A weekend staycation in the city complete with a steakhouse dinner, pizza-making class, paddle adventure on the river & a game watch. It was a guy-approved itinerary with classic Chicago vibes.
This particular Chicago weekend, I had full control of our itinerary. Historically, Joey is away in early October hosting customers at their company's annual retreat in Colorado. This year, the timing worked out in our favor, and for once, I had him all to myself for his birthday. I planned an active little staycation for us in the city, kid-free.
As I mentioned in my Aspen Travel Guide, I plan our getaways with a balance of both adventure and leisure, wellness and indulgence. I do like to plan ahead for most things but always leave space for in-the-moment additions or changes as well.
MY TRAVEL FRAMEWORK
As I'm planning for any given trip, these are the elements I try to work into the itinerary:
energize - healthy food (80%)
move - daily workout
adventure - active excursions, adrenaline, excitement
explore - sightseeing, new experiences, shopping local
recover - relaxation, wellness
indulge - comfort food (20%)
Healthy weekend dining
coffee & nest cam spying / sunday brunch / preworkout fuel
Coffee, Brunch & Light Bites
Cupitol Coffee & Eatery: I went with their almond milk flat white and Joey had their cold brew. I love the vibe in this place. It's minimalist and spacious with lots of natural light. If I had been working this weekend, I would've loved to zone out here with my laptop and headphones.
Foxtrot Market: We went here for both a pre and post workout. I ordered their Nitro Draft Oatly Latte and Joey had a CBD Almond Milk Latte (had I not been pregnant, I would've ordered the same). They have an amazing grab n'go market with all the trendy health food products. We drank our coffee before the gym and after our workout had a quick breakfast in the room before heading out for the day. I ordered their carne asada breakfast taco to-go with a side of watermelon. Joey went with their charcuterie and a baguette. Both so representative of our personalities and taste:)
Kanela Breakfast Club: Order the Spicy Feta Omelet. Trust me. It's to die for...and I admit I had a sip of Joey's Grapefruit Rose Mimosa (which I made him order just so that I could try it). I will be going back here post baby because both our food & drinks were impressive. This place doesn't take reservations but they do allow you to use the Yelp app to get on the waitlist in advance, which I highly recommend doing. We were seated immediately when we arrived while everyone else stood in line outside.
Theory: A perfect location to watch a game when you also want decent food. You can go either direction here, burger and fries or healthy like I did. Joey was happy because he could watch Notre Dame massacre FSU and I was happy with my hummus plate and chicken caprese bowl.
The daily sweat
EMC2 Gym: We kept it pretty simple this trip and utilized the hotel gym both mornings. Despite COVID restrictions, the fitness center was open 24hrs with no advanced booking requirements. We only ever shared the space with two other people, so it was pretty easy to distance, even on the free weights. They had a decent set-up, so we both were able to do what we needed to do. Joey even requested waters from the hotel robots that were delivered right to the door. No joke.
Our outdoor fix
Urban Kayaks: This was an experience that's been on my bucket list since we moved back to Chicago (I can't believe it's already been 4 years!). It was even better than we anticipated and much more exciting being out on the water with all the boat traffic than I imagined. My shoulders were v sore the next day from paddling against the wakes to stay away from the wall and other boats. The views of the city from the river are some of my favorites. I've done the architecture tour and have run down the River Walk many times but this was by far the coolest way to see Chicago from the water. We went in the middle of the afternoon when the temperature was warmest, which I would recommend this time of year. You do get a little wet, so prepare for that.
Something new and different
The Chopping Block: It isn't a classic Chicago experience, or a Joey-friendly weekend without pizza. It just isn't. Instead of simply reserving a table at one of our deep dish spots, I decided to get a little more creative than that and booked us for a grilled pizza class. The outdoor venue for this was amazing and we were blessed with perfect weather. We also lucked out with our instructor being the executive chef of the place. I walked away with more from those two hours about making dough, prepping toppings and grilling technique than I expected...and I stocked up on all the tools in their shop afterwards. We were taught how to prep 3 different pizzas, 3 different ways on the grill and tasted as we went. We will definitely be back for more of their demos and cooking bootcamps. This was a highlight of the weekend for sure. Seriously, check them out.
Lululemon Experiential Store - Lincoln Park: For the man who loves to lift and adventure with me everywhere, we couldn't leave the city without a shopping trip to Lulu. There is less offered here at the moment thanks to COVID, but pick-me-up chai from the cafe and shopping sufficed for us. The space is so beautiful at the newest LP location, I could honestly hang all day. Spare yourself the typically Lulu run and do it here instead. The entire athleisure shopping experience has been elevated to a whole new level.
Moments of relaxation and nothing else
Hotel EMC2: We retreated to our room both nights right after dinner and it was perfection. We couldn't wait to cozy up in robes with our chocolate chip cookies from RPM over a documentary (I know, we're really untamed these days). We had this unique exposed shower in our room with an amazing deluge design. It was like a spa treatment in there. The overall styling at this hotel was beautiful and creative with an art meets science aesthetic. The neighborhood offers so much within walking distance, which is something that's very important to me and Joey.
A healthy balance of comfort food
swiss style charcuterie for joey in the room
Dinner & Dessert
RPM Steak: We had a classic steakhouse experience here. Giant prawns to start, caesar salads done right, unbelievable steaks with crispy hasselback potatoes and 14k gold chocolate cake for dessert. I also tried their blueberry cheesecake and would totally go back just for that, honestly. We even took their chocolate chip cookies to-go for dessert the next night in the room.
SAMPLE WEEKEND ITINERARY
explore Hotel EMC2, in-room cocktails/mocktails
RPM Steak for dinner, cookies to-go for later
walk the river at night
coffee & post workout breakfast for later at Foxtrot Market
workout in the hotel gym
food demo and tasting at The Chopping Block
rent from Urban Kayaks and paddle the river
football, dinner and drinks at Theory
cookies from RPM in the room
coffee at Cupitol Coffee & Eatery
gym workout, rent bikes or walk the lakefront
brunch at Kanela Breakfast Club
pick-me-up drinks & shopping at Lulu LP before heading home
Have you been to Chicago? Send me your favs so I can add to the list and check them out next time! You can find me @kristenmariasrd on insta.