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Summertime in the Windy City

Believe it or not, despite having been to Chicago five times now, this last week was my first time visiting in the Summer! I was so excited to get firsthand experience of this amazing Chicago summer everyone raves about since I've really only experienced the darn near unbearable Winters.

Last Christmas my boyfriend bought me floor seat tickets to see Sam Smith in August 2018 at the United Center in Chicago. Back in December, it seemed like I had months upon months of waiting to see one of my favorite, if not my number one, musical artists live and with floor seats nevertheless. Well the day finally arrived and just like that we were off to sunny Chicago for a few days of fun and most importantly an epic concert.

We arrived late Tuesday night so our evening was filled with some Netflix binge watching, which hardly lasted long enough to declare it a proper binge, and sleeping. The next morning we woke up at a leisurely time, we were on vacation after all, and went for a morning run along Lakeshore Drive with views of Lake Michigan not too far from where we were staying with my boyfriend's sister in Lakeview East. As some of you may know, I'm training for the Chicago marathon so I was anxious to get a taste of running in the humidity and through the city.

Post-run, we stopped into the local Mariano's, which I would compare to Whole Foods, grabbed some snacks and water before heading back home, packing our things and Ubering to the hotel we were staying at for the night of the concert. The Hilton Chicago while grand and magnificent looking from the outside was kind of a let down. The rooms were pretty small and basic but the views from the 24th floor weren't half bad at least.

We scurried to get ready for the big night and met up with the concert crew at the indoor French Market. I don't know what it was about this trip but I had zero appetite the entire time I was there. Despite my running, walking, and all around activity levels, my food intake was kept to a minimum due to the lack of hunger I felt at all hours of the day. The French Market was so cute! It reminded me of Grand Central Market in Downtown LA or the amazing Liberty Public Market in San Diego. We grabbed some snacks and drinks before it was time to head to the United Center for Sam Smith. The moment had finally arrived!

And let me tell you, he did NOT disappoint. His talent, his voice, just his presence is out of this world! I would definitely recommend his show time and time again. What an angel gifted to this earth.

Okay, I'm stepping off my Sam Smith soap box.

The next day we got ready in the hotel and checked out before heading off to meet up with our crew prior to our late lunch reservations. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day! I was happy to be caught up in the Chicago sunshine, a sight these eyes had never seen prior to this last week.

We walked to Restoration Hardware for a late lunch at the 3 Arts Club Cafe. Unfortunately the wait for a party of five was close to an hour so we grabbed a glass of rose at the bar and made our way up to the rooftop to enjoy the spectacular views and gorgeous furniture layouts. For those of you who are wondering if I misspoke, you heard me correctly, Restoration Hardware. Yes, it's the gorgeous furniture destination you've ogled over all your life wondering if someday your own home may be filled with such gorgeous (*cough cough and pricey*) furnishings. They've now created little cafes within their stores where even more ogling can occur.

Out in the middle of a courtyard, 3 Arts Club Cafe was absolutely breathtaking. I kept looking around thinking how amazing it must be during the holidays all lit up. Huge chandeliers hung in the middle of the open space as well as above each table and shone little rainbows across diners faces as they enjoyed a bougie afternoon out. The food was good - especially the vegetable and hummus plate - but the ambiance was truly the best part.

After lunch, we had a 4pm appointment at the AIRE Ancient Baths. Despite having seen this on a couple people's Instagram stories within the last couple weeks, I honestly had no idea what to expect.

Since it was a little hot outside, I will admit I was wary of going and relaxing in heated baths but nevertheless I was excited for the experience. Located down an alleyway, this hidden gem is a truly wonderful experience. Upon arrival, we signed waivers and prepared for our afternoon of relaxation. After we changed into our swimsuits, we headed down to the bath area where we got a brief tour.

Cameras of course aren't allowed in the bath area which is understandable but also a shame because I'm sure my words won't do it justice. It's like you walk down all these stairs and suddenly you're transported to a different time and place as you're surrounded by a variety of large baths in a dimly lit room with enchanting music all around you.

Our two and a half hours included a thirty minute massage (boy my body needed that - as evidenced by the numerous knots my masseuse discovered), and a couple hours soaking in the various baths. I thoroughly enjoyed the bath filled with jets which was essentially like a huge jacuzzi. It felt so good on my aching muscles. We also sat in a lavender filled sauna for a few minutes before taking a cold plunge into a chilly 57 degree Fahrenheit bath. What a shock to the system! But in a weird way it felt really good.

After we were sufficiently pruney, it was time to head home. But not before stopping at Mariano's once again for a quick dinner.

The next morning I jumped out of bed, excited for my first Pure Barre class at Pure Barre Streeterville. Pure Barre is something I've been meaning to try in LA so I was looking forward to finally seeing what all the hype was about. I think my pilates definitely helped me with the concentrated moves but it was a tough workout that showed me I need to work on my flexibility a bit more! The studio was small and intimate and I loved the fact that they knew their patrons by first name. I would definitely recommend Pure Barre Streeterville for all my Chicago followers.

After Barre we went to Maison Marcel for a late brunch. This ADORABLE French cafe is a must visit! From the moment you walk in you're surrounded by a quaint French ambiance and tables are filled with people enjoying their breakfast or simply tucked away in a corner working on their laptops. The food, the coffee, the almond croissant, it was all delicious and I'm so glad we stumbled in to the cute French cafe for a bite to eat.

However, I left feeling very stuffed and ill-prepared for what that evening had in store for us - Eataly!

We made our way home to rest our full tummies and get ready for the family outing at Eataly Chicago. Our dinner reservation wasn't until later in the evening so we stopped for drinks beforehand, first at Beatnik on the River (there were 40 - yes you read that correctly, 40 - parties on the wait list ahead of us) where I snapped a few photos and took in the views from this cozy bar on the river, before walking to City Winery on the River.

It's funny to be in a big city appreciative of a little sunshine. Everyone and their mother comes out for a run, walks along the river, outdoor dining, drinks, ANYTHING when the sun is out. I got a taste of the normalcy of after work drinks that occurs among businessmen and women in Chicago at City Winery on the River and I gotta admit it was pretty fun. I thoroughly enjoyed my Frose before it was time to eat some more at Eataly.

This was my first experience at an Eataly outside of the one in LA which was fun and of course absolutely delicious. I had my standard Cinque Formaggio pizza and some more glasses of rose - both of which were just as delicious as they are in Los Angeles.

After dinner we went to this place called Flight Club which is essentially a darts bar. While it sounds like a place filled with bikers and "interesting" locals, it's actually quite the opposite. It's this modern, lively bar with dart boards throughout where you can rent out spaces like bowling lanes for hours at a time. While I'm not sure darts is really my game, it was quite fun!

Two hours of darts came and went and it was time to call it a night so we could get some sleep before our 9am pick up for the airport.

Our time in Chicago went by much too quickly but I thoroughly enjoyed getting a taste of summer in the Windy City. One thing's for sure, I definitely need more time (preferably during the summer) to enjoy even more of what the city has to ofter during the months you can comfortably walk around in jeans and a t-shirt!

(Originally Published August 19, 2018)

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