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somewhere only we know ~ chicago discoveries

As if I’m not traveling enough for personal reasons, this week I also got to take a trip to Chicago for work. It’s been years since I visited and I seemed to see a different side of the city that made me want to immediately book my next 3-day-weekend trip so I could explore and experience even more.

Even though Denver can technically count as a city, it’s not the type of walking around / exploring downtown / city lights type of city. So, I was pretty excited when I walked into my 36th floor hotel room, and saw that I got to spend two nights in the heart of downtown {the perks of traveling for business}.

Downtown Chicago by jessalayne.comchicago city lights

To my immense delight, I then got to spend my work day enjoying this lovely city view from the Aon Building.

View of Millenium park from Aon building, Chicagoi could work in this office everyday

For a minute, I let myself pretend that Lake Michigan was the ocean, which I’m sure Chicagoans do often, and was prepared to move in and never leave that office. In case you can’t tell, that’s Millenium Park and the famous ‘Bean’ is just to the right of this photo.

While walking back across the river after long work day, we stumbled upon the last few minutes of a pretty decent-sized fireworks display. I later discovered that this is a regular occurrence at Navy Pier in the summer {2013 schedule}, which just made me appreciate the glamor of city life once again — oh and the fact that the dry heat and forest fires have put a stop to most fireworks in Colorado in recent summers.

Did you know there are fireworks at Navy Pier in Chicago almost every week?

And, while I couldn’t stay long enough to enjoy the Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade, I did spot the lions outside the Art Institute wearing hockey helmets! Can you tell I barely caught them out the window of my cab?

Lions outside Chicago Art Institute

Another great part of traveling is the food {and I’ll admit, being able to expense it!}. And while there are plenty of great restaurants in Denver & Boulder,  I was also excited to test out some new food places while in Chicago. Now, I’ve had plenty of foodie-type friends make recommendations to me, and they’re always a pretty good experience. But, I just so happen to work closely with a trained chef — so I was willing to make any sort of special trip for her recommendation.

Luckily,  XOCO {a Rick Bayless restaurant}, the place she suggested for breakfast was only a few blocks from my hotel. I hear they have amazing sandwiches, but my friend suggested their breakfast and in particular, their hot chocolate made from freshly ground Mexican cacao beans.

Rick Bayless Xocoxoco’s awnings

Since I am a girl that needs my morning caffeine, I opted for the chocolate cappuccino and it did not disappoint. Neither did the chorizo, egg & avocado torta. It might’ve been 80 degrees and humid, but I thoroughly enjoyed every bite and sip {so much so that I forgot to take a picture!}.

I took another recommendation of a Chicago native and also stopped into the Doughnut Vault — where I promptly purchased 18 donuts for a whopping $50 {I promise, I was sharing with a large group}. You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but it’s no bigger than a corner ATM inside.  They open at 8am, usually to a very long line {which somehow we missed at 8:45} and sell their roughly 6 flavors of doughnuts only until they sell out. I did not know this when I was purchasing 18 doughnuts and wondered why I got a few nasty stares from the people forming in line behind us…

Chicago Doughnut Vault

I guess that’s what I get for being a naive tourist. But, if you’re ever in the area, it’s worth a special trip here… but maybe just buy one or two {my favorite was their Old Fashioned buttermilk doughnut}.

While we likely won’t have many just-for-fun trips this year {okay, with the exception of our honeymoon}, I’m really hoping I can get back to Chicago again in the future. And while I’m on the subject of our wedding — our invitations were just mailed out, and I cannot WAIT to share the full design and tutorial with you soon!

Keane – Somewhere Only We Know

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