It’s always a mixed bag of emotions going back to Chicago. Around every street corner is a memory of the time I spent there right after college. I still think of it as “my town” and being a tourist is such an odd experience. I want to check out all my old haunts, and try the hot new restaurants. I am dying to be “in the know” and yet I haven’t lived here for 6 years, so I have no idea what is new, fresh and hot. And so we ended up eating at the hotel quite a bit (it’s just easier when working around the boy’s schedules), and spending our visit at the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Shedd Aquarium with all the other tourists. But it was a blast, and thankfully my husband gave me free reign during the boy’s naptimes so I was able to hit up some of my favorite tucked away shopping spots and eateries.
It was fun seeing the city through Vijay’s eyes. We had been reading the Little Critter book “Just Me and My Mom” by Mercer Mayer where Little Critter goes to the big city with his mama, and they experience museums, the aquarium, taxi rides and trains. Vijay loved doing all of the activities we had read about- especially the aquarium and the train. He was wide-eyed the entire trip- it was adorable.
We found the best restaurant for dining with kids- amazing food, a boisterous atmosphere, and great coffee (important for mom since the boys never adjusted to the slight time change- hello 5am wake-ups). Girl and the Goat has received rave reviews since it opened, but it is not a real kid-friendly option, which is why I was thrilled to find out that the same owner had opened Little Goat Diner, a more casual option, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner all day. If you are in Chicago- eat here. Period.
A trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of holiday shopping thrown in. I am sure there are a thousand amazing shops, but I’m not a big shopper, and the Miracle Mile gives me hives, so I have it dialed in to my two all-time favorite shops. If I get to visit these two gems- I’m a happy camper. First up- P.O.S.H. Think Parisian flea market with a sprinkling of Christmas. It is my favorite place to buy Christmas decorations and ornaments, and I am endlessly inspired by their displays.
I equally adore A New Leaf. To call it a mere florist would be a disservice- it is so so much more. Imagine a flea market, mixed with an imaginative floral boutique, with a touch of an exotic feeling thanks to trinkets and imports from around the world. You can find piles of amazing old ceramic tiles, beads, buttons and trim, hand-dipped beeswax candles in every color imaginable, ornaments, every kind of floral container/ vase/ pot you could ever need, rare plants, beautiful bouquets and random treasures galore. I could get lost here for hours.
I also had a chance to wander through my old neighborhood, Lincoln Park. When I used to live there, I remember admiring the houses and wondering who could ever afford an entire, single-family home in Lincoln Park. Wandering through this past weekend, I found myself wondering the same thing. I love imaging the fabulous decorating and entertaining that must go on in these magnificent homes.
But the real reason this trip was so special had nothing to do with the food, or the shopping or the sights. Spending time with our family is always takes our trips and elevates them to extra special status. We feel so thankful to have spent this past week with them, and we are all missing them terribly already.