That Toddlin' Town!
Earlier this month, the tomboy and I packed our bags and headed to Chicago to watch a dear friend wed her beau in what ultimately went down as The Most Epic Rock 'n Roll Wedding Ever. We made a long weekend of it and by the time we boarded our flight back home Sunday night, we felt so restored. If a town can take a 3-night/4-day trip and turn it into what feels like a bona fide getaway, it gets super bonus points from this gal.
We knew we'd be spending tons of time in neighborhoods like Logan Square all the way down to Pilsen in the Lower West Side, and the tony Gold Coast district, but The Kinzie Hotel was central to all three and ridiculously close to downtown gems, so that's where we booked our stay.
Boutique hotels are kind of our go-to jam when traveling. They're usually quirkier and smaller and more interesting than big, traditional hotels, but with plenty of polish and style.
During our cross-country road trip in 2012, we stayed at The Burnham and it was marvelous, but the Kinzie's huge windows and light-flooded rooms caught my eye. Big, fluffy robes and a generous daily breakfast on each floor sealed the deal, making it easy to grab coffee and fresh fruit and pastries down the hall, then head back to our room for noshing and planning out the days from a massive king bed with a killer view!
Even though we had both a rehearsal dinner and the wedding to attend, I made do with dresses already hanging in my closet — a Paper Dolls dress similar to this one from Modcloth for the former, and a gorgeous black bias-cut, open back gown for the latter — and splurged instead on this itty bitty giddy little crossbody bag in gold and silver glitter from Kate Spade (below).
It comes in a super femme red/pink and rose gold, but I knew I'd get the most mileage out of this color and I'm finding it's the perfect dose of girly abandon when I'm wearing lots more tomboyish fall layers!
FFAF travel tip: When bulky jewelry cases hog too much luggage space, I use soft pouches instead, packing like with like (rings/bracelets, earrings, necklaces). When I unpack, I lay out all my jewelry over the pouches so it's not a tangled, disorganized mess. You can give yours an extra layer of protection by storing the pouches into a small bag or clutch. Every little extra bit helps when you're traveling light!
OK, back to glorious Chicago.
You know I'm madly, hopelessly in love with a skyline if I've got it tattooed on my body, but I can't think of anything that looks quite like Chicago's.
The architecture is stop-you-in-your-tracks stunning, the way the buildings fit together and complement or contrast with one another. It's epic, devastating poetry in steel and concrete and glass and brick and layers of fog, wonderfully familiar fog. I don't know how photos can fail so miserably to do it any true justice, but taking it all in with your own two eyes just makes the heart race. (Even if you happen to be rather inadequately dressed on a very nippy open-air architecture boat tour, as we were.) On the streets or the river, we were awestruck by it all.
I think it's so strange that I've been to Chicago a few times before (when I was much younger), and maybe we were too sleep-deprived or preoccupied a few years ago, and didn't notice it, but Chicago is almost unbearably pretty to look at.
ABOUT THAT BEAN
Of course we did. How couldn't we?! In addition to this tourist hotspot, we were so excited about all of the public art everywhere. We walked the Magnificent Mile and Millennium Park, and fell in love with the Art Institute. To a couple of 30-something QWOCs in the final stretch of a four-year stint in Boston, things in Chicago felt immediately cooler and artsier and more diverse (not that it doesn't have its segregation issues or shortcomings, every town does), the people were incredibly friendly and helpful, bro concentration seemed way down from what we've grown used to, and there was an endless list of amazing places to eat and drink.
If it weren't for the winters and being landlocked, it'd be on our short list of Places We Might Live Someday for sure. (Side note: How funny would it be if we ended up in the state my mama fled so so many years ago?!)
MAY WE SUGGEST...
Here are some highlights/recommendations:
- Pilsen: Thalia Hall for live music, Tack Room for piano bar realness
- Logan Square: Reno (for brunch), Billy Sunday (for drinks), Lula Cafe (for mealtimes), eat/drink/sleep at Longman & Eagle
- Three Dots and a Dash and Lost Lake for tiki times! Firecakes donuts! Pops for Champagne for, well, champagne!
But seriously? Just explore. Have a light or no agenda at all. Surrender. I really think with some cities, you need to just let them have their way with you. We'll return when it's warmer.
Especially since my new favorite thing to do is watch my wife look at art.
Have you missed FFAF? Me, too! October sped by but I'm hoping to post more regularly — 2-3 posts per week, if I can help it. They may be shorter, but they'll be there. And now that I'm the resident Beauty Editor at Autostraddle, you can always find me there as well. Catch up on my Hard Lacquer column here, and mark your calendars for 2016's SXSW #SXStyle weekend — come March, it looks like I'll be speaking on their first-ever queer fashion panel, alongside rad co-panelists from dapperQ, Qwear and Sharpe Suiting!