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Welcome back to The Sweetest Escape! I realize I went radio silent on my blog the last couple months and I don’t like it. I feel like the last few weeks I’ve lacked motivation/creativity/direction and it’s resulted in no new content on my blog or social media. The proper term for what I’m going through is a “funk.”

I’m still traveling, but not anywhere new or worth blogging about in my mind. I’m still traveling 1-2 weekends a month, usually to see my boyfriend in Florida or going back to California. Luckily I have some great trips coming up and I can’t wait to share them with y’all! I’m looking forward to doing a “Gameday Weekend in Tuscaloosa” post at the end of the month!

I’ve actually stayed put in Austin the last couple weeks and it’s given me time to focus on my apartment. I’ve been in my apartment for 5 1/2 months and it’s been coming together slowly. There are still quite a few things I’d like to do/buy, but I finally realized it could take several more months for it to feel really complete and worth sharing. So instead of waiting, I want to take y’all through the process and continue to update this post as I finish more things.

When I first moved in, I scoured Pinterest and Instagram looking for inspiration and tips for styling a studio apartment and I couldn’t find anything that fit what I needed for my layout. My studio is 485 square feet, which is basically a glorified shoebox so I needed major organization tips.

Also, if you’re not aware, furniture, accessories, and appliances are not cheap, even for a small space! I haven’t won the lotto yet, and I have champagne taste on a beer budget. My go-to websites for finding inexpensive, yet quality furniture are Joss & Main, Target, and Wayfair. Shopping in-store I swear by Hobby Lobby, HomeGoods, and Marshall’s. I’ve found some of my best stuff from Texas Antique Week and other random antique stores so definitely check out your local spots as well. Nearly everything I’ve bought for my apartment was on sale or a major steal because I refuse to pay full-price for anything.

Here are the links to what I found online:

Upholstered Nailhead Bed

Grey Linen Chesterfield Sofa

Distressed Blue Nighstands

White Desk

White Ruffle Comforter and Shams (I get a lot of questions about this!)

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My studio has concrete floors, 10-foot ceilings, and huge windows os there’s already an industrial feel to start. I wanted an upholstered headboard so the space wouldn’t look as harsh. I love this one I found on Joss & Main because of nailhead wings. It’s a queen-sized bed, but it seems larger because the headboard is so tall.

Yesterday, I decided to start a gallery wall above my bed and I’m still looking for art and pictures to add to it! While I love the color and look of my nightstands, I would NOT recommend them to y’all. They are poorly made and extremely hard to assemble. Took me five hours and many curse words to finish those and I still feel like they may crumble into a million pieces while I’m sleeping.

The chicken wire lamps are my favorite thing ever because they were a steal. I was originally holding out for similar looking lamps that cost around $300 a piece (ouch), but I found these at Hobby Lobby and they are the perfect dupe.

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Buying this sofa was such a huge win for me because it was on sale AND it meant I didn’t have to eat on the edge of my bed anymore. The trunk and the flag are both from antique stores. The trunk is one of my most prized possessions – I hope to keep it forever and pass it down one day. I scored the barn wood floor mirror from Hobby Lobby for $100, which is very cheap when it come to mirrors. My side table is really just a crate I got from HomeGoods a long time ago, but it fits perfectly in that corner and it’s good book storage!

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My boyfriend lovingly calls me “the plant lady” because he says I’m obsessed with my plants. I don’t even have that many, but I tell him they are good for cleaning the air and they are pretty! I live by myself so when I get bored I just talk to them like they’re my friends. Anyone else do that? Anyone?….

Still working on making this area more functional. I plan on hanging a TV above my desk and replacing the chair. Right now I just throw my mail on the desk and avoid directing my gaze in this area ha.

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I can’t stress this enough, organization is crucial when you live in a small space. My kitchen is the most organized space in my apartment mostly because I spend the most amount of time here. I don’t have a pantry, but I do utilize my cabinet space to keep my counters clutter free.

I love my little coffee bar and Nespresso maker. It really is a game changer because now I can make lattes at home! This Nespresso was a splurge because it came with the milk frother, but I got it during the 25% off sale last week to save some money and I know I’ll use it daily.

My little retro felt board is so fun and they are really trendy right now. I got this one from Hobby Lobby over the weekend and they even have different colors and sizes. Not going to lie, I’ve been stealing little sayings from the El Arroyo Instagram. If you don’t follow them already go do it, their signs are hysterical.

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Here’s a little peek at my bathroom. I’ll add more organization and bathroom photos once I get that space finished. Living in a small spaces requires ultimate organization. If I even have two items out of place my apartment can look cluttered. The drawer organizers are from The Container Store, I got them during a big sale! I started following The Home Edit on The Neat Method on Instagram for organization inspiration. I like these drawer organizers because it’s not one-size-fits all. They also sell these at HomeGoods occasionally and they are priced cheaper than at The Container Store.

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That’s all I have for now folks, but I look forward to getting back into the grove and sharing new content will y’all. I think the best cure for getting out of this funk is writing and luckily I have the platform to do so. Don’t forget to subscribe to The Sweetest Escape to see more blog posts!

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SEEING SAN ANTONIO IN 24 HOURS

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If you’re wondering why I’ve been MIA for the last month and not posting it’s because I started a new job recently and I had quite a few events going on! At the beginning of June I started at HomeAway as their Employer Brand and Digital Media Specialist. It’s been awesome so far and I’m learning a lot about the company. I also flew back home to watch my little sister graduate high school and then flew to St. Pete last week for my cousin’s wedding. I’ve been a little busy over here, but I’m excited to get this blog post up because San Antonio is a great little day trip for anyone living in the area.

San Antonio is a charming city and it’s the perfect destination for a day trip from Austin or Houston. My friend from college came to visit me a couple weeks ago and we planned to spend one day in San Antonio.

 

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The first stop we made on the drive was Buccee’s. You can’t just drive past a Buccee’s and not stop — it’s unAmerican. She couldn’t believe that a gas station could also be a BBQ restaurant/bakery/home store/outdoor supplier. After filling up on sweet tea and snapping a pic with Buccee, we got back on the road.unnamed

We decided to book a riverboat tour so we could learn more about the history of the city. Our tour guide made it very interesting and for $10 I would say it was money well spent. The architecture is amazing and the city definitely has a Mexico vibe.

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After the 30-minute tour, we walked the River Walk and browsed different vendors along the way. We noticed The Esquire Tavern right away because it looked so cool from the outside so we stopped in for lunch.

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It’s a historic bar and restaurant with amazing architecture and patio that overlooks the River Walk. They opened in 1933 to celebrate the end of prohibition and it’s exactly what I envisioned a place from the 30s would look like. The appetizer and drink menu was pretty impressive. I ordered a Pimm’s Cup and my friend Nicola had a Moscow mule.

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Next stop was a quick one. We snapped a few pictures of the Alamo and walked around for a few minutes, but it was extremely crowded with tourists because of the holiday weekend. If you feel so inclined, you can pay for a guided tour.

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The spots we hit in San Antonio are really the main points of interest in the city. We didn’t spend much time walking downtown or anything. I’m interested in visiting again in the fall when it’s not as hot. We did manage to see quite of San Antonio in one day though.

In all honesty San Antonio wasn’t one of the coolest cities I’ve been to, but I’m very partial to Austin because of all the fun things to do. It’s a great place to check out for the day simply because of the history and the River Walk. If you have an afternoon to spare, stick to our itinerary and you’ll have a great time!

May Reading List

Part of the beauty of traveling is that you get to relax and read! There’s no better time to disconnect from the world and pick up a book than on a long flight. Since I’m a book nerd and reading is part of my traveling I want to share some good books with y’all so you’re prepped for your next flight. I’ve read all of these in the last month and I highly recommend them.

I usually go for non-fiction, biographies, or Christian inspired books. Occasionally I pick up a fiction book, but only if it’s Harry Potter or vampire related. It pleases my inner 7-year-old, don’t judge me.

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The Vacationers by Emma Straub (Fiction, Romance, Travel): This is the first fiction book I’ve read in a long, long time. Truth be hold I was stranded at LAX last week and got a little desperate for a new book as I was preparing to sit at the airport all day. This is the perfect quick, beach read with a little more substance and backstory. Basically a family goes on a two-week vacation to Spain to bond and reconnect as their daughter prepares for college. Add in a few drama-filled secrets and voila, a great summer read.

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The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (Psychology, Success, Business): The CEO at theCHIVE gave everyone in the office a copy of this book and while most people stashed it in their desk drawer never to be found again, I actually read it. I’m a huge fan of motivational and success books like The Secret and now this. Shawn dives into how your mindset generates personal happiness in the workplace, despite your position or income. Most people think they will only be happy once they accomplish “X” or make a certain amount of money. He totally crushes that way of thinking and shows how the most successful people are happy no matter the situation using studies and facts. I’ve already started implementing some of his principles!

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The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines (Biography, Christian): If y’all don’t know this I am obsessed with Fixer Upper and the Gaines family. Their book was a quick and easy read (less than 200 pages), but a total feel-good story. They really dive into how they make their marriage work, how they started a business, and surviving the unpredictable times. Their faith shines through in every chapter and even though I don’t know them in real life, I feel like they have to be good people.

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Settle for More by Megyn Kelly (Biography, Politics, Career): I was really excited to read this book because I’m fascinated with everything surrounding the media and broadcasting. I’ve read several books from the Fox News women and they are all great. Megyn’s book was the most interesting because she talks in great detail about her relationship with Donald Trump and how certain events played out during the election. She is a great career role model for me and I’m sure you’ll get a sense of her work ethic after reading her book. She started off as a lawyer and didn’t even dive into television until 30, which is considered “old” in on-camera years. Her career exploded and she takes you on that journey and all the things that come with being in the media.

That wraps up my book recommendations for May, but I’ll be back in June for more! My best friend Danielle and I tried to start a book club, but we are the worst because one of us is always way ahead of the other. If you have any recommendations please leave a comment!

DESSERT SPOTLIGHT: BRIBERY BAKERY (AUSTIN, TX)

As I’m getting to know my new city, I want to share my finds with y’all along the way! I first visited Bribery Bakery in November way before I knew I was moving to ATX.

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I saw their fabulous Instagram pictures and the wonderful reviews and knew I had to go. The dessert queen could not miss the opportunity to experience one of the cutest dessert stops on the planet!

Obviously the aesthetics are adorable, perfect for grownup dates and play dates alike. They nailed all the details, from the colorful coffee cups to the sprinkle shakers on the table. They serve coffee, tea, and speciality cocktails. I ordered a giant cinnamon roll and a whiskey cocktail. They tasted great separately, but I would not recommend ordering these together, I felt sick for hours after from all the sweetness. Yes, even I experience sugar comas. They have a little sandwich menu too so you can have a full meal here if you really wanted.

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Bribery is really known for their pies, especially around the holidays. While I haven’t tried a slice yet, judging by the insane amount of orders they had for Thanksgiving I imagine they are as delectable as they look.

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They have two locations, one in Mueller and the other in Wells Branch. I’ve only visited the Mueller location, but I’m eager to see the other one too. If you stop here during your next visit to Austin you must take a picture in front of the “Eat Dessert First!” wall simply because it’s true.

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I’m looking forward to trying as many dessert places as possible in Austin and let me tell you, it’s going to take me awhile to get through the list. There are new yummy spots popping up every week!

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If you have any recommendations please comment or email me, I’m always eager to try new places.

 

10 Insta Worthy Desserts in Orange County

After thousands of calories consumed and countless pictures later, I present the ten most insta worthy dessert places in Orange County! It was a lot of hard work eating all of these desserts over the course of six months, but I don’t regret a minute of it. Kidding of course, but I love the variety of desserts in OC. From Japanese inspired gelato to over the top donuts there is something sweet to please everyone’s taste buds. There are new, trendy places popping up all the time like #3 which just opened last month. If you have any recommendations please comment below and let me know what else I need to try!

 

  1. Crepe Coop at Anaheim Packing District

2. Popbar at Anaheim Packing District

3. The Loop

4. Eiswelt Gelato

5. Ruby’s Shake Shack – So many shakes to choose from, but the best part about this Ruby’s is you get dessert AND a view. 

6. Sidecar Doughnuts – Consistently my favorite donut spot. They release new flavors each month. Definitely a “must have” if you’re coming to Newport Beach.

7. Cauldron Ice Cream – Don’t forget to order a puffle!

8. The Dirty Cookie – They have their own homemade vanilla cream, chocolate, cream, and cold brew coffee on tap.

9. Afters – Several locations in Orange County, the original is in Fountain Valley and they have chocolate milky buns.

10. Pressed Juicery – Only select locations have the Pressed Freezes.  

Chicago Food Guide

The best part of any trip is trying all the great food the city has to offer! I love going on Instagram and screenshotting unique dessert places that come up on my feed. Prior to going to Chicago I started following popular food accounts like Chicago Food Authority and Eater Chicago. After about a month I had a whole collection of places I knew I wanted to check out.

chicago food guide the sweetest escapeMy friend Baker also had a few places in mind and our favorite restaurant of the weekend was actually one he took us to! We didn’t have a single bad meal while we were visiting. Every coffee, donut and pizza slice was pure perfection. With that said after all the eating we crammed into two days we were hurting. I had to make a CVS pitstop on Saturday afternoon for Tums because my body was on cheese and donut overload.

There are so many restaurants we unfortunately didn’t make it to, but we have them on out list for next time. Besides it wouldn’t be fun if we knocked everything out in one weekend, we have to have reasons to go back!

Here is a list of all our stops organized by desserts, dinner, and drinks. To read about the other activities we did check out my “48 Hours in Chicago” post from earlier this week.

Desserts

Firecakes Donuts 

They had a truck at the Taste of Chicago so we tried the mini vanilla donuts. They are known for the donut ice cream sandwich!

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Glazed and Infused

They were rated the best donut shop in Chicago for four years in a row! Very fluffy and thick, almost like a croissant donut.

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Eli’s Cheescake

Also at the Taste of Chicago we tasted the original cheesecake and it was great, but nothing to write home about.

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Caffe Gelato

Also at Taste of Chicago, we tried all three sorbet flavors available including lemon, pineapple and blood orange. My favorite was the blood orange.

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Lunch/Dinner

Homeslice

This was our favorite restaurant of the weekend (if you couldn’t tell by the number of pictures we took!) The brunch was unbelievable, we got a breakfast pizza and spiked coffees. Baker’s bloody mary even came with a pizza slice on top! The backyard reminded me a lot of places in Austin with the airstream, neon signs and garden lights. I highly recommend this one, Baker says he always takes guests here and it never disappoints.

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Bernie’s Lunch and Supper

Unbelievable burgers with an even better rooftop view!

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Giordano’s vs. Lou Malnati’s

This is probably one of the most controversial posts I will ever write and…. The great Giordano’s vs. Lou Malnati’s debate. While both places were beyond delicious, Jen and I preferred Giordano’s because of the crust-to-cheese ratio and the crust thickness.

The pizza at Giordano’s was like eating a piece of flaky, rich pie. It was very thick with tons of cheese. I’m of the mindset that you can never have too much cheese, if you wanna put five pounds of cheese on a pizza you won’t hear me say no. Going to Giordano’s is definitely an experience so plan accordingly. It was an hour wait just to get seated and you have to order your pizza ahead of time because it takes 45 minutes to bake.

This is not to say that Lou Malnati’s is not good, because it definitely is. It really just depends on your preferences. Their crust is a little crispier and thinner than it’s rival. I’ll end the discussion on this note, deep dish pizza is in a class of it’s own and both places are fantastic. Then again I’ve never said no to pizza before because I think it’s all great so you might just have to make a trip to Chicago and decide on your own!

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Lou Malnati’s

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Lou Malnati’s

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Giordano’s

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Giordano’s
Drinks

The Hampton Social

The coolest bar we went to in Chicago, everything is nautical themed and I felt like I was in a Jimmy Buffett music video. They have a really photogenic wall in the back with a neon “Rose all day” sign. Look it up on Instagram, I swear everyone takes a photo here!

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Intelligentsia Coffee

The best iced vanilla latte I have ever tasted.

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That wraps up all of our meals for the weekend!  I hope you are impressed with the amount of food we ate because writing this post made me feel sick all over again. Give me a couple more days and I’ll be ready to fly back for round two!

Travel Well,

Kayla

48 hours in chicago travel guide the sweetest escape

Guide to Spending 48 Hours in Chicago

If I am being completely honest Chicago has never been at the top of my travel list. There was no allure for me simply because of the negative things I heard about the city like how dirty it was, the safety, etc. Boy was I wrong…

londonhouse chicago rooftop the sweetest escapeEvery negative perception I had about Chicago immediately dissipated after my first night. The people are friendly, the food is amazing, and the city  is very clean! I highly recommend going for 3-4 days instead of cramming everything into one weekend, but that was my only option because a girl’s gotta work!

Luckily I have a wonderful friend that has been living in Chicago for the past two years and he was our tour guide for the whole weekend (thanks Baker!) Seriously so thankful we had him otherwise we would have spent most of our time getting lost instead of actually seeing the sights. He knew so many cool facts about the city and the best way to get around town. If you have friends in the cities you are visiting don’t be afraid to catch up with them and see if they can show you around! I went to Chicago with Jen, one of my best friends from work. She also loves traveling and we were so excited to do this trip together.

Use this as your ultimate “Chicago in a Weekend” guide for information on where to stay and what to do. I will dedicate a separate post just to eating in Chicago and all of the restaurants we went to.

chicagorooftopbarBest season to visit: Summer

Recommended number of days: 3-4

Airports: Chicago O’Hare or Midway

Transportation: Uber or you can use the train through the city

Favorite area: Riverwalk

 

londonhouse chicago the sweetest escapeWhere We Stayed

We were lucky enough to snag a room at the new LondonHouse Chicago for the weekend. The LondonHouse is a brand new luxury hotel (only two months old) located on Wacker Drive right across from Trump Tower. The customer service was great and our room was beautiful. The biggest draw to staying here is access to the rooftop bar with great views of the city. Since the hotel is still so new there is a six-week wait to even get a reservation for drinks on the rooftop. We snuck up early one morning just to check it out and take some pictures, next time we definitely plan on enjoying the view over dinner and drinks. If you are a Hilton Honors member you can use your points here like I did.

 

 

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Views from the rooftop bar at the LondonHouse! If you plan on going this summer definitely call and make a reservation in advance since they are booking up quickly.

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 1. Cloud Gate “The Bean” – Millennium Park

Probably the most iconic landmark in Chicago, The Bean is a stainless steel sculpture in the middle of Millennium Park. You’ve probably seen this a million times on your friend’s Instagram, but it’s worth seeing in real life. We specifically wanted pictures with no tourists in the way so our first morning in Chicago we woke up at 5 a.m. to better our chances of beating the crowds. Luckily there were only a few other photographers lingering around and with a tad bit of patience we were able to get a couple of shots with nobody in the background!

 

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2. Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo is the only free zoo in Chicago, you can’t miss walking through for an hour or so and checking out the gorillas, giraffes, and lions! I haven’t been to Chicago in the winter, but apparently there are indoor enclosures so you can see the animals 365 days a year. There are several blocks of beautiful houses in the area and you can walk through the park to reach the lake. I really loved this area of the city and hope to spend more time walking around the park during my next trip.

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wrigley field bleachers chicago3. Wrigley Field/Wrigleyville

Unfortunately we weren’t able to make a game because the Cubs were away, but regardless of the schedule you have to see Wrigley Field while you’re in Chicago. Baseball fan or not it’s an iconic American landmark so you’ll want to get a picture or two. There are many old-school game day bars in Wrigleyville and newer places that are great for Sunday Funday. My friend that was showing us around also graduated from the University of Alabama so we obviously had to visit the Houndstooth Saloon in Wrigleyville to get our Bama fix.

Next time I visit I want to make sure I can go for a Cubs game, I can only imagine how fun it would be based off everything he told us!

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4. The Signature Lounge

The Signature Lounge at 96th gives you sweeping views of the city. We went at night and we saw a whole firework show off Navy Pier! Most people opt to do the Sky Deck in Willis Tower. Basic admission is $22 and that will get you to the top of the tower where you can step in the glass “ledge” and take pictures.

Our friend recommended going to The Signature Lounge instead, slightly less touristy plus you get to sit and have a drink while you enjoy the view! If you choose to do just one or both make sure you bring your camera.
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5. Architectural Boat Tour 

chicagobridgeThis was one of my favorite things we did while in Chicago. It’s always nice to squeeze in a little education about the place you are visiting. Chicago is a great mix of old and new architecture so it was cool to learn about the history of each building. We went with Wendella Tours, but there are several other options to choose from. Tickets were $35 and the tour lasts for 75 minutes. Our guide was a native Chicagoan and knew a lot of interesting facts about the city. Since it gets pretty hot in the summer I would suggest either going first thing in the morning like we did or at the end of the day because there is no shade on the boat!

 

 

 

 

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6. Taste of Chicago

The main reason we choose this weekend in particular to visit Chicago! We heard Taste of Chicago is one of the best festivals in the city to go to and since we are both foodies we couldn’t pass up the chance to check it out. All of the well-known restaurants that would be on your Chicago bucket list were there! It’s a 5-day festival held right in the middle of Millennium Park with food trucks, concerts, beer gardens, and other activities. You pay per ticket and each “taste” costs between 4-5 tickets or you can buy a full serving of a particular dish for more.

Whatever weekend you are visiting Chicago you should check out the calendar and see what events are happening around the city, chances are there is something going on. I hear there are many festivals, farmer’s markets, and concerts (Lollapalooza!) during summer.

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Basically I love summertime Chi and I can’t wait to go back! I’m not quite sure I would survive a winter there, but I could always stay inside and eat deep dish pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

On that note stay tuned for my Chicago Food post later this week!

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Travel Well,

Kayla