Lowcountry Living at the Montage Palmetto Bluff

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Earlier this month, I had the distinct pleasure of heading down to Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina to stay at the Montage. If you are unfamiliar with the property, you aren’t alone. It’s a new development over the last couple of years, but they are sure making a splash in lowcountry luxurious style. It’s nestled between Hilton Head and Savannah, meaning you are ripe with opportunity to go explore outside of the 20,000 acre property. But, there is so much to do that it’s hard to imagine a good reason to leave. Below I’m listing a few of my favorite things to do, and I save the best for last, especially if you’re considering this property for your next getaway!

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Just Relax
That’s what vacations are meant for, right? Whether you are snoozing on a hammock on one of their private islands deep in the bluff, grabbing a massage or hot sauna session in their beautifully designed spa, or just lounging by their very picturesque pool, you will find yourself saying ‘ahhhh, now this is vacation‘ at every turn. I highly recommend taking advantage of their dry sauna and plunge pool – not a spa amenity you see everywhere!

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Hang Out with Nature (and the Animals)
Not only does the Montage team take service and experience very seriously, but conservation and nature is also always top of mind. Take a property tour with one of their local experts, who has likely wrested a gator, saved turtles and spent hours upon hours watching the birds. They have a wealth of knowledge not only about the animals that inhabit the property, but plants as well. My mom likes to joke that I’m a girl who “loves nature per se,” but I honestly found this aspect of the property so interesting, and we even got to see a brand new baby bird! I also went horseback riding, and explored their beautiful stables. I wish I could have ridden longer to be honest, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for horses!

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Venture into Bluffton
After an afternoon of shooting on their private complex (one of my favorite activities of the whole trip!), you’ll want to clean yourself up for a night on the town! Right down the road, you have the small town of Bluffton, which is picturesque and boasts an active community. On our night in town, we dined a FARM, which was amazingly delicious! There’s loads of eye-catching architecture, and the community is pretty active as well. Lots of barbecues, live music, and people just getting out and socializing.

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Get in (or on) the Water
One of the best parts of the Montage Palmetto Bluff is its proximity to some on-the-water adventures. If you’re looking to go for a swim, take in the winding waterways while being towed in a tube behind one of their motorboats, or manage to wake up early for a sunrise kayak session to see the dolphins, you can do it all here. The water here is super warm – and salty, meaning you could tread with the sun beaming down on you for hours. Take a break with a reprieve in a hammock or on a boat and then jump off the dock and do it all over again. How can you go wrong?

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If you’re jonesing to get down to the Montage, you’re in luck. I’ve teamed up with them to make sure that you can have enough time to enjoy all the fun. If you book two nights using the code ‘REGANC‘, you will get your third night free! Talk about #winning! As always, if you have questions about the properties, accommodations, activities – you name it – leave me a note in the comments!

The Fenway’s Food Scene (and Giveaway!)

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetFor any long-time Bostonian like myself, it has been pretty incredible to see the rapidly evolving food scene down in The Fenway neighborhood – specifically in the last few years. What used to be a place for pre-Red Sox game rituals alone has now become a mecca for food enthusiasts and off-season visitors alike. More and more, I will have readers (like you!) reach out asking where to go to eat when they visit my hometown and I find myself pointing more and more to The Fenway as a neighborhood that is host to some great spots.

Now, with the launch of thefenway.com, I have a resource that I can send to my followers to showcase all the goods this growing neighborhood has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a classic pre-game spot, or one of the newer additions, like Hojoko or Eventide, you’re in good company with every proverbial corner you turn on this new site! Below, I’m taking you through a few of my favorite spots that the team over at thefenway.com feature, as well as including a fun announcement about a major change to the neighborhood below. Hint: the announcement includes a giveaway to Lisbon! Yes – Lisbon!! Came here just for the giveaway? CLICK HERE to subscribe to The Fenway’s e-newsletter for a chance to win!! (Note: Giveaway is now closed – winner will be announced soon.)

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A common misconception about The Fenway is that the food is only good for lunch or dinner, but after a quick look on thefenway.com you’ll realize that is not the case. For those of you who are breakfast or brunch inclined – you’re in luck! There’s spots like Pavement Coffee, Panera, and my personal favorite breakfast joint in The Fenway: Blackbird Doughnuts. This valhalla of creative confections is a major winner in my book, and a perfect pit stop for Fenway early “birds”.

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Ah yes, the classic burger joint. Some say that this is the East Coast version on In ‘n’ Out and with good reason! There is definitely a cult-like following to this Fenway staple. With goodies like the Big & Tasty, Tater Tots, a great beer selection on draft, and addicting Chocolate Eclair Mini Pies, there is not a chance that you leave this place hungry. The takeout window gets notorious long lines as the weather starts to heat up, but the wait is worth it.

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And, the most talked about newcomer as of late is, of course, Eventide. This fast-casual spinoff of their wildly popular Portland, ME location is a great place to pull up a stool, have some prosecco, oysters, one of their many crudos, and their famous hot-buttered lobster roll. As a Mainer, I am skeptical of any hot lobster roll, but this one melts in your mouth and is definitely worth a try. This place really has elevated fast-casual down to a science, so if you’re looking for “fancier” cuisine without the fuss, look no further.

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Coming in 2019, 401 Park Drive will welcome Lisbon’s Time Out Market. The flagship Lisbon location is home to more than twenty-four restaurants, and a whole host of other kiosks, cafes, and even a cooking academy for those who aspire to kick up their kitchen skills a notch. The highly-anticipated Boston space will span 25,000 square feet with an open park area to boot! I can’t think of a better fit for the Fenway neighborhood, as this community continues to grow and thrive.

unnamed.pngIn celebration of Time Out Market coming to Boston, thefenway.com is hosting a giveaway where you can enter to win a trip for 2 to Lisbon! Yes, you read that correctly!! Airfare for two and a 3-night stay are included in this trip of a lifetime, and they’ll be handing over $200 to spend at the original Time Out Market, so you can get a sneak peek of what is to come in Boston! To enter, all you need to do is sign up for their newsletter HERE

This post was created in collaboration with the team at thefenway.com. 

Georgia On My Mind…

It’s been a few months since I was down south, but as the weather gets colder in Boston, I can’t help but daydream about my trip down to the Ritz Carlton, Lake Oconee resort in August. In desperate need of a good girls weekend this past summer, my friend Abby and I hopped a quick flight down to Atlanta for a #lakelife getaway. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of spending any time down south, I highly recommend it. The food, the people, the nature… it doesn’t get much better. I have friends who actually describe this property as one of their favorite places on Earth, and I can see why.

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Abby and I had the pleasure of staying in one of the cottages on the property. These cottages are perfect for a group of your girlfriends or even a family vacation. As expected these cottages are still very much full service — golf carts will chauffeur you to dinner reservations, room service will deliver anything you need at the drop of a hat, and extra special touches like milk & cookies don’t go unnoticed. Hammocks are scattered throughout the property for that cabin in the woods experience. They’re perfect for laying out with a good book and a cup of tea in the morning, or getting a little reprieve from the sun, but still getting to enjoy some fresh air.

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One of the most enjoyable parts of the property is their lake-side amenities. The infinity pool is massive and is a perfect spot to commune with friends over a mid-afternoon cocktail (or three). I know what you’re thinking… why hang out in a pool with a lake right there?! Truth be told, the idea of making contact with a fish creeps me out a bit. And the fish only have so many places to go in a lake, compared to the ocean. You know?! Don’t judge! Besides, the infinity pool is so big it could practically be a lake. I swear!

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After you’ve done your fair share of sunbathing, choose from a plethora of dining options on the property to get your fill of tasty southern cooking. My favorite restaurant was Georgia’s. They have classics like peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, smoked meats, and fried green tomatoes. There is no chance you will leave hungry!

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Outside of the property, you can do some exploring in historic Madison. Our driver humored us and weaved down old streets, so we could see some of the oldest homes in the town. Downtown is super quaint and has a couple great restaurants worth checking out as well. If you drive through, Madison might look familiar. Countless movies and TV shows have been filmed here, like The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, The Accountant, and the 2011 Footloose remake.

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If you prefer to stay on property, they have a gazillion activities, including a massive golf course. If golf is your game, there’s no chance you cant get in a few holes while you’re here. Sadly for me, I tend to embarrass myself even at the driving range, so I’ll stick to walking the course like it’s my runway. Other activities include wake boarding, kayaking, tennis, and countless more.

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Now that I am this close to booking a ticket back to Georgia, I can safely say this was one of my most memorable weekends this past summer. If you need a luxurious getaway with your significant other, friends, or family, I can’t recommend the Ritz, Lake Oconee enough. If you have any questions about the property, feel free to shoot me an email or send me a DM on Instagram. Happy to answer!

Solo Mission: Camden, ME

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Who else had a whirlwind summer?! In New England, it’s practically a given, and moving into Fall always feels like giving a generous tap on the breaks. Solo travel has always been a good opportunity for me to slow down and press ‘reset’, and that’s exactly what my trip up to Camden, Maine this past weekend was all about. If you followed my Instagram stories, you know I definitely got an ungodly amount of work done, but I also did a little exploring and unplugging, and it brought me back to my days of traveling Asia alone (minus the whole not-speaking-the-same-language-as-everyone-else thing).

The best part? I had a place that felt like home to go back to at the end of the day. Maine is my home state, so I was already getting some good vibes once I crossed the boarder into Vacationland. But, staying at Whitehall was extra special. This quaint spot features an awesome restaurant, Pig + Poet, stylish & cozy corners – perfect for curling up with a book (or laptop in my case), and if the weather is nice, you can kick your feet up on one of the many rocking chairs, or channel your inner cruise deck hero and play some shuffleboard. Seriously, who doesn’t like an adorable inn loaded with charm like this?

I’ve been up to this part of Maine a few times, so I had an unorthodox approach to how I decided where to go – I literally typed ‘lighthouse’ and ‘food’ into Google maps. I ended up at the Owl’s Head Light right at sunset, and then dined at the bar at Rhumb Line. Talk about luck! Between stellar views and tasty cuisine, it ended up being the perfect way to spend the evening.

As the season comes to a close, many of these spots shut down for the winter, but if you find yourself with an open weekend between now and mid-October, I highly recommend pulling the trigger and taking the journey down east. Looking to explore other cute spots? Check out all the different Lark Hotels around New England and California!

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A Home Amid Some Crazy Changes: ELEMENT Hotel

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lot of changes have taken place over the past couple of weeks. I moved to a new neighborhood. We’ve signed a bunch of amazing new companies to work with at RPR, I’m BLONDE! And, I’ve started to re-focus on my health and wellness. Who has seen the ridiculously sweaty Instagram stories of me running hills, practicing yoga, or doing track workouts with @baddiedae?!? While Spring is the most popular season for “re-birth”, there is something about Fall that gets me so freakin’ hyped to shed the B.S. and bring things back into my life that I care about; ultimately get back to a productive routine. Don’t get me wrong, traveling almost every weekend this Summer was amazing, but there’s something so restorative about leaving your two feet on the ground.

BUT, before diving in head first to a crazy move across town, and my busiest quarter yet with my business, I needed a breather. Yes, even need to hit the pause button. So, I escaped to the ELEMENT Hotel in the Seaport for the weekend before my move, which was super convenient because who likes living around boxes for a week?! This hotel was perfect for a few reasons: 1) it is in the same neighborhood as my office – score!, 2) They are a ‘green’ hotel, meaning they take measures to having the smallest footprint on the environment, and 3) they had an awesome ‘Swap Shop’ event that I got to be a part of.

What is this ‘Swap Shop’ event you ask? It was this super cool concept of bringing clothes that you want to purge from your closet and trading them (for FREE) with other attendees at the event. Anything that isn’t picked up by someone else was donated. Perfect for a girl who is moving and needed to purge her closet! While they don’t do events exactly like this one all the time, they do host a number of other initiatives throughout the year that are in line with their mission to be a sustainable hotel. How cool is that? (Note the photo of me below with an armful of clothes – oh and the last hours of me as a brunette!)

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The next day, I explored my city like a tourist, and did some of the things that I have been meaning to do, but always find an excuse to put off. I went blonde with the help of the team at Salon Mario Russo, who is a short walk from the hotel, stopped by the Copley Sq. Market, grabbed one of the hotel’s bikes to take a spin around the city, walked the Esplanade, and ate at a few of my favorite places, including Top of the Hub, which I haven’t been to since 2010, and by CHLOE. which recently opened right around the corner from ELEMENT. See the photo diary from my day scooting around the city below!

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THIS AWESOME POST IS SPONSORED BY THE TEAM AT ELEMENT HOTELS. THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN.

A Weekend at Gurney’s

You may have heard, but if you haven’t, the Gurney’s you know and love from the Hamptons set down roots in Newport, making for a perfect New England getaway. Last month, I took their team up on the offer to stay for the weekend, and ended up having an awesome time. Between the stunning location, super tasty dining options, and the Gurney’s service we have all come to know and love, it’s sure have you wishing you didn’t have to leave at the end of your stay.

So, where do I begin… obviously with the food, what else?! For our lunch, we plopped down on the patio at The Pineapple Club and indulged in some serious raw bar, and shareable plates – perfect for a brunch or an early start to the weekend. P.S. I definitely recommend the Negroni Fresco to really get your weekend started right. IMG_0646.JPGIMG_0645.JPGThe real star of the culinary show was dinner at Scarpetta. Oh my sweet baby Jesus… I can see why this place is packed to the brim every night. Even if you are down in Newport for a day, this restaurant is a must-visit. Hands down some of the best service, ambiance, and cuisine you’ll find in Newport. I did put my camera away for the evening an didn’t manage to snap pics, but sit down and try it, and trust me when I say, your taste buds will do all the talking for me. Wow.

After dinner, we split a bottle of wine in our room, and caught the notorious Newport sunset from our balcony with a prime view of the Jamestown bridge. Later that night, we made our way over to The Landing, where we inevitably ran into friends and danced to the live band until the wee hours. IMG_0647.JPG

The next day was spent relaxing by the pool. Copper pineapple drinks and friend food abound, making for the perfect Sunday recovery spot… We didn’t stay all day though, as prior to heading to Newport we purchased tickets to Newport Polo – a must if you’re around for a weekend. With a bottle of champagne in one hand and cheesy fries in the other, you could just grab a spot on the lawn and take in the match. This isn’t your typical polo experience. Folks bring oodles of snacks, drinks, and lawn chairs & blankets for the ultimate viewing comfort. To be honest, I didn’t really know what was going on (I’m sure that makes my British family members cringe – sorry guys!), but the point is just to go and hang out and have a good time. IMG_7965.JPGIMG_7774.JPGSwitching gears from horses to horse power, I was super excited to try out Maven – a car sharing app from Chevrolet. I don’t have a car in Boston (for those of you who don’t know, parking is absolutely nuts and impossible in the city), so I needed a way to make it down to Newport in a way that suited my schedule. That’s where Maven comes in. You can borrow cars by the hour or day, which is perfect for those of us who need a flexible schedule for a weekend getaway. Your phone ends up being your key, so once you get within 30 feet or so of your car, you just open the app and you’re on your way. Pro tip: if you are prone to your phone dying, bring an extra battery. A dead phone means no horse power for you. IMG_0639.JPGUntitled drawing (1).pngIMG_0640.JPG

If you are in the market for a car sharing service, I highly recommend checking out Maven. They have locations all over, and the service is pretty intuitive. Plus, what other car sharing service has a Cadillac on hand?! Needless to say, this made the drive from Boston to Newport and back pretty fun.

Definitely sad to leave Gurney’s after a fun weekend, but maybe this will inspire your next weekend getaway to Newport! Have any other must-do’s while in this nautical lover’s paradise? Tell me in the comments!IMG_7877.JPG

Where I’m Eating in Boston this Summer

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Ah yes, one of my favorite things: eating. I’ve been doing a lot of that around Boston this summer, especially since RPR (my marketing and public relations firm) has been working with Dining Playbook on NESN. Below is a round up of a few of my favorites – including ones that have been in my dining-out repertoire for quite some time.

Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant

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Did someone say brunch seven days a week?! Yep! I actually made a brief TV appearance on Dining Playbook last weekend scoping out the epic brunch menu from Lincoln. The peaches & cream pancakes are my new favorite thing!! Now if only they were calorie free… Bonus, they have a rotating ‘test’ brunch menu where they are trying new items every week, like this smoked salmon pizza – with a tasty everything bagel crust – pictured above. If you have an idea or love one of their concoctions, make sure to let your server know. P.S. Don’t leave without trying the warm goat cheese dip with fig jam. You can thank me later ;).

Reelhouse

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This new Eastie hot spot has so much to offer, I don’t even know where to start. Between an amazing ambiance with their super luxe patio with prime views of the Boston skyline, to a creative cocktail program, to creative nibbles like their seafood charcuterie, I’m in heaven. Yes, the trip to East Boston is a little bit of a trek – but so worth it. Pro tip: You can now take a free boat ride from Pier 6 in Charlestown across the water for the quickest way to get from one summer hot spot to another.

UNI

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Special occasion? Book a table at the sushi bar at UNI. If you’re a fan of sushi, seafood, or just Japanese cuisine in general, your palette will be happy you grabbed a seat at this Back Bay staple. Their summer menu is a selection of local fare – including refreshing dishes, like grilled peaches with burrata and a sophisticated watermelon salad. I always recommend settling in with the omakase tasting menu if you aren’t sure what to get. The chef will put together a selection of all of their favorite, fresh flavors of the day.

Davio’s

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Stop in for brunch at any of the Davio’s locations for a sophisticated take on this Sunday tradition. Whether you’re a steak and eggs lover or looking for a pasta dish that is sure to knock your socks off, you’ll be happy with the big portions, friendly service, and thoughtfully prepared dishes from their team. I happen to be a huge fan of the fact that they have a whole section devoted to spring rolls, and without fail will order a plate or two for the table. My personal favorite? The chicken parm spring rolls. It’s like a whole Italian dinner in one bite. I’ve also had the pleasure of checking out their lunch menu when on-set with the Dining Playbook team. This is the perfect place to take a working lunch meeting, or catch up with a co-worker during the week!

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One word: oysters. Yes, every raw bar item (and every item for that matter) is tasty at this Fort Point seafood locale, but I just cant get enough of their oyster selection. If I’m feeling the need for a refreshing Saturday afternoon with girlfriends – there’s no better way to do it than with some bubbles and bivalves. Not a fan of raw oysters? They have fried oyster lettuce cups that will knock your socks off, and satisfy evening the pickiest foodies at your table. If you happen to be up in Portsmouth, NH, their sister restaurant is a great option for an early summer dinner with friends and family as well.

So, that’s where I’ve been eating as of late. Where are your go-to’s this summer?! Comment with your faves.

 

The Cape

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While many believe Cape Cod is only fun between the months of May and September, the real locals know that good times can happen during the less popular travel times, as well. The third weekend in October marks one of the last big weekends in Cape Cod before many store owners start to close their shutters for the winter. Meaning one final hurrah before winter comes. (Insert some sort of ominous Game of Thrones quote here.)

So, how do the locals celebrate? With oysters, of course! I headed down to check out the Wellfleet OysterFest, which is a time-honored tradition encouraging mass consumption of every seafood fanatics favorite aphrodisiac, drinking copious amounts of craft beer, and supporting local artisans. Does it get much better than that? Me thinks not!

The festival attracts vacation home owners, locals, Bostonians, and even a few tourists. And, while it is a big crowd, don’t let that deter you! The festival is all about community, having fun, and enjoying Cape classics — especially chowder, oysters on the half shell, and lobster rolls. So mark the calendar for next year, remember to pack your stretchy pants, and get ready for a fun time with good people, great music, and all of the expected Cape accoutrements.

Although things are definitely slowing down on the Cape and Islands, Fall is a great time to visit a quaint bed and breakfast with a loved one, or schedule a girls’ weekend away. While you won’t be packing your swimsuit any time soon, the draw of a traditional New England weekend away, filled with hot mulled cider and scenery to boot, will keep you cozy and relaxed. Besdies, who wants to be bothered working on their ‘bikini bod’ during the upcoming holiday season? Not I! Need any other excuses to journey to the Cape this Fall? Check out a few other things to do here.

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#INSTAFOOD: CHICAGO

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Ahhh, Chicago cuisine. I have such a soft spot for cities whose food flies under the radar, and while working on the Ben & Jerry’s Core Tour, I was fortunate enough to be able to try all sorts of delicious spots. It means no 3 hour long waits for brunch, no pretentious patrons discecting every ingredient, and innovate fare from some of the area’s most thoughtful and creative chefs that hasn’t already been plastered all over multiple Conde Nast publications. Yes, Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews may seem helpful, but sometimes it’s just nice to taste food for what it really is without all the hype. And in Chicago’s case, it’s freaking tasty.

Below are a few of the flavorful moments that I captured during my time in the Windy City. Snack on these savory social media snapshots for a little inspiration for your next night out in Chicago.

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Eataly Chicago (Near North Side)

While the Chicago Eataly isn’t quite as impressive as the one in NYC, it still makes for a great place to stop for a snack. Munch on some savory veggies and finish your visit with a stop at the Nutella bar, aka heavan on earth.

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Girl & the Goat (West Loop)

Get your daily dose of weird with some of the more unusal combinations at this popular restaurant. Escargot ravioli and octopus salad only scratches the surface of the endless options.

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Three Dots and a Dash (River North)

Looking for a luau in the midwest? Look no further than this speakeasy-esque spot. Every cocktail I’ve tried has been a crowd pleaser, and while you might think they’re fruity and girly drinks, three cocktails will knock you on your ass faster than a bulldozer.

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Perennial Virant (Lincoln Park)

One of the best brunch spots in all of Chicago just so happens to be next to one of my favorite things, the Lincoln Park Zoo. If you’re visitng and need to fuel up before seeing the animals, this is the perfect farm-to-table spot. Also ask to check out the book that the chef authored a few years ago. It’s cool reading material while you wait for your food.

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Elly’s Pancake House (Near North Side)

Hankering for a late night snack? This pancake house, serving up blintzes, eggs benedict, and one of the best German pancakes I have ever had, is open 24-hours away making it the perfect brunch spot all weekend.

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Parson’s Chicken & Fish (Logan Square)

Combine a 7/11 and your favorite cocktail bar for this genius outdoor patio. While the hot days of summer may be slowly slipping away, I highly recommend swinging by for a Negroni slushy before cocktail trends go the way of hot-toddys and spiked egg nog.

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Enolo Wine Bar (Near North Side)

Looking for a great lunch spot in between meetings? Look no further than Enolo. With a full list of bruchettas and a great wine selection, this mid-day treat will have you returning to work satisfied.. and maybe a little tipsy.

Did I miss your favorite spot? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Instagram at @venturetravelist

Midwestern Musings: Chicago

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There’s more than one way to pack your day full of activities in Chicago, but if I had my choice, my Saturdays in the city would be spent eating great food, supporting local businesses, catching a game, and walking through the park.

Chicago doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of other cities, but the energy is captivating nonetheless. I recommend starting your day off right with an early lunch at Ikram. I know I’ve mentioned this cafe before, but the food and shopping is too good to only talk about once! Dishes are local, and your server will be able to tell you which farms’ produce is on your plate that day. Downstairs, thumb through the likes of Proenza Schouler and Givenchy in their bag section, or check out the shelves of amazing sneakers in the back.

If you’re looking for local, fair trade goodies, head up to Lincoln Park to check out the Green Heart Shop. This is great if you need to pick up a gift for just about any occassion, and their handmade jewelry selection always has cool one of a kind pieces.

No weekend in Chicago is complete without a trip to Wrigley Field. Whenever I travel, I always make an effort to go to a sporting event. Rubbing elbows with the locals while throwing back a few is always the way to go in my book. And if it just so happens to coincide with looking at cute guys in uniforms, who am I to say no? For great deals on tickets, go to ScoreBig.com. It’s like Priceline for sporting events; you get to bid on the ticket price. I usually end up snagging great seats for half off!

Finish out your day with a stroll through Millenium Park. There are tons a cool sculptures (aside from just Cloud Gate) and great little side parks to poke in to. Often times there will be games of chess happening on the sidewalk. Depending on how many beers you’ve had at the game, you can always challenge one of the pros for a quick round. Otherwise, sprawl on to the grass on the Great Lawn and watch the clouds go by.

What does your perfect day in Chicago consist of? Let me know if the comments below!

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