Summer Chicago Trip Highlights

Good morning! I didn’t plan on taking the day off from the blog yesterday, but it was much appreciated. Summer sure has us traveling all over the place and doing all the things.

Living in The Mitten gives us the advantage of being within driving distance to big cities we were never previously able to visit (as Floridians) without plane tickets, so we try to jump on the chance to do so when opportunities present themselves. I love it.

Today I am coming to you after a long and awesome weekend with friends in Chicago!

divy bikes chicago

Scott and I packed up and left the Detroit area by 10 a.m. on Friday.

With plans to attend a 6:00 p.m. wedding and a four and a half hour drive ahead of us, we wanted to make sure that we left with plenty of extra time to allow for traffic on our way in. It’s a good thing we did, too! Thanks to the hour time difference in our favor, we arrived at our friend Barry’s condo with just an hour or so before needing to get ready and out the door for the ceremony. Phew!

 

Kim & Jeremy’s Wedding

Kim is a dear friend both Scott and I knew and worked with in Orlando. I danced with her on the Orlando Magic Dancers, and we were so excited to get the invite to be a part of her big day and celebrate her marrying the love of her life just across Lake Michigan.

welcome wedding sign

Kim and Jeremy tied the knot at a unique, urban venue with a beautiful view of the city called City View Loft Chicago.

kim and jeremy wedding day

photo courtesey of family friend Patrick King

It was a lovely ceremony that was filled with the couple’s personalities and sentimental wedding vows. I just love those two together.

There were several touches I should have snapped photos of to share, but one that stood out enough to have me actually take a picture was their guest list mad libs scrapbook. Each guest (or couple) was asked to fill in the blanks of a mad lib storyline to share how they knew the bride and groom along with their best marital advice for the new Mr. & Mrs.

wedding guest list mad libs

It was a fun way to kick off the night, and we spent the cocktail hour sipping on champagne and catching up with the familiar faces around the room.

heather and scott at kim and jeremy's wedding

As soon as the bridal party wrapped up their photos, the party moved upstairs and into the main reception hall. It was an industrial looking space with a delightful charm.

kim and jeremy's wedding

I loved the sparkling twinkle white lights you would likely see in an outdoor backyard area with a stunning floor to ceiling view of the city in the background. Also adorable and equally enjoyable was the variety of regular and mini cupcakes and wedding cake.

kim and jeremy's wedding cake

After all the formalities, the band picked up and led a fun time for all. If anyone is looking to hire a talented, high energy live band for their own wedding, I highly recommend One Night Band. They were so fun and covered a great variety of hits and crowd favorites!

Once we approached the dance floor, I don’t think we left for more than a trip to the bar or restroom for the rest of the night. My feet were killing me by the end of the night, but it was so worth it. Isn’t it always worth the heel struggle at weddings? Three cheers for the newlyweds!

wedding group photo with one night band

source

Congratulations Kim and Jeremy!

 

Riding Around the City

After an anything but early night in, Scott, Barry and I took our time getting moving on Saturday. We looked up a few things to do in the city and set out for our touring adventure on Divvy bikes mid-afternoon.

divy bikes to rent

I love riding bikes, but I have always been hesitant to take rides around bigger cities like Chicago. I guess you could say that I am more of a beach or trails rider.

Against my better judgement, I put my big girl pants on, strapped in my purse, and went with the flow with these easy-to-use rentals. It started out great when we were strolling through the streets with bike lanes, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t fearful of my life a handful of times once they disappeared.

While it wasn’t my first choice of transportation, it proved to be the best way to see the city along the way.

downtown chicago river

Out of all of the times Scott and I have visited, this was one of our first experiences actually taking in the spirit of Chicago. We thoroughly enjoyed the river views and stories Barry passed on about events and such that show up throughout the year.

riding bikes with barry and scott in chicago

We would still like to come back and visit the same area around St. Patrick’s Day. Every year, the city dyes the river green and hosts a big parade and hoopla of events that take place throughout the holiday weekend. That would be so neat to see in person!

downtown chicago riverfront

scott and heather riding bikes in chicago

About a forty or so minutes later, we returned our bikes to a Divvy station and were on our way to a festival that ended up being a fantastic time!

 

Chicago Hot Dog Fest

 

The (now annual) Chicago Hot Dog Fest opens as a free festival to the public. There is a suggested donation of $5 per entry, but they were very relaxed about giving out wrist bands with or without them.

chicago hot dog fest 2015

We could tell it was going to be a fun and laid back atmosphere right away!

chicago hot dog festival

We stopped into a tent to purchase hot dog dollars, and made a couple of laps around the grounds to try and split a variety of dogs. This made Scott extremely happy, since one of his all-time favorite foods is the all-American (or in this case, Chicago-style) hot dog.

chicago hot dog fest hot dog

We weren’t shy in picking out the interesting ones, and appreciated the half portions when they were offered. I’m not the biggest fan of hot dogs, but these were all so good!

chicago hot dog fest hot dogs

There was a big stage area in the back and a set list of local bands that played the entire weekend. It was beautiful weather to be outside, and frankly speaking, a weiner of a choice on the activity front. Ha! Sorry, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity there. #sopunny

chicago hot dog fest hot dog with scott and barry

Just before sunset, we made our last walk through the festival and finished things off with delicious hand-crafted ice cream and sorbet.

sorbet and ice cream at chicago hot dog fest

The boys suggested we hop back on the bikes to head home, but I talked them into getting a cab instead. As much as I like taking in the city with a healthy amount of stress, we had plans to get to!

 

Chicago Line Cruises Fireworks

Before we arrived in Chicago, we purchased tickets to join the party for a continuation of wedding festivities onto a fireworks cruise on Navy Pier!

chicago line cruises fireworks cruise

It was really nice to be able to hang with our newly married friends outside the craziness of their wedding day.

chicago boat cruise with scott and kim

A group of us set sail on Chicago Lines Cruises at 9:30pm, and I knew we were in for a treat when we pulled out to an incredible view of the Chicago skyline shortly after.

chicago skyline at night from water

It was so pretty! There is a Navy Pier fireworks show on Wednesday and Saturday nights, and it was really neat to see them go off from the shore.

chicago fireworks cruise

chicago fireworks show

Barry was kind enough to snap a photo of us while we were watching, then put this little number together to share afterwards. What a guy.

watching the fireworks with scott

Tickets weren’t cheap ($46 – including tax – per head), but it was nice to get out to some fresh air on the water and take a ride on the river after the fireworks show ended.

We spent another late night out in the city and had a fabulous time celebrating our friends until the wee hours in the morning!

 

Lunch at WestEnd Grill

After an eventful couple of days, I was looking forward to a slow morning followed by a casual afternoon of driving around and dining before heading back to the Detroit area on Sunday. Barry had some work to do, so Scott and I ended up at the WestEnd Grill on W Madison.

west end grill chicago

The boys were both on their way out to a conference that evening, so we made sure to fill our bellies before each setting out for our own travel adventures.

westend chicago

I ordered the Southwest salad that showed up as a wrap with a side of sweet potato fries. It was delicious, and only fueled my growing obsession for anything having to do with sweet potatoes or fries.

west end grill southwest wrap and sweet potato fries

In a hurry, we asked for our checks and were on our way to the airport shortly after. I said my goodbyes to Scott and had the lovely task of making the close to five hour drive home solo. I put on some tunes, caught up on some (bluetooth) phone calls, and didn’t mind my time on the road at all.

I was thankful for the much needed weekend getaway and quality time with great company.

wedding with barry and scott

Our trips to Chicago are always too short, and our photos are never normal.
 
Thanks for hosting us, Barry!

 

***

 

Well friends, it’s been fun. I have a busy day planned before work tonight, so I hope to check back in with y’all later this afternoon.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Questions of the Morning

• What was the last festival you attended?

• Does anyone else share my (possibly irrational) fear of biking in cities?

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