Nov 12, 2013

Travel: Tips for Visiting NYC & Chicago

Today we are talking about tI teamed up with the fabulous Kendra Thornton to highlight some of the best way to visit our home cities and some of the best aspects of each town.   I love knowing all of the in's and out's of a city before I visit it so I can make the most of my time!  Kendra is a travel advocate and Chicagoan and I live just outside New York City!

4 Tips to Make the Most Out of your Visit to Chicago
Chicago is without a doubt one of the most diverse and interesting American cities to visit. With a rich cultural traditional and history, the city is both modern and timeless. The “Windy City,” is not all that windy either; it’s no windier than any major city located close to a body of water and anyone stating otherwise is exaggerating. Chicago is beautiful in every season and any month of the year is a perfect time to visit.

Here are four tips highlighting some locations in Chicago that you simply need to experience, whether you are heading out with the family, a romantic trip for two or exploring on your own.

1. Landmarks Galore
While there are plenty of landmarks and sites that you need to see while in Chicago, such as the Skydeck at the Sears Tower, one extra special site that always fascinates visitors is the Shedd Aquarium. It’s a huge aquarium found right on the shores of Lake Michigan with tens of thousands of animals to see. Visit Beluga Whales face to face and watch trainers interact and feed over a thousand different underwater species. If you or your family members are lovers of aquatic life and sea creatures, there is no better place to spend an afternoon in Chicago.

2. Shop Off the Beaten Path
Just about anyone who knows anything about Chicago knows that the so-called “Magnificent Mile” on North Michigan Ave is the ritziest place to shop, but it’s not the only place. If you are looking for a more relaxed but equally enthralling selection of stores, check out Southport Ave in Lakeview. You can check it out on your way to see historic Wrigley Field, since it’s virtually in the same neighborhood. The selection of stores is still chic, but the atmosphere is much more relaxed than on N. Michigan. Not only can you find all the best designer stores in Lakeview, but there are also tons of boutiques featuring the work of young fashion talents local to the city.
 3. Relaxing Accommodations
Looking to get some spa days fit into your vacation stay in Chicago? If so, gogobot is a fantastic resource for finding a fantastic hotel for unwinding and treating your body after a long day off walking around the city. The spa is a fantastic feature of this hotel, but don’t overlook the restaurant either. Peninsula features a menu of great European cuisine that can show you high dining without living your accommodations. It’s also located in one of the prettiest Chicago neighborhoods on East Superior Street.
4. Casual Food for the Soul
There are definitely many great high-end restaurants in Chicago; however, the small establishments are the heart and soul of the city’s food culture. Of course, you can’t miss out on trying some famous Chicago deep-dish pizza. Another great place to check out on a budget is Glenn’s Diner. Located on West Montrose, the diner features amazing seafood. Not only that, where else can you get items off the breakfast menu at any time of the day? The diner's selection of breakfast cereals is also a thing of legends.

While these tips will help you see some great places, they barely scratch the surface of this great city, which you really need to visit more than once to truly appreciate.

. . . . 

How to Visit New York City

New York City is one of the busiest, most eclectic cities in the world.  Our family loves to spend the day wandering around the city, shopping, eating and playing.  We love all of the different amenities it has to offer and the endless options for fun.  It’s a place where you can fall into something new and exciting with each and every visit.

1.  Play, play, play!
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in all of the hustle and bustle of New York and forget just how much fun you can have there.  Whether you want to embrace your cultural side at various museums (The American Museum of Natural History, The Met, or The Guggenheim to name a few) or have some fun on the observation deck of the Empire State Building there is something for everyone to enjoy!  Make sure to see the sights of Times Square, catch a Broadway show (Cinderella!) or stroll the quaint neighborhood blocks of the Upper East and West sides.  There are so many fun activities to do for any age or price range.

2.  Get Out!
Even though New York is packed with buildings there are so many outdoor activities to keep a family busy.  You can stroll along the Highline starting in the Meatpacking District.  You can play in Central Park, stop by the zoo or swing by one of the park’s 21 playgrounds.  Tired? Relax on a bench for some quality people watching. 

3.  Shop the day away!
New York offers some of the best shopping in the world from the high-end storefronts of Fifth Avenue to street corner bodegas offering everything you could imagine at bottom dollar prices.  The first - and most important stop for any family with children - is the holy grail of toy stores known as FAO Schwarz, a place so full of goodies you could wander in it for days.  A stop at the legendary Bergdorf Goodman and the Herald Square Macy’s complete a day of shopping.  Don’t forget to check out the many street vendors for some one of a kind photos and jewelry!

4.  Eat your heart out!
If you leave New York City hungry then you haven’t truly experienced NYC!  After you have finished browsing at FAO Schwarz and visiting Central Park stop by the famed Plaza Hotel’s Food Hall for some serious deliciousness by Todd English.   Parents and children alike will enjoy a lunch and caffeine break at Alice's Tea Cup where fairy dust and mouth-wateringly delectable scones abound.  A stop at Serafina for out of this world Italian fare will satisfy any belly.  If you’re feeling super casual pop into one of the approximately 1500 pizza places for some of the best thin crust ever or grab a delicious burger from Shake Shack followed up with some Tasti D lite for a guilt-free dessert!

New York City is like no other place in the world, full of unique experiences and memories to be made.   I’m still not sure we will ever even make a dent in the fun!

Ok, so who is ready to pack their bags?!  Two of my favorite cities!



  1. You all missed Wicker Park/Bucktown! Pretty much the hippest shopping and Chicago's version of "Soho". Also I'm not a fan of Glen's Diner! I had a really bad meal there once. I live very close so I've been there several times. I would recommend researching places on Andersonville has some great restaurants/bars too. MHenry, Calo Ristorante, Hopleaf. Downtown I love Girl and the Goat, RPM Italian, Hub 51, Capital Grille. If you are here around the holiday's, high tea at the Pennisula is a must!!! It's gorgeous and they treat you like royalty...

    Sorry just my 2 cents! I have done several posts about what to see if you travel to Chicago.

    1. I love the feedback! That's how you figure out what to see/do/eat!

  2. We are going to NYC in December. It's my first time and we are taking our 10 year old and my niece so all of these are great tips! Thanks!!!

    1. Ah so fun!! I hope she LOVES it! It can be such a wonderland for kids around the holidays!

  3. Love this! I love your tip to play in NYC, living here I think we often forget to do that, too, and it is just as important when visiting, and yes, eat your heart problems there! LOL! :) I also love Chicago, looked at colleges there waaaay back in the day and have been wanting to go back and explore it more with friends and I'll take these tips with me! Yay! :)


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