Category Archives: Fitness

Your Guide to Beaching in Chicago: North Avenue Beach

Your Guide to Beaching in Chicago: North Avenue Beach


Your Guide to Chicago Beaches: Pick Your Beach


My favorite season, Chicago beach season, is officially in full swing until September 2. If you haven’t done so yet, here is your guide to taking advantage of the 26 miles of Chicago beaches. First, you have to choose the right beach. Out of convenience, many of us opt for the beach that’s the closest to us but I encourage all to branch out and be sure to visit other beaches as they all have something different to offer. To find your beach for the day, check out Chicago Park district offers an interactive map of all 27 beaches with information on the history, amenities/facilities, beach rules, public transit, photos, water quality and even the “swim status.”


Featured Beach: North Avenue Beach


North Avenue Beach is a great one for families. Looking onto the water at North Avenue, this beach seems to have it all. To the right is the city view we all know and love, in front of you is the lake full of boats and kayakers, to the left are miles more of the beach, and behind you is the always busy bike trail and park; it doesn’t get much better! They even have free wifi, lockers, and a life guard first aid station. According to, it was funded and constructed as a part of FDR’s New Deal WPA (Works Progress Administration). Like most beaches, alcohol is prohibited but one of the great things is that North Avenue is home to two great restaurants, One Stick Puppy and Castaways. This August, North Avenue Beach will even host the Chicago Air and Water Show!


Chicago Beach Panorama


Beach Food


Castaways seems to be the landmark of North Avenue Beach as the giant blue and white boat-esque building that many notice when driving down Lake Shore Drive. They also offer great beach food at their walk up bar but I suggest the Vodka Lemonades on Fridays for only $6.50!


Another hot spot and one of the three full service Chicago beach restaurants is The Dock at Montrose Beach. A favorite part about The Dock is all the live music, including Reggae Wednesdays! As far as the menu, they have everything from kid friendly food, to wraps, and quite the list of cocktails!


If there is sunshine and there are people on the beach you can guarantee there will be ice cream carts up and down the coast all day! The ice cream selection has changed very little since you were a kid so be sure to bring cash for a Nutty Buddy or Fire Cracker Popsicle.


Also on North Avenue Beach, One Stick Puppy is a favorite because the corn dogs make for the perfect beach snack. I purchased the water bottle and always make sure I have it with me every time I go to the beach for the free water refills! Similar to One Stick Puppy, there are several other great beach stands open on the warm days with fun snacks!


Chicago Beach


Beach Activities


On August 16 – 17, North Avenue Beach will serve as the center for the yearly Chicago Air and Water Show featuring the he U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights. The show is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Blue Angels are coming out this year! As it will be a long and hot show, be sure to bring a few water bottles and extra sunscreen.


What’s better than starting your day doing yoga in on the beach? Sun and Moon Beach Yoga offers both sunrise and sunset classes through September 1! If neither sunrise nor sunset suits your schedule they also offer late morning and weekend classes to cater to all yogis! You can either purchase a $15 pass, a Season Pass for $300 or you can choose from the 5, 10, or 20 class packs.


Chicago City Sports Monster Beach Volleyball has it all! If you’re interested in beach volleyball, Sports Monster offers 5 different levels, leagues available Sunday – Friday, 9-week leagues, pickup games, tournaments, and clinics. Leagues are open for registration so you can chose from one of their 5 locations and sign up today.


Enjoy your beach days and don’t forget to wear sunscreen!


Wear Sunscreen!



Kickbox Your Way into Shape at TITLE Boxing Club

Kickbox Your Way into Shape at TITLE Boxing Club


Looking to get in shape for the summer? I have your answer: kickboxing. Even if you don’t live in the West Loop or Lincoln Park area I strongly suggest visiting TITLE Boxing Club for their “free shot” class. Be warned, you’ll be hooked. I consider myself to be someone who is in good shape and I workout several times a week, but one class at TITLE revealed all my fitness weaknesses. They are not joking when they say it’s the ultimate full body workout.


Title Boxing Club Lincoln Park


TITLE Boxing Club in Lincoln Park offers boxing and kickboxing classes and even personal trainers if you choose to design your own workout. There aren’t different levels of classes because they’re designed to cater to all fitness levels. As a student on a limited college budget, I had little intention of signing up for a membership after the free class, but as soon as my free class was over I found myself doing my finances in my head to see if I could make it work.


There are three different types of memberships, so give them a call if you’re interested or sign up online to check out the first free class. Unlike many other gyms, you do have to sign up for a membership instead of dropping in and paying by class. While this seems like a frustrating policy, they do it intentionally because you really can’t get the results you want if you randomly drop in. According to the trainers, if you commit to about 3 classes a week and consciously eat healthy, you will see results. Upon signing up for a membership they give you $130 worth of equipment up front like gloves, hand-wraps, a towel, and a drawstring bag.


Title Boxing Club Lincoln Park


When I walked in to Title, I was warmly greeted and before I had time to look around and start to dread the workout, my hands were quickly wrapped and I was handed a pair of gloves. The first part of the hour was a warm up with jogging, sprinting, pushups, and many burpees. Then, I got to put on the gloves and hit the punching bags. I had such a great time taking swings at the bags I didn’t even realize the puddle of sweat underneath me when we started the core workout and then cool down.


As an awesome trainer at the new TITLE Boxing Club, Katie shared with me her experience and why she believes kickboxing is the best workout.


Title Boxing Club - Katie


What kind of experience do you have with boxing or kickboxing?

I have none. I’m a personal trainer and I had take it in the past it was looking for something new.  I love it for two reasons; the intensity and the energy. It’s better than a cup of coffee, it really wakes you up! I completely believe in this method because as a trainer I do everything and my first time I could barely breathe! My stomach tightened and shrunk!



What do you teach and how often?

I teach eight classes a week teach a very wide variety. Every one of my classes is different and anyone can take them.



Does this method really work?

Yes. If you can take these classes a few times a week, it is the best way to get in shape. The classes are high intensity and a lot of cardio so the calorie burn is ridiculous. It is less how you fight and more about how your body works. Every time you take a class you feel better.



What is your favorite food after a workout?

I am a firm believer in eating clean and living a healthy life all around. I eat the Pest Chicken Bowl from Protein Bar.


To learn more about TITLE Boxing Club, visit or call the Lincoln Park Location at 773-312-4726.



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!



5 Things You Need to Know Before You Sign Up for the Chicago Marathon

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Sign Up for the Chicago Marathon

Is this your year to run the marathon? After running in Chicago for several years, I’ve experienced the joys and challenges marathons offer. One of the most popular marathon destinations in the country, Chicago hosts a flat and fast course that appeals to those from hilly climates. Not just a tourist attraction, the Chicago marathon is great way for locals to take advantage of Chicago’s natural beauty and friendly spirit.


Sign-up begins Wednesday, March 5. Here’s what you need to know for the 26.2 mile race on Sunday, October 12:



1. Registration is now lottery based.

Unlike the guaranteed pre-sellout signup of previous years, you’ll submit your registration on March 5 at 12 p.m. (up until April 7 at 12 p.m.) on the Chicago Marathon website. Runners will be chosen at random to fill the 45,000 spots, and will be notified via email on Monday, April 14. Make sure your credit card is in good standing, as you will be withdrawn if your card doesn’t run correctly on the 14th! While your registration cannot be refunded or transferred to anyone else, if your plans change you have the ability to defer your entry to the 2015 race (but will be charged both years).

The only way to guarantee entry (if you’re not a super-fast runner who has done the marathon a hundred times) is to sign up through a charity… and fundraise at least $1000 (fundraising amount varies by charity). If you’re great at collecting money from your friends and family, make sure you go through one of the Chicago Marathon’s official charity partners (list coming soon).


2. You will have no social life from April through October.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the glory that comes with a marathon finish is worth it. First, set your training plan. Utilize resources from sites like Runner’s World or Nike’s Chicago-specific plan to map out your weekly runs and cross-training. Long runs are, well… long, so set expectations with your friends and family that you will be MIA for months on end. Through the summer, you’ll embark on your long runs early Saturday mornings, as the heat (hard to imagine at this point) creeps up early in the day. Friday night drinking is not advisable before your critical training runs, so you might be more of a Sunday Funday-type this year.


3. You will see more of Chicago’s beauty than you ever imagined.

While there are many parks, roads and routes to run in Chicago, I prefer to stay away from intersections and crazy drivers and therefore take all my training to the lakefront path. With 18 miles of gorgeous views of the lake, the trail runs from 5800 North all the way to 7100 South. Seeing the skyline from many miles south as well as many miles north of downtown is incredibly breathtaking, and puts in perspective how far you’ve just run (those skyscrapers look really small from far away)! In addition to the scenic beaches, gardens, museums, boat harbors and more that you’ll come across, you’ll also see the beauty of Chicagoans out and about enjoying the city. 

During the race, I had the pleasure of seeing neighborhoods I’d never been to before – the dancing dragons and golden red gateway to Chinatown, the Mexican artwork along the streets of Pilsen, and more. The race itself is a true tour of Chicago and the many faces cheering along the course make up a diverse network of Chicago’s citizens.


4. You will meet lots of cool, passionate people.

Runners love talking about running – about their experiences, insider tips, and what to expect on race day. The supportive community you will meet when training for a race is incredible, and it’s an easy way to build a network. Shopping for new shoes at Fleet Feet? The salesperson will be happy to tell you about the races he or she has run. Join up with CARA or another runner’s group to have side-by-side support during your training runs. If you sign up with a charity, you’ll also have a network of like-minded people all running for a cause. Not to be overlooked, the pre-race expo (held at McCormick Place) is an opportunity to learn about sponsoring businesses, new products and others who share your passion for running. 


5. Your bucket list will thank you.

Running a marathon is quite an ambitious goal – one that many set out on their “bucket list” to accomplish in their lifetime. Signing up is the first step. After months of training, not without its pains and challenges, the joy of streaming through the finish line in Grant Park is completely earned, all on your own. You now have the right to wear your shiny medal all day long – to brunch, to walk your dog, etc. – just not out for another run! You’ll need time to rest and recover and reflect back on what you’ve just accomplished.



Good luck to all the runners out there!

Get Healthy for Free (Almost!) This Sunday

Get Healthy for Free (Almost!) This Sunday

After all that weekend partying, are you motivated to get healthy on Sunday? Take advantage of these low cost healthy activities on Sunday, February 23:


9 a.m.Basics of Juicing Demo at Sur La Table ($5) – Located in 900 N. Michigan Bloomingdale’s Building. Watch the techniques of a Sur La Table chef creating healthy juices using fast or slow juicers, and learn the benefits of using seasonal vegetables.

11 a.m.Exhale Power Yoga Flow class at Lululemon (free) – Located in 900 N. Michigan Bloomingdale’s Building. Take part in a free Sunday yoga class led by Jenny Finkel of Exhale Spa.

12 p.m. – Refuel at Freshii with a quinoa bowl (approx. $11) – Located in 900 N. Michigan Bloomingdale’s Building. Add protein such as salmon or chicken to power you through the day.

1 p.m. – Pick up a healthy dinner at Goddess and Grocer (25 E. Delaware). Choose from deli items, salads, sandwiches and more to takeaway for an evening dinner.


Now go get some rest and relaxation to wind down your week!

Dance Your Heart Out – This Month’s Fire Dancers, Salsa Lessons and More

Dance Your Heart Out – This Month’s Fire Dancers, Salsa Lessons and More

“You better move, you better dance…” Despite the cold, there’s still plenty to do in Chicago this month! Spice things up with these dance-worthy events and festivals.


Flirt with Flamenco

Kicking off Friday, February 14, the Chicago Flamenco Festival treats you to the talented performances of flamenco dancers until March 22. The opening ceremony on Friday features international flamenco dancers and serves up bites and beers from Taco Joint and Lagunitas. The performances are followed by an after party led by DJ Soulphonetics. Check the website for times and locations of performances happening throughout the next month.



Meet the Dancers of the Joffrey Ballet

Inspired by the beautiful dancers in the Olympic opening ceremony? Catch Chicago’s local interpretation of contemporary dance in this month’s performances at the Joffrey Ballet (Friday, February 14 through Sunday, February 23). Also this month, Joffrey offers a unique opportunity to meet the artists behind the scenes. In advance of the performances on the 15th, 20th and 22nd, come in early for a discussion with the dancers, visiting choreographers and members of the creative team.



Groove to Motown Beats

Shhh – this event is top-secret! Featuring live soul and Motown performances, Speakeasy Chicago partners up with RM Champagne Salon to host their first monthly “The Green Street Social Club.” On Monday, February 17 at RM Champagne Salon (116 N. Green St.), enjoy craft cocktails while listening to some of Chicago’s hottest new musicians. Call 312-243-1199 for more details.



Play with Fire and Ice

Longing for the hot days of Pride Fest, boystown is keeping up the momentum at the Northalsted Winter Fest. Designate Sunday, February 23 (12 – 6 p.m.) a “Sunday Funday” highlighted by ice sculptures, drag queen contests, a 3D light show and even fire dancers! Events are held on the 3300 – 3700 blocks of north Halsted, with surrounding businesses on side streets lending their patios for the festivities. Stay warm with bowls of soup served up by local restaurants.



Learn to Salsa Dance

To celebrate Brazil’s famous Carnival, Chicago restaurant Nacional 27 (325 W. Huron) hosts events all weekend (February 27 – March 1). Kickoff the festival on Thursday, February 27 with complimentary salsa dance lessons at 7:30 p.m. The weekend’s events also include samba performances and conga lines. Fuel up with beachy cocktails and Hurricane fish bowls. Book reservations online to join in on the fun.



Reserve Tickets Now for the Hottest Dance Music Artists

Buy your tickets before they sell out to see the award-winning electronic music producer Armin Van Buuren at the United Center on Thursday, April 17. Only landing in eight cities, his tour will showcase his latest album, “Intense,” which includes songs such as “This Is What It Feels Like.”


Avicii is selling out concerts world-wide – buy yours now for his performance at Allstate Arena on Thursday, May 15.  Featuring collaborative songs such as “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother,” Avicii continues to provide new and innovative music extending beyond the EDM genre, providing a taste for everyone.


Photo credit: Edinburgh International Festival

Staycationing in Chicago

Staycationing in Chicago

Not jetting to the Caribbean this month? Neither am I. Now that Chiberia is over, here are my top picks for “staycationing” in Chicago.


If you wish you were in Costa Rica:

  • Visit the Lincoln Park Conservatory (2391 N. Stockton) and enter a heated tropical paradise. Walking through the orchids, ferns and koi fish ponds takes you on a little journey to the rainforest. Admission is free, open 9 – 5 every day


If you wish you were in Colorado:

  • Trek through the snow on snow shoes or cross country skis at Northerly Island (1521 S. Linn White Dr.). Go after a fresh snow fall, rentals are only $5 and parking is only $2. Low price for some winter action and a gorgeous view of the city skyline. Open select weekends until February 16


If you wish you were in Hawaii:

  • Order yourself a Mai Tai or choose from a wide assortment of Tiki cocktails at Three Dots and a Dash (435 N. Clark). Inspired by WWII Morse code signaling “V for victory,” the historical Tiki cocktails welcomed home Allied soldiers, and now they can welcome you too, out of the frosty winter weather. To find the clandestine entrance, wrap around to the back of the building, down an alley and through a blue door. Open till 3 a.m. on Saturdays, you can get tropical all night long


If you wish you were in Memphis:

  • Jive to live music at B.L.U.E.S. (2519 N. Halsted) featuring blues acts nearly every night of the week. Typical cover is $5-10 – not bad for live music in the city! Bonus points if you get to know the band


If you wish you were in Cuba:

  • “Taste the Forbidden” at 90 Miles, (2540 W. Armitage and 3101 N. Clybourn) the best Cuban café in the city. Great atmosphere and super friendly service enhance your experience, and the menu is fantastic – my favorites include Rabo Encendido (oxtail) and Ropa Vieja (slow-cooked shredded beef). Check their website for daily specials such as live flamenco and pig roasts (and every day is BYOB)


If you wish you were in France:

  • Travel to the southern Rhone valley through a tasting of the region’s Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre wines. Visit the WineBar at Plum Market Old Town (1233 N. Wells) on Thursday, January 30 at 6:30 p.m. for a French wine tour tasting – tickets $20


What are your favorite hidden vacation spots in Chicago?

Best Bets: January 2014 (Part 2)

Best Bets: January 2014 (Part 2)

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Take advantage of Chicago’s upcoming events and offerings this month:


  • Have a laugh as Chicago’s improv theater ComedySportz (929 W. Belmont) sets up a 1920s speakeasy-themed weekend (January 16 – 18) in honor of Prohibition. Shows are supplemented by live jazz music, prohibition-style cocktails and even a password to enter. Guests wearing costumes will receive $5 off their tickets
  • Only here for 8 weeks, The Phantom of the Opera opens at the Cadillac Palace Theater (151 W. Randolph) on January 9 – buy tickets to the world-renowned production before they sell out
  • Get dressed up and head to Art Institute After Dark for a 21+ museum party featuring a DJ, appetizers and a cash bar. This is your last chance to see the “Art and Appetite” exhibit before it closes. Friday, January 17, 9 p.m. – 12 a.m. Tickets $25. Enter through the Modern Wing at 159 E. Monroe


  • The 5th annual Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Fest kicks off January 10 and features three weeks of concerts around town at Concord Music Hall, Tonic Room, City Winery and Evanston’s SPACE. Most notable is Rusted Root playing at Concord Music Hall on January 25 with Donna the Buffalo
  • If you can’t get enough drama, follow the trials and tribulations of Bravo’s chosen “Chicago socialite go-getters” on 100 Days of Summer. Tuesday’s premiere (9 p.m.) illustrated that they think we all must die after those 100 days are up. Prove them wrong!


  • If you’ve ever dreamed of being a chef, check out Le Cordon Bleu’s open house and cooking demo day this Saturday, January 11 at 10:30. Tour their industrial kitchens and pick up chef tips along the way. RSVP in the link above to reserve your spot (free)
  • Indoor foodie festival “The Nosh” sets up each Sunday with the Logan Square Farmer’s Market at 2755 N. Milwaukee from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Taste local artisanal food from multiple vendors sampling bites of Chicago


  • Take advantage of the last few days of Chicago Park District’s Free Fitness Week – sign up for free classes and swim lessons and work out at a number of Chicago-area gyms for free, only until January 12. Low-cost enrollment options are available after the free week is up
  • Drop in on a number of boutique workout classes for free this month, thanks to Nike Training Club Lincoln Park. With the close of their Armitage storefront last month, they’ve opened a window to give fans a chance to take advantage of free workouts around the city. Pick up your NTC Club Card at Nike Chicago or Nike Running Bucktown for access to studios such as Barre Bee Fit, Flywheel and Shred415
  • Fulfill your Bears-fan dream of running through Soldier Field by signing up for May 24′s Soldier Field 10 Mile race. Sign up by January 19 to save $20 off your registration fee

Best Bets: January 2014

Best Bets: January 2014


  • For the hardcore Cubbies fans: the 2014 Cubs Convention runs from January 17 – 19 to kick off the hundred year anniversary of Wrigley Field. Events include coach and player appearances, autograph signings and a preview of the centennial celebrations coming up this season
    • Date: Friday, January 17 – Sunday, January 19
    • Location: 301 East North Water Street
    • Cost: $60 for 3-day pass
  • Explore Chicago’s hidden pedways connecting 5 miles’ worth of buildings downtown. Tour options include history, brunch and pub crawls (times and pricing vary)


  • Indulge in a new dining experience during Chicago Restaurant Week. Held from January 24 – February 6, nearly 250 Chicago-area restaurants offer $22 lunch menus and $33 or $44 dinner menus. Make your reservations fast as they fill up quickly
    • Best bets (based on available published menus). Note that I am not vegetarian and my tastes swing to the meat-lovers side of the fence. Most of these restaurants offer vegetarian options as well:
      • Bar Pastoral – tempt your taste buds with braised pork belly and finish it off with salted caramel cheesecake
      • Café des Architects – I was sold when I saw braised short ribs. Take note that you can supplement any course with shaved French truffles
      • Howells & Hood – four words: truffle lobster pot pie. You can balance it out with the kale superfood salad
      • Mon Ami Gabi – $33 for all the classics – escargots, beef bourguignon and crème brulee
      • Table 52 – fried green tomatoes to start, then wash down your buttermilk fried chicken with an oatmeal cookie sandwich with buttercream icing


  • HIIT (high intensity interval training) class as part of Lululemon’s “Resolution Wednesdays” series this month
    • Date: Wednesday, January 22 at 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.
    • Location: Lululemon – 2104 N. Halsted
    • Cost: Free
  • Ski the slopes at Devil’s Head Ski Resort – an hour and a half drive just across the Wisconsin border is a fun weekend day trip for skiers of all levels. While the “mountain” descriptor might be a bit of a stretch, it’s the best way to enjoy the snow this season


  • My favorite Showtime escape, Shameless, returns for its fourth season on Sunday, January 12 at 8 p.m. CT. Watch as actors Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy survive Chicago’s south side


Go have fun this month – stay warm!