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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.

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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Oyster Fest

Who’s in for oyster shucking?!  Well you won’t catch me doing that, but last weekend we headed to Oyster Bay, Long Island for the largest waterfront festival on the East Coast.  There was much to see and much to do, especially with oysters, from shucking contests, to oyster eating contests, to a few oyster crafts, and to anyway your palate will take them, raw, fried, sautéed, mixed, over-easy and I’m sure, if you looked hard enough, on the rocks!  There were several large boats in the bay to tour, the USCG Cutter Chinook, the Barquentine Peacemaker, and the 130-foot 1931 John J Harvey fireboat.  And lets not forget the craft tents and artwork.  We came home with a few holiday finds for ourself and the relatives, all while listening to the bands play throughout the day in the background.  There were pirate reenactments, rides for children, and those with stomachs of iron participated in the eating contests, however we chose the leisurely stroll and tasting along the waste widening food court.  Anything unhealthy was at your finger tips!  And we couldn’t pass up a walk along the gorgeous waterfront.  Oyster Bay is not only known for its Oyster Festival, but also for its charm, beauty, stunning bay and harbor, and of course, the summer home of Theodore Roosevelt on Sagamore Hill.  Anytime of year is a great time to visit Oyster Bay.

Here are just a couple photos we took while enjoying our day in, oyster filled, Oyster Bay…

Oysters and crowds galore!  Get there early ;)

Admiring the large boats and fireboat display…

Looking for seafood comfort food?  The food courts had it all!

Couldn’t get enough of the stunning bay and harbor and views of Centre Island…

Maybe next time we won’t be watching our shoe float down the bay and be able to stay a little bit longer.

A fun family day and festival.  We could have spent the whole day there if Maddie hadn’t kicked her shoe off over the railing and into the bay.  When you have a toddler who stroller planks (for those non-parents, when a child refuses to bend and sit) there’s only one thing to do, emergency shoe shop!

Do you have a Fall festival you enjoy going to each year?  I would love to hear about it.

Picture Perfect Westport, CT

 

Yesterday we wanted to take advantage of the extended weekend, so we jumped in our car and headed north.  We needed to get out of the apartment and into the crisp air.  After driving an hour north we landed in Westport, CT.  I had heard a little about the town and thought it would be a fun area to explore.  Explore we did!  Such a beautiful colonial town that sits along the Long Island Sound with the Saugatuck River running straight through it.  We walked and shopped along Main Street’s chic stores, took a drive through the historic part of town, ate at Bobby Q’s Bodacious BBQ - fun place, yet nowhere near healthy - and stopped off at a few pumpkin nurseries that gave a whole new meaning to the ordinary pumpkin.  I’m sure the stores living amongst Martha Stewart had to up-the-bar!  And a couple fun facts, the town was made famous by the show I Love Lucy.  It’s where Ricky and Lucy bought their new home after moving from the city, and the cost of living in Westport is 167% higher than the rest of the US.  I guess Ricky was doing pretty good!

Here’s our Columbus Day outing and what came home with us…

We drove through the historic area of downtown…

Took a turn down the residential area of traditional colonial style homes of the historic area…

Walked along the chic stores on Main Street

Randomly came across Turkey Hill Road, yet no sighting of Martha Stewart :)

Stopped at Terrain Garden Cafe.  How can anyone pass by these mums and not make a u-turn!   What a find – the unique home decor, unusual plants, a cafe and restaurant made for foodies and the vast array of special finds that not even a screaming toddler can pull a person away from!

Loved their variety of pumpkins, berries and Fall plants…

Now which pumpkin, which gourd…can we finally choose?

Looks like this is the keeper!  Found our Charlie Brown pumpkin, now bound for home!

What a day in picture perfect colonial Westport, CT!  Wish we could have checked out Compo Beach and Park, but time starts ticking in the late afternoon when your toddler hasn’t napped. See you in the Springtime Westport!

Do you have a special place where you get your pumpkins and Fall decor?  Please share.  I love to get new ideas.

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