This past weekend I took my son on a road trip to Chicago to visit my long-time friend, Kaila. Kaila and I met in undergrad at Grand Valley State University in a Marketing class. We bonded over chuckling at our flamboyant professor and her red feathered pens.
After Marketing, we took an Operations class together but that was the last of our joint business classes. Kaila majored in Accounting while I chose Management Information Systems. That didn’t stop us from hanging out in downtown Grand Rapids, enjoying truffle fries and cookie skillets at our favorite restaurants.
Once we graduated college, I moved to Ohio for my first job while Kaila stayed in Grand Rapids. We decided to become pen pals. We wrote about how post-grad life was not what we thought it would be. Neither of us had landed our dream job or lived in our dream city.
As the years went on, that started to change. I became an IT consultant and Kaila moved to the Windy City. We continued to write to each other. We motivated one another through job changes, moves, and life.
Our lives are quite different from one another’s now. She’s a big shot accountant in the city. I turned freelance. That doesn’t keep us from being friends. We still write to each other and make an effort to visit each other. It’s pretty cool if you think about it. We’ve been to Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Nashville, and Chicago! That’s a lot of places all thanks to a little effort in writing a card.
West Town Chicago
I decide to leave my sunny, warm Tennessee town to head back to the Midwest. I am a Midwest girl at heart but I’m not sure I can take snow in April any more.
Despite the snow, we walked around West Town. I loved seeing the murals painted on the brick buildings. Like in Cincinnati, the murals brought out the character of the area. Every block we would wander into a boutique store and do some light shopping.
Places to Eat in East Village
Hoosier Mama – Hoosier Mama is a deluxe pie company in East Town. Oh man was it delicious. I had a slice of the broccoli quiche and the chocolate pie. The crust was light and flaky. Even 14 month old son devoured a slice of mushroom quiche!
Hero Coffee Bar – We got mochas to go from Hero Coffee to keep warm on the snowy streets.
Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery – We split the pork schnitzel sandwich and tried the rose brew. I loved the vibe and my son approved of their french fries.
Places to Shop in East Village
Alcala’s Western Wear – After getting Hero Coffee, we stepped inside Alcala’s. I loved looking at all the boots and Western wear (my first job after college was at Western Wear store after all). My son got to ride a mechanical pony and the staff were friendly.
Lost Girls Vintage – We didn’t stop in this boutique but Kaila said it’s a must visit. Lost Girls, Study Hall, and Ad Hoc are all women owned businesses.
Study Hall – Another one of a kind shopping experience. I picked out some unique earrings. Unfortunately, Study Hall will be closing soon so please check it out while they’re still around. Make sure to get those closing sale discounts.
Ad Hoc – If you’re looking for fun, women-powered clothes and nick knacks, stop in Ad Hoc.
Shops and Eats in Wicker Park
There are too many delicious cafes, restaurants, and bakeries on W Division St. to name. The same with boutique shopping. That’s what makes W. Division street great on a nice day. The wide sidewalks make for a lovely afternoon of strolling, shopping and eating.
Some of our favorite picks:
Cafe Milk & Honey – A great place to visit with kids because you pay first. Plus, the food was a plenty and delicious.
One Strange Bird – Chicago pride, local gifts, and handmade goods make up One Strange Bird’s shopping experience.
Neighborly – If you want Chicago themed gifts, Neighborly is the place to stop. They had lots of cute Chicago and Midwest cups, bags, shirts, and cards. They also have home goods and gifts.
Penelope’s – Stylish clothing in European and U.S. brands. Lots to look at.
Fun Fact: The Ferris wheel was invented by X Ferris for the Chicago’s World Fair. It was invented to “out Eiffel the Eiffel Tower”. The original wheel was box cars instead of seats, that hosted bands and bars. I learned this in The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for some good non-fiction.
Have you ever been to Chicago? What were your favorite activities? Share in the comments below!