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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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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Streets of Chicago

 

 

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

 

― Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

 

 

Marina City

 

It wasn’t until moving to Chicago did this ring so true. Until you experience the majesty of street life in a big city, it is hard to truly understand it. You definitely can feel it visiting, you may even notice that there is something different, but can’t quite put your finger on why. I noticed that my vacations from my home town of Memphis were always large cities: Chicago, LA, New York, London… I knew that I wanted to be in the cauldron of street life. Its being part of city life that you are actually shaping the city.

 

The built environment has a lot to with the vibrancy of street life as well. Think of a typical suburban strip mall. There is a lot of activity, but walking down the sidewalk you don’t get a sense of lively cohesion.  One of the most important parts of this built environment in modern North American cities is the Grid.  Chicago is one of the largest cities with a continuous grid throughout the city.

 

River North grid On Google Maps (Hampton Inn & Suites is marked)

Chicago’s grid is 1.3 degrees off true north.  If you travel northbound on a north/south street, you will travel just slightly west.  Not bad for the engineers that laid out the Chicago grid system using 19th century tools. You can actually see this on Google Maps! Take a look at the photo above, Find Chicago Ave in the upper left, notice how it jogs north the further east you go.

 

  • Some things to remember about the Chicago grid:
  • Every 8 Blocks equals 1 Mile & you will find an arterial Street
  • Every 4 Blocks is a major Secondary Street.
  • A Block is about 480 Feet. In downtown with the older blocks, it is closer to 400 feet
  • Even Numbered Addresses are on the West and North sides of each street
  • Odd Numbered Addresses are on the East and South sides of each street
  • Odd Numbered Addresses are on the East and South sides of each street
  • The intersection of State (0) and Madison (0) is the 0 / 0 block. If the original numbering system were done today, I am sure that the 0/0 block would be much further west. There are no east numbers north of North Ave because of Lake Michigan. I don’t think the 19th century planners could even to begin to imagine how much futher the city would grow. The city could only grow west because of the lake!

Look for the Chicago grid when you fly into the city.

 

 

 

 

 

The grid is part of street life in Chicago, but the grid would be nothing without the people that live in work in it. Think of the entrepreneurs with their business ideas, the actors & techs with their art in the theatres, the workers in the shops, the tourist with their cameras, the bar patron enjoys one last beer before getting on the train… The lively street life is why people come to big cities like Chicago. Just walk around River North for a few hours you see it all: world-class architecture (Trump Tower, Wrigley Building, Boyce Building, Marina City), fine dining (Sunda, Sushi Samba), the hippest of hip clubs that as so cool, they don’t even need a sign (Underground) & a lively street scene. This is why Chicago is always sure to surprise. 

 

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The Best Online Shopping Sites for the Holidays

Tis the season to be jolly, right?

 

Tis the season to be Jolly, right? Well with the holiday cheer also brings some holiday stress with fighting the crowds, while trying to find the right gift at the right price. Its survival of the fittest. Well, if you are one of the many who prefer the miracle of online shopping, I have a few sites for you to check out that will get your creativity flowing for getting that perfect gift for someone special.

The first site I think everyone should check out is www.gifts.com. If you are a procrastinator like me, then you are scrambling till the week before the holidays to get your gifts. I frantically was searching every website trying to get an idea for what to buy this season and then I stumbled upon gifts.com. After visiting this site, my holidays were saved along with my sanity. I started to become slightly addicted and would spend my evenings searching though every gift imaginable. The best part about this site is the personality profiler, which allows you customize your search settings to narrow down the best gift. You can also select the amount you are looking to spend and it will bring up a schmorgous board of ideas for you to select from and the link to where you can buy them. Personally, I have become quite fond of Personal Creations which allows you to customize your gifts at an affordable price. I hate to spill the beans, but most of my family will be receiving gifts with their names all over them. This site has gifts for the the guys guy, outdoor adventurer, trendinista, fitness and health nut, and much more.

Another site that you could spend hours perusing through is www.pinterest.com. This site is creativity on steroids. If you are feeling ambitious and want to hand make your gifts this year, visit this site for some of the most crafty projects that will wow anyone in your family! This site is an online pinboard which allows you to post all of your favorite ideas and check out other peoples projects to recreate in your own home. From food to fashion, there is something for everyone. Here are some pins for you to check out which will really add pizzazz to your holiday’s.

 

Santa party mix: http://pinterest.com/pin/38351034296309962/

Handmade ornament: http://pinterest.com/pin/2814818486784659/

 

Until next time, shop on online shoppers and have a wonderful Holidays!

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