Author Archives: Lauren Fondriest

Glappitnova Brings Together a Kaleidoscope of Chicago Culture

Glappitnova Brings Together a Kaleidoscope of Chicago Culture


You know that feeling when you leave somewhere more motivated than when you went in? I had the opportunity to attend Glappitnova last week, and left feeling inspired, motivated and generally cooler for living in Chicago.


Read up on Glappitnova in the article I wrote in June.


Enter scene from Wednesday:


Mingling amongst the fashionistas, start-up mavens, cultural personalities and many more, I absorbed what the festival had to offer. Held in Moonlight Studios in the West Loop, the event took over the studio with several rooms to showcase the talents of local speakers and performers. Guest stars such as the Bachelorette’s Frank Neuschaefer introduced speakers as they embarked on their 10 minutes of storytelling.


“You are defined by your purpose” – “Use your talent responsibly” – “I failed so many times and now I’ve figured it out” …. These were some of the words of wisdom heard at Glappitnova. A few of the fabulous speakers I saw included:


  • Aalap Shah – Founder of SoMe Connect, who overcame failure after failure when he learned that he had to be either all in or all out, and threw himself all in
  • Case Kenny and Seth Sutton – Co-founders of PRSUIT, who bring together genuine guys sharing meaningful stories on their website,
  • Luvvie Ajayi – Blogger and Co-founder of the Red Pump Project, who witnessed the power of the Internet when she reconnected with an old friend half a world away, and now uses the Internet to help others
  • UB Rodriguez, WGCI Radio Talk Host, who built bridges so strong they carried him to his dream career


Host Frank Neuschaefer


Aalap Shah


Luvvie Ajayi


Hearing the lessons, the jokes, the inspiration and great tales through the night reminded me of how many unique personalities and talents there are in Chicago. Stepping outside the bounds of your usual scene has its perks – new connections were made, drinks were had and dancing ensued.


Following the speeches were performances by The Brothers StarRace, Lili K and Klassik. Klassik’s performance was both intimate and crowd-energizing. Stepping off the stage and onto the dance floor, he brought the crowd into a clapping, dancing circle around him. Great way to get the party going!


klassik, glappitnova



Stay tuned for next year’s Glappitnova event, and learn more about the organization and how you can get involved at


{Images by Lauren Fondriest | The Chicago Lifestyle}



Chicago Insider Tips: What You Need to Know This Week – July 1, 2014

At The Chicago Lifestyle we’re focused on keeping you in the know on what’s hot and happening in Chicago. This week we’re bringing you four tips to add to your list!


go cycle, turf and surf triathlon, standup paddle boarding


Try the New Wave of Triathlons – Spinning, Running and Stand-up Paddle Boarding


Always wanted to join a triathlon but scared of swimming in Lake Michigan? Don’t own a bike? None of that matters when you sign up for Go Cycle’s Turf & Surf Triathlon, held on Sunday, August 3. The race consists of:

  • 12.5 mile indoor cycling at Go Cycle Studio (525 W. North Ave.)
  • 5K run from Oz Park to North Avenue Beach
  • 0.75 mile stand-up paddle on Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach


Sign up by this Thursday, July 3 for $70, then the price increases to $75.



gilt city, chicago distilling company, distillery tour, whiskey tasting


Impress 5 of Your Friends at a Chicago Distillery Tour and Tasting


Located amidst the popular restaurants on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square, Chicago Distilling Company features small batch, locally sourced liquors. Treat 5 or 10 of your friends to a private distillery tour and tasting, thanks to Gilt City’s deal (buy before the deal closes on July 9). Enjoy vodka, gin and white whiskey cocktail samples while learning about the nuances of each type of liquor.



chicago river, edm chicago, chicago music festival


Experience an EDM Concert Over the Chicago River


The Riverwest Music Festival hits Chicago for the first time this weekend – July 4-6 – echoing electronic tunes over a mile-long span on the North Branch of the Chicago River at Elston and Division. Featuring over 40 artists, the concert brings together a great lineup in a unique Chicago setting. Single-day passes are still available here.



chicago race, chicago 10k, grant park race


Run through Grant Park in the Chicago 10K on August 10


Whether you’ve been running all season or you’re just starting to prepare for “bathing suit season,” there’s still time to sign up for the Chicago 10K on Sunday, August 10. The race starts and finishes in Grant Park, and finishing will earn you a pretty sweet medal. Sign up now for $55 before capacity is reached.



Meet the New Wave of Chicago’s Influencers at Glappitnova

Meet the New Wave of Chicago’s Influencers at Glappitnova


What Chicago needs is a movement – a dose of inspiration and change injected into our daily routines. Imagine young influencers, entrepreneurs, and characters across many industries all coming together to share their wisdom. Austin, Texas claims its South by Southwest fame, Eden, Utah claims its Summit Series fame – now it’s Chicago’s turn. Making its second annual appearance on July 14 – 17, Glappitnova presents the city’s most unique storytellers, performers and teachers. Wrapped up into one big party, the summit takes networking and interactive learning to the next level.


Co-Created by Nick Brown and Mike Webb, Glappitnova began as a small underground culture perfecting the concept of storytelling from different young industry leaders. Now with the expansion of the team, and activities, it’s grown into a festival bringing influencers from around Chicago together, Glappitnova is an event where people can share their stories and join a community of diverse perspectives. I had the pleasure of interviewing Nick to find out the story behind the scenes. Here’s what I learned:



How did Glappitnova begin?


The first wave of the organization, called Glappit, sought out tech talent to help build the initial product that would automatically share products, ideas, and information surrounding your location. But when building our product there has to be a physical presence which is developing the community. Reaching further – “to the stars,” as Nick says, the designation “Nova” was born. The first Glappitnova festival was held in February 2013 – a small gathering, just for a few hours, along Milwaukee Avenue. It was all about executing a small idea, and getting better the next time.


Reacting to a high level of enthusiasm, curiosity and demand, this year’s festival expands to nearly a week of performances, storytelling and learning (and don’t forget the partying!). Mark July 14 – 17 on your calendar and purchase your tickets here.



What can we expect at this year’s Glappitnova?


Come with an open mind – you’ll have a great time and walk out having learned something new. Your perception of diversity across industries will be altered once you see and hear the creative, intelligent and fun contributions of the presenting influencers.


This is an interactive festival – we’re not setting up in an auditorium. Literally fostering an open environment by hosting the event in a loft space, the audience will have the opportunity to interact and engage with the speakers.


This will be a memorable experience and no doubt you’ll have lessons to take back to your own life.



Who are the most unique or inspirational influencers you’ve worked with?


Actress and dancer Elizabeth Adler of Chicago Dance Theatre Ensemble encouraged me to be more open and accept different perspectives. She encourages us to truly see what’s around you by listening to others. This is a great lesson we can all live by.


Another influencer I worked with left his corporate lifestyle to pursue what he was truly passionate about. Having that courage to start fresh by transitioning into something new was quite the inspiration.



Thanks Nick!




Now’s your chance to get to know Chicago’s young influencers – join the party this July and buy your Glappitnova tickets here before they sell out.


{Image from Glappitnova}



Chicago Trolley Adventures: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Chicago Trolley Adventures: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


For a crazy, unforgettable night, everyone needs to take part in Chicago’s favorite pastime at least once – a party trolley. Chauffeured around the city in a rented trolley car, you can experience 3 hours of moving dance party sing-a-longs with 24 – 30 of your closest friends. A typical Chicago trolley itinerary involves pick-up at a house or location of your choice, a few stops along the way for bars or photo opportunities, and a drop-off at a final destination – usually a bar or a house.


While this trip might seem like a good chance to get in your Chicago sightseeing, the level of rowdiness of the crowd will make that determination. With all of your friends in tow, you can capture great photos outside the planetarium with the skyline in the background. Additionally, you can visit some of the bars outside your usual boundaries without having to worry about taking multiple cabs. Set up your favorite tunes, stock up on your favorite drinks, and gather your crew for a night around town.


Of course with all privilege comes responsibility – planning a trolley can be a logistical challenge. As with any event, not all parts will go as planned. Here are some tips for navigating what could be the night of your life.


Questions to ask the trolley company:

  • Will your “advanced sound system” amplify my iPod/iPhone playlist?
  • Can we bring our own beverages on board (the answer is usually yes – but no glass)
  • Is the trolley heated/air conditioned, and can the windows be opened?
  • Is gratuity included in the credit card charge, or will the driver expect cash at the end of the ride?
  • Can I get a discounted fare if I “like” you on Facebook?


Questions to ask the bars you want to stop at:

  • Can you accommodate 25 people sometime between 8 – 10 p.m. with no cover and a limited line?


And finally, questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I willing to corral 24 – 30 of my friends and hunt them down for their share of the cost?
  • Do I have the patience for last-minute cancellations and added guests?
  • Do I want to buy all the beverages in advance, or ask guests to BYOB?
  • Am I willing to make sure the trolley is spotless at the end to avoid a cleaning fee?


Other helpful tips:

  • To collect funds in advance, use a service such as Crowdtilt, which allows credit card payments and will divide the total cost among the final number of guests that attend
  • If you bring on beverages, don’t rely on Styrofoam coolers – they will break. Purchase some cheap plastic tubs at WalMart to house your drinks and ice
  • Your playlist sets the mood – but bring good old mix-tape CDs as backup in case they can’t plug in your iPod/iPhone. My approach is to start off with mood-boosting Top 40s, continue with solid dance music, and transition into 80s ballads or 90s rap by the time you’re on your way to the third bar. Consider you’ll need about 2.5 hours of music ready if you’ll be spending one of the three hours on bar stops
  • Bring on trash bags, paper towels, Solo cups, etc. – clean up everything along the way
  • The homeless people outside are always looking for a free beer handout. Proceed with your own discretion
  • Clear communication with the driver is key. Provide an itinerary with addresses in advance, and make sure he/she knows the timing of each bar stop. Tell your guests when to return to the trolley, so no one gets left behind!



Have fun!!!


{Image via Coleman Forredondo}


Help Provide Housing for Hundreds of Chicago Families through Habitat for Humanity

Help Provide Housing for Hundreds of Chicago Families through Habitat for Humanity


Raise Your Hand Chicagoland: Habitat for Humanity


If you took a stroll down Michigan Avenue recently, you probably wondered why there was a whole house planted in between the Tribune Building and the river. Is someone taking up residence right there? Not quite – but the house will be transported to another neighborhood, allowing a Chicago family to become homeowners.


Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity


This past week I had the opportunity to join in Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity’sRaise Your Hand Chicagoland” event, helping to build houses for 13 families. Held in the high-profile Pioneer Plaza on Michigan Avenue (where the Marilyn Monroe statue used to reside), the event gave great exposure to the mission that drives Habitat for Humanity. Kicked off by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the four-day event drew hundreds of volunteers and numerous corporate sponsors, including BMO Harris Bank and Lowe’s.


Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization seeking to reduce homelessness and poverty housing by bringing volunteers together to build houses. The organization partners with families in need to create safe and affordable housing.


rahm emanuel, chicago mayor


lisa madigan, attorney general illinois


After hearing inspiring speeches from the Mayor and other leaders and supporters of Habitat for Humanity, I put on my safety glasses, secured my hard hat, and got to work. Habitat supervisors showed us how to read the architectural plans, gather the right pieces of wood and other materials, and position them together. We each grabbed a hammer and started nailing walls together. Hundreds of nails later, we had built six walls, some including doors or windows. We learned that the walls would be transported and fully assembled into a structured house in the new neighborhood.


Habitat for Humanity Pioneer Plaza



Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity



Chicago Bears Habitat for Humanity



Chicago Bears Helping with Habitat for Humanity


Not just a day of camaraderie and sunshine, our hard work reminded us that we have the ability to make a difference for those in need.



Partner families: Who are they?


The most inspiring part of the day was meeting a family who lives in one of the houses built by Habitat for Humanity. It’s important to note that Habitat for Humanity is not a hand-out – the partner families are carefully selected, and to live in the house they must contribute hundreds of hours of build time as well as pay all of the mortgage, with 0% interest (the mortgages are comparable to the mortgages in any city the partner families live in). They are supported with home ownership classes to set them up for success in their new home. Many benefits come with home ownership, such as stability, self-sufficiency and a sense of community.


Representing the partner families was Natasha Nicholes. Filled with energy and enthusiasm, Natasha shared her family’s story, her life goal of becoming a homeowner, and some of the incredible experiences she’s already had taking part in the builds. She’s also participating in Chicago Women Build Week (June 18 – 21), continuing the construction on the house we started for one of her neighbors.


As a Chicago blogger, Natasha shares her piece of the world on her website Houseful of Nicholes – sharing tales of her household of love, laughter and life. Today, she let us in on her experiences with Habitat for Humanity.



What inspires you the most about Habitat for Humanity?


Ever since we discovered Habitat for Humanity’s true goal, we have been determined to help as many as we can understand the mission.  It is impossible to hear how thousands are being helped a year and not feel a need to throw whichever hat you carry in the ring.  We are inspired by our fellow partner families.  We’re inspired by the idea that their goals are our goals; that their journey is our journey both here and abroad.  So with every plank, stud, wall, paint stroke, and swing of a hammer we are one step closer to realizing our dreams whether it be our house or someone else’s.  It doesn’t matter.



How have your experiences with Habitat impacted your family?


The impact of volunteerism has been tremendously felt expressly for myself, my husband, and my oldest son.  I don’t believe we would have donated as much of our time had we not been familiar with the Habitat program.  Once you start helping it is almost impossible to stop.  Homes will be built up our new block for quite some time.  So our time will be adjusted to account for our neighbors.



How have your experiences with Habitat shaped the way you feel about Chicagoans helping other Chicagoans?


I’m not certain if I’d say that this experience has shaped the way we feel as much as reinforced the way we feel about it.  We have strong faith and have seen community with our neighbors, our church family, and at our son’s school.  To know that way on the other side of town these same principles are being practiced and shared encourages us.  It lets us know that our corner isn’t the only bright one in this city and that there are and have always been lights flickering throughout. 



What advice do you have for our readers who are interested in getting involved with Habitat?


We would definitely suggest looking into your local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.  Habitat for Humanity is big on partnerships.  So businesses, schools, organizations, groups, concerned citizens, or folks in any other category I may have missed have an opportunity and an invitation to come and assist in the mission.  There are also opportunities to assist both here at home and abroad.  If you feel like all you have to offer is your time, Habitat can use that.  If you feel that all you can give is a modest donation, Habitat can use that too; building materials, supplies, equipment, Habitat can use it all.  This is an open invitation to come and be apart of something special with us.



Tell us a little about your blog! - Houseful of Nicholes


My blog was born from the fact that when my husband and I found out that we were pregnant with twins, we realized that there was nothing on line that mirrored our thoughts or feelings. There was TONS about people with singleton births, but nothing about twin births that I felt that I connected with. We cover everything under the Family Lifestyle niche, including recipes, travel, homeschooling, parenting, family life, and reviews. 


I like to educate as well as incite thoughtful debate. Especially about things that surround socioeconomic structure and the things that sometimes keep several races living in the same city from seeing things the same way. It has helped me grow as an adult, and also provided much needed conversation with people who were so removed from things that they insisted they weren’t a problem to begin with. 



What words of wisdom can you share with us?

I can only say that whatever you have a passion for, pursue it. For the last three years, I’ve been daring to dream, and while my dreams haven’t unfolded exactly in the time frame that I’ve wanted – they’re coming to fruition. Some, like the Habitat for Humanity journery, are happening a lot sooner than I expected. It’s a blessing to be able to work alongside neighbors and construction teams and see everything that is going on. There is no room for pompousness, because EVERYONE is working, and moving towards a common goal. It’s how the world should be.


Thank you Natasha!


Learn how you can make a direct impact helping hundreds of Chicago families


Year-round, Habitat for Humanity provides opportunities to get involved and provide a “hand up” to partner families. Time, talents and resources are greatly appreciated. While Chicagoland is supported by eight affiliate groups around the city and suburbs, here are the best ways to get involved in the Windy City group.


To volunteer as an individual (construction) – must be 18 years or older

Windy City Habitat for Humanity construction sites are located primarily on the South Side of Chicago. Volunteer days are Wednesday through Saturday, 8:00 am-3:00 pm.

  • Attend an orientation session (next one is on Wednesday, June 11) – email to sign up for a future date
  • Understand that construction activities involve physical labor, at your own risk (must sign liability waiver). Construction activities revolve around building home structures
  • Donate or fundraise a minimum of $50
  • Register online to search for a build day


Volunteer at the ReStore – managing and selling construction materials for upcoming builds. The ReStore will be opening in Fall 2014 at 6040 N. Pulaski Road.


Donate money – this is easy to do online on a one-time or recurring basis.



{All pictures by Lauren Fondriest | The Chicago Lifestyle}




Your Guide to Living The Chicago Lifestyle: Summer 2014

Your Guide to Living The Chicago Lifestyle: Summer 2014


Our blessed Chicago summer has finally arrived and we all have one goal: Make the most of it! Don your sunglasses and head out the door to enjoy Chicago’s best summer experiences. Because Chicago is so vast and I still have plenty of places I want to try, my list of things to do in Chicago this summer is broken down into two parts – “What I Love” – my own recommendations – and “What I Want to Try” – the places I’ve been dying to go. If you’ve experienced any of the things I want to try, please comment below and let me know how they are!



Al Fresco Dining

outdoor restaurants chicago, chicago summer


\\ What I Love \\

  • The Southern (1840 W. North) – This outdoor, partly-shaded patio gets sweeter every time I go. Refreshing seasonal cocktails are paired with a rotating southern menu, allowing you to try something new each time. When weather permits, the second story opens up with breezy cabanas for hosting your best group of friends. My favorite experiences have included Johnny Cakes, hushpuppies and even an all-you-can-eat crawfish boil.
  • Oak Street Beach Bistro (1001 N. Lake Shore Drive) – While most know about Castaways, Oak Street Beach Bistro is a tamer version at the next beach over. Don’t worry if your feet are covered in sand, stop in for a beer and some fish tacos while you people-watch the afternoon away.
  • Derby (1224 W. Webster) – Also featuring southern fare and drinks, Derby is fun year-round. When it’s a sunny Saturday in the middle of the summer, Derby is my first choice when I’m looking for outside seating – I’ve been lucky enough to get a seat each time! While the brunch menu isn’t that large, their main menu has an extensive list of choices, all of which you can top off with a Mint Julep, Beermosa or Cool as a Cucumber.



\\ What I Want to Try \\

  • RM Champagne Salon (116 N. Green) – Paying homage to one of my favorite drinks, RM Champagne Salon has a courtyard strung with party lights (gorgeous in the pictures). The restaurant opens up at 5 p.m. each night and 11 a.m. on Sundays for brunch. I can see myself lounging under the sparkling lights, ordering a cheese plate while sipping a glass of champagne…
  • Elle on the River (330 N. Wabash) – Situated on the patio outside the Langham Hotel and restaurant Travelle, this sweet new spot is serving up Mediterranean tacos, craft sodas (with the option to add your liquor of choice), and summer-flavored punch bowls titled “Better than a Bradford,” “Elle a Noir” and “Down by the River.” Don’t forget the lovely view of the city over the river.



Rooftop Party Hopping

rooftop bar chicago, chicago summer


\\ What I Love \\

  • ZED451 (739 N. Clark) – While ZED451’s rooftop is only two floors high, it still offers great city views of the surrounding buildings. You’ll enter through the restaurant’s first floor bar, climbing a set of stairs to get to the top. With a number of seating options – long benches, two-seater high-tops and mini cabanas for groups – you can sit down and order a bite off the restaurant’s lighter Cravings menu. This is a great spot for a special event or a night out with friends.
  • J. Parker (1816 N. Clark) – The drinks may be expensive, but the view makes up for it. Take the special elevator up to the top of Hotel Lincoln and step out to incredible visibility of Lincoln Park and the lake. The view encompasses some of Chicago’s best natural beauty and reinforces your love for this great city. Expect a hip see-and-be-seen crowd, and don’t expect to get a seat during peak hours.



\\ What I Want to Try \\

  • I|O Urban Roofscape (127 W. Huron) – Swanky hotel The Godfrey boasts an indoor/outdoor rooftop space serving up food and drinks to its fabulous visitors. Open from breakfast/brunch through late night, the restaurant/bar sits under a retractable roof that allows for year-round entertaining – and they even take reservations! My apartment window overlooks the hotel, leaving me wanting to go every day. One of these days I will make it happen!
  • 52Eighty Rooftop Lounge (166 E. Superior) – Several of my fellow Chicago bloggers made me jealous with their recent pictures from Mile North Hotel’s new rooftop, 52Eighty. Twenty-eight stories up, this brand-new space looks like it’s going to be one of the summer’s hottest rooftops!
  • Little Goat Rooftop (820 W. Randolph) – My Mom and I stumbled across this little gem while waiting to be seated in Little Goat’s main dining room. This cozy space offers cushioned benches, an outdoor bar, and even a few manicured plants and flowers to enhance the atmosphere. Perched on top of the main restaurant, this rooftop offers a great view in the middle of the West Loop. Since it is adjacent to the dining room that can be rented for private events, the rooftop is only open for very specific hours – please check their website for more details.



Fresh Air Fitness

outdoor fitness chicago, outdoor workout chicago, chicago summer


\\ What I Love \\

  • Running the lakefront trail – In my Chicago Marathon training days, I conquered approximately 10 miles (out and back to get in a total of 20!) of that well-worn trail. While the stretch between Fullerton and Oak Street is especially popular due to the beaches, this congested area is not the only scenic part of the route. Heading north between Montrose and Foster you’ll take in expansive fields, nearly empty beaches, and plenty of peaceful spots to camp out for the afternoon. Heading south, you’ll pass by beauties such as the Buckingham Fountain, incredible skyline views by the museum campus, and ultimately more sandy shores looking back up on the loop.
  • The Color Run – Read about my experience at The Color Run and enter to win 2 tickets here.



\\ What I Want to Try \\

  • Yoga at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Nature Boardwalk – Held under the unique wooden sculpture modeled after a turtle shell, weekly yoga classes bring your workouts back to nature. In addition to the picturesque view of the city skyline, you’ll be surrounded by wildlife living in the boardwalk’s ecosystem. Curious? You can even try it out for free – on Saturday, May 31 from 9 – 10 a.m. and Sunday, June 1 from 10 – 11 a.m.
  • Stand-up Paddleboarding – If you haven’t seen pictures of this unique sport, it’s a cross between surfing and kayaking – you’ll stand up on a board and paddle around in the lake. Chicago SUP offers rentals, lessons and even crazy classes such as SUP-Yo (yoga on the board) and SUP-Fit (cross training on the board). Who wants to sign up with me??



Low-Cost Culture & Events

free events chicago, chicago summer


\\ What I Love \\

  • Navy Pier Fireworks – Seeing a spectacle in the sky is not just for 4th of July anymore – in Chicago, you can be dazzled with fireworks every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. and every Saturday at 10:15 p.m. While you can go directly to Navy Pier to view the fireworks shows, I would recommend finding a rooftop to watch them from, or go out on a fireworks cruise on a boat or kayak.
  • Movies in the Park – Movies in the Park is entering its 14th season, bringing communities together to view classic and modern movies under the stars – for free! Bring your blanket, chairs and picnic to enjoy a balmy evening with friends. I had the pleasure of seeing my favorite movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, at the Chicago History Museum last year. Favorites this summer include:
    • July 5: Gravity at Jonquil Playlot (1001 W. Wrightwood)
    • July 9: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark)
    • July 17: The Sandlot at Wicker Park (1425 N. Damen)
    • August 8: The Goonies at Wrightwood Park (2534 N. Greenview)
    • August 12: The Blind Side at Montgomery Ward Park (630 N. Kingsbury)
    • August 23: Wizard of Oz at Oz Park (2021 N. Burling)
  • Arlington Racetrack – Bring your floppy hats, your sundresses and your bowties to spend a day in the sunshine at Arlington’s beautiful horse racing track. Unlike some of the other horse racing experiences you may have had, you can actually see all of the horses at this track. Even though this location is in the suburbs, it’s easy to take the Metra from Clybourn station and you can even drink on the train. With tickets typically only $12, you’ll get to see the horses race every 20 minutes and grab some food/drinks or place a bet before the next one. The track’s biggest race, the Arlington Million, will be a big party on Saturday, August 16.
  • Farmer’s Markets – There’s nothing like finding fresh inspiration for your dinner from the bountiful produce, meats, cheeses and more flowing from local farmers at Chicago’s many Farmer’s Markets. While my favorite remains the Green City Market in Lincoln Park, many neighborhoods host their own markets on various days of the week, including lunch hours in the Loop. Visit the link above to find one near you.



\\ What I Want to Try \\

  • Jazzin’ at the Shedd – I still haven’t made it to this weekly (every Wednesday 5 – 10 p.m. from June 25 – September 3) summer event, but not for lack of trying! I bought tickets/Groupons the past two years but had conflicts both times. This year I am determined to enjoy the concerts featuring rotating artists outside the Shedd Aquarium. Attendees can choose from various food and beverage options for purchase. Bonus points for fireworks in the background and extended hours on select museum exhibits.
  • Free Concerts at Millennium Park – The gorgeous Jay Pritzker Pavilion hosts free concerts throughout the summer, another great spot to bring a blanket and set up a picnic. There are several sets of concerts – Loops and Variations, which features new music mixed with electronica on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., and Downtown Sound, which features varied genres of artists every Monday at 6:30 p.m.



Festivals, Concerts and Tours

chicago summer festival, chicago summer concerts, chicago summer


\\ What I Love \\

  • Chicago Pride Parade – This has got to be one of the city’s most fun one-day events. While the Pride Fest takes on a full week of festivities, the parade on June 29 guarantees color, spirit and a whole lot else! Warning: there might be sights you can’t un-see. But don’t let that stop you – the costumes, floats and performances make this a huge street party running for blocks and blocks in Boystown.
  • Chicago Food Planet Tour (Bucktown/Wicker Park) – In addition to getting your fill of Chicago-based delicacies, you’ll be treated to a neighborhood history walking tour. I had the opportunity to learn about the “Beer Baron Mansions,” the painted lady houses, and the history of the park (Wicker Park) itself. This tour also provided my only “official” tutorial on the history, components and principles of the Chicago-style hot dog.
  • Taste of Lincoln Avenue – One of Chicago’s most popular street festivals, Taste of Lincoln Avenue attracts a gathering so large you might end up crowd-surfing. To avoid the congestion, attend at off peak hours, catch one of the local cover bands (such as my favorite 80s cover band, 16 Candles), and sample the flavors of nearby restaurants you’ve never tried. This year’s festival is scheduled for July 26 – 27.



\\ What I Want to Try \\

  • Do-Division Street Fest – Held this upcoming weekend, May 30 – June 1, West Town’s street festival hosts concerts, a sidewalk sale of artisan vendors, local food options and even a fashion festival (runway show!). Centered on the unique businesses and shops that make up the area, this festival gives true neighborhood flair and welcome to visitors from all over.
  • Chicago Blues Fest – I feel like I’ve never fully taken advantage of Chicago’s history of blues music. From June 13 – 15, we can experience numerous blues and honorary acts in Grant Park for free. Headliners include Billy Boy Arnold, Bettye LaVette, Dr. John and more.



Follow The Chicago Lifestyle’s summer adventures around town on Twitter and Instagram.



Which of these have you tried? What tips would you give us for the places we haven’t been? Please comment below!



Win Two Tickets to the SOLD OUT Chicago Color Run Sponsored by Shout!

Win Two Tickets to the SOLD OUT Chicago Color Run Sponsored by Shout!

Coming up on Sunday, June 8, you’ll have the chance to color yourself crazy with Chicago’s most fun race – The Color Run! Enter here to win two entries to the SOLD OUT Chicago Color Run. Bring your best friend along for this wild party in Grant Park – you’ll wear all white and be splashed with color every kilometer throughout the 5k run/walk. Get in on the action by throwing your own color packet into the air at the end of the race! You’ll join thousands of fans for a DJ-fueled dance party at the finish line.


Contest brought to you by Shout and The Chicago Lifestyle.


The winner will receive:

  • 2 Race Tickets to the SOLD OUT Chicago Color Run on June 8
  • Shout Color Run Swag
  • Shout Products (Shout Trigger, Shout Color Catcher, Shout Advanced Ultra Gel Brush, Shout Wipes)



Good luck! The contest is open until 12 pm on Monday, June 2. The winner will be notified that afternoon. Mailing address will be requested upon winning as the race tickets/bibs and swag will be sent via mail. Addresses will not be used for any other purpose.


After entering, share with your friends to earn additional entries and increase your chances of winning!



The Color Run is a great way to have fun and even get a little messy in Chicago. The race’s sponsor, Shout, urges you to get out there and up your fun quota! Too many Americans are tied down by their responsibilities and don’t make enough time for fun.


To help you find more fun experiences, Shout partnered with Yelp to launch the Fun Finder on – a great way to discover new happenings in your neighborhood. You will get a list of fun activities served by nearby locations that is curated based on your IP address location. At The Chicago Lifestyle we’re always bringing you new ways to have fun – check out this simple tool for more ideas in Chicago.


I joined in the fun at last year’s Color Run – held on a gorgeous sunny day in Grant Park, I had a blast getting colored! We threw our own packets of colored powder up in the air at the finish line party as the DJ set the stage for dancing, jumping and clapping. I loved seeing so many happy people in one place and can’t wait to take part again this year! If you get as messy as I did, Shout can help you get out all those stains.


Wait, there’s more – brought to you by Shout, Americans can enter to win a fun-filled, dream vacation to experience The Color Run in New Zealand by posting a photo on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ShoutItOut #enter from now – September 30, 2014. It’s that simple!


Good luck and I hope to see you at The Color Run!




Get the Inside Scoop on MasterChef Contestant: Chicago Food Truck Chef Rickie Perez

Get the Inside Scoop on MasterChef Contestant: Chicago Food Truck Chef Rickie Perez


You’ve seen them parked along the streets, spreading delicious smells of food grilling within, and have likely sampled their local flavors. Chicago’s food trucks tout a loyal following and provide a quick and convenient spot to grab a bite to eat. Out of one of those food trucks emerged Chef Rickie Perez, a native of Logan Square with an appetite to prove his talent.


Rickie will debut on MasterChef on FOX this Monday, May 26 at 7 p.m., hosted by Gordon Ramsay. Judging alongside Gordon will be Chicago Chef celebrity Graham Elliot and restaurateur Joe Bastianich. Beginning with 30 chefs from around the country, the judges will eliminate at each round until the best contestant is dubbed MasterChef.


Chefs will test their culinary expertise with challenges each week, including:

  • Team challenge to prepare a meal for 500 service men and women on an army base
  • Preparation of a romantic meal for 14 couples
  • Restaurant takeover at a popular Hollywood dining destination
  • Competing for the best game-day grub for a group of sports fans



Excited to represent Chicago, Rickie gave me the inside scoop on his inspiration and competition:


Rickie Perez


What excited you the most about competing in MasterChef?

I have been a BIG fan of the show since the beginning. Plus, being a home cook from Chicago, I have always looked up to Chef Graham Elliot and the amazing things that have come out of his kitchens.


How did your food truck experiences prepare you to compete in MasterChef?

I have had the extreme pleasure of riding around this beautiful city in the Southern Mac and Cheese, 5411 Empanadas, Jerk Modern Jamaican, and The Fat Shallot Classic Sandwiches food trucks. In doing so, I have been able to immerse myself in foods and cultures that I may have never been able to if it wasn’t for the growing food truck population in Chicago.


Which judge is the toughest and why?

Graham was the scariest for me, but only because I truly look up to him so much.


How does your work represent Chicago?

I was born and raised in Logan Square and my beautiful wife, Jannice, and I still live there to this day. I have brought my experiences from living in this city, known for its amazing and vast variety of food, as well as those from growing up on my father’s food and having my mother-in-law’s amazing home cooking.


What food truck(s) do you run, where can we find them and what should we order?

I am no longer on the road, but I am launching my own project, Logan Oyster Socials. It is a traveling oyster bar for parties, cocktail hours, weddings or any get-together in need of a half shell.



Many thanks to Rickie and good luck during MasterChef Season 5! Catch the debut on FOX this upcoming Monday at 7 p.m.


{Images via FOX and Rickie Perez}