VISIT :: CHICAGO

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Having grown up a midwestern gal, I spent a lot of time visiting Chicago and doing the prom dress shopping thing and deep dish pizza thing. Also, knowing my father, we went to a few cultural points and zoo’s to give the trip some street cred. And because zoo’s are where it’s at. Prior to this trip, our last visit to Chicago looked a lot different. We’ve swapped back stage at Lollapalooza for stroller friendly hot spots. While I’m sure Parker is going to have her fair share of concert experiences early on in her life, for now, we just enjoyed the spots that would accommodate a stroller. If you’re planning to visit Chicago with a one year old, this is how things went down for us!

chicago travel guide visit chicago kids
chicago travel guide visit chicago kids

We’ve become so spoiled with Airbnb, but that’s not always the easiest when you’re  visiting a walking city with a baby. We didn’t want to travel all that way there and then be a bit secluded from our main destinations (we were, after all, in town for a wedding). It was either stay downtown where we could get around to everything, like we do in New York, or stay in an Airbnb but pay for cabs to and from everything. Both are totally do-able, but being New Yorkers, we like to walk everywhere. So, we opted to play tourist and stayed in a hotel downtown. Since Parker was still on two hearty naps a day, we were able to venture out easily and go shopping, walk around to a lot of places we wanted to see, but still be able to easily pop back by the hotel for any needs.

chicago travel guide visit chicago with kids
chicago travel guide visit chicago kids

Millennium Park. Not surprising as it’s a must see for anyone who visits Chicago, but something about watching Parker just stand in awe of a big shiny mirror (aka “The Bean”) where she can just stare at herself at all angles. Kids are super narcissistic.  Once she had her fill of her own reflection, we went over to the huge Pritzker Pavilion where she could run wild and free. Perfect spot for a little picnic and relaxation too.

Navy Pier. Yes, it doesn’t get more touristy than this spot, but they have a giant ferris wheel and a carousel and nothing is cuter than babies sitting on a carousel. And she was free to run around and be a kid. Also you can jump on a boat tour here, which are the perfect way to get a full view and gorgeous pictures of the city. Same goes for New York. Boat tours are like the hidden gems.

chicago travel guide visit chicago kids

Chicago Riverwalk. A series of public walkways and seating areas offers interesting views of the city. Great way to weave in and out of some cool neighborhoods and also get some quality walking in! 

Shopping. Oh, the shopping! We were just a short walk to Michigan Ave, so while Parker was napping, I got to easily jump over and score some finds. Plus, we were close to Trader Joe’s and Eataly, so we could pick up some snacks and things for P to eat. With a child now, it really is more about convenience!  

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Noteworthy places that are worth a cab ride with baby in tow:

Bang Bang Pie 

Una Mae’s

Milk & Honey Cafe

Randolph Street Market

Lincoln Park Zoo

Frank Lloyd Wright House

Hemingway House

Penelope’s             

* We get a lot of questions about what travel stroller system to use, you can see the base and the carseat here! *

visit chicago travel guide with kids the bean

Middle School Phase

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Just wanted to write a bit about how I've had trouble sharing lately. Maybe because it was all rainy and gloomy in Brooklyn on Friday (when I started writing this!) or maybe because I have decided this is better than nothing. Either way, I have all these thoughts in my head day in and day out of things I want to blog about and then I ultimately talk myself out of it. I have posts that I’ve never posted for no other reason than I just felt like people wouldn't want to read them. I convince myself that it's a silly subject, no one would find this interesting or that there's really nothing new to say here on the interwebs that hasn't been said before by someone else in different packaging. I've been really bad at feeling confident in what I'm producing and putting out here. I'm setting standards for myself that I think are probably loftier than anything anyone else is expecting of me, which I never used to do before. It’s funny, I’ve discovered this newfound confidence in my life as a mother and have never felt so proud of who I am and what I’m accomplishing every day (read: literally keeping another human alive), yet when it comes to my creativity here on this blog space, I feel inadequate. Do I sound like a moody creative yet? 

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I feel like I’m in an awkward middle school phase with this space. There are some growing pains going on and if a blog could have braces and bad skin, I think mine would right now. I'm feeling gangly and out of place. I get stressed about being too 'mommy' on here, but then again, that's really the focus of my world right now. I know more about diaper bag launches than the Mansur Gavriel bucket bag release dates. And it used to be the other way around. Since I'm also still the same person I was before I had Parker, this is where I assume no one wants to read another post on diaper bags or why I try to choose the one that doesn’t scream ‘I’m carrying a bag full of a soiled diapers!’. There are people far and wide who have done that jig. But maybe that is what I want to write about and maybe that is what you want to read. Would that be so bad?

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Maybe it’s because I’m juggling the logistics of a full time job, a full time mom and a full time wife on top of managing life in one of the most chaotic and competitive cities in the world. That’s an exhausting sentence to read. I often tell myself that these reasons explain my lack of enthusiasm to hit ‘publish’ after a long day and really believe in what I’m putting out there. Sure, I could publish a ton of stuff that is just fine (trust me, I’ve got an arsenal of unpublished posts just hanging out), but it’s probably best to wait until I feel proud of them. That’s the wonderful thing about having an online space… things evolve and grow and the world goes on. You can always come back when you need to - it’s here waiting.  

I thrive in being able to write, to think creatively, to put together projects and share them with people. So this space will always be a need of mine - it’s not going anywhere. I’m thankful it’s here and I’m thankful you read my ramblings. This awkward middle schooler just needed to share. Now, I'll distract you with a cute picture of Parker Mae crawling....... and all is right in the world again! 

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Visit :: Hotel Saint Cecilia

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You want to know the greatest thing to happen to our lives right now? Free extended babysitting. The kind that allows you to jump on a quick flight, find a hidden gem of a hotel, explore a city, have a wonderful dinner date, stay out past your bedtime and sleep in like teenagers. That, my friends, makes you feel like a million bucks when you’re new parents. Technically, are we still ‘new’ parents? I don’t know the cutoff here. At seven months, we might consider ourselves ‘seasoned’. At least the permanent exhaustion look on our faces would declare it so.

A few weeks back, Parker got to have a vacation with her grandparents. We dropped her off, kissed her on the head, left a freezer full of milk and we fled south to Austin for a weekend full of R&R. Having lived in Texas for for a bit of my life, I’m not new to Austin, but it’s almost nice to go back now and kind of ‘rediscover’ it outside of being there in college (read: gross frat parties) or being there for work (read: gross music festivals).

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We aren’t really hotel kind of people and usually opt to find a hidden gem in the Airbnb world, but this time around, we got serious and found some fancy digs to rest our heads. Eric has spent some time at El Cosmico in Marfa, and had heard rave reviews about its sister abode, Hotel Saint Cecilia. I tell ya, I couldn’t imagine a more serene place right off the main craze of South Congress, with its chic boutiques and trendy restaurants, can be quite loud and crowded. Not here. The atmosphere is as if California and Nashville merged into one with cactuses and rustic American flags hanging around... as they do. We were lucky enough to practically be the only people there, so it was as if, we had the whole estate to ourselves. The pool is heated, the mini bar is packed full of eclectic treats and spirits from around the world and best of all, each room comes equipped with a record player (vinyl supplied at the front desk’s extensive library).

We honestly only spent a short amount of time in Austin, I thought of it as almost a ‘staycation’ in a city you don’t actually live in, but sometimes you have to get away to really rest.

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To See, To Do & To Eat::

Uncommon Objects :: If I go missing, the first place to look for me is this shop. Seriously. If I was a millionaire, I would buy the whole dang place and everything in it. Every corner is full of gorgeous curated antiques and oddities….. kind of like the current state of my apartment except consider ‘oddities’ to be ‘baby things’.

Stag:: A perfectly curated store for the man in your life.

Moss:: A perfectly curated consignment store for the lady of the house.

Torchy's:: Best damn tacos in all the land. Well, this could start a fight of sorts to go throwing around ‘best of’ claims, but by golly, those tacos are the most memorable ones I’ll eat in Austin.

Contigo:: One of our Brooklyn buddies had a hand in putting this place together, so it was a no-brainer for our date night while in town. It gets pretty hopping during the warmer weather, but we were lucky to catch it on a chilly evening, by Austin standards, so we snuggled up at our table with complimentary southwestern blankets and cocktails. Try the crispy green beans, cauliflower gratin and the dewberry hills chicken.

Jo's Coffee:: Located in the parking lot of the Hotel San Jose, the other sister of the El Cosmico and Hotel Saint Cecilia tribe, it hosts a line around the block most days. The coffee is top notch and if you didn’t get a chance to snag a taco at Torchy’s, the ones here are a close contender. Try the Iced Turbo and a breakfast taco.  

Taco Deli:: Maybe all I do is eat tacos in Austin? This place is only for the ‘breakfast’ category. Nothing fancy, but a place not to be missed. Try ‘The Otto’ taco.

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As with every city, there are probably awesome hidden gems that we likely have no clue exist! If you have some top favorite places in Austin, leave a comment below letting me know the spots so we can make sure to check them out on our next trip!

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 See you again soon Hotel Saint Cecilia!