- Restaurant: Le Colonial - This restaurant was a tough pick because there are SO MANY fantastic restaurants in Chicago. I am part of a supper club that goes out every month to a different restaurant, and we haven’t even scratched the surface. Le Colonial serves upscale French-Vietnamese cuisine and the cocktails are very good, but it was the fried egg rolls that won me over completely.
- Bar: The Aviary. I’ll say it again: The Aviary. If you want art in a glass, you MUST go to The Aviary. This cocktail lounge is run by the incomparable Grant Achatz, who has several other noteworthy locations. I was lucky enough to go to The Aviary and sit in the kitchen and watch everything be created. If you do this, definitely eat beforehand! (There were about 9 FULL SIZED drinks, and I definitely left a happier person, but it was much more than expected...in a great way) Each drink is so different, but so delicious.
- Outdoor Activity: I think one of the greatest design aspects of Chicago was how the city is laid out so the “every man” could have access to the lake. And, one of the best points is the Chicago Lakefront Trail - a running/bike path that runs 18 miles along the lakefront. I've done it all: from jogging, to biking, to taking a casual walk to the zoo, or walking down to the beach. If you look at the picture above of Chicago, you can actually see the people running around the curve of the lake.
- Historical Activity: I would definitely recommend all of the museums in Chicago. If I HAD to pick one, it would probably be the Art Museum. There is so much to see I would definitely give it an entire day, but worthwhile even if you only have a couple hours. It’s silly, but I always love to go to the miniatures hall where I always pick out my favorite living room that I would live in.
- One thing you must try/do when in town: The Green Mill!!! This is my easiest pick that actually fits into almost all the categories. The Green Mill is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall jazz speakeasy club that was frequented by gangsters like Al Capone. It has live jazz every day of the week, and the cocktails are to DIE for. My personal favorite is the French 75, a classic cocktail with all things lady-like: champagne, gin, lemon, simple syrup, and a twist of lemon. Most days of the week it’s very serious jazz where you aren’t allowed to talk, but the best night - my favorite night - is Thursday, where big band takes over. There is dancing, loud music, everyone is yelling, and it’s exactly what it should be. I try and go every Thursday, dressed to the 1940s 9’s, and I hope to see you there next time! Come and say hello, I’m the dame in the gloves and hat!
- Restaurant: It’s hard to pick from the smorgasbord of hole-in-the-wall places all over Charleston. In fact, I still haven’t had the chance to eat at all of them. With that said: O-Ku is FANTASTIC sushi and Husk is great for a modern take on Southern food with menu items sourced locally. OH, and I almost forgot, for Sunday brunch you MUST go to The Angel Oak!!! Why? Because Sunday brunch is a must (ask any Southerner), plus beignets and bottomless mimosas amongst other yummy things. Need I say more?!
- Bar: Prohibition has awesome and delicious cocktails. I can’t recommend one cocktail in particular because I usually change it up. If you're not into cocktails, or like me who sometimes is in the mood for something else, they have a great list of wines and beers too. It doesn't hurt that I LOVE the vibe in there: a speakeasy that (as their website says) doesn't require a secret knock. And with live music, you can sip and dance the night away!
- Outdoor Activity: The Farmer’s Market at Marion Square is my usual go-to, early-afternoon activity on Saturday (food, crafts, artisanal stuff, etc.). And, once you’re done eating there, you are steps from shopping on King Street or wandering over to The City Market. After meandering the shops (or before), I recommend exploring the beauty and charm of the colonial homes on and around The Battery.
- Historical Activity: Check out any of the historical plantations in the area. I personally LOVE Boone Hall Plantation. For you Gossip Girl fans, Boone Hall is where Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds got married. But beyond that, there’s lots to look at, and if you time it right, you might even get to pick your own strawberries. One of my favorite things about the place is the Avenue of the Oaks. The majesty and grandeur of those 250+ year old oaks can only be experienced in person, and it makes for a wonderful welcoming to the plantation. Tours of the plantation house and the grounds happen throughout the day - and who knows, you might spot a friendly neighborhood gator!
- One thing you must do when visiting for the first time: (You must do this in the following order) Go take a pic at the Angel Oak (the actual tree, not the aforementioned restaurant. Confusing... I know) then drive over to the Firefly Distillery/Irvin House Vineyards for some moonshine and/or wine tasting...followed by happy moments relaxing amongst the oaks. Take a picnic with you and enjoy the scenery!!!