Chicago skyline

Photo Friday: Chicago, Illinois

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Earlier this week, I took a quick 24-hour trip to the lovely Illinois city for a 24-hour “meeting” of sorts (if you can consider architecture tours and deep-dish pizza and happy hour “business”). The short of it: I’ll be on the team of influencers behind Travel Mindset—a fabulous new experiential community launching this spring—and the co-founders wanted to get us all together in one place to talk shop.

Travel Mindset in ChicagoThey put us up at the fabulous ACME, which I just adored. However, if you can’t afford a boutique hotel and are looking for lodging on a budget instead, check out—contrary to popular belief, the United States does have hostels in a variety of cities (something I learned while living in New York and fielding constant requests from CouchSurfers looking to travel in the US on the cheap). And while SVV and I admittedly are not typically hostel travelers anymore, we are actually using this service currently to look for him a long-term stay in Germany this summer.

ACME boutique hotel in ChicagoBut back to the ACME, which only opened last year. They’re still finishing the lobby and community spaces, but I have to say it’s one of the quirkiest, funnest hotels I’ve ever visited. And given how much I travel, it’s tough to impress me on the hotel front! I love how the owners adopted a theme and just went for it, with no reservations. I will definitely be staying here next time I find myself in Chicago.

ACME Chicago

ACME Hotel ChicagoAfter exploring our awesome digs, we all met—some of us for the first time, though I’ve known Jade for quite awhile and followed JD for years—and made merry at Grahamwich.

Grahamwich in ChicagoJade took one for the team and ordered a bacon maple doughnut.

Grahamwich ChicagoThe day was cold and dreary—no surprise, it is February in Chicago after all—and following lunch and a team meeting at the ACME, we all headed to the Chase tower to embark on an architecture walking tour with Chicago Detours.

Chicago skylineLucky for us, 70 percent of the tour was indoors.

Synagogue in ChicagoThe Chicago Loop Synagogue was simply incredible, but what blew me away the most was the Chicago Cultural Center, a free attraction, it should be noted.

Chicago Cultural CenterThis Chicago landmark is one of the prettiest buildings in the city and offers all sorts of free music, dance and theater performances regularly.

Chicago Cultural CenterOnce our tour was over, we rushed back to our hotels to change for a Tweet-Up that Travel Mindset was hosting at the Vertigo Sky Lounge at Dana Hotel & Spa. There, I got to see my former co-columnist John, who is making waves with his virtual grilling club (and now book deal!) ManBQue, my former newspaper colleague Ashley and Molly, a long-time blog friend.

Dana Hotel & Spa, ChicagoWhile at the Dana, we also checked out the Nirvana Suite, a favorite among celebrities like Ricky Martin.

Dana Hotel & Spa, Chicago(Thanks to JD for emailing me this classy photo. I wasn’t sure if this was a workout machine or torture device.)

Dana Hotel & Spa, ChicagoThen it was off to Pizzerie Due for a late dinner—and OK, vodka shots, because isn’t that always what one does at a pizza joint?—and up early for a leisurely breakfast at Yolk, where we all indulged in red velvet French toast (to. die. for.).

Red velvet French toast at Yolk ChicagoOne of the other group members, Daniel Bear Hunley, happened to not only be one of the top pinners on Pinterest (with 1.7 million followers!) but also a fellow Tennessean. We hit it off, did a little shopping on North State Street before our flight back, then vowed to be best friends once we returned to Nashville (holding out hope this happens).

shopping on North State Street in ChicagoAll in all, a very quick introduction to Chicago—though I’ve been there before, it has been nearly a decade—which just left me longing for more. Luckily, it’s just a quick flight from Nashville…


  • February 15, 2013

    So nice to see one of my old cities. Lived there for almost 3 years while figuring out life, getting married, and then doing grad school. Love the city. Hate the weather! And I had no idea you were part of the TM team until I saw Jade posting photos. Very excited that I get to write for a site with so many talented women involved. And one of these days we will get together woman. Maybe we will leave the Zombie lovin’ men home or to their own devices at the local arcade 😉

    • February 15, 2013

      I wasn’t sure if it was a secret or not! But I’m stoked to be on the influencer team and get to work with Jade and Lola–those two straight-up rock. And yes, zombies and arcades for the men, bourbon and dancing for the ladies? 😉

  • February 15, 2013

    Such an awesome time but clearly way too short! Looking forward to hanging out more in the future and sharing lots of delicious meals!

    • February 15, 2013

      Agreed! Only, if I’d stayed in longer, I would have definitely left five pounds heavier 😉

      • February 19, 2013

        Love this piece and makes me wish we all lived in the same city so outings like this could happen more often. And no joke- 6 pounds!! Wedding diet is starting today! 🙂

  • February 15, 2013

    Come back! Come back! We miss you already! But feel free to wait until summer–I’ve got a happy hour on a boat in Monroe Harbor with your name on it. 🙂

    • February 15, 2013

      Yes, I like that plan much better. Scott has only ever spent time in Chicago in winter for Navy boot camp, so I think we’d both prefer a summer jaunt. I’ll get on that…

  • February 15, 2013

    Oh, I love, love, love Chicago — I’m a bit biased as I lived there for 3 years, but I try to get back as often as possible. One note — though it might seem like it’s the capital of IL, the folks downstate in Springfield would mightily disagree. : )

    • February 15, 2013

      Someone already had Tweeted me such, and I must have changed it right as you commented–my apologies to the lovely people of Illinois. I claim fatigue, as indeed I know Springfield simply from the Simpson’s (even though the state is undetermined), ha!

  • February 15, 2013

    It was a blur but so much fun! Here’s to more adventures in the future! 🙂

    • February 15, 2013

      That’s just the vodka talking. Blame Tobias for that one.

  • February 15, 2013

    So. Jealous. And I’m so glad you got to visit the Cultural Center! That’s the #1 thing I tell people to do when the visit. The Tiffany ceiling is ah-mazing.

  • February 15, 2013

    Yeah girl, I can’t tell you how many events I did in the cultural center when catering in college! Definitely one of my favorites, that dome is SO beautiful. The best event there was a glamorous Indian wedding. The gorgeous glittering saris on beautiful women under the glimmering dome? So pretty.

    • February 18, 2013

      That sounds amazing! I’m off to Google this and see if any images pop up =)

  • February 15, 2013

    It looks like you had a great couple of days in Chi-town! I lived there for four years so this pictures really brought me back… I used to go to Yolk all the time, I love that place 🙂

    • February 18, 2013

      Everywhere should serve red velvet French toast, IMO.

  • February 15, 2013

    There’s a large online English speaking community in Germany, which often has short term rentals. If not for the accommodation it’s an invaluable resource for restaurant reviews etc. by people who live out there. It was my ‘go-to’ the whole time I lived in Munich.

  • February 15, 2013

    My soon-to-be new town! Have any Chicago-centric blogs to recommend?

  • February 16, 2013

    I love photo fridays! And Chicago!

  • February 16, 2013

    The Acme looks like a Chicago version of the Ace — not in the hipster sense, but that it’s quirky and true to it’s environment.

    You know, I’ve been to Chicago I don’t know how many times and I’ve never done any proper touring. I’m definitely going to add a walking tour to my next trip.

    • February 18, 2013

      The nice thing about going to Chicago in winter is that they have that handy underground pedestrian network so you don’t even have to venture outdoors. And yes, I have quite a few tourist attractions I still need to tackle there. It’s such a cheap and easy trip from Nashville, I should add that to my summer plans.

  • February 17, 2013

    Never been to Chicago, though I hope to change that fact soon. My daughter would really like to go. BTW, on Safari browser some of your photos don’t show up – don’t know why!

  • February 18, 2013

    Amazing photograph Chicago landmark is one of the prettiest buildings in the city and offers all sorts of free music, dance and theater performances regularly

  • February 18, 2013

    Chicago looks like quite the to travel. Its on my list for this year-maybe during the summer though!

    • February 18, 2013

      Or early fall! Summer in Chicago can be brutally hot, so it seems like September would be ideal =)

  • February 18, 2013

    LOVE Chicago!

  • February 18, 2013

    Simple and sweet guide to Chicago! I didn’t even realise half of these places existed there! Great photography too!

  • February 18, 2013

    What’s your favorite city in the US to photograph?

  • February 18, 2013

    The Chicago Cultural Center is definitely one of my favorite places in the city. I loved both of the stained glass domes in there and could spend hours just wandering around the building and checking out all of the cool architectural features.

  • February 19, 2013

    what no pizza?!

  • February 19, 2013

    Swoon. I love Chicago! 🙂


  • February 21, 2013

    I love when other bloggers write about Chicago because they invariably mention something I’ve missed. I have to add that cultural center to my list. There’s just so much to do here!

  • February 21, 2013

    Gvodka and pizza sounds great. Hadn’t ever heard of that before.

  • February 22, 2013

    Chicago is one of my favourite cities! I think I’ve been 8 times and I have never heard of the Chicago Loop Synagogue or the Cultural Center before – now I’ll have something new to check out the next time we visit.

  • February 24, 2013

    Chicago is absolutely one of my favorite cities. It’s beautiful, there’s plenty of history that I’m totally unfamiliar with to keep my satisfied and there are lots and lots of delicious food things to try out. Plus, there’s a great lake, an incredible skyline and a lot of places that are BYOB, which never fails to amuse and amaze me.

  • February 24, 2013

    Totally dig that hotel, love the style. Though it does make me wonder how long before it’s considered dated, and if they’ll be able to adapt. I hope so, because I love the personality.

  • March 4, 2013

    Congrats Krsitin! I loveeee Chicago 🙂 Def. agree with a few of the other posts, the weather not the best but such an amazing city. You really captured your 24 hours on camera beautifully 🙂

  • March 5, 2013

    Cute! Going to Chicago in April for the first time and I’m so excited! Was debating ACME (and yes, the price is good) but I’ve settled on Longman & Eagle and The Radisson Blu. I’m treating myself!

  • March 12, 2013

    Ugh… So pretty. I want to go here….

  • March 26, 2013
    Sonia Gawel

    You didn’t go to the Doughnut Vault?! Missing out! (And I usually hate donuts but theirs are divine!

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