interesting and I am happy to have experienced that element as well! Another friend from high school was there as well and it was fun to catch up with her after an embarrassingly long time since we last talked!
- Cubs v Rays – As soon as we decided to spend the Fourth of July weekend and holiday in Chicago, Adam looked up the Cubs schedule to see if they were in town. Not only were they there but they were playing my team, the Tampa Bay Rays!!! We were so excited and Adam splurged again on our vacation by buying really good tickets 6 rows from the field. (Right in foul ball scary territory but luckily nothing came our way!) The game was on Tuesday, July 4th so after Adam had a run on the lake (I am still nursing my injury and not running) and I got us coffee, we took off for Wrigley Field. There was some drama regarding the tickets, out of respect for Adam I am not going to get into it (but luckily not my fault!!) but everything ended up working out fine and we went in pretty early so Adam could soak up every minute in Wrigley Field and I could get lunch (and a drink). It was such a fun game, made even better by a Rays win!! Such a good memory with him and I am so glad we made it happen!
- Unrivaled Fitness – Monday morning Adam and I tried out a class at his friend’s gym near Wrigleyville in Chicago. The class was interval training with a lot of variety of equipment and moves in 4 different sets. There were three moves per set and the coach, Adam’s friend, timed us through each one, while correcting form and providing instruction. It was really a fantastic class and managed to be both approachable and impactful. I was definitely sore in a couple areas (forearms!) for a few days afterwards. If I loved in Chicago, this would be the perfect kind of gym. I would supplement with more cardio but I really enjoyed it and hope to go again next time we are in town.
- OrangeTheory Old Town – This was my 4th OrangeTheory gym to try out! I am enjoying the option of working out wherever I am, although I found out a bit late that because it was a “high demand” location, there was an additional $10 charge on my account despite being unlimited in Ankeny. Regardless, I am glad I went. I really enjoyed the coach, he pushed us all individually by name more than my Ankeny coaches do (I think they are just too nice!) but I do feel like he missed the class on the point of OrangeTheory and that the goal when you are at “base pace” is to let your heart rate drop into the green and then when you are at “push pace” go back up into orange. If this is greek to you, I will explain in a future post, but for those familiar with OrangeTheory, you might understand my frustration when a coach congratulates the participants who stayed in the orange the whole time, even when he called us down to base. Not really the point. But all in all, it was a good class and a great way to start my sad return to reality on Wednesday as we prepared to go home.
What are your thoughts?
- Where did you spend your fourth of July?
- What’s your favorite way to explore a new city?
- Do you try to fit in a workout when vacationing?