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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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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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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Filming in Chicago

Nothing is more exciting than seeing your hometown of Chicago in a film, from Lower Wacker Drive in “The Blues Brothers” and “The Dark Knight” to seeing the entire River North district in “Transformers – Dark of the Moon”. With summer movie season upon us we will be seeing our beautiful city of Chicago in more movies.

lower-wacker-drive-in-tdk1

Lower Wacker Drive

Man of Steel” (Opens June 14, 2013) which stars Henry Cavill as Clark Kent aka Superman, along with Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and others, is expected to feature the Loop’s Chicago Board of Trade and Willis Tower buildings prominently. The Board of Trade will be used as the exterior of Kent’s workplace, the Daily Planet, while the Willis Tower will provide the interior shots of the newsroom setting. Chicago has been prime filming locations for both Metropolis (Superman) and Gotham City (The Dark Knight). The architecture of downtown Chicago has been key for filming such nostalgic pop culture icons. If you think about it, Chicago is a Metropolis and is a perfect for such film such as Man of Steel. With a Justice League movie on the horizon we might see Chicago the prime filming locations such as New York was for The Avengers.

This summer is going be a hot spot for movies being filmed in Chicago. There has been plenty of rumors and speculation about where the next Transformers movie will be shot this summer and at least part of the movie will be filmed in the Windy City. Picking up where the last movie left off. Mark Wahlberg is set to star in and produce the Michael Bay film.

Andy and Lana Wachowski (who were behind the Matrix trilogy) are also preparing for another futuristic science fiction film, Jupiter Ascending, which will star Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, and Sean Bean also star in the film which will begin a 4-5 week shoot in Chicago on June 24. Andy and Lana Wachowski are no strangers for using Chicago for their movies. Being Chicago natives they used and filmed certain scenes for The Matrix trilogy in Chicago. If you watch closely you see Chicago city streets and locations seen throughout the movie. In the Matrix Reloaded they recreated a portion of the I-90/I-94 going into the city for a climatic chase scene.

Matirx

They just finished filming the highly anticipated Ferris Wheel scene on Chicago’s Navy Pier for Divergent and will be filming all over the city. The film stars Shailene Woodley, Ray Stevenson and Kate Winslet. The acclaimed young adult novel in which the film is based on is set within a dystopian version of Chicago. The novel has been compared to similar young adult books such as The Hunger Games because of its theme and target audience.

Move over New York and Los Angeles, looks like our town is prime for filming such blockbusters and as a Chicagoan I say thanks.

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Spring is here and so are the CUBS!!

Chicago has a lot of fun activities over the Spring/Summer months. If you have never been to a CUBS game this is the time to get started. The Cubbie’s home opener at Wrigley Field is on the 8th, where they will play the Milwaukee Brewers. This will certainly be a fun and memorable experience if you are from out of town. When staying with us at the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown, you are within walking distance to the red line Grand stop. To get to Wrigley field just head northbound towards Howard and get off at the Addison stop. The commute is approximately 15 minutes. Once you get off on Addison you will instantly feel the excitement! Most of the people that live on the north side of Chicago are Cubs fans (although we all know that they always loose!) But we are optimistic and when the new season starts we say “this will be the year!”

Wrigley Field

One thing that you must check out is one of the Cubs rooftops. Wrigley just opened up their very own “Sky lounge” located on 1048 Waveland Ave. They have a total of 125 seats and you can join as a group or individually, so you can’t go wrong! They have bleachers on the rooftop that will overlook the field. This is a completely different experience and one that you have to try! They will have burgers, hot dogs, pretzels, beverages of all types and you don’t have to deal with the big crowds.

Wrigley Rooftop

 

Check out a game while you are in town – you will have a great time! GO CUBS!

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Ready, set, Shamrock!

As everyone gets back on track after excessive celebrating over St. Patrick’s Day, one thing that you can do to burn off the calories you drank is the Shamrock Shuffle. There is no better way to kick off the running season than participating in this 8K (5mile) race is on Sunday, April 7th. Now, don’t be fooled because shamrocks are associated with St. Patrick’s Day, which is on March 17th. If you are familiar with Chicago its inconsistent weather conditions, running in 20 degree weather is not desirable.
People of all ages join bright and early on Sunday morning in Grant Park in their finest of green outfits. The race loops through the Loop as all the runners vigorously try and make it to the finish line for the post race celebration. Along the way you get to see all the great attractions Chicago has to offer, while complete strangers cheer you on!
Don’t be intimated by the idea of running 5 miles. This race is for all types of runners. My mom, sister, and I ran the race last year and it was so much fun we signed up again this year.

Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago

We also have some of our Hampton Team running this year, so if you are in the area come cheer us on!

Happy running!

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Beer Tours in Chicago

In the past few years craft beers and breweries have popped up all over the place and Chicago is no exception to the rule. There are now 6 class act breweries with at least one more to open in the next year. To add to that, there is now a beer tour that will take to you a few different ones while giving you a bit of history about beer & Chicago. If you have a group of friends coming to the city and you are looking to do a different type of tour, check out the Chicago Brew Bus. It’s a safe and fun way to goof off for an afternoon.


Some of the breweries that have popped up here in the past few years are a nice complement to our older craft beer producer Goose Island. For our Conventioneers, we will also be welcoming our newest brewery Broad Shoulders Brewery to Chicago this summer right near McCormick Place Convention Center at 2337 South Michigan Ave. This is a far cry from what Chicago had during the turn of the 19th century with just short of 60 breweries.
Either way, come join us for some fun in Chicago. Spring is just around the corner!

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Holiday Season in Chicago

Christkindlmarket

Christkindlmarket

As the holidays approach, Chicago begins to get a little chilly. Most often than not, everyone stays indoors and enjoys a cup of hot cocoa with a warm blanket while they watch their favorite shows on TV. For those of us that are visiting the city or for the locals that enjoy the cold winter months, Chicago is always full on wonderful outdoor activities. For this holiday season take advantage of the Daley Plaza’s Christmas Market. If you are staying here with us at the Hampton Inn & Suites on Tuesday, November 20 take a quick 12 minute walk and enjoy the wonderful Christmas delights. The market will be open from 2-8pm on that Tuesday. I was able to attend last year with my younger brother and sister and we had a blast. This is a traditional German Market. It started in 1996 and has been gaining popularity every year. Actually, it is the largest German market in the country and the best part is that all the vendors are serving authentic German food. They always offer sausages, sauerkraut, and potato pancakes. If you have never tried a potato pancakes this is definitely a must try. They are a delicious savory treat! For the younger generation, there are sweets, pastries and candies. To drink, there are German beers on hand as well as the traditional “Glühwein”, which is a hot spiced wine that is served around the holidays. I have to admit, I was a little hesitant about trying this wine, but once I did I was certainly glad! It was a great warm beverage and the spices in the wine were delicious. So as you come and join us in Chicago this holiday season, take advantage of this fun outdoor activity – admission is free!!

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