Staycations are quite underrated. After months of putting off a little me time, I finally gave myself a day off. However, with only a 1/2 day to spend doing anything I wanted, I wondered, what exactly would I do with my staycation? When you live as close as I do to a major city, the choice is easy….and so, I was off for a quick trip to Chicago.
First stop – Coffee.
More precisely, cappuccinos at Goddess and the Baker on Wabash. The quaint and artsy coffee shop gave me just what I needed to start my day – caffeine and sugar, courtesy of an extra large almond milk cappuccino – served a la Italiano style with a flowery milk design on top and a side of biscotti. You know the coffee is going to be good when it’s served with a bit of art. And for additional nourishment (and sugar of course) ….a fancy slice of lemon sweet bread. I describe the lemon bread as “fancy” because as a standalone slide, it reminded me of Starbucks lemon loaf, which is really nothing to write home about. However, the pastry chef fancies adding a little homemade granola and a strawberry/blueberry topper to her bread, giving it almost a crown-like appearance….hmm…perfect for a Goddess, wouldn’t you say?
I’m not saying that Chicago has the best coffee shops but if I had a charming place like this near my house outside of Chicago, I may just have to recreate a Friends episode. With more time, I would have lingered here a little longer just to observe the comings and goings of the many locals and tourists grabbing their morning Joe. It’s so funny to see them (and by “them” I also mean “me”) walk in cranky and rushed and turn smiley and relaxed once they are coffee in hand. Ahhh…what would we do without our yummy espresso drinks.
Second Stop – Art.
I’ve mentioned before my love for art and my great admiration for the Art Institute of Chicago, a place so worth any tourist’s (or local’s) time. In fact, this museum ranks in my top 5 favorite museums – and trust me, I’ve been to a lot of museums! From the Renaissance and Medieval art, to Buddhist and Greek statues, to Chicago favorites like American Gothic and Paris Street on a Rainy Day…you can get lost in the amazing historical works for hours and hours and leave feeling more refreshed and cultured than ever before. And, what’s even better about the Art Institute of Chicago is that they offer a free app where you can listen to recorded descriptions of many of the their popular pieces and much more. It’s one thing to just look at a painting, but learning the story behind it really takes the experience to the next level.
Final Stop – Pizza.
Chicago is well-known for deep-dish pizza, which I thoroughly enjoy from time to time. However, when I’m in the city, I prefer pizza from Quartinos on State, a popular eatery that serves small, shareable Italian dishes, tasty wines and Prosecco ….and all with a side of classic Italian cinema. Not only is their thin crust pizza divine but the dining experience is somewhat enhanced by the playing of Italian feature films all throughout the restaurant (no audio). My kids have been captivated by the movies for years, even without the audio, trying to figure out the characters and the plot, all while reading the subtitles.
Overall, the day went extremely fast….but more importantly, it gave me the escape from reality that I needed. As I headed home happy and exhausted, my only thought was, why did I wait so long to do this?
Cheers and happy travels everyone!