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Grace + Jillian

Cubs. Jillian. Signature Lounge. Beach. Grace. Chicago. Millennium Park. Wendella.

What do these words have in common?

Combined they made for one memorable and amazing way to spend the final weekend of July in Chicago.

I’ve been told I’m a good host. It’s actually something that’s important to me — hosting my visitors in such a way that moving to Chicago crosses their mind at least once. I’m only 50% kidding.

Jillian arrived Thursday night and we spent Friday as rivals: Cubs vs. Cards. Spent the day in Wrigleyville. Let’s not talk about the game…

Saturday morning Grace arrived and we relaxed the day away on Oak Street Beach. I may or may not have also been a tad hung over. We wrapped up the weekend as tourists taking in some of Chi’s hottest sights: Millennium Park, Wendella boat tour, Hancock 96th floor Signature Lounge, riding the el, Wrigley Field (take two, with Jillian’s parents), and beer tasting at Goose Island Brewery.

Grace asked me if I ever get tired of doing the touristy stuff. Awesome question. The answer is: no I don’t. There are so many added benefits — catching up with good friends, laughing about old memories and creating new ones, reminding myself why I love Chi so much, experiencing new things myself, and living life.


Friday Chi Faves: The Field Museum

My cousin Mike, his wife Candi, and their kids Cassidy, Dominick and Mason were visiting Chicago a couple weeks ago. I’m lucky to have a pretty flexible work schedule so I was able to spend a Friday afternoon with them at the Field Museum.

[The fam + Sue]

MAN was I impressed!! That place is cool. We literally spent the entire afternoon going from one exhibit to the next — from animals, to Africa, to Ancient Egypt … the Tsavo Lions, Underground Adventure and Extreme Animals — unending amazement. My favorite? Dinosaur Hall. When is the last time you saw dinosaur fossils? So impressive. We also took in The Story of Sue in 3-D “Waking the T. Rex“. And Sue! The largest, most extensive and best preserved T-rex specimen is quite a site. Overall I’m a huge fan. Great place to spend the day with family!



Open every day except Christmas. 9am – 5pm


Museum Campus: 1400 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605


Different admission levels, check it out here.

We did the All Access Pass — Adult $29, Kids 3-11 $20, Students & Seniors (65+) $24


Added bonus to any visit to Museum Campus? The view of the city. Post-Field Museum, we walked along the Lake and took in the view. Gorgeous!!

Tourist for a DAY!

One of my best friends Jenny was visiting Chi a couple of weeks ago. Girlfriends from Drake, she is loyal, driven, dedicated, and beautiful. You may remember her as our gracious host in Arizona.

She was actually in town for her brother’s wedding so we didn’t get to spend 24/7 with her. In fact, we really only had one full day. Lin and I thought long and hard about how to really show Jenny our amazing city … in ONE day. What did we come up with?!


A tour that took us to 7 spots throughout Chicago, each one awesome and unique in its own way.

[Wendella Boat Cruise]

(1) Willis Tour [Sears Tower] Sky Deck

(2) Garrett Popcorn

(3) Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park

(4) Lunch at Park Cafe in Millennium Park

(5) Wendella 90-Minute Combined Lake & River Tour

(6) Walked the Mag Mile

(7) Dinner in Old Town at the Pour House

Topping off her experience, Jenny got to ride both the CTA “El” and buses!

[Sky Deck]

How awesome, huh? Our day definitely reminded me why tourists come to Chicago when I typically just get annoyed with them and their slow walking pace 🙂 And we only hit up 7 places … we missed so much, although we did hit up the Hangge Uppe on that Friday night ha! I highly recommend doing at least one copy cat of our day with visitors, then hit up some of my other Friday Faves with the rest of your time.

[Garrett Popcorn]

Friday Chi Faves: Arlington Park Race Track

In honor of this weekend’s Kentucky Derby, I think a little promotion for Chicago’s own horse racing is fair.

Plus let’s be real… it’s awesome.

Arlington Park Race Track

Since its official opening in 1927, Arlington Park has been the home to Chicago-area horse racing including a number of significant races like the  Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

I had my first Arlington Park Race Track experience over 4th of July weekend in 2010 from the Million Room with my mom, dad, brother and Gram. In addition to the amazing fare, I bet on horse racing for the first time. I’m horrible. Lost every dime, but the experience was so fab.

Kicking off it’s 2012 season today Friday, May 4, Arlington Park has been granted 90 days of live racing today through Sunday, September 30. General admission ranges from $6-12 per person. And other options such as box seating, canopy, etc are also available.

Be sure to check it out.

And next time? I’m all in (a) winning and (b) wearing a legit Derby hat!

Travel Addict: Charlotte, North Carolina

I ended up in Charlotte with my parents between jobs. I had left Scripps and had taken a week before starting at Groupon. The purpose of our Charlotte mini-vacation? Mom had a conference, so Dad and I would hang around Charlotte all day then meet up with Mom post-conference.


Charlotte has a humid subtropical climate … in normal words? It has 4 distinct seasons. Average highs range from 50-90 and average lows range from -5-50. Overall more temperate and less precipitation than Chicago.

When to Go: 

You can really visit Charlotte any time of year. I’m not a huge winter fan and there is more precipitation in spring than fall, so I’d recommend summer or fall.

What to Do:

My Dad and I had a blast around Charlotte. Experiencing the NASCAR Hall of Fame which was both informative and interactive. Day 2 was spent on an amazing segway tour of Charlotte. Had I done a bit more research pre-trip, this walking tour looks pretty cool and it would’ve been fun to take in some Charlotte sporting events like the Panthers.


Where to Eat: 

While Charlotte Magazine names their 25 Best Restaurants, we enjoyed dinner at the EpiCentre each night – testing out Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina and Blackfinn. Both delicious and right up our alley. Post-dinner entertainment was also right at our finger tips – bowling, sweets, or a selection of bars and clubs!



We were never really in a hurry so chose foot transportation. It seemed like while pubic transit was available, the best and easiest way to get around would be a car — be it your own or a rental car.


Charlotte’s Got A Lot Tourism Site

Visit NC

Travel Addict: Sydney, Australia

Even though I’m gearing up for Scottsdale, part of my heart will always belong in Australia. I love Australia so much that it cannot fit in one post. So let’s start with Sydney!

Sydney is the capital of New South Wales and is the most populated city in Australia with almost 4.6 million residents. A hub of activity and a top tourist destination in Australia, Sydney is a temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters. Similar to Chicago, Sydney is broken up into neighborhoods: City Centre, Kings Cross, The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Paddington, etc.

In my opinion, the two most iconic structures in Sydney are the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They create an extremely unique skyline for Sydney and still take my breath away.

My recommended tourist destinations in Sydney for the active tourist:

  • Sydney Opera House – the tour and/or a show
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Sydney Aquarium
  • Luna Park
  • The Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Explore The Rocks
  • Art Gallery of NSW
  • Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair

There are SO many more — trying to be brief!

And now to the beaches. I LOVE a good beach day. The sound of the waves crashing is literally one of my favorite sounds of all time. Luckily, Sydney is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches, some of my faves?

  • Manly Beach
  • Coogee Beach
  • Bondi Beach
  • Palm Beach
  • Shelly Beach
  • Bronte Beach

When to GO:

You can literally go year round. I recommend Australia’s summer (US winter) first. If that doesn’t work then spring or fall. Last choice as Australia’s winter (US summer). If you didn’t realize, being in the southern hemisphere, they’re seasons are the opposite of the US.

Where to stay:

I recommend Circular Quay (or the City Centre) since it’s in the middle and close to transportation or walking distance from most awesome things to do.


The transportation in Sydney is unique in that it is a system of buses, trains and, most importantly, ferries. It’s quite an easy system to learn. You can get singular passes or longer use passes.


Toss out those silly US dollars, Australia runs on Australia dollars. The current exchange rate is $1 US dollar = $0.95 Australian dollars – basically 1-for-1.

***Passport is required for this trip!

Last but not least, a couple of my favorite Sydney fun facts:

  • Australia is the only continent that eats their national symbols: Emu & Kangaroo
  • The top sports in Australia are rugby, Aussie rules football, cricket and soccer
  • Australians drive and walk on the left
  • Australia has a similar history to the US — the original inhabitants are the Aboriginal Indigenous Australians
  • Vegemite is the most popular food in Australia, it’s a vegetable paste
  • Australia is the world’s smallest continent but sixth-largest country

Friday Chi Faves: Broadway!

I love Broadway.

I’ve been lucky enough to have seen a significant number of shows: Mary Poppins, Wicked, Lion King, 42nd Street, Chicago, Rock of Ages, Rent, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Evita, Phantom, etc, etc.

When I was younger, going to a Broadway show was an event. Going downtown Chicago, wearing your Sunday best, going to the show then a nice meal before heading back to Iowa. Then I moved to the city and proceeded to see every show that came to Chicago my first year. Broadway shows will always hold a special place in my heart. Cats, Billy Elliot, Anything Goes currently top my “to see” list.

I highly recommend adding culture to any Chicago trip via Broadway show. Chicago is mostly home to traveling shows. To check out the shows, showtimes, and pricing, go to Broadway in Chicago. It also serves as a great gift idea or something awesome to do in general.

I’ll leave you with a little teaser from my fave scene of my fave show, Mary Poppins:

See you at Cats in May…