Travels & Exploring

Winter getaway to Chicago

Wandering downtown Chicago!

Travel is one of my favorite activities. I love exploring places near and far. I love that many of my friends also have the travel bug. It’s a great friend who is also willing to be spontaneous and plan a fun getaway. So when one of my girlfriends called to invite me on a sort of last minute road trip to Chicago, it was easy to say yes!

Chicago is fairly easy road trip from the Detroit area, typically 4-5 hours depending on traffic and weather. We started out early Friday morning, enjoying sunshine and mild temps on our drive. We made good time to theWit hotel in Chicago. located in the “heart” of the downtown theater, arts and shopping district.

After checking into the hotel and quickly unpacking our bags in the room, we headed out to wander and enjoy downtown. We walked up and down Michigan Avenue, taking in the pretty holiday lights still on display, window shopping and of course people watching. We popped into in a few stores to shop, although that was our plan for Saturday. We decided to stop at Public House for appetizers and a drink. One thing I love about traveling with this friend is that we often split food options, letting us try several items and I don’t ever feel like I overeat or waste food.

We walked off our food and drinks from Public House, ducking into stores here and there to warm up (it was getting a bit brisk along the lake). Back at the hotel, we checked out the rooftop bar, Roof. It has great skyline views, interesting architecture and a good drink menu. However, I felt like it was overpriced and the staff wasn’t super friendly. So we only stayed for one drink before heading to State and Lake Chicago Tavern, which is also attached to theWit. This gastropub offers a full drink and food menu (the soft pretzels are awesome!). We ended up eating breakfast here both mornings too due to the convenience to the hotel, yummy food options and a credit on our bill.

Fun at House of Blues!

We woke Saturday to a dusting of snow. It made me a tad nervous since I have to be so careful with the titanium rod in my leg, but I wore comfortable, good boots. Thankfully the walks cleared once the sun rose high in the sky and melted the moisture. I admit the snow made for a pretty landscape in the busy city.

We walked all over downtown! We shopped a lot of stores, looking for after holiday sales. We weren’t overly impressed with sales and clearances but did each make some purchases. After walking and shopping for so many hours, we decided that we needed a pick me up so stopped at House of Blues for lunch. We sat at the bar, engaging with their very friendly bartenders. I first warmed up with an Irish coffee – it was super delicious and I drank it way too fast, lol. My girlfriend and I split some appetizers and a grilled cheese sandwich, all really good.

After more shopping and wandering for a few hours, we stopped in the Palmer House hotel for a happy hour drink. This historic hotel has a rich history woven with legends like Claude Monet, Marshall Fields, Frank Sinatra, Oscar Wilde and more. A gorgeous tall Christmas tree greeted us in the lobby, warming up the pretty architecture. It was bustling with activity but we found two spots at the bar to enjoy our glasses of wine. A lovely older woman was sitting next to me so we struck up conversation with her husband and her. I love hearing travel adventures from others and they had lots to share! What a fun retired life they lead. Definite goals for me.

Pretty, peaceful Chicago sunrise.

After sharing lots of laughs and girl talk, my friend and I returned our hotel to relax before dinner with other friends. By the time we left theWit for dinner, it started snowing again but the walks were semi-dry so we linked arms and enjoyed the brisk fresh air. Il Porcellino was busy with guests and the ambiance and decor were welcoming and fun at this Italian-American style restaurant. We met our friends at the bar to wait for our table, which was a short wait. It was fun talking with the bartenders and watching them make a variety of mixed drinks (they created several ‘bartender’s choice’ drinks). The service and food was fabulous (the salted caramel semifreddo was amazing, and I’m not usually a dessert person!). The conversation was light and fun. Overall, it was a great evening. I would definitely return to this restaurant.

It was another fun weekend travel adventure. I feel so grateful for these opportunities and to have awesome friends in my life. I especially appreciated this trip as it was shortly after my new breast cancer diagnosis (read about this new journey in this previous post) and my friend was determined to distract me while I waited for news from my doctor. I am so grateful for people like her filling my life with love and kindness.

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