How to: Host Guests in Chicago (and actually enjoy yourself)

My Dad surprised my Mom with a trip to Chicago for her Birthday and we had FUN.

So I thought I’d share some activities that don’t include; The Bean, Navy Pier, The Ledge, Architectural Tour, Wrigley Field, Blue Man Group or a Segway Tour.

Divvy Bikes. Ever sit in a cab during rush hour in the Chicago heat? Me too- that’s why I avoid doing that at all costs.

Divvy Bikes are everywhere- literally- a station is near almost anything you’d want to do in downtown Chicago and a bike costs $7.00 for 24 hours.

My parents and I decided to Divvy  home from Museum Campus tour back to River North, and while the ride was full of team building obstacles*, at the end when we parked those bikes- we exchanged high-fives.

*carrying heavy bikes up and down lakefront stairs, stations with no/broken bikes, my brutal sense of direction.

Riding up and down the lake front is not only mega efficient, but it also is truly stunning. Even people who hate riding in traffic can enjoy this ride- where the biggest threat is a wanna be Lance Armstrong* who zips past and gives you some kind of signal that translates to “GET OFF MY PATH TOURIST”. But this only happens once or twice, and it’s honestly kinda funny.

*when Lance was real good and using the strong stuff

There are so many bikes lanes in place now that even if you have to hit the streets- riding to and from a destination isn’t as daunting as it used to be.

Once we all recovered from Tour de Wind, we went to River Roast, the newest al fresco spot along the Chicago River.

photo 4

Me and Alex at River Roast- the view really stinks..no?!

Chef Tony Mantuano had just crushed our wedding and Chef John Hogan and I were old co-workers* when he ran Keefer’s.

*we worked in the same building. I was never in the kitchen- fear not- your food was safe.

The menu was…different. But a 2 Chainz kind of different- “good” different.

Think: less B.S. options and more – trust us- we got this- kind of menu.

Don’t be afraid of: creative apps, starters and sides. They are delicious. (Example: whipped parsnips. If you’re not into food….you may think that sounds weird and wrong. In truth – they are unlike anything you’ve ever had and from that moment forward you’ll call mashed potatoes “basic”).

Order: the fish for two or chicken for two. The entree section is small: fish , chicken, meat. And I understand why…that kind of magic takes time to perfect.

Our fish was, well, this isn’t an NSFW blog so I’ll just say it was delish, as were the potatoes it came with.

The chicken looked like it was trying to steal my beer can chicken thunder* , and the boys loved..and I mean…LOVED it.

*I made beer can chicken that was so good, Alex actually married me. And no, I still don’t eat chicken.

Let’s talk about the Chicago River..yes it’s dirty, you’ve seen the buildings on a boat*, and you are over it….but I’m here to change your mind.

Yacht* life with the birthday girl.  *pontoon boat on the river...Diddy did not show up.

Yacht* life with the birthday girl.
*pontoon boat on the river…Diddy did not show up.

*arch tour with an annoying Vince Vaughn wanna be guide and tourists with fanny packs (which are cool BTW).

Props to Living Social or Groupon (forgive me for forgetting) for offering a boat rental for a great deal.   We cruised the river on our time, in a pontoon boat (driven by my dad) for two hours and it was really really fun. And for the record- we brought only waters and Vita Coco on the boat- imagine if Fireball was in play!!!

The Captain pointing at his next location

The Captain pointing at his next location

How cute are my parents?!

How cute are my parents?!

Afterwards we stopped by Snarf’s Sandwiches before my parents hopped on the train back to Ann Arbor and they agreed those sandwiches were the best they’d ever had. I have to also give honorable mention to Taco Joint, a River North spot that my parents said they wouldn’t have stopped in on their own- but I vouched for the food and after eating there they said:

“And that’s why you trust a local”. 

My point? Those deals on-line sites are actually pretty cool and fun…you may not want to go on a date or with a posse*, but with family it’s perfection.

*I actually begged Alex to organize a river cruise night soon after today

Ahoy people and please, don’t hate on the coupons.

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