Top Five Friday: Winter Activities in Chicago | RebeccaWanderlusting

Top Five Friday #26

Winter Activities in Chicago

As you may or may not know, winters in Chicago can be pretty brutal.  There’s freezing rain/sleet/snow, darkness before work, darkness after work, slippery sidewalks, falling icicles, you name it.  It’s a dangerous, frozen tundra (Chiberia, anyone?), but there are ways we Chicagoans find silver linings to the cold weather.

Winter activities in Chicago range from the adventurous to the cozy and everywhere in between.  There’s something for everyone in this beautiful city, especially during the holidays and that problematic time between New Year’s and springtime.  So, without further ado, here are my personal favorite winter activities in Chicago:

  1. Skating at Maggie Daley Park: There are many places to go ice skating in Chicago, but Maggie Daley Park is probably the most unique.  The shape of this rink is a ribbon set in a wavy circle with peaks and valleys set into the ice.  Admission is free and skate rentals are $12 during the week and $14 on the weekends.  This attraction has already opened for the year.
  2. ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo: Every year, Lincoln Park Zoo puts on a free event where guests can enjoy the zoo at night in all its twinkly light glory.  They have winter activities for families, warm spiced wine and ice sculpture carving, along with all the normal zoo activities.  ZooLights starts today actually, and is open select dates through January 7.
  3. Walk Down Michigan Avenue: Michigan Avenue can be one of the most magical, albeit crowded, places in the city during the holidays.  Every space imaginable is decorated in twinkly lights and holiday ornamentation.  Plus, it’s mostly free, unless you decide to partake in the many, many stores that line the Magnificent Mile.
  4. Christkindlmarket: This outdoor Christmas market is located in Daley Plaza downtown and his home to a ton of small markets selling holiday fare.  Nestled in between the stores are vendors selling traditional German fare, hot chocolate and mulled wine.  Even if you’re not in the mood to shop, this market is super fun to walk around while you sip your hot wine.  It’s open now through Christmas Eve.
  5. Grab a Drink in a Cozy Bar: There are number of cozy places in Chicago to obtain a booze blanket to fight the cold.  The best ones have a fireplace and comfy chairs for that extra homey warmth.  My favorite bars for winter are Drumbar in the Raffaello Hotel (Gold Coast), The Broken Shaker in the Freehand (River North), and Scofflaw (Logan Square), all of which have excellent cocktails and cozy ambiance.

Top Five Friday: Winter Activities in Chicago | RebeccaWanderlusting

What are your favorite winter activities in Chicago?

Top Five Friday #25: In Flight Comfort Essentials | Rebecca Wanderlusting

Top Five Friday #25

 In Flight Comfort Essentials

There are few things I enjoy more than cuddling up in a window seat en route to an exciting destination. I’m pretty easy to please and don’t need much, but there are a few key items I require to be comfortable on a flight (my in flight comfort essentials, if you will).  Due to it being almost that wonderful, magical holiday season, I thought now would be a good time to share them to provide some gift ideas for the frequent travelers in your life.  So, without further ado, here are my must-have items to be my utmost comfy on airplanes:

  1. A Good Book: I love to read, I know I’ve made that plenty clear on this blog.  Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction but my favorite thing to read on a flight is a captivating novel.  For me, it’s one of the things that makes a long-haul flight more enjoyable.  If you’re in need of a good suggestion, of course I am ready and able to provide a few: 1. Night Film by Marisha Pessl 2. The Goldfinch by Donna Tart, 3. The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan 4. Horns by Joe Hill 
  2. A Blanket Scarf: It may be overplayed, but a blanket scarf is truly one of the things I will not fly without.  I mean come on, it’s a scarf that doubles as a blanket for when your on a short flight that doesn’t provide blankets or your neighbor stole yours or you need an extra.  It’s great, and it makes the flight so much cozier.
  3. Comfy Sweats: I am most certainly one of those people that wear sweats/leggings on planes and I am not at all ashamed.  If I have to sit for that long in one chair, you better believe I’m going to be wearing stretchy bottoms.  We actually came across a really cozy brand when we were in Toronto that I’m a little obsessed with now, Roots Canada.  No matter the brand, sweatpants are a must.
  4. Solid Snacks: No matter how long the flight is, snacks are necessary.  I also need lots of gum because my ears pop and the gum helps (this could be a myth, but it’s always worked for me).  As far as snacks go, I prefer granola bars, Shock Tarts, Chex Mix and white cheddar popcorn.
  5. Headphones & A Good Playlist: When I need a break from reading, I need a good playlist to occupy my time.  I don’t have fancy headphones (though I am in the market for some – like these), just the normal little earbuds, but they are essential for flights of any length. If you’re in need of a fantastic travel playlist, I’ve shared my favorites below:

What are your in flight comfort essentials? What won’t you fly without?

Top Five Friday, Favorite Travel Bloggers | RebeccaWanderlusting

Top Five Friday #24

My Favorite Travel Bloggers

When I first started this blog, I looked to other female travel bloggers for inspiration and encouragement.  As they succeeded, I started to form some idea of where I wanted my own blog to go.  Of all the blogs I read for the last couple years, there are a few that stand out to be favorites for their writing style, chosen destinations and photos.  I’ve followed these ladies for a while and will continue to do so as long as they continue adding new content.  So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are my favorite travel bloggers:

  1. The Everywhereist – Geraldine is not only one of my favorite travel bloggers, but also one of my favorite writers.  I started reading her blog a few years ago and just recently read her book as well.  I love the way she picks up on small details of her trips and writes about them as opposed to writing about a destination as a whole.  Her writing makes me laugh out loud in an embarrassing way (especially so when I’m on the subway or at work).
    Post you should read: “Driving the Amalfi Coast Highway”
  2. Be My Travel Muse – This woman is the epitome of solo female travel.  Her adventures are amazing and make me so, so jealous.  I love her confidence and her approach to travel, and her advice is always spot on.  I can only hope that I will have half as many exciting experiences in my lifetime as she has had in her time of travel blogging.  I would count that as a success.
    Post you should read: “This is Why We Travel”
  3. Alex in Wanderland – I love this blog so much.  Her light and fun writing is a joy to read, and I honestly think it saved my sanity when I would read it at my previous job.  It is just such a nice break from reality, and the content is diverse in destinations which provides some great trip planning inspiration.
    Post you should read: “The Maine Thing”
  4. Young Adventuress – This is another blog that I have been reading for quite a long time; actually, it’s probably one of the first travel blogs I had come across.  While I do love Liz’s travel photography and tales of adventure across the globe, some of my favorite posts are her snarky or satirical commentary on the travel industry.  She now resides in New Zealand and has some really great insight on the area.
    Post you should read: “Chasing Elves in Iceland”
  5. This Battered Suitcase – Brenna is a beautiful writer and her content is both personal and travel-oriented.  This Canada native now traverses the globe, indulging in excellent adventures and writing as she goes.  She is so personable and relatable that I always look forward to reading her new posts.  She’s working on a book now and I can NOT wait until it’s finished so I can read that too!
    Post you should read: “Going Back to Copenhagen”

Top Five Friday, Favorite Travel Bloggers | RebeccaWanderlusting

Who are your favorite travel bloggers? I’ll take any and all recommendations for new blogs!

Top Five Friday, Where to Find Nature Near Chicago | RebeccaWanderlusting

Top Five Friday #23

Where to Find Nature Near Chicago

There are so many great parks within the city of Chicago.  We have an abundance of green space in our city and it’s one of my favorite things about it.  That being said, sometimes you need a little more nature than Chicago can offer.  Luckily, there are a ton of really great areas that are close to the city in which you can soak up all the nature you need.  All of the places I’ve chosen to find nature near Chicago would make for great day trips or weekend trips if you’re really in need of some fresh air and hiking and are all within 100 miles of the city.

Top Five Friday, Where to Find Nature Near Chicago | RebeccaWanderlusting

  1. Starved Rock State Park & Matthiessen State Park: These two state parks are so close to each other that I counted them as one.  Both of these parks are so pretty, I wouldn’t be able to choose a favorite, but luckily, they can be paired together for a weekend of  excellent hiking. Starved Rock has a ton of trails for all levels of hikers, with waterfalls, high flying views of the Illinois River and a beautiful lodge that’s perfect for staying the night or grabbing a meal.  Matthiessen also has gorgeous waterfalls and really fun hiking trails with interesting, obstacle-like features.Top Five Friday, Where to Find Nature Near Chicago | RebeccaWanderlusting
  2. Rock Cut State Park: Located near Rockford, IL, this park is HUGE and has any sort of outdoor activity you could want.  It’s very close to the city, but would also make for a great weekend of camping.  There are beautiful hiking trails, 40 miles of trails, to be exact, equestrian trails and mountain bike trails.  throughout the park.  We enjoyed their lake, Pierce Lake, and the scenery around it as we paddle-boated our way through.Top Five Friday, Where to Find Nature Near Chicago | RebeccaWanderlusting
  3. New Buffalo, MI: While there are plenty of amazing places to enjoy Lake Michigan, New Buffalo is, in my humble opinion, the prettiest.  The beach there is pristine and uncrowded, includes a lighthouse, and the best skipping stones.  Behind the beach are paths that wind up the dunes, through the tall grass up to a vantage point that shows the entire beach and most of the town.  Nearby, the Galien River County Park boasts beautiful hiking trails and other outdoor activities.Top Five Friday, Where to Find Nature Near Chicago | RebeccaWanderlusting
  4. Glacial Park: This little known park is located near my hometown in Northwestern Illinois.  It has such a diverse landscape, featuring prairies, wetlands, tall hills and subsequent valleys.  It’s a nature preserve home to numerous endangered plants and animals.  The hiking there is top notch.  When I was young, I used to go to a summer camp there and we would spend all day running through the park, learning about the landscape and the species that lived there.  I loved it so much, that I always want to visit the park when I’m home and we have some spare time.Top Five Friday, Where to Find Nature Near Chicago | RebeccaWanderlusting
  5. Columbus Park: Columbus Park is perhaps the closest one on this list to the city of Chicago.  It’s just a town away, in Oak Park, which technically makes it a part of the Chicago Park District.  It’s about a twenty-five minute drive from the city.  Columbus Park includes a sportier line up of activities, such as a small golf course, baseball diamonds, basketball courts and an outdoor swimming pool.  It’s also a gorgeous event venue, with a lovely view of the pond behind it and a short hiking trail just beyond.

Where do you find nature near Chicago? What is your favorite park near your hometown?

Top Five Friday, Favorite Chicago Coffee Shops | RebeccaWanderlusting

Top Five Friday #22

Favorite Chicago Coffee Shops

Chicago is full of unique and wonderful spots to get your caffeine fix.  Through my nearly ten years of living in this beautiful city, I’ve amassed a list of favorites in most categories and favorite Chicago coffee shops is no exception.  While I’ve never met a coffee shop that I’ve disliked, there are five that stand out to me as the cream of the crop (in my humble opinion),  From their atmosphere, to their pastries and of course their choice of espresso drinks, these delightful cafes are my favorites:

  1. Dollop: This popular Wicker Park cafe is a cheerful place to enjoy a cup of coffee inside their brightly lit interior, or out on their patio.  They have cute floral arrangements and paper and crayons on each table inside.  Dollop is my favorite place to sit outside for breakfast with Michael and Brody.  I’m particularly fond of their iced lattes and almond croissants.Top Five Friday, Favorite Chicago Coffee Shops | Rebeccawanderlusting
  2. Jumping Bean: When I lived in Pilsen, Jumping Bean was my go to for a breakfast on Saturday mornings.  We used to walk over there, even in the dead of winter, to have a cup of coffee and a bagel in their cozy, artsy atmosphere.  I always liked their cinnamon raisin bagels and Mike loved their smoked salmon bagels.  If it wasn’t so far away from our current apartment, we would be there every weekend.
  3. Gaslight Coffee Roasters: This Logan Square gem actually is in our current neighborhood and happens to be directly on our way to the farmer’s market, so we’ve been stopping in every Sunday.  They have a full breakfast menu and delicious coffee, not to mention the cutest interior of any coffee shop I’ve ever seen.  This is the perfect spot to set up camp and read or work for a while.Top Five Friday, Favorite Chicago Coffee Shops | Rebeccawanderlusting
  4. Goddess & The Baker: This coffee/bake shop is my go-to spot for my caffeine fix before work.  It’s in the loop, right near where I get off the blue line to get to the restaurant.  Their coffee is extra delicious and their huge display cases of desserts make for quite the temptation.  They have a few other locations near downtown, so there’s really no excuse not to visit if you’re in the area.
  5. Cafe Integral: Cafe Integral is inside the Freehand Hotel in River North.  The first time I visited this amazing cafe was when Mike and I had a little staycation at the Freehand a couple of years ago.  They are a coffee shop with some class and some fantastic service.  Their coffee is fantastic and their avocado toast is even better.  The lounge area connected to cafe has the comfiest couches and the most chill atmosphere. It’s my favorite place to relax and read.Top Five Friday, Favorite Chicago Coffee Shops | Rebeccawanderlusting

Which are your favorite Chicago coffee shops?  What’s your go to order?

Top Five Friday, Favorite Female Authors | RebeccaWanderlusting

Top Five Friday #21

Favorite Female Authors

I get inspiration for my writing from a lot of different mediums, especially books and magazines.  I happen to read quite a bit, so a lot of inspiration comes from the books I read on my commute.  I have many favorite authors, but I tend to gravitate towards female writers, as I relate more to their writing style and source matter.  Over the years, I’ve collected a few favorite female authors that I can always go to if I’m in need of a strong female voice for inspiration.  These women have helped me through hard times, got me through some writing block moments, and have inspired me to keep writing and finding my own voice.  I’ve compiled a list of these favorites, along with a book recommendations for each. Enjoy!:

  1. Joan Didion: Ms. Didion is a consistent favorite of mine and I am thoroughly enjoying working my way through her work.  I started with “Play It As It Lays”, a fictional tale of life in L.A., and most recently read “South & West” which was a fantastic account of her time traveling through the Southern United States.  I love the way Joan Didion writes, with such a cool demeanor and descriptive prose.  She will forever be one of my favorite writers and I am looking forward to the documentary that’s being made about her life.
  2. Deborah Copaken Kogan: I first read Deborah Copaken Kogan’s “Shutterbabe” when I was in high school and was instantly obsessed. I have since read this account of her time as a photojournalist through Afghanistan, Russia, Paris and beyond many times.  It’s so inspiring.  I’ve also read her novel “The Red Book” and loved that as well.  It’s an amazing reminder that an author can successfully write fiction and non-fiction, and write them both very well.
  3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: This feminist genius quickly became one of my favorite authors after I devoured her novel “Americanah” in one week.  Her voice and characters are so strong.  I’ve also read “We Should All Be Feminists”, which is stems from her amazingTED talk, and some of her work for the New Yorker.  Chimamanda is an influential feminist voice, and I look up to her in more ways than one.  I have to say, I can’t wait to read and be inspired by more of her writing.
  4. Patti Smith: Patti Smith is a brilliant story teller and artist and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her accounts of New York living in both “Just Kids” and “M Train”, which I’ve just started.  The way she writes is thoughtful, honest and both ethereal and gritty at the same time.  As a woman and artist, she is an inspiration to those who are trying to find their own way within their mediums.  She is another strong female voice and I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.
  5. Tana French: This amazing Irish writer wrote one of my favorite books “In The Woods“, which is a psychological thriller set in Dublin.  I could not put this book, or its sequel, “The Likeness”, down until they were done.  Ms. French definitely knows how to write a gripping story and I love the depth of her characters.  She has a few more books that I have yet to read but have the seal of approval from one of my other favorite authors, Stephen King, so I am so excited to get a hold of them!

Who are your favorite female authors? Which books inspire you?


**Links are for your convenience, not my profit.**

Top Five Friday #20 - Travel Writing Tools |

Top Five Friday #20

Travel Writing Tools

Over the years of writing this blog, I’ve come up with a pretty solid routine for writing and documenting my travels.  After some trial and error, I’ve found what works best and what I can leave behind.  I’ve found my favorite travel writing tools that I can easily throw into my bag and go.  It’s really been made into a science to be the most productive and still be able to enjoy the trip I’m on without getting bogged down trying to record it.  Through many adventures, here is what has worked best for me:

Top Five Friday #20 - Favorite Travel Writing Tools, RebeccaWanderlusting

  1. Notebooks & Pencils: I prefer to write everything longhand first.  For some reason, I feel like this is the best way to go through and write down my adventures of the day, journal-style, without self-editing too much while I go.  I’ve gone through quite a few notebooks over the years, and I have to say, there is no better feeling than completely filling up a notebook with my travel stories.  Also, I’m a pencil-over-pens girl, always.  I just like them.
  2. Camera: I use a combination of my iPhone camera and a D3300 Nikon DSLR camera.  If we’re going out for the night, I prefer to leave my big ol’ camera at the hotel so I’m not lugging it around; I’ll just rely on my phone camera for the evening.  I like to bring my camera with us for all of the daytime adventures to get the best quality photos.  After the photos are taken, I edit them using, which is a free service, because I can’t bring myself to pay for Lightroom quite yet.  I know, I know, eventually I’ll break down and get it.

    Top Five Friday #20 - Favorite Travel Writing Tools, RebeccaWanderlusting

  3. iPhone Notes: I utilize my iPhone notes to keep a running list of all the stores, restaurants, bars and attractions we visit, as well as what we ordered there or other first impressions.  I find this is the easiest and most efficient way to keep track of things, and I’ll go back to these notes when I journal at the end of the day.
  4. Lonely Planet & Online Travel Resources: Of course before I go anywhere, I do some pretty extensive research and make a list of everything I want to see and do.  This research helps us streamline our choices when we’re on a trip and ensures that we get to try out everything we want to while we’re there.  I make note of operation hours, best times to visit and admission charges to stay on top of things.
  5. Laptop: I used to own a clunky old Dell laptop that I purchased right out of college.  I’d never bring this heavy thing anywhere because it only worked when it was plugged in and it was too much to carry.  Recently, I upgraded to a Lenovo Yoga, which is very light and thin, and I can’t wait to bring it with on our longer trips to write, research and post from the road.

Top Five Friday #20 - Favorite Travel Writing Tools, RebeccaWanderlusting

What are your go-to travel writing tools?  What’s your prefered method of documenting your travels?

Mag Mile, Chicago, RebeccaWanderlusting

Top Five Friday #19

Things to Do Near the Mag Mile

The Mag Mile (or Magnificent Mile if you’re not familiar) in Chicago is one of the city’s most known and visited tourist attractions.  Though no one would claim it to be very original or unique in it’s restaurants and stores, there are quite a few hidden gems to find near this main drag.  I recently wrote about this subject for VIVA Lifestyle & Travel and I have to say, going back to explore this neighborhood gave me some serious nostalgia.  Here are my top five favorite things to do near (not on) the Chicago Mag Mile:


  1. Enjoy a Rooftop Bar: There are so many fantastic rooftop bars in this area that it’s hard for me to choose which ones to recommend.  The ones that I’ve frequented the most are Drumbar at the top of Raffaello Hotel (cool atmosphere and delicious cocktails) and GreenRiver (beautiful view and equally beautiful drink menu and small plates).  Besides these two, there are a number of other great hotel and rooftop bars in the area that are sure to provide a bevy of libations and great views.GreenRiver Chicago, Mag Mile, RebeccaWanderlusting
  2. Take in Some Art: The Museum of Contemporary Art is the obvious fan favorite as far as art and culture off the Mag Mile is concerned.  It’s an amazing museum with fantastic exhibits that rotate every six months or so.  Besides the MCA, there are few other unique opportunities to take in some art in the area.  One of my favorites is the Driehaus Museum, which is a restored 19th century mansion full of beautiful art and furniture of that era.MCA Chicago, Mag Mile, RebeccaWanderlusting
  3. Shop Off the Mag Mile: If shopping at chain stores is your thing, then you will want to stay directly on Michigan Avenue.  If not, you’ll have to wander off the main drag a bit to find some smaller, independent stores.  There is a great bookstore, Afterwords, just West of the Mag Mile which includes two stories of books, both new and used.  Another gem on the West side of Michigan Avenue is P.O.S.H. on State Street.  It’s a wonderful little boutique filled with French knickknacks and local-themed gifts.POSH Store, Mag Mile, Chicago, RebeccaWanderlusting
  4. Try Some Worldly Cuisine: Chicago is full of restaurants  of every origin and taste, and this theme is concentrated in the Mag Mile neighborhood.  One of my favorite restaurants in the area is Le Colonial, a Vietnamese style restaurant with French style service.  I also really love Gyu-Kaku, a delightful Japanese BBQ joint (I know it’s a chain, but it’s delicious so whatever), and Cafe L’Appetito, an Italian cafe known for their delectable sandwiches.Ohio Street Beach Chicago, Mag Mile, RebeccaWanderlusting
  5. Hit the Water: Nestled between the River and the Lake, this neighborhood provides ample opportunity to get into the water.  Ohio Street Beach, located right near Navy Pier, provides the perfect place to sunbathe and jump into the lake if it’s a hot day.  Alternatively, most of the tour boats leave from the river and Michigan Avenue if you’re looking to learn more about Chicago’s architecture and history.  Either way, you’re sure to enjoy the area’s waterfronts.

Chicago's Mag Mile, Neighborhood Guide, RebeccaWanderlusting

Have you ever visited Chicago’s Mag Mile?  What’s your favorite hidden gem in the area?

Top Five Friday #18

Favorite Travel Memories

This year my travel plans are lacking, because, well… because of a multitude of reasons.  Mostly budgetary, but also because I started a new job with an unpredictable schedule and no vacation days quite yet.  This has me looking to past trips and trying to live vicariously through travel memories.  Appreciating all the places you’ve been is a huge part of travel, and I don’t think we do it enough.  We, the collective we as travelers, seem so focused on getting to the next place and collecting more and more countries and experiences.  When I get down about not being able to travel as much, looking through old travel photos and reading old posts cheers me up like nothing else.  So without further ado, here are my favorite travel memories (s0 far):

Favorite Travel Memories, Top Five Friday, RebeccaWanderlusting

1. Asheville, NC: My firs successful solo trip was to Asheville, North Carolina.  I chose Asheville because I got some glowing recommendations from some of my friends, and sure enough, I loved it too.  The scenery is beautiful and the people are so dang nice.  The memory that stands out to me as my favorite is hiking to the top of Chimney Rock and getting there red-faced and triumphant.  The view was one of the prettiest I’ve seen.  Also. for a non-driver, I was pretty proud to have driven there and back without any accidents.

Favorite Travel Memories, Top Five Friday, RebeccaWanderlusting

2. Seoul, South Korea: At the time, my cousin Katie lived in Seoul and had invited me to visit.  I think it surpised us both when I bought my ticket.  I stayed for nine days and it was the perfect combination of exploring by myself and having her as my guide.  She lived right by Namsan Park, and I loved walking around and hiking up to the top to see Seoul Tower and the amazing view of the city.  My favorite memory though was taking a train and a ferry to Nami Island and then getting the most delicious dinner of Dak Galbi afterwards and it was perfect.

Favorite Travel Memories, Top Five Friday, RebeccaWanderlusting

3. Chattanooga & Gatlinburg, TN: My family used to go on a vacation every summer when I was growing up.  Then, when my sister and then I went off to college, we stopped going so much.  Last year, however, we finally got to take another trip as a family (plus two significant others and one baby) to visit my mom’s side in Chattanooga and hike in Gatlinburg.  Both parts of the trip were amazing, especially visiting my family in Chattanooga. and then staying in a log cabin in Gatlinburg.  Hiking in the Smoky Mountains stands out as a favorite memory, especially because the views were just perfect.  I loved every minute of this trip, so much so that I cried for the first thirty minutes of the way home because I didn’t want this trip to end.

Favorite Travel Memories, Top Five Friday, RebeccaWanderlusting

4. Iceland & Copenhagen: This trip definitely made my bank account take a hit, but it was so, so worth it.  It was such an amazing thing to plan and execute  this trip and not have any regrets when I came home.  I’m not even sure what I’d call the highlight of the trip, because there were so many unique experiences.  I will say that the Elding Whale Watching Tour and the South Shore Tour in Iceland took my breath away.  And what I liked most about Copenhagen was just wandering around the city, popping into cafes and museums.  It was the perfect balance of outdoor adventure in Iceland and city exploration in Copenhagen.

Favorite Travel Memories, Top Five Friday, RebeccaWanderlusting

5. New Orleans, LA: This was the first trip Mike and I ever took together and though there have been many since, this will always be my favorite.  We drove there and back, which was a real test for our five month old relationship.  But, we survived without any crazy fights.  The standout memory for me is walking around on our first day there in the pouring rain, running from awning to awning until we just didn’t care any more and got soaked.  I also really, really enjoyed walking through the swamps and trying to spot crocodiles.  I loved this whole trip and will forever remember it as the moment when I fell for Mike.


What are you favorite travel memories?  Where have you gone that still holds a place in your heart?

Top Five Friday, Favorite Chicago Restaurants, RebeccaWanderlusting

Top Five Friday #17

Favorite Chicago Restaurants

As much as I love to cook, I love letting someone else cook for me even more.  There are obviously a ton of fantastic restaurants in Chicago, and I haven’t even gotten close to trying them all.  However, I do have my favorites.  These restaurants are our go-tos, the ones we frequent when we can’t decide on anywhere else or we want to go somewhere we know the food will always be excellent.  Because Mike and I have discovered a lot of these restaurants together, they have come to be our happy places.  We have plenty of great memories at each one.  So, without further ado, here are my favorite Chicago restaurants, in no particular order:

  1. Honky Tonk: We will make the trek to Pilsen any night of the week to get a delicious barbecue dinner from Honky Tonk. Besides the food, one of the best parts of Honky Tonk is the bacon and brew (a decadent piece of candied bacon atop a pint of OldStyle beer) and the live music.  Mike and I like to split the goat cheese salad and the barbecue platter with macaroni and cheese and coleslaw.  The food is so damn good.  Pro-Tip: head to Punch House down the street for a cocktail after dinner.

    Honky Tonk, Favorite Chicago Restaurants, RebeccaWanderlusting

  2. Takito Kitchen: Come for the tacos and stay for the margaritas! This fantastic taco joint is located in Wicker Park. We have tried a good amount of the tacos here and I can tell you that they are all delicious. My favorite are the pork belly tacos.  The salsas and avocado pine nut puree make for a great start to a fantastic meal, and the atmosphere is fun and comfortable.  As for the drinks, try the cucumber margarita and you won’t regret it!
  3. Furious Spoon: Where else can you get amazing ramen with a side of old school hip hop? Like the Shoyu Ramen with a Kirin on the side.  This place is responsible for my newborn obsession with ramen, and the reason I started trying to make it at home.  There are two Furious Spoon locations, one in Wicker Park and one in Logan Square, and both are fantastic.  I prefer the one in Wicker Park because it is directly across the street from my favorite book store: Myopic Books.

    Furious Spoon, Favorite Chicago Restaurants, RebeccaWanderlusting

  4. Geja’s Café: Geja’s is probably the most romantic restaurant I’ve ever been to. If it isn’t the suave waiters or the Spanish guitar player, it’ll be the large pot of melted cheese that does you in.  Mike and I like to split the beef tenderloin and scallops, but all the meals come with cheese fondue, salad, veggies and chocolate fondue and coffee to top it all off.  Located in Lincoln Park, this idyllic date spot will provide you with so much food, you might need a nap afterwards.
  5. Yuzu: If you are looking for the most beautiful and delicious sushi rolls, Yuzu is the place to go. Not only does this West Town gem serve the best sushi and robata, it’s also BYOB.  The art on the walls and the atmosphere are super fun.  Try the My Favorite Midwest Roll and you won’t be sorry.  Pro-Tip: make a reservation as this place gets super busy, but for very good reason!

Yuzu, Favorite Chicago Restaurants, RebeccaWanderlusting

Have you been to Chicago?  What is your favorite Chicago restaurant?