Play Hard: Chicago

It’s no surprise that Chicago is my home away from home and I absolutely love experiencing new things the city has to offer. My friends know I’m the gal to go to for recommendations in the city and I thought I’d bring my list of favorites to life by sharing it with all of you!

Drinks and Eats:

Three Dots and a Dash – MY FAVORITE BAR EVER. It’s grown wildly popular for it’s underground (yes, you heard me, underground!) tiki theme and imported rums in the last few years so you’ll need to make a reservation but I promise it’s worth it.

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Pops for Champagne – We all know I love my champagne and pops definitely delivers the best selection of champs and cheese boards!

Raised Bar – I actually did an entire review of Raised Bar last year so I’ll link it here and let that post do the talking.

The Up Room at The Robey – I was lucky enough to collab with The Robey earlier this year and had the best experience at The Up Room! The views were incredible and the drinks were all hand crafted.

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Cindy’s Rooftop – Another place with a great view and trendy drinks!

LondonHouse Rooftop – Hellllooooo perfect view of the Chicago River! This rooftop terrace is one of the prettiest in Chicago to grab a drink and admire the beauty of Chi Town.

Cubby Bear – A typical bar located in Wrigleyville but perfect for a pre-Cubs game drink!

Quartino – Honestly, one of my favorite Italian restaurants ever. I love pasta and I love pasta even more if it’s fresh/homemade. Let’s not forget about their Lemoncello Martini!

Public House Chicago – One of my favorite stops in River North for not only a great brunch but for their boozy cake shakes!

Giordano’s Pizza – Don’t come for me, this is my FAV deep dish ‘za in Chicago and always will be.

Rosebud – A cute restaurant with some Italian flare in River North.

Beatrix – With a couple of locations in Chi, this is one of the best places for a girl’s Sunday Funday brunch! (my girl gang and I went to the one in the west loop!)

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The Q – I’m not a huge fan of BBQ but The Q always serves up some delicious southern ‘Q.

Hub 51 – A great, American classic restaurant where you can devour a burger and fries or a few cocktails!

Portillos – I hate hotdogs so I can’t personally vouch for this but everyone says Portillos is THE place to get a legit Chicago dog. The cheese fries are delish too!

Noyane – SUSHI and a view!

Velvet Taco – Theeee place to taco ’bout! Everyone loves Velvet Taco and if you go, you’ll see why!

Big Star Taco – Margs? Check. Family style tacos? Check. Multiple Salsa Options? Check.

STK – I literally loveeeeee STK. I recently visited the Las Vegas location and the food is literally always amazing. Slightly pricey but totally worth it!

Tavern on Rush – A chic, trendy place to grab lunch or dinner. Great for groups too!

Steak 48 – Another super good place to get a steak cooked to absolute perfection.

Goddess and the Grocer – Absolutely obsessed with G&G. Super fresh ingredients and so great for a tasty lunch.

Hampton Social – The best frosé in the game and the cutest vine wall ever! (also great for brunch)

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Summer House Santa Monica – Beachy vibes and great food.

Where to Stay? 

I’m partial to River North because that’s just where I like to hang out so most of my favorites are in that area! 

Acme Hotel Company – If you follow me on Instagram you already know I love this place with my whole heart. The vibes, the location, the staff, the cleanliness … everything is amazing! Can’t say I love it enough!

The Gwen – A cute, swanky hotel in close proximity to Michigan Ave and the River front.

The Dana – Adorable hotel complete with spa! Who could want more?

Moxy Chicago Downtown – a NEW hotel to Chicago. Similar vibes to that of Acme but located a little south of River North in the loop!

Where to Play?

Cubs Game – I’m a Cubs fan and have been since basically birth! So, I’m partial to a Cubs game but the White Sox fans know how to party too. Either way, you really can’t go wrong … but … Wrigleyville has my heart.

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The Bean – A Chicago classic attraction. Pro Tip: Go early before all the tourists get there … oops probably shouldn’t give away my secret 😉

Navy Pier – It’s always a good time at Navy Pier! River cruises, Chicago eye, the conservatory … all the best things in one place!

Lincoln Park Zoo – What better way to spend an afternoon?

Social 25 – A club in River North with an upstairs and downstairs. In my prime, I may or may not have danced on a table of two in the basement of this place.


I’m always updating my list of favorites in Chicago so don’t hesitate to ask me for more recommendations and if I didn’t cover something you wish I would have in this post, let me know!

xx, Kaitlyn

 

Cider Mill SZN

Hey hey! Wow, has it been a minute since I sat down to write a blog post. One of my goals for the end of this year is to be better at managing my work life, social life, personal life, and hobbies (like blogging) so that I’m able to consistently deliver content to all of my incredible followers.

Let’s talk about this for a second, how in the world is it November already? I feel like this fall has flown by quicker than I can blink. October may be over but cider mill season doesn’t have to be. Michigan has no shortage of cider mills, that’s for sure. In fact, there are over 50 well-known cider mills across the state. Naturally, I held my own cider mill show down, just for fun, between three of the top cider mills in Michigan and compared them across three categories; overall atmosphere, cider (or cider slushies), and cinnamon sugar donuts. These categories are all important to the experience of a cider mill, in my opinion. I went to each of these cider mills on the same day, it was a beautiful autumn Saturday here in Michigan. One of those days that makes you so thankful to live in the mitten state, aside from the fact that it was 70 degrees in the middle of October (holy hot!).

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Disclaimer: I do not like donuts but will make an exception for cinnamon sugar donuts in the fall. I brought along my boyfriend, we’ll refer to him as “J”, for a second opinion on the donuts.

Blake’s Cider Mill

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Atmosphere

Blake’s Cider Mill is perfect for a day date or night out with friends. What I love most about Blake’s is the versatility the spacious grounds offer for people of all ages. If you didn’t know, Blake’s has a tasting room for their hard ciders and wines on site which is the perfect way to end (or start) a trip to a cider mill.

Cider Slushies

Perfectly frozen, fresh, sweet. I wish I could have taken the cider slush machine home with me, to be honest.

Cinnamon Sugar Donut

Crisp on the outside yet soft and dense on the inside. The cinnamon flavor was on point and paired very well with the cider slush.

Uncle John’s Cider Mill

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Atmosphere

More kid-friendly than the others and not as spacious as Blake’s but Uncle John’s also has a hard cider tasting room for their phenomenal hard ciders, my favorite is the blueberry hard cider. So delicious! I wouldn’t recommend visiting on a busy day because of the influx of families and crowds which equates to long lines.

Cider Slushies

Tart with sweet after notes. I’m a cider slush lover and wait all year long for them. I wasn’t a huge fan of the apples used to create the cider.

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Not a favorite, actually. These donuts were lacking cinnamon flavor and were slightly dry compared to the others. They reminded me of a powdered donut rather than a cinnamon sugar donuts.

Yate’s Cider Mill

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Atmosphere

Congested on a busy Saturday, but quaint and perfect for a close up touch with nature.

Cider

Great apple flavor with a mix of sweet and tart apples.

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

These donuts were almost like a cake pop. They were so dense and moist all the way through, which I thought was incredible. They had great cinnamon flavor and were super fresh when we received them.


 

Overall Scoring:

Atmosphere

#1 Blake’s Cider Mill

#2 Yate’s Cider Mill

#3 Uncle John’s Cider Mill

Cider

#1 Blake’s Cider Mill

#2 Yate’s Cider Mill

#Uncle John’s Cider Mill

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

#1 Yate’s Cider Mill

#2 Blake’s Cider Mill

#3 Uncle John’s Cider Mill

All in all, these hot spots are incredible for your cider mill needs. Be sure to check them out in person and on social media, of course! Be sure to tag me (@collectivelykaitlyn on Instagram) in your posts if you make your way to any of these fantastic cider mills.

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What’s your favorite fall activity?

xx, Kaitlyn

 

Rooftop Season

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Rooftop bar season is possibly my favorite time of the year, especially in Chicago. With so many unique, fun rooftops to choose from it’s often hard to pick just one! I’m here to give you in the inside scoop on one of the best I’ve been to. I classify best based on price of drinks, atmosphere, and view. Raised, one of my favorite rooftops in Chicago, is located just south of River North in The Loop district right on the river. As you can imagine, the views are absolutely killer!

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Raised has an upbeat, urban vibe complete with some of the friendliest mixologists around. One of the best things about this place is that there is an indoor section too so you can enjoy Raised all year long! Personally, I feel like this place is a hidden gem in the rooftop bar scene because, while steadily busy, it’s not overly packed like some locations are. Okay, let’s talk about the goods, the cocktail menu. Every signature cocktail on their menu creates a special euphoric experience hand-crafted for patrons to enjoy in good company. They don’t pay me to say this, I swear. My favorite is called the Jenever which is a beautiful blend of lavender, strawberries, lemon, and Bombay Sapphire – SO good!

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Next time you’re in the windy city make sure this place is on your list of go-to’s. Go get yourself a Jenever, an order of Truffle Frites (or any type of French Fries on their menu tbh), and grab a seat overlooking the Chicago skyline. Trust me, you’ll thank me later! Check out their Instagram page for more stellar views and pretty drinks (@RaisedBarChicago)!

What’s your favorite rooftop bar? 

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p.s. slightly embarrassed, slightly proud – this is me actually gawking at an order of the truffle fries I mentioned

xx, Kaitlyn