Archive of ‘City Guides’ category

City Guide: Cleveland


Born and raised in Cleveland (go Cavs!), there will always be a soft spot in my heart for this city. Although it doesn’t always have the best reputation, I love going home for weekend visits and exploring new areas I didn’t venture out to when growing up in the suburbs.

West Side Market
Home of the best gyros I’ve ever had, the West Side Market is a staple in downtown Cleveland. It’s the city’s oldest public market and is home to 100 vendors that offer everything from baked goods, meats, flowers and prepared foods. Not to mention, the building it’s housed in is beautiful and it’s quite the spectacle on a Saturday morning.

Greenhouse Tavern
Jonathan Sawyer, the most recent James Beard winner for Best Chef in the Great Lakes (sorry, Chicago chefs), mans the kitchen at this downtown restaurant. A must-have to order? The Buttered Popcorn Pot de Crème that comes with caramel and sea salt. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Lucky’s Cafe
I’m an avid fan of brunch and if you’re the same way, Lucky’s Café is not a spot you want to miss. You really can’t go wrong with ordering here; everything is amazing!

Velvet Tango Room
The Velvet Tango Room is a great spot to grab a delicious cocktail. Each handcrafted drink is extremely unique – you won’t be disappointed with the libations and the general vibe the lounge gives off.

Chagrin Falls
A cute neighborhood located in the suburbs, Chagrin Falls is the perfect little town to walk around in. With stores to pop into and beautiful waterfalls to admire, this quaint town is a must-see. You can’t leave without popping into the Popcorn Shop – a shop that was established in 1875 that sells popcorn, candy and ice cream!


City Guide: New Orleans


A few of my best girlfriends are from New Orleans and after years of wanting to visit, I finally made the trip to the Big Easy this winter. Though I had heard many stories of this Southern hotspot, nothing compared to actually being able to experience the culture and charm of this beautiful city. There are too many amazing places to count in New Orleans, but here are a few of my must-visit spots:

Killer Po Boys
Located in the back of a side street pub, this is truly a hidden gem. Serving up classic New Orleans po-boys with an unexpected twist, this is the perfect spot to grab a sandwich to go. You can also grab a seat at the bar up front, and if you do, I recommend that you order up a frozen Irish coffee, (which you can also take to go, of course, because it’s New Orleans).

If eating and walking your way through the city has you longing to do some shopping, stop into Hemline. This boutique is full of trendy and fun pieces in a range of prices to fit any budget or style.

Audubon Park
Lined with beautiful trees and sweeping moss, it’s hard to believe this park is in the middle of the city. Whether you want to go on a stroll, hop on the horse trail, or even visit the zoo and check out the giraffes, this is a relaxing way to spend your day.

Café Du Monde
A must-try on every tourist’s list, this place really lives up to the hype. With delicious coffee and beignets, it’s the perfect place to refuel after a day of exploring the French Quarter.

Located in the heart of the French Quarter, this three-story restaurant is the perfect date spot. With balcony seating that overlooks Jackson Square, this is an ideal restaurant to take in all of the tastes and sights that New Orleans has to offer.


City Guide: Cincinnati, Ohio


Having spent much of my high school career watching episode upon episode of The O.C. and Laguna Beach, when it came time to apply to colleges, I had my sights set on the west coast. I never expected to end up at Xavier, a small Jesuit university in Cincinnati, Ohio. But, like DMX says…X gonna give it to ya. From downtown Cincy (home of the Reds, Bengals and P&G) to charming neighborhoods in the hills, the ‘Nati has tons to offer – here are a few of my favorites spots in the Queen City. #BowDown

Graeter’s Ice Cream
How good is Graeter’s ice cream? Well, Oprah used to have pints flown in from Cincinnati to Harpo Studios. Other fans include SJP, George Clooney, and yours truly. While a road trip to Cinci is always a good idea, you can get your fix at most Mariano’s or Whole Foods in the Chicagoland area.

Teller’s of Hyde Park
Housed in the historic Hyde Park Savings and Loan building, this is by far my favorite restaurant in Cincinnati. From dining in the vault with my parents to celebrating graduations on the upstairs terrace, Teller’s is an icon of my college years. Everything on the menu is spectacular, but it would be a sin for me not to instruct you to order the Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls.

Sebastian’s Gyros
Grab a booth, order a gyro (don’t forget the sadziki sauce!) and enjoy the kitschy, friendly atmosphere. Sebastian’s is a Cincinnati gem, known for its delicious “real Greek food” and the charming family who has owned the restaurant since 1976. Now, if only I could convince them to open a Chicago location…

Ault Park
One of Cincy’s prettiest parks, this is the best place to get some fresh air and take in the underappreciated scenery of the city. Honestly, I’m pretty bummed Instagram hadn’t reached its peak while I was still living in Cincinnati because this place needs #nofilter.

A summer afternoon is best spent at O’Bryon’s sipping on a “Shark Tank” – a boozy drink complete with a toy shark filled with grenadine. If you love a good neighborhood pub, this one in O’Bryonville is tops.


For more Cincinnati recommendations, follow my friend Natalie’s blog: CincinNatalie!

City Guide: Madison, WI


I guess you could say I am partial to Madison at the moment because this is where I will be tying the knot come August! If you haven’t been yet and live in the Chicagoland area, it is the perfect short jaunt from Chicago (just 2 ½ hours!). There are plenty of things to do year round!

The Edgewater Hotel
The newly renovated Edgewater hotel is the place to stay in Madison. This winter, it opened an ice rink on the public plaza overlooking Lake Mendota. The hotel has many different offerings, and I can’t wait to see the new pier they are going to put in next summer!

Dane County Farmers’ Market
It’s the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the US! Be sure to check it out this spring/summer from April 23-November 5.

The Old Fashioned
This place has everything you can think of when it comes to Wisconsin cuisine. Cheese, brats, beer on tap, meats – you name it! It is centrally located on the square by the capitol.

University of Wisconsin-Camp Randall
If you are looking for a place to “Jump Around,” head to Camp Randall for a Badger Football game. The stadium is beautiful and the atmosphere is even better.

Maple Bluff Neighborhood
From the Governor’s Mansion to other gorgeous homes, this is the neighborhood to see. Hop on one of Madison’s B-Cycle bikes and take in the sights. There is a great view from the Maple Bluff beach of the Madison skyline.



City Guide: Dallas, Texas


While they say that everything’s bigger in Texas, I can’t help but feel that when I return to my hometown city of Dallas, it’s such somehow small after all. Perhaps that’s because I find myself returning to the same ol’ haunts (what can I say, I’m a creature of habit!). This Southern charmer of mine rose to prominence back in the day through oil and cotton and now continues to maintain notoriety through a cosmopolitan culture of shopping and dining. Here are my personal picks for ways to spend some time in the big D:

Mi Cocina
It may not be the most mind-blowing Tex-Mex you’ll ever have, but by God, it’s a Dallas INSTITUTION. Dig in to a heaping bowl of queso and drown your sorrows in the El Ray’s entrée plate (cheese enchilada, beef taco, pork tamale, arroz y frijoles) – trust me, I’ve been doing it for 18 years.

Sissy’s Southern Kitchen
If you’re looking for some traditional Southern fare, I can’t say enough amazing things about Sissy’s Southern Kitchen. We hosted a fabulous group of Dallas bloggers there for an intimate evening with Birchbox last fall, and I can say for certain that no one was disappointed. From the adorable china the restaurant uses to the finger-lickin’-good fried chicken, this is a winner.

The Shak
Dallas’ infamous department store Stanley Korshak has an incredible little sister called The Shak that is a must-visit. Having recently renovated with a serious makeover, the contemporary store boasts four mini-shops of greats like Elizabeth and James and Helmut Lang as well as designers you may not have heard of before. Definitely a stop to feed your shopping addiction.

Klyde Warren Park
I’m sad to say this was not yet in existence during my Dallas days, but this city park is all the rage now. Situated right smack in the middle of downtown, the urban oasis provides free programming ranging from yoga to outdoor concerts, as well as some delicious food trucks and restaurants you’ll want to try. Since Dallas only hits colder temps for a few months out of the year, it’s a beautiful space to take in the outdoors.

Katy Trail Ice House
Much like Mi Cocina, you can’t visit Dallas proper without setting foot into another mainstay: the Katy Trail Ice House. Voted as the “Best Bar Patio” by D magazine, the casual Austin-style beer garden and restaurant is the place for young professionals to mingle throughout the weekend. Saddle up to the bar and kick back with a serious list of Texas drafts, including Lone Star, Shiner, and Jester King.


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