Winter Things To Do in Chicago- Christkindlmarket!

The Christkindlemarket in Daley Plaza is an authentic (and free!) European (German mostly) Christmas marketplace. You can get handmade ornaments, scarves and hats, Christmas decorations, mugs, cuckoo clocks, candies and much more. They also sell German food, hot cider, beer, and warm spiced wine- yum! Pro Tip: go after work during the week instead of on the weekend, it’s prettier at night and you can beat the crowds!

The Christmas Tree in Daley Plaza, Chicago

The Christkindlmarket, Chicago

Authentic German Christmas market, Chicago

Authentic German food is available at the Christkindlmarket in Chicago

Authentic German food is available at the Christkindlmarket in Chicago

Handmade ornaments from all over the world are available at The Christkindlmarket in Chicago

You can get fun international candies at the Christkindlmarket in Chicago

 

 

Things to do in L.A.- visit history

Do like the locals and stay out of the tourist traps! Captions are links.

One of the things I like to do when visiting is check out lots of old stuff- buildings, restaurants, neighborhoods. Most of the time I just drive around but since L.A. is so huge, you can check out some of the local historical societies for guidance. Then of course, you’ll want to eat and drink, so I’ve included some ideas on where to do that.

Glendale Historical Society

Los Angeles Historical Society

Pasadena Museum Of History

Burbank Historical Society

Mid Century Modern Glendale Federal Building

Mid Century Modern Glendale Federal Building

vintage window decorations

A vintage window decoration at what’s currently a Sprint store on California and Brand in Glendale

Go visit the upscale shopping center Americana At Brand, where there’s a new Nordstrom and a new Bloomingdales next door at the Galleria. See a movie, check out the Mac store, or just have a coffee and walk around. I don’t usually approve of the destruction of all the old buildings they did to put this thing up, but downtown Glendale was pretty far gone and this is a big improvement.

Then you can go to Pasadena for more shopping, visit the Norton Simon Museum, which is small enough to explore in a couple hours but holds a ton of great art.

Do some shopping in OId Town. Old Town is a great example of restoring and reusing the old buildings instead of just tearing them down and putting in a mall.

old town, pasadena, ca

Old Town Pasadena

cassell's burgers, los angeles

So vintage! Cassell’s Burgers at 3266 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020 So vintage, they don’t have a website!

cassell's, los angeles

Old Fashioned burgers at Cassell’s, Los Angeles

Fun vintagey decor at Cassell's

Fun vintagey decor at Cassell’s

Pick what you want at Cassell's

Pick what you want at Cassell’s

No, that's not an egg, it's a peach! Love the nostalgic food at Cassell's

No, that’s not an egg, it’s a peach! Love the nostalgic food at Cassell’s

I’m sure you all know some cool out of the way spots in the L.A. area, so be sure to let me know about them in the comments!

Lincoln Park Zoo holiday lights are still on!

Before Christmas we went over to the Lincoln Park Zoo to see all their holiday lights. It was super pretty- you should go! They’ll be on from 5-9pm through Sunday January 6th, so you didn’t miss them. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be, just lively. So don’t worry about that. And, as always, it’s free to get in.

Lincoln Park Zoo Holiday Lights

Lincoln Park Zoo Holiday Lights

Thousands of holiday lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo

Thousands of holiday lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo

Not thousands of lights, millions of lights!

Not thousands of lights, millions of lights!

Lincoln Park Zoo Holiday Lights

Lincoln Park Zoo Holiday Lights

You can buy hot chocolate and mulled wine at the zoo. Yum!

You can buy hot chocolate and mulled wine at the zoo. Yum!

Even The Dange had fun!

Even The Dange had fun!

You can also check out the animals- the big cats are especially fun to watch prowl around in the darkness.

Family visit to Chicago September 2012

In September my parents and my brother and sister-in-law came to visit. We did a lot of tourist stuff, since we were practically tourists ourselves back then. We ate a ton of good food and saw a lot of stuff, too.

They stayed at The Aqua. It’s new and really cool. There is a hotel, condos, and apartments. They rented a condo on the 40th floor.

The Aqua, Chicago.

The Aqua, Chicago.

The Aqua Building was designed to look like water.

The Aqua Building, Chicago.

The Aqua Building, Chicago.

 

The Aqua, Chicago.

The Aqua, Chicago.

Sunday we had lunch in our tiny apartment and dessert on the roof deck, then we walked from our apartment in Lincoln Park through the zoo and down into the Gold Coast and had dinner at Gibson’s Steakhouse, which was awesome.

The tigers at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The tigers at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The fam in Lincoln Park

The fam in Lincoln Park.

Huge steaks, delicious cocktails, sides and wine at Gibsons in Chicago.

Huge steaks, delicious cocktails, sides and wine at Gibsons in Chicago.

David and Sarah relaxing outside at The Aqua.

David and Sarah relaxing outside at The Aqua.

On Monday we took a tour with the Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Company. It was actually really fun and informative. Highly recommended.

Chicago Trolley Company's Signature Tour.

Chicago Trolley Company's Signature Tour.

We sat on the top of the double decker and got some good pictures.

We sat on the top of the double decker and got some good pictures.

Since the tour is “hop on, hop off” and there are designated spots to do this, we opted to get off on Taylor St. and go to Rosebud for lunch.

Lunch!

We are serious about lunch.

Sarah and David like to share entrees. I don't share, but I do sample what everyone else has.

Sarah and David like to share entrees. Good idea, I'll share, too!

Mike had the Penne Bolognese (it was delicious).

My dad had the Penne Bolognese (it was delicious). We "shared" it.

Mike had the Spaghetti and meatballs (it was delicious).

Mike had the Spaghetti and meatballs (it was delicious).

I had this insane thing: Cavatelli Ala Rosebud. I still dream about this dish. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I told my dad I'd share it with him but wound up scarfing most of it myself. It's basically a gnocchi-like pasta with grean beans, tomatoes, peppers, and a butter sauce. OMG.

I had this insane thing: Cavatelli Ala Rosebud. I still dream about this dish. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten. My dad and I were supposed to share it but I wound up scarfing most of it myself. It's basically a gnocchi-like pasta with grean beans, tomatoes, peppers, and a butter sauce. OMG.

After lunch we got back on the trolley and finished the tour. Later that night we went to the John Hancock Building’s Signature Room and had drinks and checked out the view from the 95th floor.

Fancy cocktails at The Signature Room.

Fancy cocktails at The Signature Room.

Tuesday we started out at Big Star in Wicker Park. The service was sort of lame and we felt like they weren’t that thrilled to have us non-hipsters out on their patio for everyone to see, but the food was really good. The margarita was not great, though, and overall we like Taco Joint in Lincoln Park better.

Yummy tacos at Big Star in Wicker Park, Chicago.

Yummy tacos at Big Star in Wicker Park, Chicago.

The margarita was warm and didn't taste like anything special. Plus it was small.

The margarita was warm and didn't taste like anything special. Plus it was small.

Another delish taco and really good beans- which were attacked by the family before I even got a good picture.

Another delish taco and really good beans- which were attacked by the family before I even got a good picture.

Yet another tasty little taco and the blah margarita. No matter how many pictures I take of it, it isn't going to improve.

Yet another tasty little taco and the blah margarita. No matter how many pictures I take of it, it isn't going to improve. You can see how everyone else devoured their food.

Then we got on the El to Wrigleyville and wandered around there for awhile.

Mom and dad on the El platform.

Mom and dad on the El platform.

Instagram!

Instagram!

Chicago wore them out!

Chicago wore them out!

We thought about taking a tour of Wrigley Field but the tickets were $25. REALLY? Yeah. Then we had some cocktails at one of the many bars up there.

Wrigley Field Instagram.

Wrigley Field Instagram.

After the drinks we got back on the El and went down to Fullerton in L.P. and had some hot dogs at Chicago’s Dog House.

The 'rents at Chicago's Dog House.

The 'rents at Chicago's Dog House.

All the yummies at Chicago's Dog House.

All the yummies at Chicago's Dog House.

Later that evening we took an architectural river cruise with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

CAF Architectural Cruise

CAF Architectural Cruise

River cruise, CAF.

River cruise, CAF.

Some cool shots from the boat.

Some cool shots from the boat.

CAF does great river tours, very informative and fun.

CAF does great river tours, very informative and fun.

The Wrigley Building a la Instagram.

The Wrigley Building a la Instagram.

After the river tour we had drinks and apps at Filini. I had another of my favorite foods ever there.

One of the best things I've ever eaten: the mushroom pizza from Filini, Chicago

One of the best things I've ever eaten: the mushroom pizza from Filini, Chicago.

Wednesday was their last day in Chicago so we started out in The Loop at Do-Rite Donuts. Everyone else was food-ed out, but Mike and I enjoyed the donuts very much. Rookies!

Do-Rite Donuts, Chicago.

Do-Rite Donuts, Chicago.

Then we just hung out in Millenium Park and had lunch at Mariano’s, the neat grocery store/cafe/restaurant by The Aqua.

Sarah and Dave at "The Bean".

Sarah and Dave at "The Bean".

Sarah and Dave at "The Bean".

Sarah and Dave at "The Bean".

These shots are irresistible.

These shots are irresistible.

These shots are irresistible.

These shots are irresistible.

Family shot!

Family shot!

LOL, silly.

LOL, silly.

"The Bean" is really called Cloud Gate.

"The Bean" is really called Cloud Gate.

Awwwww.

Awwwww.

David and Dad.

David and Dad.

Millenium Park, Chicago

Millenium Park, Chicago

 

 

Fun!

Fun!

Filini, Chicago

Filini: 221 N. Columbus Dr. Chicago, 60601

Filini is in the lobby of the Radisson Blu Hotel, which is in the famed Aqua Building in Chicago.

Very modern, open, airy, and pretty, with excellent food and drinks and good service.

We went here and sat in the bar when my parents and my brother and sister-in-law came to visit from L.A. in September. They stayed in a condo in the Aqua, so we went to Filini a couple times while they were visiting. We drank a lot of wine! Then we had a lot of food! It was really fun and a great experience.

David and Sarah at Felini in Chicago

David and Sarah at Filini in Chicago

We started with a cheese plate. David had a beer and Sarah had some sort of sparkling wine, which is all the rage with the young people these days, I’ve noticed.

Cheese and breadsticks at Felini Chicago

Cheese and breadsticks at Filini Chicago

Then we had the delicious creamy, cheesy artichoke and spinach dip with some flatbreads. Mom and I shared a bottle of Sicilian red wine.

Artichoke and spinach dip

Artichoke and spinach dip

Sparkly and modern ambience at Felini

Twinkly and modern ambience at Filini

We ordered a couple of pizzas including a margherita and a sausage, but this one rocked my world! It was sauteed exotic mushrooms, spinach, taleggio cheese, and truffle oil. It was the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time. I might have to go get one right now.

Mushroom spinach pizza from Felini, Chicago

Mushroom spinach pizza from Filini, Chicago

We finished the evening with some Italian cookies.

Italian cookies at Felini, Chicago

Italian cookies at Filini, Chicago

I love Filini and will go back soon!