Daily Prompt: The Wanderer

Tell us about the top five places you’ve always wanted to visit. GO!

At first I thought: What a great idea!  There are so many fascinating places to visit! But the longer I thought about it, the more difficult it seemed to narrow down just five.  I mean, growing up in a multicultural neighborhood where my neighbors were from places like Jordan, India, Puerto Rico, Poland, Mexico, Cuba and Taiwan, I was fully aware of the world around me. And so, from a young age, I’ve always wanted to travel. (Of course, there are some places that I’d rather visit than others).   How could I choose five?

Then it hit me…….

This is a blog about Chicago! No one said the five had to be other cities or foreign lands, right?  So I decided to focus on places that, as a ChicagoIn, born and raised, I have never really visited in my own city.  Here they are:

1. Hyde Park:  Sure I’ve passed through, taking the scenic route down Lake Shore Drive on my way to the casinos in Indiana.  And yes, as a child we went to the Museum of Science and Industry many times. Well worth the trip to the south-side, by the way.  You see, I’m a north-sider. Although I’ve been here all my life, I really haven’t explored the south-side much.  All this time I didn’t even know about the Japanese gardens, right here, until a friend told me about it a couple of years ago.  This is also where the University of Chicago (a prestigious research hospital) and the President of the United States reside.  Not to mention some great restaurants.  I’m going! And I’m taking pics!

2. Pilsen:  Primarily a Mexican-American neighborhood. Like Hyde Park I’ve mostly just passed through.  Recently however, I had the opportunity to purchase a discount spa service located in this area.  I’ll go when I have time to check out the neighborhood.   Nuevo Leon, a very popular Mexican restaurant here, gets good reviews.  We’ll just see how it stacks up to the taquerias I can find on almost every corner near my home.

3. Landmark/Historical Homes in Oak Park, IL:  Home to writer Edgar Rice Burroughs and the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  I have always wanted to check out the Wright home. Seeing as I grew up a mere five miles away, I’m not really sure why I haven’t. This is also the birthplace of Hemingway and yet I haven’t visited his house (now a museum) either. Shame on me. Isn’t this connection why I chose the theme inspired by him in the first place?!

4. Rooftop lounges:  It seems these days no respectable Chicago hotel can get away without having a rooftop bar of some sort.  I’ve been to some, but every year, more and more seem to crop up.  It has been my desire to rooftop hop starting with The ROOF at The Wit hotel named “One of three top rooftop lounges in the world” – Travel + Leisure.

5. Unless you’re the gals from “Sex And The City”, I believe not many people (certainly not I) can spend everyday in the city without needing a little break. I live in a place where I can go watch the sun, over the lake, as it rises from the east. Someday I’d like to see the sunset in the west. This will require a trip to Michigan. I’ve heard of this place in the lower peninsula called  Sleeping Bear Dunes voted “Most Beautiful Place in America”. Since it’s only about a five hour drive, I’ll be able to watch the sun rise AND set over Lake Michigan all in one day!

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Daily Prompt: In the Summertime

Sometimes when I’m at a loss for words, a picture says it all. Fortunately, this may not be one of those times. When the daily prompt about summertime came up, I knew I’d have much to say. You see, summer is my time of year.

Chicago is a fascinating city. Known for its award winning architecture (first and tallest skyscrapers), world class restaurants (ALINEA named the best in the WORLD 3 years in a row) and winning sports teams… Go Cubs! (Ok, I’m joking. Maybe this year? Well, we do have the Stanley cup winning Blackhawks). Let’s face it though, we still have those horribly long winters. I mean, c’mon already, it’s April!

What we have, in summer, is a very long list of things to do, people to see, places to go. And I do as much as possible… this summer, last summer and every summer. I’ll get tickets to see a band at Ravinia. We’ll bring food and wine and picnic on the beautifully manicured lawns. Preferring it over the pavilion seating. And we’ll do that throughout the summer at various other venues in the city… Grant Park, Millenium Park. I’ll dance the night away at Summerdance. Located in the Spirit of Music garden, where you learn a different dance every night, followed by live music. You can samba, step, salsa, tango, swing, polka, Cajun two step all summer long. Another place I dance my arse off is the Navy Pier beer garden, where local bands play and the city has a fireworks display twice per week. But during the day, the beach is my haven.

One of my favorite activities is what I call “beaching it”. It consists of beach hopping… Montrose, North Avenue, Oak Street, Ohio Street… relax, play, have lunch or dinner, cocktails and listen to music from rock to reggae. Or sometimes I’ll just get there early, rent a chair, take a yoga class on the sand and jump in the water to cool off. After lying out for a while, it’s a short walk over to the farmers market and Lincoln Park Zoo. Then I’ll return to my chair to catch the last of the rays. As the day starts to wind down, I’ll go up to the top of the boathouse for dinner or drinks at Castaways.

In case it isn’t clear yet, Chicago is situated on a great lake and many outdoor activities are at or near the lakefront. And many are free. I take advantage of what this city has to offer because traveling, as much as I like it, can get expensive. If I visit the neighborhoods in the city, which I’m more apt to do in summer, I can ALMOST feel like I’ve traveled…. to Mexico, to India, to China… (ok, it takes some imagination). But this city really is diverse and a wonderful playground in the summertime.