Texas Tourism: More than BBQ and Tex-Mex
I was recently invited to a Christmas in July event hosted by Texas Tourism at Raised Bar in the Renaissance Hotel. The event was for Chicagoans to learn about different cities to vacation in Texas during our cold, bitter months. I got a chance to talk to representatives from different cities and learn more about each one. We ate, drank wine, decorated Texas cookies and I got to thinking I may just need a trip down to Texas.
When learning about Houston, Texas, I was amazed at how much I actually didn’t know. Houston was one of the most diverse cities in the country and is the fourth largest. Because of it, they now have a booming food scene. They have many Louisiana Creole and Vietnamese restaurants, which I never thought would be in Houston. They have things to explore like the Museum District and the Space Center Houston. Definitely worth checking it out. Learn more here Visit Houston Texas.
Frisco, Texas is about 25 miles outside of Dallas, really caught my attention when I heard they have a Lazy River at the Dr. Pepper baseball park. You can swim in the river while watching baseball. My kind of fun. The town also has a National Video Game museum or watch the Dallas Cowboys practice and then tour their all-new headquarters and practice facility at The Star. You can learn more here Visit Frisco.
Grapevine, Texas is centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth and is home several attraction. They host the largest wine festival in the Southwest, GrapeFest®, held annually in September. They have Urban Wine Trail with several tasting rooms along the route. To my surprise, Texas is the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the U.S. For the family, they have LEGOLAND Discovery Center, located at Grapevine Mills. This 35,000-square-foot attraction features more than two million LEGO® brick and where children can go on rides and different adventures. There sounds like there is something for everyone.
Until my next travel and adventure..
Navy Pier: A Native Perspective
I am not going to lie, I haven’t been to Navy Pier in years. Actually, most Chicagoans I know haven’t gone either. There really hasn’t been much of a reason to go. But for Mother’s Day, my parents and in-laws wanted to see the Rolling Stone Exhibit, which is currently at the pier until July 30th.
This massive, interactive exhibit is the largest at nearly 18,000 square feet. It includes rare artifacts that cannot be found anywhere else. In fact, many of them come from the band’s personal collection. There are over 500 items which include costumes, tour posters, and equipment to name a few. Throughout the exhibit, you can listen to audio of band interviews and music. The best part of the exhibit was the grand finale, which is the backstage-to-onstage 3D concert experience, which truly feels like you are at a Rolling Stones concert (this might be the only non-child friendly part about the exhibit. Noah was not a fan).
After the exhibit, we walked around and got some drinks at Tiny Tavern. I have to say, Navy Pier has really made some great improvements. I remember when the pier just had a food court when you could get McDonalds, Churros or Garrett’s Popcorn. Now there are some really great spots to hit up. Porkchop BBQ, Frankie’s Pizza, Goddess and the Baker and Tiny Tavern just to name a few. Navy Pier Food
From the updated food options, new and improved Ferris wheel, the Rolling Stone Exhibit, or just to walk around, there are so many things to do. Whether you are from Chicago or an out-of-towner, Navy Pier is definitely worth checking out. It has come a long way from what it used to be. You could easily spend a few hours eating and drinking a while taking in the views of the city and lake.
Until next time..
After the exhibit, we walked around, got drinks at Tiny Tavern and I was really surprised. Navy Pier has really made some great improvements. I remember when the pier just had a food court with McDonald’s, Churros or Garrett’s Popcorn. Now there are some really great spots to hit up. Porkchop BBQ, Frankie’s Pizza, Goddess and the Baker and Tiny Tavern. Navy Pier Food Experience
Whether you are from Chicago or an out of towner, Navy Pier is definitely worth checking out. Navy Pier has definitely come a long way from what it used to be. From the updated food options, new Ferris wheel, Rolling Stone Exhibit, or just to walk around and enjoy the views of Lake Michigan.
Until next time..
Your Non-Hipster Guide to Pilsen
If you know anything about the various neighborhoods in Chicago, you would know that Pilsen has always been a predominately Mexican neighborhood. Recently, Pilsen has been slowly gentrifying as hipsters and young families move into the area, the culture is still very present. Although the restaurant scene is thriving with places like Michelin rated Dusek’s and Honky Tonk BBQ, there are still plenty of authentic, Mexican taqueria’s and bakeries. My husband’s family still lives in the area, so we know some less touristy places that might not be as well-known. Plus, he has a discerning taste 🙂
El Milagro (1927 S. Blue Island)- Cafeteria style dining and the only tortillas you should ever eat, El Milagro. I had chicken tacos, rice and beans. You will literally have an entire piece of chicken, bones and all. So good and such a unique dining experience.
Lupitas (1723 S.Ashland) This is a taqueria which serves breakfast all day and homemade menudo (cow stomach), which my husband had and loved (not so much my thing). I had steak tacos, huge portions and delicious. This mom and pop restaurant has grandma and mom cooking in the back and the daughter works the front. We stumbled upon while walking around the area and so glad we did. Very easy to miss, but definitely a must stop.
Bon Bon Bakery (1457 W. 18th Street)- TRES LECHES (3 milk cake) had me in tears. Seriously, the best in the city. Maybe world. A ittle bit more well known throughout the city, this original location is a must along your way.
Nuevo Bakery (update May 2017, Nuevo León Restaurant will not reopen) (1634 W. 18th Street)- Currently, the restaurant is under construction from a fire they had recently, but the bakery has the best conchas (Mexican Bread). Best when dipped in coffee.
Try out the street food. Don’t be scared. We had some tamales from a lady on 18th street, right by the Pink line. They were fresh, delicious and really, it feels good to shop local and support small businesses.
Jump on the Pink line to 18th Street and do some exploring. Try the street food. Check out the National Museum of Mexican Art and all the street art. Do it. Let me know what you think!
Until next time,
My husband and I just took our first vacation out of town to Boston for a friends wedding shower in March. First time awy from Noah (tears), but we did great! I was nervous, but this trip came at a great time for us. We BOTH needed some time together and hadn’t had a trip since the babymoon in October of 2015. This was our first time in Boston for the both of us, so we did lots of exploring and eating.
Food: Boston food actually really, really impressed me. We ate fresh seafood *ate mussels for the first time, bagels, baked goods, and so on. Manny (my husband was in seafood heaven the entire time. He has a much more adventurous appetite then I do and ate some pretty crazy fish.
For casual seafood, Luke’s Lobster is seafood that can be traced to it’s origin. For a nicer spot, I loved Saltie Girl off of Newberry Street. It is fairly new and pretty popular on social media. Heading to the North End, Regina’s Pizza original location dating back to 1926. The pizza has a thin, crunchy crust that was really unique. On the sweeter side, Mike’s Pastry for 18 different kinds of cannoli’s. A great happy hour spot in North End would Neptune for oysters (fancy!) and Giacomo’s for old school Italian food in North End or South End. Reservations not accepted, but the South End location does take them. The Boston Market (indoor and outdoor) is a spot for locals to shop for cheese, seafood, and wine. This market was so fun to grab some snacks and walk through the local vendors.
Until next time…
Staycation: Le Meridien Oakbrook, Illinois
My husband and I have been married for 3 1/2 years now and we always had date night at least weekly. But now with Noah, it has become more difficult to find some alone time. Although this is more important than ever. Working, busy raising a one year old, time isn’t always on our side. We do try to get away for a few hours every 2-3 weeks though.
Recently, we had a Staycation at the Le Meridien in Oakbrook and couldn’t suggest it more! We absolutely loved our stay. Just outside the city (roughly 30 minutes outside Chicago) located right in Oakbrook Mall, the hotel is contemporary and perfect for a quick getaway outside the city. They have Illy Espresso machines featuring Illy coffee and bottled water (some of the best espresso and coffee) right in the room.
They have the most comfy beds that are even ADA approved. And the best part…they will drive you anywhere within a five mall radius around the mall (in a Mercedes at that!). They don’t have a spa, but they offer Spa Suites to reserve. The Spa Suites offer a variety of treatments in a private lounge and wet area. Reservations needed.We ordered room service and watched Netflix. No dog to take out or baby to change diapers 🙊. Glorious.
The next day we were able to grab breakfast and do some shopping in the mall. I was able to relax with some peace of mind knowing Noah was in good at hands with grandma and grandpa not too far away.
We are planning our next Staycation. Stay tuned.