CHI TOWN - BIRTHDAY EDITION
Chicago is one of those cities that you visit for the first time and you can’t help but want to go back again and again. Last year was my first trip to the Windy City, and it was love at first sight. It’s not often that you go on vacation somewhere and feel right at home. It’s one of those cities that I could really see myself living in, and I don’t say that often. The food scene, the friendly Mid-West mentality, and the big city feel were a few of the things that really enamored me. When Eric asked me what I wanted to do for my 30th birthday, I knew right away that visiting Chicago was it. We’re only a 3 and a half hour drive away, so it was an easy decision.
We began our drive to Chicago Friday morning. After a few easy hours (Eric drove the whole way so it was extra easy for me haha – #spoiled), we arrived at our hotel mid-afternoon. We are all about reward points (we made it to SPG Platinum last year which was so exciting – woo hoo), so we are very loyal to staying at Starwood properties. We chose to stay at the lovely W Lakeshore located across from Navy Pier. We were upgraded to a fantastic suite with a spectacular view of Navy Pier and of course, beautiful Lake Michigan (which looked absolutely freezing!). The hotel was great, the staff was very helpful, and the location was prime – a recipe for success.
First things first – FOOD! We base a lot of our travel experience around food. To me, eating your way through a city is the best way to get to know it. As soon as we arrived in Chi Town we decided to check out the famous restaurant, Au Cheval located in the trendy West Loop area. I cannot count the amount of times someone has told me to check this place out. As a foodie, this has definitely been a bucket list goal of mine. We got there at about 2:30 pm and only had to wait about 10 minutes for counter seating (the wait can sometimes be hours from what I have been told so we really lucked out). Any Au Cheval recommendation is without fail followed by this statement… “You have to get the burger!!!” I am usually a health nut (my close friends know that I like to take it next level with healthy cooking), but when on vacation I let it slide a little (yolo). Eric and I shared a double cheeseburger with bacon and a fried egg. I am drooling just typing that sentence. The burger was perfectly cooked, and sooooo juicy. The bacon was thick cut (basically bacon on steroids), and the egg was nice and runny. The combination melted in my mouth like butter! The bun and aioli were perfection. The fries were out of this world. Hands down one of the best burgers I have ever had if not, dare I say it, the best (Spotted Pig in NYC, you have some major competition). If you find yourself in Chicago, be sure to check this place out. Some of the other restaurants that are worth the mention are Boka (get the duck for two at this Michelin Starred gem), Somerset at the Viceroy Hotel (avocado toast was delish), Joe’s Seafood (you can’t go wrong with anything on this classic menu) and Beatrix (breakfast tacos because I will never say no to tacos).
It wouldn’t be a trip to Chicago without checking out the iconic Bean located in Millennium Park. During the winter months they have the cutest skating rink set up that overlooks the Bean. Although we didn’t throw on our skates this time due to a brunch reservation at Beatrix (if you read my last post on NYC, you know we love to go skating), we marveled from the sidelines. This is the perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon. We strolled around the park and found a couple of good photo ops (thank goodness for my Instagram Husband and his patience). Another great thing about Millennium Park is the awesome skyline view that overlooks the park. It gives you the opportunity to see Chicago in all of its glory. Side Note: If you have a car at your disposal during your vacay, I would suggest leaving it behind at the hotel/Airbnb if you plan on heading to the Bean. Parking is extremely pricey in this area so it is probably cheaper to just Uber there.
Let’s talk shopping for a minute starting with a staple of Chicago, Michigan Ave. This street is lined with all types of stores including amazing designers such as Chanel, Stuart Weitzman and Tiffany & Co. I would highly recommend taking a stroll down Michigan Ave even if you’re not looking to shop. We cruised up Michigan Ave until we hit Oak St. and came across an amazing sale at Vince. Jackpot!!! The Oak St. area is very quaint and leads right to the “Viagra Triangle” (Urban dictionary provides a pretty accurate definition of the area) and Rush St. Here you will find Chicago classics like Gibson’s Steakhouse, Hugo Frog’s and Tavern on Rush. It really is another great area with lots of shopping and dining options. We lucked out majorly weather wise on the day we chose to stroll around. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect winter day. The last time I was in Chicago it was FRIGID, so the well above freezing temps and absence of wind were much appreciated. I still have yet to see Chicago in the summer but I hear the city gets even better during this time (which is hard to believe because it is already so spectacular in my eyes). I guess this summer I will need to make it a priority to visit!
Last but definitely not least, we finished our visit at the 3 Arts Café at Restoration Hardware. When I walked in I felt like I died and went to heaven. Not only do they make the best chai tea lattes, the décor is breathtaking. If you are familiar with Restoration Hardware you know that they make the most beautiful furniture on the planet. Every inch of this café is decorated with the brand’s pieces. If you are in Chicago, visiting the place is a MUST!! So cool.
I really couldn’t have asked for a better 30th birthday. I really just wanted a low-key celebration, so this was the perfect weekend. I got to explore one of my fav cities with my love. I am so lucky to have a partner that is so thoughtful and loves adventure just as much as I do (and takes as many pictures as I ask him too, LOL). We ate, we shopped, and we conquered! Happy birthday to me!
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