Archive of ‘City Guides’ category

City Guide: Paris, je t’aime

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I have had an affinity for all things French since the first time I saw the Olsen twins’ “Passport to Paris,” and while I never quite picked up the language despite many years of French class, I was thrilled to finally visit the City of Light a couple of years ago. As we did in Amsterdam, my family and I explored all that this iconic metropolis has to offer. In addition to the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe (I promise, it’s worth climbing the stairs to the top!) and of course, wandering the Champs-Elysées, here are a few of the many gems we visited.

Hotel Empereur
The cutest little hotel ever! The elevator is about this [] big but the decor is so Marie Antoinette. The biggest surprise was the bathroom – it was amazing! It’s right near Rue Cler which is a super cute little street where you can get crepes, sit outside and drink wine, and feel Parisian. The location was also great because I was able to stick to my promise of never going to bed in Paris without getting a final look at the Eiffel Tower.

L’Ilot Vache
Probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It’s on the island behind Notre-Dame and even on a cold, rainy night it was a beautiful walk. I tried escargot here for the first time so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Palace Versailles
Because of its distance from the heart of the city, we had a few people try to talk us out of going to Versailles. Luckily we didn’t listen! Since it was December, we were only allowed to tour the inside (the Hall of Mirrors is unreal), and it was still one of the most amazing parts of the trip. I definitely want to make it back in the spring to experience the gardens.

Montmartre
We spent Christmas morning browsing the outdoor market surrounding Sacré-Cœur while sipping on mimosas and hot cocoa. The view from this point in Paris was enough to leave me speechless! That said, I was able to find the words to purchase a charming painting of the Eiffel Tower and macarons from one of the many artists at work in this bustling neighborhood.

Have you ever visited Paris?

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City Guide: Welcome to Miami

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For the third year in a row, I’m heading to Miami over Presidents Day for a long weekend getaway. In the heart of Chicago’s winter, it’s the perfect time to escape for a few days for some much-needed vitamin D. Here are my must-dos while in the 305:

Traditional Dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab
Even though we have our own Joe’s Stone Crab here in Chicago, it’s just not the same as the original one in Miami. The restaurant has been around for over 100 years and still has the same old-school vibe with veteran waiters dressed in jackets and white button-downs who know the restaurant like the back of their hand.

Casual Lunch at Huahua’s Taqueria
Huahua’s is ideal for a quick lunch when you don’t want to waste too much time away from the sun. It’s a cute little taco joint with delicious elote and fried avocado tacos.

A Day at Bal Harbour
If there’s ever a cloudy day or I’ve gotten too much sun, you’ll always find me at Bal Harbour. There’s amazing store after amazing store, and lunch at Carpaccio is always a treat.

Relaxing Stay at the Setai
Amongst all the trendy hotels in South Beach, the Setai feels like a tranquil oasis. It’s the perfect place to stay when your main goal of getting away is to come back feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

High-End Shopping at The Webster
This store tends to be a little bit on the pricier side, with high-end designers upstairs and more affordable items downstairs. The clothing and accessories they carry are one-of-a-kind so it’s worth walking through even if you’re just there to look.

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City Guide: Must-Dos in Music City

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I recently visited Nashville for the third time in as many years and it’s quickly becoming my favorite weekend getaway destination. It’s a quick 45 minute flight from Chicago and in addition to an incredible music scene, there is delicious food, great shopping and so much history. Here are a few of my favorite things to do in Music City:

Shopping along 12 South
A newly bustling area of Nashville, 12 South is home to a slew of independent shops (and great restaurants). Be sure to check out the brand-new Draper James flagship boutique for preppy, pretty frocks and accessories (Reese Witherspoon is behind the brand) and block off a good hour to get lost in the amazing array of goods at White’s Mercantile.

Dinner at Adele’s
Located in the trendy Gulch neighborhood, Adele’s is bright, airy and bustling – the perfect spot to see and be seen (without taking itself too seriously). The famous JW Chicken is not to be missed, and the ricotta bruschetta is melt-in-your-mouth yummy. There’s a great outdoor patio for sipping wine and nibbling on bites if you come when the weather is right!

Take in a concert at The Historic Ryman Auditorium
Hands down, the best place in the city (maybe the country?) to take in live music. Originally built in the 1880s as a church, it has the most incredible acoustics and the intimate setting means there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Those lucky enough to grace the same stage as greats like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline don’t take the opportunity for granted and sing their hearts out. Not to be missed!

Sunday brunch at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
After a late night out bar hopping on Broadway, nothing will taste better than the incredibly juicy and perfectly crispy hot fried chicken at Hattie B’s. There’s usually a line, so arrive with patience and an appetite in tow. I promise, it will be worth the wait. On Sundays, they offer up waffles as a side and they’re not to be missed!

What’s your favorite weekend getaway destination?

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City Guide: Hoosier Girl’s Hidden Gems in Bloomington, Indiana

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I first set foot on Indiana University’s campus about 8 years ago. It was my first college visit but, I immediately knew I would someday be a student there. I’m now a few years removed from my beloved Bloomington but with two younger sisters who followed in my footsteps, I still have the opportunity to go back and visit. There aren’t many familiar faces on campus anymore but a few of my favorite spots remain the same.

Scenic View
There are so many great restaurants on IU’s main strip, Kirkwood; however, when every parent descends on Bloomington during freshmen family weekend, or sorority dads’ weekend, you have to think outside the box if you want to eat out, which is how I discovered Scenic View. This cute, cozy restaurant settled in the hills of Bloomington overlooks Lake Monroe which makes for a great backdrop for dinner, especially at sunset. The food is also just as outstanding.

The Quarries 
The Quarries are another hidden gem outside of IU’s campus. As hard as it might be to believe, Indiana can be quite beautiful. I didn’t make it to the Quarries until my final weeks at IU and I wish I had uncovered them sooner. It’s a bit of a hike and quite the adventure to find but once you get there it’s worth it! I’ll leave it to the photos to do the explaining.

Nick’s
I picked Nick’s over the famed Kilroy’s for a few reasons but mostly because Nick’s is a little more my pace as an alumnus. However, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great time and the perfect place to post up on game day for a few rounds of sink the biz, a bucket of fries, and a burger.

What are your favorite hidden gems in your college town?

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City Guide: Roman Holiday

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Back in college, I decided to (over)pack my bags and spend a semester abroad studying in Rome, Italy. The historic city with its beautiful, and often-times confusing, winding streets and hole-in-the wall gems, will always hold a special place in my heart. After “living Italian” for five months, below are a few of my must-try spots for those planning a trip to the “Eternal City”.

Frigidarium Gelato
As you can probably imagine, eating gelato is basically a daily past time when living in Rome. Of all of the gelato shops that I tried, Frigidarium, was by far my favorite. Each flavor was better than the next, and you had the option to dip your gelato in dark chocolate (which I obviously always did). Let’s just say I should have won most loyal customer five months running.

Villa Borghese Gardens
If looking for the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday outside, look no further than Villa Borghese. The vast span of land houses beautiful gardens, historic galleries and various paths each leading to a new and interesting place and prime views of the city. It was my favorite place to take visitors, go for walk, or rent a paddleboat for weekend adventures.

Settembrini Café
I was extremely lucky, and lived in an apartment directly next to one of Rome’s trendiest cafés. Unlike many of the restaurants in the city, Settembrini has a super chic, modern feel. The café also has a romantic outdoor seating area, always packed with Rome’s most stylish. My suggestion: Tie up your biggest scarf, put your hair in topknot and stop by for a drink, as they’re known for their mixologist!

Via Del Corso/ Via Condotti
These are two of Rome’s most iconic shopping streets, and the surrounding area to the Spanish Steps. If in the mood for a European splurge, this area houses designer stores like Salvatore Ferragamo, Oscar De La Renta and Gucci. Even the window shopping is worth the trip!

Taverna Trilussa
Okay, let’s talk pasta. If I could eat one food the rest of my life, it would easily be a plate of homemade pasta. So when I first tried Taverna Trillusa, a restaurant known for their award-winning pasta located in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome, I felt like I had died and gone to carb-heaven. It was easily the best pasta I’ve ever had and has been my top food recommendation in Rome ever since.

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