72 Hours in Chicago (Part I)

We finally made it to Chicago! Lucky for us we had a wedding to go to which finally got our butts moving to the Midwest.

I’ve always wanted to head to the Windy City, it’s been on the bucket list, so I took my handy travel notebook from owlcrate and went exploring. Before I dive into the highlights here’s some things to keep in mine in relation to transportation. The “L” is so simple and affordable. A 3-day train pass is only $20.00, I think on the first day we got our money back. You can also use the Metro (though only if you’re leaving the city) and Uber or Lyft if you really can’t get someplace any other way (we ran into this when we were leaving the Cubs baseball game).

Okay! Now on to where to eat, what to see and where to go!

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Where to Eat

Like any city, Chicago is known for its food (especially it’s pizza) and while we had some dish deep pizza, it wasn’t my favorite. But there were SO many other places that were delicious and I’d recommend to anyone. One of those being Big Star. 20170831_130347

The tacos were SO good, and you could get a pitcher of Margaritas to share at the table as well. Not only were the tacos delicious but the atmosphere was pretty awesome too. Basically you got one of the above tacos an order, you could mix and match what you wanted and then it was delivered family style. It was different, but delicious — if/when we go back, I wouldn’t be angry if we went there again. Big Star isn’t expensive either, it was $30 a person but only because we got Margaritas. You could easily go there for cheaper without the alcohol.

Our favorite quick breakfast place ended up being Stan’s Donuts. The inside felt retro and sleek and the donuts were legitimate donuts. Probably the best I’ve ever had for sure. There are so many options too, ones with fruit in them, some with nutella or peanut butter — something for anyone which makes it even better. A breakfast here is an easy $6.50 and totally worth it. Other places we went included Public House Chicago, Portillos, Kanela’s (seen below), and Lou’s Pizza House. The foodies in us loved them all. For drinks, check out Tapster if you have time. It’s basically a tasting room but you get to walk up and just taste whatever you want. It’s also really affordable, we had a lot of fun here.

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The Attractions

If you’re planning to really explore, I would recommend the Go City Card (more on that in two days). There are so many places to see in Chicago that you could probably spend an entire week there (hello to all the museums).

Our first stop was to the Bean in Millenium Park, one of the staples of Chicago, after which we walked to the Buckingham Fountain which not only provided a lovely park but awesome views of the city from all sides and angles. It wasn’t on the list (or maybe it was?) but my boyfriend surprised us with the little detour. It’s really close to the Bean so it’s not out of the way in any means.

Other attractions we saw were the ones that really got my blood moving — I’m afraid of heights but I still managed to do both 360 Chicago and Skydeck Chicago. I wanted to like the Skydeck better because of the actually ledge (shown below) but it was so crowded it was kind of a let down. 360 Chicago offers some of the same views, plus a bar and the tilt (for $7 extra) which includes you tilting OVER the building (no thank you), I’ll stick to the ledge. On the left is a view from 360 Chicago, while on the right is me freaking out sitting on the ledge of the Chicago Skydeck.

But my favorite thing was the architecture tour. One of things stunning about Chicago and what makes it so different from other cities I’ve been to is that there is a river going right through it. One that people can kayak on or take a boat through that really goes through the heart of the skyscrapers. Of all the things we did, this is the one I would tell everyone to make time to do.

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If you have time, which I think you would, go see the Chicago sign, a staple of the city that everyone knows, and if you’re lucky like us, you might be able to check out a Chicago Cubs game. Very Fenway-esque, you feel like you’re walking back in time to the good old days.

Other things I’d like to do next time:

  • The Planetarium
  • Science and Industry Museum
  • Rent some bikes and bike around the waterfront/beaches

Have you guys been to Chicago? What did I miss? I’m heading there for about a day in half in October so advice is welcome!

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A Visit To The Lower Half of Cape Cod

This is my last post about my Cape Cod 2017 trip and it ends with Provincetown and Truro — two of my favorite places on the Cape! Here’s a rundown of a few things you can do there to take up your time.

The Beaches

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There are so many beaches near the end of Cape Cod. Our favorites are Head of the Meadow and Ballston Beach (though Ballston Beach is “private”). I had never been to Marconi Beach before this vacation but let me tell you it was amazing! A little scary (some riptides) but so gorgeous (picture to the side). If you’re looking for beaches with some good waves, this end of the Cape will have it because they are on the open ocean side. Don’t forget though, there could be sharks (definitely some seals). Cost is roughly $15 – $20 a car load. One thing still on my bucket list here is to have a bonfire at night on the beach down here. Maybe next year? More beaches can be found here.

The Non Beach Activities

We’ve done a lot of things in Provincetown/Truro before including: whale watches, wine tasting and biking the trails in the sand dunes. Today though, I’m only going to talk about the two things we did this year. One was Truro Vineyards and Spirits, we’ve been going here every year for the past 4 years. It’s so fun, the wine tasting is pretty good but my favorite is the little outside bar they have where you can mix drinks and wine by the glass, sit out with all your friends and just relax. You can do both the wine tasting and the spirit tasting if you feel like :).

The other thing we did this year was Uncle Tim’s Bridge in Wellfleet (a little more inner Cape than Provincetown and Truro). Thanks to Pinterest, we found this little walkway through a marsh that even my cousins (who have a place in the Cape) didn’t know about. It was a nice leisurely walk with this cute bridge — worthwhile for the whole family!

Downtown

Everyone need to go to downtown Provincetown at least once in their life. Here you can catch some of the best sunsets of anywhere on the cape while you walk around the pier before you grab something to eat. There are a ton of restaurants for everyone’s style – seafood, BBQ, pizza, sandwiches, and sweets. Anything you’re looking for, Ptown will probably have. We went to the patio which I highly recommend. The food was good and it wasn’t too expensive in relation to seafood.

For snack food, I recommend the fudge factory (shown above) and Portuguese bakery (shown below). The fudge factory was delicious! We bought some bark and let me tell you, it’s not bark. We bought three bars and it was over 1lb of chocolate! So good but way more than we thought it would be.

Other activities to do at night would be karaoke or going to see a show. I personally have never seen a show but have heard it’s really fun. You can also go and get permission to have a bonfire on the beach.

Enjoy!!

10 Non Beach Activities To Do At The Cape

I already spoke briefly about shopping in the cape, which is perfect for a day when it’s super rainy. However there are other things you can do that range from all regions of Cape Cod. Here’s a list below of some of them (minus things to to do Provincetown area because that will be it’s own post):

  1. Cape Cod Chip Factory  in Hyannis
  2. Walk the many marsh trails that are easily found via Google
  3. Head over to First Crush Winery to taste some of their wine
  4. Go on a Rail ride this is on my list and one of the only things I haven’t done
  5. Try some beer at Cape Cod Beer and Co
  6. Try the Devils Purse Brewery while this beer is better than Cape Cod beer, a tasting is rather expensive.
  7. Take a walk, run or bike on the Cape Cod Trails (only downfall, not a lot of ocean views)
  8. Rent a kayak or paddle board – you can find this almost anywhere on the cape!
  9. Go shopping – every town has cute shops to go into!
  10. Go on a Whale Watch

A Visit To Chatham Mass

I thought about doing one large post about my time in Cape Cod this year, but honestly we did so many different things and in so many different places that I didn’t think it made sense to try and jam it all into one post. Instead, I’m breaking them apart. The first is Chatham, Massachusetts. Set on the elbow of Cape Cod, Chatham is known for it’s seals, sharks, quaint town and celebrity style houses. Here’s some things you can do if you’re staying for a few days. 20170729_121852

The Town

Even the town is in Cape style. I recommend trying to do this on a day when you need a break from the beach, if you like to shop I guarantee you could last the whole day up there (I’m not really a shopper). There are fun stores for children to go to as well! Obviously every beach town has a candy store, but Chatham also has some toy stores and a rubber duck store, yes you read that right, it’s super cute too. If it’s a rainy day, you can catch a movie at the theater and if you’re lucky to be there on a certain night, there is live music or catch the Chatham baseball team.

The Beaches

All of the beaches require you to pay to get into them, ranging from $15 to $20 a day. If you’re there for a week, I would recommend getting a week’s pass which is a lot cheaper. The pass is good for the town that you are in, not for beaches outside of the region. We went to two while we were in ChathamHardings (for a sunset) and Lighthouse beach. I really enjoyed Lighthouse beach because it didn’t have as many people as some of the others ones in Chatham (like Ridgevale), I’ve heard the same about Hardings. Other activities you can do near the beaches is rent Paddleboards or Kayaks and go out on Oyster Pond for the day or take a boat ride to see the seals.20170726_131256

Where to eat

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There is only one place on the entire Cape that I would recommend you eat at and that’s Chatham Fish and Lobster. Not only is the food delicious but it’s reasonably priced. It’s the first place we go when we get to Chatham and we go more than once. You can also stop for some ice cream on the way back from mini golf. Or try the Fish Pier for some chowder, that’s on our list next year. Not only because (mmmm) chowder but because of the view below.

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Have you been to Chatham? What have you done on a trip there before? Gone on the bike trail or a marsh trail? Comment below and tell me what you think of the area!

Thatcher Park 

I’ve mentioned a few times how we have been anticipating friends from Vermont to come visit. After two attempts, it finally happened! 

We did a lot that weekend and had a lot of fun. One of the places we went was Thatcher Park. Located near Albany, New York, this park provides enough entertainment for people to stay there the entire day. 

Here’s some things to know about getting there: 

  • The road to get there while fun is winding. I’m only pointing this out to warn you of car headaches (I’m prone to them) 
  • On everyday (except Sunday) during the summer, the price for admission is $6 (this is a state park after all). Trust me though it’s worth it in the long run. 

We’ve been a few times and unfortunately have only done one walking trail called Indian ladder. It’s totally worth it though because on a day when there has been a lot of rain, you might be lucky enough to see a waterfall. But I also like this wall because the rocks are uniquely shaped. Overall, it’s about a 1 mile loop. 
After this walk, you’ll end up seeing some really cool views of the Adirondacks, Albany, and Massachusetts on a really clear day. There is also an awesome overlook that you can drive to which will give you the view below: 

That’s a rundown of what we did, but here’s a rundown of all the other things one can do at this park: 

  • Disc golf
  • More walking/hiking trails
  • Volleyball
  • Pinic/BBQ
  • Camp/bonfires 
  • Mountain bike 
  • Visit the visiting center (brand new) and understand a little of the history 
  • Rock climb 

All in all, I love this park for all the action activities it has to offer. It’s great for a leisure walk, read a nice book but also great for the more adventurous folks out there. 

 Summer 2017 Preview And TBR

Spring is already over? That flew by, like really flew by. This year I finally got to see the sseasonschange, something I was definitely missing when I lived in VT. So many books were read and so many things happened on the weekends that I’m actually exhausted from it all. But I’m also really excited for Summer.

Here’s a preview of what you can expect:

  • A week in cape cod post
  • 72 hours in Chicago (PS, I’ve never been so I am very excited!!)
  • Some more hiking posts
  •  Upstate New York ideas

TBR this summer:

A few months ago I wrote a 2017 TBR list. Except, I’ve gone through a good amount of them. Here is what was in my 2017 TBR for the year post:

Since I read so many of them just in the last season, I decided to try seasonal TBR’s, that list is below:

  • Voyager (3rd in the Outlander series) — as mentioned before, I wanted to re-read the first 3 books before the series comes back on Starz.
  • 12 Years a Slave — been on my list for awhile now
  • The Notebook — been on my list for awhile now
  • The Witches — from my previous TBR
  • Winter Garden — from my previous TBR
  • Hunted — why would I not want to read a fairytale type book?
  • The Princess Bride — I have heard nothing but great things about this one from my book friends
  • My grandmother asked by to tell you she’s sorry  — another by the same author of a Man Called Ove (plus side, I know someone who owns it!)
  • A Court Of Mist and Fury (2nd in ACOTAR series)
  • A Name Unknown — Cornwall, England. Before the start of WWI– do I have to say anymore?

I have a pretty good mix on here. Some I’ve read, some fairly new and others that have been on my list for way too long. Also can we take a minute to get excited about Game of Thrones returning in July and Outlander returning in September? I can’t hold my excitement in!

Have you guys read any of these? If so what did you think? Got a TBR for the summer going? What’s on your list?