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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.

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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.

Our Newest Member

Hi All!  We’ve been a little busy around here the last few months – busy in a good, good way.  I’m proud to introduce our newest family member, Caden Brooklyn.  Our precious baby boy arrived 3 months ago (wow already 3 months!) and has melted into our hearts and family, just as our Maddie did 2 years ago.  Our lives, once again, have turned upside down.  You always hear about how things will be different – life with one versus life with two.  Well it’s true.  A little more crazy, a little more hectic, a little more patience needed AND life with two… has never been more fulfilling and more enjoyable.  Caden’s first sweet smiles and his first occasional coos transpire a feeling that nothing in life can bring.  I was trying to think of a word that describes this feeling, but I can’t think of just one.  It’s a mixture of sweetness, innocence, love, dependency on mommy, the miracle feeling of knowing he was formed inside of me and when I gaze into his big beautiful brown, or hazel, or grey, or I really can’t tell yet, eyes, I’m looking at a part of myself and my husband.  My husband always says, our children are the best of both of us.  Now lets hope we don’t mess things up over the next 18 years! Ha!

Here’s to introducing you to the little guy who has stolen a piece of our hearts…

 

 

Caden23BW

 Photos by Abby Cope Photography

What has entered your life recently and has brought happiness into your world?  I would love to hear about it.

Not Just A Tree

Is it tall enough?

Is it wide enough?

As for me, growing up, it was the tree that made the season feel so magical.

And picking that right tree took time.

This year we walked two blocks down the street to the corner Christmas tree stand.

Ah, that smell, the smell of freshly cut pine trees signifying the scent of the holiday season.

Our same Christmas tree guy was there.

We chatted with him about how his daughter was doing and his trek from Canada.

We searched through the 6 and 7 foot Fraser Firs.

Critiquing.

Analyzing.

Comparing.

Until we found it.

The one that, with a lot of work and a little magic would light our mornings and evenings for the next month.

Dean hoisted the 2 foot Fraser over his should and we headed home.

The tree, suited for a toddler.

Set up time was short.

No need for trimming or rearranging furniture.

Lights were strung in 60 seconds.

I remember, as a child, the mystery of that darkened room and the beauty of those twinkling lights.

Maddie looked on with wide eyes as the lights illuminated our first Charlie Brown tree.

This year we carefully picked just a handful of our plastic and wooden ornaments, sparing all glass – I’m sure a couple will hit the ground, be tossed across the room or sway with the tree.

The special memories relived through each ornament – my mother’s duck, Dean’s martini shaker, our trip to Rome bulb before Maddie was born, the Cape May boat of our first family trip of 3.

Then I came across “Baby’s First Christmas,” time sure is flying, faster than I had truly imagined.

Already so many precious memories in just a year and a half.

Wow.

Maddie hung a few ornaments.

Analyzing each branch where her tiny fingers were determined to place them.

This year spacing didn’t matter.

Several ornaments on a single branch were waved.

Not the same tree as in the past – small in stature, but big in meaning.

Family history lives and is growing on that tree.

Tonight I played with Maddie next to that tree.

Together.

With those ornaments.

The past, the present, all woven together with so much meaning, so much joy and so much love, on and next to that Christmas tree.

Thankful For Gifts In Disguise

Thanksgiving is approaching and I was thinking about all the things I’m grateful for.  Of course family, friends and health, but I was also thinking about all the little things that seem to be trying at times.  The things we should be grateful for, but are sometimes gifts in disguise.  Here are my top ten…

1. Be thankful for growing older. Not everyone gets this opportunity. Aging with health and grace is a rare and beautiful gift.

2. When your parents are pressing your buttons, be thankful you still have them around.  If they are no longer with you, take a moment to be thankful for the time you had with them.

3. If you have to wait in line at the supermarket for your Thanksgiving dinner, be thankful that you can afford what you would like to eat. We are all aware of the many people waiting in line to have a meal at the soup kitchen.

4. Be thankful for the ability to pay your bills, even if it means you have to give up some things you want.  Having basic needs met is a luxury for some.

5. If you have to get up before dawn for work, be thankful you get to see another sunrise and have a job to go to.  What if you slept everyday until noon and didn’t know when you would get your next paycheck?

6. When you’re stuck in traffic, be thankful you have a car to get where you need to go and money to buy gas.   Some are waiting in the freezing weather for the bus.  Well, unless you’re a New Yorker!

7. When your children are testing your patience, be thankful you have children to love and who love you back.   Some would love to have children, but are unable.

8. When your mate is acting grumpy or giving you a hard time, be thankful for having love in your life and someone to grow old with.  A life partner is someone that less than half the population has.  Your partner is a blessing that needs to be counted.

9. When you sit down with loved ones for Thanksgiving dinner, be thankful for everyone and everything that makes it possible.  Some have no one to share this holiday with.

10. We’re leaving for Wisconsin today to spend Thanksgiving with the in-laws.  I’m thankful that we are able to afford to travel, have family to visit and spend time with, and to have “special news” to share with loved ones!

Wishing you a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!  See you in a week!

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  I would love to hear about it.

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