Chicago is one of my favorite cities. I had the chance to go last year for a conference and, when we started tossing around ideas about where to hold our Lift Blog Retreat, Chicago was high on my list. Everything worked out and we all met in Chicago for a few days to enjoy the best eats and drinks in Chicago. Oh, and of course we did a little bit of blog talk too.
We stayed just outside of Chicago in Oakbrook at the fabulous Le Meridien hotel. It is gorgeous and perfectly positioned near an awesome shopping center that had just about every store I could imagine in it.
Even though we were in the suburbs, we took some time to tour Chicago to see the sites. With our GoChicago Cards in hand, we hopped into a brand new Mazda CX-9 to hit the city. If you are going to visit Chicago, you have to get a GoCard! The Go Card saves you 55% on entry to 20+ greater Chicagoland attractions and in many cases, allows you to bypass lines. You can purchase your card for 1-5 days, allowing flexibility to see everything Chicago has to offer.
Being a food blogger, of course, I was definitely interested in food and drinks while we were there. Here were some of my favorites:
If you are in Chicago, you have to experience Giordano’s deep dish style pizza. Order ahead because the pizza takes 45 minutes to make. They have a great option where you pre-order when you put your name in for a table so they coordinate the pizza delivery with your seating. Or, if you go at lunch, they have pre-made pies for the bargain price of about $10, including a salad. We started our sightseeing by filling our bellies with their lunch special.
After some sightseeing, we hit the Magnificent Mile for shopping, a coffee break and yummy treats. I had Garrett Popcorn on my Chicago bucket list so I definitely had to find a store. After a long internal debate, I got the cashew caramel crisp. My only regret: not buying more!
Once rejuvenated with shopping and coffee, we headed to Earl’s Kitchen + Bar, located in Lincoln Park. Earl’s is an awesome restaurant with amazing cocktails. We enjoyed a few of their signature items like the Dynamite Roll and Atlantic Salmon. Their ribs made even our pickiest eater ask for seconds. Of course, we enjoyed a few cocktails while there like the Bees Knees and Strawberry Spritz.
A trip to Chicago is not complete with a Do-Rite donut. My favorite is the candied maple bacon but this chocolate version was definitely calling my name during my last visit to the donut shop. Just be sure to get there early and expect a line.
El Tapeo was the Spanish themed hotel restaurant. We sampled a few of their fresh made lemonades and cocktails during one of our planning sessions. They also host the morning breakfast at the hotel. With a 9th floor location, the view is great and, judging from the crowd on Saturday night, the place is a place to be seen too.
Chicago is definitely a food town and there is SO much to eat and drink around town. I only scratched the surface in the 48 hours I was there but I can’t wait to go back and expand this list. What are your favorite places in Chicago?
A special thanks to the sponsors that made this Chicago trip a possibility:
- Le Meridien Hotel in Oakbrook– the hotel was gorgeous with spacious rooms. Their customer service was top notch.
- Mazda USA– this car was perfect for transporting all 7 of us around town. Plus, the Heads Up Display (HUD) was the coolest thing!
- Earls Kitchen + Bar– wonderful cocktails and delicious food
- Prismacolor– colored pencils and art supplies to bring out our creativity
- Shutterfly– all our notes and gifts were taken care of thanks to custom tote bags and notebooks
- Consumer Crafts – I can’t wait to start crafting with the supplies