Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Winters in Chicago have a bad reputation. Even Bravo made a reality show called “100 Days of Summer,” which follows 6 hard working Chicagoans who have less than 3 months to accomplish their personal and professional goals before the brutal winter approaches. Apparently after summer ends and the first snowflake falls, the city and the people living in it go into hibernation. This perception couldn’t be more false. Actually, winters in Chicago give us time to focus on our goals, boost our motivation, and challenges us to find the perfect balance between staying warm and looking trendy. So don’t let the TV shows and weather reports scare you from traveling to this beautiful city during the winter months. Below is a list of activities and events you can experience while visiting ChiBeria:
Chicago Restaurant Week – January 24-February 6th – Everyone loves a deal, especially when it comes to dining out in Chicago. Make your reservations now to enjoy a pre-fixed lunch or dinner menu at one of 286 finest restaurants’. Reservations must be made in advance. Check out http://www.choosechicago.com/things-to-do/dining/chicago-restaurant-week for the Restaurant Week lineup this year.
Chicago Auto Show- February 8th – 17th- If you are looking for a fun indoor activity, check out the 2014 Auto Show at McCormick Place. You will get to “oh and ah” at all of the newest cars that are so hot right now. Don’t miss out; go get your tickets to the car show.

Auto Show

Auto Show

Ice-skating in Millennium Park- Late November to March 10am-8pm- You don’t have to be a Chicago Blackhawk to twirl around at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park. It is a fun, exhilarating, activity for families, friends, or even a date night. It is free if you bring your own skates and $10 for rentals.

Millenium Park

Millenium Park

Museum Free Days- January & February- If you want to stay warm and toasty during your time in Chicago, check out the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Art Institute, and Museum of Science and Industry to see when their free admission days are. There is nothing better than a free education.

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium

 
If you have a love for the arts, come see the following shows that are running January – March:

Phantom of the Opera: Cadillac Palace Theater- January 6th – March 3rd
Disney on Ice: Allstate Arena and United Center January 22nd – February 9th
The Joffery Ballet: Auditorium Theater February 16th – March 12th
Chicago- The Musical: Bank of America Theater February 25th – March 2nd
Rock of Ages: Bank of America Theater March 11th – March 16th
Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat : Cadillac Palace Theater March 18th – March 30th

For a full list of productions in Chicago, visit http://www.chicago-theater.com

Chicago is still a wonderful place to visit, even if it is under snow. So pack your snowsuit and stay with us in one of our warm and toasty king or double bed rooms. To make a reservation, please call 312-832-0330. We will have the hot chocolate waiting for you!

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Christmas Time in Chicago

Each year, people from all over the world visit the Christkindlmarket Chicago. The outdoor market in the Chicago Loop has become so popular and loved by everyone that any Chicagoan will tell you that they could not imagine the city without it. Christkindlmarket Chicago is no longer just a German tradition; it has become a Chicago institution.

Christkindlmarket 2014

Christkindlmarket 2014

Every year, the traditional-style German Christmas market brings in vendors from the old country to serve sauerkraut, sauerbraten, potato pancakes and sweet candied almonds. The wooden huts also brim with candy, blown glass, European Christmas decorations and other delights. The market runs through Christmas Eve, so get your sauerkraut early and often.

The unique shopping experience, typical German food and drinks, as well as diverse holiday entertainment make the Christkindlmarket Chicago a preferred and popular destination and admission is FREE!

Christkindlemarket

Christkindlemarket

A little history of the Christkindlmarket, it is inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, which began in 1545. The Christkindlmarket Chicago brings a cherished German and European tradition with international flair and local charm to Chicago.

Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas festival was first held on Pioneer Court in 1996. By special invitation of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Christkindlmarket Chicago moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a staple event on the plaza ever since. Christkindlmarket Chicago has grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions in the heart of the city.

Stop on by to the Christkindlmarket Chicago have some spiced wine and enjoy some wiener schnitzel, you know you love that schnitzel.

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Fall in Chicago

Summer over, and let’s faces it – Chicago’s best season is fall. The humidity of summer suddenly turns crisp, ushering bursts of gorgeous, coppery color in the trees.

Here are a few things you should try to do this September in Chicago;

1. Try a new restaurant.

New hotspots opening this season: Chop Shop and the 1st Ward (a Bucktown restaurant, bar, music venue and butcher shop combined into one) debuts in mid-September, A10 (a European venture from Matthias Merges of Yusho and Billy Sunday) arrives in October and Eataly (Mario Batali’s megaspace of eight restaurants, a microbrewery and a culinary school) opens its doors in mid-November.

Eataly

Eataly

2. Drive out to the drive-in.

Before the weather gets too cold, bundle up with some blankets, popcorn and good company at the old-timey Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago.

Cascade Drive-In

Cascade Drive-In

3. Design Harvest Festival Sept. 28-29

Chicago’s annual street festival celebrating home design will feature a myriad of local vendors and antique collectors, as well as family hay rides, pumpkin painting to raise money for a local elementary school, square dancing, cold beer, delicious food and live music programming from The Hideout.

Design Harvest Festival

Design Harvest Festival

4. Search for the best cider.

‘Tis that time of year. For the hard cider fans: Sprout, SmallBar, The Grafton Pub and Kuma’s Corner all have excellent selections. Have it hot or cold, a perfect drink for fall time weather.

 

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It’s Electric!

It’s time to say goodbye to the hot and humid summer and say hello to the cool crisp fall. It is also time to retire the excuse “it’s too hot to run” like I have used on numerous occasions this year. Chicago has a reputation for its “hustle and bustle.” In this lively city you will always see someone running the lakefront, biking on a Divvy, or training for one of the many races hosted throughout the year. Normally on Friday night I like to grab a nice end of the week beverage, make some dinner, and sit on my couch watching a Redbox movie. This particular Friday was the complete opposite of my normal routine.
On September 6th I ran in the Electric Nighttime Run, which was hosted at McCormick Place. This 5K course was illuminated with laser light shows and glowing trees that changed color to the beat of club music. It was an electric wonderland with the runners dressed head to toe with glowing necklaces, flashing sunglasses, bright neon outfits, and slathered in glow in the dark body paint. I was on a sensory overload, which made the 3 mile run seem effortless. At the finish line, you walk into what looks like a nightclub, but during the day is exhibit space at McCormick Place. Local DJ’s kept the party going while the runners danced the night away. Words can’t describe how much fun we had, so feel free to check out the video and prepare to be electrified:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQhChpneq3U
If you are interested in being a part of this psychedelic experience, registration will begin next July-August. This run is sponsored by Neff and Rock Star Energy Drink, who partner with the Special Olympics Chicago.

Electric Nighttime Run

Electric Nighttime Run

Listed below are some upcoming fun runs happening in Chicago. You can also find out more information by visiting this website: http://www.runguides.com/Chicago/runs . Now go and get your run on!

Electric Nighttime Run

Electric Nighttime Run

September 15, 2013 Talkie Trot 5k, Other
September 15, 2013 Bucktown 5k 5k
September 19, 2013 Oktoberfest 5k 5k
September 28, 2013 Chicago AIDS Run and Walk 5k
September 28, 2013 Crosstown Classic 10k
September 28, 2013 North Shore Turkey Trot 5k, 10k
September 29, 2013 The Color Run Chicago Fun Run
October 6, 2013 Comer Kid’s Classic 5k
October 13, 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Marathon
October 19, 2013 St. Eugene Trot n Treat 5K 5k, Other
October 20, 2013 Chicago Monster Dash 5k, 10k, Half-marathon
October 26, 2013 Pumpkins in the Park 5K 5k
October 26, 2013 Halloween Hustle 5k 5k
October 27, 2013 Thriller in Schiller 5k
November 3, 2013 Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Chicago 5k, 15k
November 9, 2013 Chicago’s Perfect 10 10k, Other
November 28, 2013 Chicago 8K Turkey Chase 8k
November 28, 2013 Chicago Edison Park Turkey Trot 5k
November 28, 2013 Lifetime Turkey Day 5K 5k
November 30, 2013 Chicago Grant Park Turkey Trot 5k
December 7, 2013 Chiller 5k and 10k 5k, 10k
December 15, 2013 Rudolph Ramble 8k 8k, Other
January 1, 2014 Commitment Day 5k Chicago 5k
January 12, 2014 Chicago Polar Dash 5k, 10k, Half-marathon
February 2, 2014 Chi-Town Big Game 5k and 10k 5k, 10k

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Shaw’s Oyster Bar

It’s been a while since my husband and I went out for dinner during the week. We just didn’t feel like cooking this week and wanted something casual in the River North neighborhood. We decided to try Shaw’s Oyster Bar which is just around the corner from the Hampton! When we walked in, there were numerous high-top tables situated throughout the bar area and a definite buzz and feeling of excitement flowing throughout the restaurant. Overall, a great exciting first impression. We were greeted and promptly seated.

Oyster Bar

Oyster Bar

Our server approached our table within the first two minutes after we had sat down. His attire was crisp and professional – a black vest, black tie, black pants, and white shirt. His casual professionalism and overall personality made us feel welcome and excited to begin our meal. When it came time to start discussing food and drink options, he was able to answer all of our questions and gave several excellent recommendations. By the way he described the preparation and presentation of the appetizer and entrée recommendations, you could tell he had a great knowledge of the menu and that he was confident answering all of our questions.

The Menu

The Menu

We started with the Godzilla Maki Roll which had six generous pieces of fresh maki made with a colorful mix of smoked salmon, avocado, shrimp tempura, and unagi accompanied by a small portion of wasabi and ginger on a white rectangular dish. Very refreshing and enjoyable overall! The overall textural balance between the crunch of the shrimp tempura and the softness of the smoked salmon, unagi, and avocado was amazing. Great appetizer option. We would 100% order this again.

I ordered the Grilled Columbia River King Salmon for an entrée. The salmon filet was served atop sautéed spinach and bacon pieces and topped with a cool heirloom tomato salsa served on a large oval plate. Great sizeable dish overall. The tenderness of the salmon filet paired extremely well with the cool crispness of the heirloom tomato salsa and the saltiness of the sautéed spinach and bacon. The tomato salsa also added a great color to the dish. Great entrée selection overall!

What is dinner without dessert? Selecting which one is always such a tough call. Shaw’s make this easy with the Dessert Sampler! Small taste portions of raspberry pie, chocolate cake, key lime pie, and crème brulee served with a small dollop of whipped cream on a long rectangular plate. Wow! A great dessert option overall! The raspberry pie and whipped cream were very refreshing and sweet. The chocolate cake was very rich and decadent overall. The key lime pie was very light, tart, and refreshing and the small dish of crème brulee very rich and flavorful and prepared perfectly with a crisp topping and cool smooth interior. Great dessert option!

The overall pace of the meal was excellent. We had enough time to savor each course without feeling rushed. Each dish was presented and prepared very well. Our server was very attentive throughout the meal and maintained the cleanliness and the order of the table. We can’t wait to go back to Shaw’s Oyster bar. This restaurant is an excellent value, the food quality and presentation is excellent overall. We really liked its fun, welcoming, and casual atmosphere.

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Feeling HOT – HOT – HOT

This week in Chicago the temperatures are scorching and the humidity is full force. Not to sound dramatic, but a snow storm sounds nice right about now. I guess it is safe to say, it is summer time in Chicago.

Even though the heat is on, it doesn’t stop people from coming to this beautiful city to catch some rays at the beach, check out some festivals, and lounge around on a rooftop or patio.

Here is a list of neighborhood music and food festivals going this weekend. So ladies, throw your hair in a sock bun and boys rock your board shorts, because there is a lot of fun things happening in Downtown Chicago.
TASTE OF RIVER NORTH: This is one of your best bets for a neighborhood street fest this weekend. Enjoy two stages of music, food from a variety of area eateries, a Kids’ Zone for the little ones and tons of art and merchandise from vendors. July 19-21, Ward Park (Kingsbury & Erie), $5-$8

PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL: One of Chicago’s biggest music festivals takes over Union Park with its usual crop of indie darlings along with some familiar names. July 19-21, Union Park, $50-$120

Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music Festival

11TH ANNUAL SOUND SYSTEM BLOCK PARTY: Every year, Wicker Park’s The Silver Room takes the party outdoors for a diverse homegrown block party with three stages and more than 50 music and visual art performances. You’ll only want to go here if you’re prepared to dance!
July 20, 1442 N Milwaukee, 12-10 pm, FREE

SHEFFIELD GARDEN WALK & MUSIC FESTIVAL: Visit more than 100 neighborhood gardens on a self-guided tour or join in with select guided group tours. July 20-21, Sheffield Ave. and Webster St., Noon till dusk, $7-$10

SHEFFIELD GARDEN WALK & MUSIC FESTIVAL

SHEFFIELD GARDEN WALK & MUSIC FESTIVAL

Whatever you decide to do make sure you apply your sun screen, keep hydrated, and stay cool because it is HOT- HOT- HOT!

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Chicago Events July 12-14, 2013

Whoever says there is nothing to do in Chicago on the weekends is a flat out liar. The summer is definitely heating up in Chicago, and summer festivals are in full swing.

If you want to avoid the TASTE OF CHICAGO crowds this weekend these top pick might be perfect for you.

VOLLEYWOOD BEACH BASH: For several years, the only event you could legally drink on the beach was Volleywood, Chicago Sport and Social Club’s annual ode to beach volleyball and fist-pumping good times. While others have since entered the arena, Volleywood remains one of the best beach party scenes the city has to offer. If you’re not playing, hang out, sip a cocktail, ogle the scantily-clad bodies and check out a special performance by Nelly. July 13, North Avenue Beach, $30 GA, $50 VIP

Volleywood Beach Bash

Volleywood Beach Bash

ROSCOE VILLAGE BURGER FEST: Some of Chicago’s best burger spots will be firing up their grills at this annual festival. Two stages of music, a kids zone area, plenty of arts and craft vendors and a contest for the best burger. July 13-14, $7 donation

WINDY CITY SMOKEOUT: Popular River North country & western BBQ spot Bub City hosts this first annual event featuring — what else — live country music and BBQ! Other Chicago restaurants like Smoque and Lillie’s Q will also be on hand. Oh, and there’ll be plenty of beer to wash it all down. July 12-14, $30 for one-day pass, $60 for three-day pass.

WEST FEST: One of the best street fests of the year. More than 60,000 people came out for this Chicago Avenue soiree last year, and this year should be no different. Enjoy a live music and a DJ stage, as well as a stage just for kids, along with a special area for dogs. July 13-14, $5 donation

SQUARE ROOTS FESTIVAL: Head up to Lincoln Square for this annual festival that includes more than 60 acts on four stages, along with art vendors, food and more than 30 craft beers available.

Square Roots

Square Roots

ASHORE THING: A new kind of parade sets sail in Chicago Saturday. Ashore Thing, presented by Michigan Avenue Magazine and the Chicago Yacht Club, will celebrate the start of the famous Race to Mackinac Island boat race with a parade of sailboat sensations. A wave of prestigious sailboats preparing to embark on the 105th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac will sail through the shores of Chicago offering seaside admirers a close-up view of their “floats.”

A good tip would be if you’re heading to the beach or to the parade; to make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen because we might be in the windy city but that sun can be brutal and if you heading to a food fest make sure to bring the pepto!!!

There’s something for any mood you may have.

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Movies at the Park

One of my favorite things to do in Chicago during the summer is go to the movies in the park. The Chicago Park District kicked off the 13th annual movies in the park this past June 13th, 2013. This year there will be 195 screenings of current and classic movies in 150 citywide parks through September 14, 2013. The best thing about this outdoor activity is that admission is free!

Movies at the Park

Movies at the Park

My recommendation is to get there early. The movies generally begin at dusk (weather permitting), and they get really crowded. So get there early, bring a blanket and lawn chairs. If there are a lot of people ahead of you, and they have chairs it becomes a little hard to see the lower part of the screen, so if you also bring a chair then you will not have any problems while trying to watch the movie.

Picnic
Don’t forget to bring some snacks! Cheese and crackers are always great, hummus, veggies… Of course for those of us 21 and over a good bottle of wine. Gentlemen, this is really cheap and great first date. So make sure that you scope out a movie that you want to see (Skyfall will be playing this summer) and take that special girl out for an evening picnic. You can’t go wrong!

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Just for Laughs Chicago

The Just For Laughs comedy festival (brought to you by TBS) in Chicago is a huge, huge deal in the comedy world. The event takes place from June 11th to the 16th. TBS’s annual Just For Laughs Chicago, which claims to be the largest comedy festival in America, will take over the city. This year’s impressive lineup contains more than its fair share of comedy A-Listers, in addition to a number of local favorites. The comics will scattered across the city from the Chicago Theater all the way to the Park West.

JFL

JFL

Some big names would be Russell Brand from Forgetting Sarah Marshall & Get him to the Greek, David Cross from Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live’s head writer Seth Myers. Bob Newhart is performing also; I didn’t know Bob Newhart was still doing live shows none the less was alive (insert bad joke here). These are just a few; over 100 comedians will be performing live through the city, for a full schedule of all the performers and shows click here.

Russell Brand

Russell Brand

One of the acts I am looking forward to are the Stars of TruTV’s Impractical Jokers. Is If there’s one thing best friends know how to do, it’s pranking and embarrassing the hell out of each other for the amusement of others. But while most people get that sort of thing out of their systems by the end of high school, these childhood pals have turned it into a life’s calling. Their hidden-camera show Impractical Jokers on truTV was a smash hit and they will bring their hysterical hijacks to the Just for Laughs festival for a night of never-before-seen hidden camera challenges, stories from set that you won’t believe, a live Q&A, and real, outrageous messages from fans!

Impractical Jokers

Impractical Jokers

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Ruth’s Top 5 things to do in Chicago

Whether you are visiting Chicago or from Chicago there are always things to do:

1. Visit Navy Pier
Navy Pier is a bustling 1.5 mile-long boardwalk that will please every member of your family. Attracting well over 8 million visitors per year, Navy Pier is lined with restaurants and studded with small shops selling everything from apparel to toys to Chicago souvenirs. While the shops alone can keep you occupied for hours, there are plenty of other activities at Navy Pier to fill your day.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier

2. Go to the “Taste of Chicago”.

While Chicago is host to dozens of festivals each year, the Taste of Chicago is easily the most widely attended. What was once a small food festival on July 4, 1980, has grown to be the biggest festival in the city. It is hailed as the world’s largest food extravaganza, attracting 3 million people annually.

Taste of Chicago

Taste of Chicago

3. Take a tour of the city.

One of the best ways to see Chicago is by tour; you get a unique perspective of the city, often with an expert guide who will tell you the history and story of each place you encounter. You can tour by boat and carriage or by foot. You can take a tour with a theme; some tours take you through certain historic or ethnic neighborhoods, such as Old Town or Greektown.

4. Visit a Museum

Chicago is a cultural city. You can find museums dedicated to every interest and every passion. In addition to the major, well-know ones, there are a number of smaller but excellent choices available. Chicago’s Museum Campus is a somewhat recent addition to the city’s lakefront. In 1996, the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive were moved so that the three museums in the area, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium, were no longer separated by a median and were brought onto one campus and joined by a lush green field with a view of the lake.

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium

5. Shop!!!

Just a few blocks from our hotel, you will find Chicago’s Water Tower Place, a perfect location for shopping. With 7 different levels, you certainly have a wide selection for you and your loved ones. One of my personal favorites is CUSP by Neiman Marcus. They always have a wide variety of styles, from everyday relaxed fit clothing to a dresses for a girls night out. For the in between shopping, Water Tower Place, also offers dining options. This will allow you to relax and enjoy your meal and continue to shop all in one convenient location.

Water Tower Place

Water Tower Place

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