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Visiting Chicago

Guest blogger Kendra Thornton of Thornton Public Relations

This is part of a series of travel articles composed by myself and travel expert Kendra Thornton, former Orbitz Director, about our favorite things to do in our home towns.    

A Few of the Top Reasons to Visit Chicago

As a native of Chicago, I’m always amazed by how much this city has to offer. I always find something new to enjoy with my family. Of course, I also like to revisit destinations that I grew up with. To help acquaint fellow travelers with my favorite city, here are four of my top recommendations for places to see when you visit Chicago.

1. Chicago is a Sports Town

Chicago has always been a city that loves its sports team, whether they win or lose. We have basketball, baseball, football and more. Nothing is more fun than to take my kids to a ball game at Wrigley Field. We’re also hockey fans, and the Blackhawks have given us plenty to celebrate recently, having won the Stanley Cup! Attending a live sporting event is always a fun and exciting adventure when you’re in Chicago.

2. A Great Place to Eat Anytime

One thing all travelers have in common is that they love to find great restaurants when they arrive somewhere. I always make it a point to go to Glenn’s Diner. This is a traditional yet innovative diner that has a wide selection of dishes at reasonable prices. One of their specialties, believe it or not, is breakfast cereal. With over 25 choices, you can find a delicious and comforting bowl of cereal any time of day, served with cold milk and fresh fruit.

3. How to Find the Perfect Chicago Hotel

Your choice of hotel can have a huge impact on how much you enjoy your stay, no matter where you’re going. Fortunately, Chicago has lots of wonderful hotels in many neighborhoods. How do you locate the hotel that perfectly fits your tastes and budget? One tool that I always use when traveling is Gogobot. This site lists many different hotels and includes all the information you need, such as rates, location and amenities. Even better, you can read customer reviews and find out what other people’s experience has been with the hotel.

4. Don’t Miss Grant Park

When you’re in Chicago, make sure you take the time to visit Grant Park. This is one of my favorite spots in the city, and it contains many attractions worth seeing. You have the Art Institute of Chicago right there, where you can find many fascinating exhibits. You will also find performance venues, gardens, playgrounds and lots more in this 300+ acre park. My kids especially love to visit the Shedd Aquarium, which is another of the park’s many attractions.

I hope you will take my advice and visit some of the Chicago attractions I’ve suggested. This is a city that you can enjoy day or night and during all four seasons. It’s diverse enough to satisfy anyone’s tastes, whether you prefer shopping, theater, visiting museums or cheering your favorite sports team.








Make sure to follow Kendra on Twitter to connect more!

Chicago sounds like a great place to visit!  What is something that makes your home town special?  I would love to hear about it.


Experiencing San Francisco Bay Area

This is part of a series of travel articles composed by myself and travel expert Kendra Thornton, former Orbitz Director, about our favorite things to do in our home towns.

As I just relocated from NYC to the San Francisco Bay Area, I am sharing the top 5 things I am most excited about doing in and around the Bay!

Experiencing city life the San Franciscan way

  • Such an iconic San Fran experience are riding the trolleys (ding, ding)!  Excited to hop on a cable car and ride the 7 hill tops and watch our west coast peeps hike the city’s steep hills (NY may be a city of walkers but the San Franciscans have the calves!).
  • With the yearly moderate temps a bike ride through Golden Gate Park (20% larger than Central Park) is a must.  Can’t wait to bike through the Japanese Tea Garden (where the first fortune cookies were supposedly made) and stop at the coastal end of the park to play in the sand with the kids.
  • After living in a city with some of the greatest restaurants and chef’s in the world, my eager taste buds are ready to dine at the trendy Gary Danko’s in North Beach and RN74 in South Beach.  The food is suppose to be delicious and the atmosphere noteworthy.

Home to the 49ers and Giants!

  • Such iconic California teams in the Bay.  Where else can you catch an out-of-the-park home run ball by boat but at the AT&T Park.  In my opinion, one of the best places to watch a baseball game.  And, the red and gold spirit on the peninsula is contagious.  We may be a true Green Bay Packers family (I’m a drafted fan due to marriage, ha!) but when the Packers are not playing we will definitely be rooting for our new home team at Candlestick Park (soon Levi’s Stadium), go 49ers  –  “Who’s got it better than us? Nobody!”

Biking, Hiking, and Surfing

  • The Bay Area has such a diverse amount of outdoor activities.  A couple things I am most pumped about are hiking along the gorgeous beach lined coastal hills, and then in the winter, watching the world’s bravest surfers at Mavericks Beach shredding waves.  So California.  Then at the nearby Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay grabbing a drink on the beach during sunset.  Can’t wait!

World Class Wineries

  • If there is anything more notable in the North Bay it’s the Napa wineries!  I am eagerly awaiting a day trip of wine tasting, touring the vineyards, having lunch at the Culinary Institute of America and ending the day drinking a local wine watching the sunset at one of the amazing spas in Sonoma County.

America’s Cup

  • A spectacular event on the Bay is watching the America’s Cup!  The catamarans make the show exciting to watch and the 2013 event was voted the most ‘fan-friendly’ AC ever.  Rumor has it that the 2016 AC event could, once again, be held in the San Francisco Bay.  I hope so!

With so much culture, diversity and beauty throughout the bay, there is something for everyone.  I hope some of my favorite things to experience inspire you to take a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area.

What is something you enjoy doing in your home city?  Would love to hear about it.

Headed West

It has been a decade of riding the east coast.  A decade of living in one of the greatest cities in the world, exploring the beauty of New England and visiting areas with so much of our Nation’s history.   An experience I almost let pass by years ago, but I could hear my mother’s voice saying,  “Embrace the experience – life goes by too fast to let things slip by”.  And thank goodness I did it!  I enjoyed every bit – from teaching in an urban school and working on a children’s program with the UN, traveling globally – it’s a hop, skip and a jump to Europe, to meeting my husband, getting married, buying our first home together and the birth of our two sweet children.   New York City is truly a special place and will always hold a piece of my heart with so many cherished memories.

When my husband and I got engaged, I went from living in a high rise on the posh Upper East Side (a small converted one bedroom, of course) to a mid rise, industrial, trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  I went from cycling Central Park to cycling the city bridges.  I will miss the energy and culture of big city living, the diversity, seeing the excitement in my daughter’s eyes as the subway rolls up, walking around a street corner and discovering something new, the endless galleries and exhibits around town, and of course, having a mom and pop’s coffee while sitting at a café on a city sidewalk.  But, the hardest farewell of them all, the cherished friendships and memories that were made.  Ugh.

With a slight hesitation, but knowing it’s the right decision for our growing family, the time has come to move out of the Big City and closer to family.  A decision in the making for a while.  So as we make the Great move west, why not throw in amazing weather, a beach, ocean, palm trees and a more relaxed lifestyle.  Looks like all the signs are pointing straight to The Golden State!

I’m excited to share some of our new adventure to come!  I hope you join me as we explore the west coast, find a new home, decorate, embrace a healthy fit lifestyle, raise children in the San Francisco Bay Area and find ways to create a positive and a health conscious lifestyle.

So California here we come!  We’re not looking back and excited about the next chapter in life.

Hope you join me riding coastal!

The Ultimate Playground

As some of you may know we’re gearing up to leave one of the greatest cities in the world for another great city, San Francisco.  We are headed west in only a few more weeks.  Tear.  So VERY bitter-sweet.  But the time has come.   We’re looking for a little more space (Cade can only sleep in the closet for so long!) a lot more family time and a much desired carefree west coast lifestyle.  So as the big move nears, I hope to share some of our favorite spots and neighborhoods with Maddie and Cade, and you!   Each week Cade has a babysitter for a few hours while Maddie and I enjoy some much needed mother and daughter time around the city.  Over the next few weeks, as I go on a flash frenzy, I hope you will enjoy some of our New York City treasured spots as much as we do!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

It was bitter cold this week!  So where does a girl go when the parks are too frigid to frolic in?  Where else, Grand Central.   We decided to have a little fun in one of NYC’s iconic spots.

Grand Central 2

Looks warm inside.  C’mon mommy!

Grand Central 7

Everything seems so big.

Grand Central 4

My favorite spot!  Love hearing my voice travel throughout GC.  Bet everyone loves hearing me sing.

Grand Central 1

Must be in heaven - a gigantic ramp.  One of my favorite things to run and play on.

Grand Central 3

Doesn’t look too crowded right now.  Maybe mommy will get us a train ticket to the beach.  I sure do miss shoveling sand into my bucket.

Grand Central 6

Love making friends with my fellow New Yorkers just by smiling.

Grand Central 5

After all this playing I’m getting HUNG-ry.  Cupcake break.  SO glad they opened a Magnolia Bakery in the food court.  Best cupcakes in town.  Hope they have these on the west coast!

Grand Central 8

I usually don’t like to admit it, but I think I need a nap after all this playing.  Bye-bye Grand Central!  Its been another great day.

When it’s too cold outside where do you like to spend your time?  Would love to hear about it.

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My Little City Girl

I did really good in gymnastics and mommy promised me my favorite chocolate milk in Union Square.  Come join me on my subway ride!

subway 1a

The L Train!  Here we go.  My favorite way to get around the city.

subway 2a

Which subway stop is it again?

subway 3a

Just missed my train.  Oh well, I’ll rest my feet a little.

Subway 4a

Better hold tight.  This train ride can be a bit bumpy.

subway 5a

Looks like it’s morning rush hour.  Hope they see me down here!

subway 6a

More stairs!!  One of my favorite reasons to ride the subway.

subway 7a

Uh oh, I’m a slow walker and it looks like the next subway is here.  Those NY subway-goers walk fast!  I better pick up the pace.

subway 9a

Getting excited.  Almost there.

subway 10a

I forgot how many steps there are at this subway stop…whew, almost at street level.

subway 11a

I found it!  I found it!

subway 12a

aaaahhhh…..nothing like my favorite NY chocolate milk in USQ Park and watching the squirrels.

subway 13a

Better head home…I’m missing Cade…

subway 14a

Being short has its advantages.

subway 15a

Another great day on the subway.

What is your favorite way to get around your town…bike, skates, scooter, ect?  Would love to hear about it.


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