Saturday, October 13, 2018

Travel Guide: Weekend in Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Gotham city meets deep dish. Ok ok, I know there's more to Chicago than its architecture and pizza but those are definitely a couple of my favorite things about the windy city. I met up with a couple of friends from back home for a weekend in Chi Town - read on to see where we stayed, what we ate and sights to see here!

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Where to Stay in Chicago


Hotel Zachary

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Stay at the brand new Hotel Zachary (just opened this spring), and wake up to amazing views of Wrigley Field! Enjoy a blend of classic & contemporary design with a cozy, distinctive boutique hotel feel. Hotel Zachary offers guests an authentic experience in one of the city's most iconic neighborhoods - Lakeview, and there are plenty of great restaurants and nightlife nearby in Wrigleyville. 

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

I couldn't get over the view from our room. I mean how often do you get to fall asleep to & wake up right over a ballpark? I can only imagine how exciting this would be during a game. You could even see a bit of the field itself from our room.

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Hotel Zachary was designed by its namesake - Wrigley Field architect Zachary Taylor Davis. It has a much cozier feel than a ballpark though, with subdued neutrals that create a comforting space (especially through Chicago's long winters)!

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

The staff made us feel so welcomed from the second we stepped foot on the property - and these delicious bites from the West Town Bakery downstairs didn't hurt one bit!

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Curated pieces in each room include artwork from local Chicago artists and a framed replica of Davis' original blueprint of Wrigley Field sketched in 1922. It's inspiring to see the beginning outlines of such a massive project that's now this massive iconic landmark almost 100 years later. After all, everything starts with just the spark of an idea which can launch into something big.

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

The lobby of Hotel Zachary is just as impressive as its guest rooms.

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

The lobby features the delicious West Town Bakery & Tap, as well as the swanky whiskey & grill Mordecai.

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Customer service is incredible here as well. Everyone is super friendly and helpful, going above and beyond. From the chic, cozy boutique feel to the amazing views, location and great service, I can't recommend Hotel Zachary enough!

What to Do: Weekend Chicago Activities


Visit the Bean, Millennium Park

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

The Bean is a fun art installation & photo opp which reflects the Chicago Skyline. First unveiled in Millennium Park in 2004, the Bean is now widely considered a symbol of Chicago. It's officially named Cloud Gate, since 80% of its surface reflects the sky and it bends down on both sides into the shape of a gate. People flock here, so it's best to get here early if you want to avoid the crowds! Shout out to the cleaners who come by up to 7 times a day to wipe away all the fingerprints and keep it looking polished.

Sky Deck at Sears Tower

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

See Chi Town from 103 stories up at the Sears Tower Sky Deck! You get 60 seconds for your party to take pictures in these glass balconies. I'd recommend going on a clear day, since visibility will be low otherwise. If it's a nice day on the weekend then be sure to leave plenty of time as the lines can get long!

Take an Architecture Boat Tour

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Chicago is known for it's architecture. Take a boat tour on the Chicago River to learn about the many different phases of buildings this city went through. My favorite are the ones that remind me of Gotham City - older buildings with tons of little detailing, which you don't see too often anymore. 

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

We learned that the Civic Opera Building was made to look like a throne. Sadly it opened just before the Great Depression, so not as many folks were buying tickets to the opera anymore.

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Fun fact: the building on the left was secretly made to look like a Champagne bottle during prohibition and is covered in a thin layer of gold on top.

Visit Wrigley Field

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

The Cubs fell just short of playoffs this season so we couldn't see a game, but it's worth a trip to see Wrigley Field or catch a game if you're a baseball fan.

Play at a Replay

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Replay is by far the best barcade (bar/arcade) I've been to. It's a casual spot in Wrigleyville right near Lou Malnati's pizza, and just a short Lyft ride from Hotel Zachary. All of the games are free, and there was an amazing DJ there too! We need more fun places like this. 

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Chicago Athletic Association

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

The Chicago Athletic Association is actually a luxury hotel near Millennium Park. It's super luxe and swanky, with fun games like bocce ball, foosball, and shuffleboard. Head to Cindy's rooftop bar in the hotel for great views of Millennium Park and the Bean.

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Where To Eat in Chicago


Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Pizza joints in Chicago can divide friendships and cause massive rivalries. We went to Lou Malnati's and it was delicious, but some people swear by Giordano's so I want to try them out next time I'm in town.

Little Goat Diner

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Girl and the Goat is one of the top restaurants in Chicago, so there can be a 2 hour wait for brunch. Pro tip: head to Little Goat Diner just next door and grab a seat at the bar. It's first come, first served with the exact same incredible menu!

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Some of the best fried chicken I've ever had, not to mention delicious french toast with a poached egg in the middle!

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Stan's Donuts

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

We stepped out of the fog to grab a pumpkin pie drink at Stan's Donuts. They have a fun selection of drinks and donuts here, and it's right near Millenium Park and the Bean so it's super convenient.

Max's Take Out

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

We got a "real" Chicago hot dog with all the fixings at Max's Take Out just off of Millennium Park. It's a small local joint with authentic delicious hot dogs.

Frontera Grill

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Frontera Grill offers authentic Mexican food and has countless awards in the food world, from a James Beard for outstanding restaurant, to Michelin Bib Gourmand and Most Popular Chicago Restaurant by Zagat. Rick Bayless wanted to create a restaurant that felt just like his travels to Mexico. Apart from incredible ingredients, this translates to colorful Mexican folk art and mariachi music. 

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

By the time we sat down for dinner, we were super tired from a long day walking around Chicago, but we could still appreciate how delicious and fresh the ingredients were. The ceviche was my favorite, definitely try it if you come here.

Travel-Guide-Weekend-Chicago

From the architecture, to the food and plenty of activities, Chicago is great for a fun weekend getaway!

Have you been to Chicago? What's your favorite thing to do there?

Don't miss these fun weekend travel guides:



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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Travel Guide: Weekend in San Francisco

Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

As a San Francisco native, I could probably write 100 posts on San Francisco, but this is a good start if you're not sure where to go for a weekend trip!

Travel Guide: Weekend in San Francisco

Where To Stay: Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Take full advantage of SF's iconic views at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown San Francisco! How impressive are these huge windows which highlight the city skyline? I also love any window seat that has enough room for me to sit and read or just gaze out at the views. 

The staff was super accommodating and put out such a gorgeous chocolate welcome with the Golden Gate Bridge as backdrop!

Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

One of my favorite aspects of the Intercontinental is that it's conveniently located right around the corner from the Westfield Mall, Target, and the AMC movie theater, not to mention just a 5 minute walk to Union Square and the cable cars. This proved helpful in getting last-minute wedding items, and is perfect for out-of-town visitors to see the sights and get a little shopping in!


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Fun fact: The blinds to these epic windows were controlled by a button by the front door which felt very luxurious. 


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

What a cozy spot for some light reading (and let's be real - probably dozing in this comfy chair)!

Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Loved their spotless marble bathroom, which also had breathtaking views (including the stunning city hall) and a large window seat. 

Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

If this looks familiar it's because I came here for dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant Luce a few years back! High ceilings and modern interiors make even the restaurant and lobby super swanky. 


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Where To Eat in San Francisco


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Want to try something different? Come to Aina for Hawaiian dishes like loco moco and these custard-filled donuts! Fun fact for those who don't know: Polynesian culture is big for me since I used to dance Tahitian and Hula back in the day. I even got to perform at a 49ers halftime show for it! But back to the food here - it's amazing and the atmosphere is rustic and comfy.


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Plow is known for no muss, no fuss breakfast and brunch. They're not reinventing the wheel here, but their simple & fresh ingredients speak for themselves. They even have warm blankets out on the patio to keep you cozy on those foggy days.


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Pier 23 is the place to go on sunny days in the city! Here you'll find great views of the bay & boats sailing by. You may even spot a sea lion or two if you look closely!


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

I've been going to International Cafe in the Lower Haight since I was a baby. This local gem has comfy couches, an outdoor patio, and live music all the time. My favorite is their tuna on dutch crunch!


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Uva Enoteca is one of my favorite local spots. My dad and I go here for dinner a lot when I visit home! They have incredible pastas and must-try desserts. 

What To Do: Weekend Activities in San Francisco


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Sunny days call for city views in Dolores Park, which is just a short walk from my house luckily! This section of the park is called the beach because the wind going through the palm trees sounds just like waves crashing on the shore. The funny thing is that it's often warmer than our ACTUAL beach (Ocean Beach), because of SF's micro climates.


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Of course not every day can be so sunny. Even on days with Karl the Fog (yes the fog even has a name here), the views are epic though. There are some fun secret swing spots in the city atop a few of the many hills!


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

The Ramp is a great local restaurant/bar with views of the bay and fun ships.


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Take a stroll around the Mission / Valencia / Haight Street for some really impressive street art.


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

The Bay Bridge is always a sight for sore eyes.


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

The Ferry Building can be touristy, but is a great area to stroll and people watch.


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Weekends are best spent in a park, like this one in Fort Mason. Can you spot the Golden Gate Bridge?


Travel-Guide-Weekend-in-San-Francisco

Union Square is great for retail therapy if that's what you're after.

 For more SF posts see my local's guide and fashion post!

Have you been to SF? What's your favorite spot here?

Don't miss these fun weekend travel guides:


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