A Weekend in the Windy City

A few months back, the ladies I used to work with reached out and wanted to plan a girls’ trip to Chicago.  Having left my previous job over a year and a half ago, I hadn’t the chance to see these amazing women for just about as long… and jumped at the chance to get together.

When we were deciding where to meet, it got a little tricky.  We all live in different places afterall:  San Diego, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, and Columbus.  When Lisa offered to host us in Chicago, I was really excited.  Afterall, I just adore the Windy City… and it had been a few years since I traveled there.

Due to conflicts with the dates and other commitments, we ended up being a party of three instead of a party of five.  Just the same, we had an absolute blast.

Friday morning, I woke up bright and early to catch my flight.  I didn’t land until 2, and I didn’t want to be delayed by a checked bag.  And, while it sounds impossible… I carried on!  I tend to travel heavy and to pack WAY too many liquids to make this possible, but I downsized and made it happen!

Lisa picked me up at Midway, and we headed downtown to check into our hotel.  We chose the Marriott Downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue as our hotel, and OMG… what a great place to stay!  Our room wasn’t ready when we first arrived, so Lisa and I headed to the lounge to have a cocktail and catch up. 

This also gave us a chance to wait for Crystal to arrive, along with her friend Roxanne.  Shortly after everyone arrived, our room was also ready, and we went up to the 42nd floor to check it out.

Being so high up, I knew that we’d have a great view, but I didn’t expect ANY of this…

Double doors are always a good sign…

I also knew that the guy at the front desk booked us an upgrade, but this was a little crazy… in the best possible way.  Plenty of room for the 3 of us for the night, and about 20 of our closest friends…

And the view from the room was absolutely spectacular… Note:  Lake Michigan in the background!

We quickly got settled and then headed to Fleming’s for happy hour.  Fleming’s has $6 drinks and 1/2 price appetizers until 7, so we jumped on this opportunity.  I ended up finding a non-happy hour martini on their “Skinnier Cocktails” menu that I had to try called “The Farmer’s Skinny Daughter” – - made with muddled strawberries, basil, cranberry juice, and Ketel One – - Uh-mazing, and less than 100 calories!

After a few snacks, we headed across the street for a quick stop at Pops for Champagne (a nearby champagne bar.)  Everyone loves the “champs” and what a cute little place… perfect for girls’ night!  

Next, we headed to the Signature Room to see the views from the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building.  The walk to the Water Tower Place gave me a chance to see a part of Chicago I had never seen… MICHIGAN AVENUE.

Suddenly, I became the smartest girl on Michigan Avenue..

OMG… How in the world haven’t I been here?  As someone who LOVES to shop, I was so excited to see all these enormous versions of stores we had at home, as well as new stores I’d never set foot in:  Top Shop, Zara, and Burberry.  Of course, as we were walking on Friday night, most had closed, but I set my eyes on where I wanted to go on Saturday morning.

After a claustrophobic, sweaty ride to the top of the John Hancock Building, we arrived at the Signature Room.  WHAT AMAZING VIEWS!!!

 The crazy part:  The best views of the city were from… the ladies room.

Yep, here we are in the bathroom posing…

What a great spot in Chicago, and a great way to close out the night.  Oh… I nearly forgot that we decided to have late night pizza at Pizzeria Due.  We chose the Spinoccoli – A deep dish spinach/broccoli pie – that was delicious that night, and even more amazing for breakfast the next morning!

My first experience with deep-dish Chicago-style pizza.  Now, I know I prefer a thinner crust… but it was fun to try it.

Saturday morning, we got up and headed back to Michigan Avenue to get our shopping on.  Zara was at the top of my list on places I wanted to go, and Crystal and Lisa were totally game.

We spent a pretty long time there, trying on clothes and looking at all the fun things that Zara had on display.

After hearing Taylor talk about Zara for years on my morning show… it was fun to actually be there.  And, I LOVED their clothes!  I picked up this super-fun winter coat.  It’s outerwear… and no, I won’t be pairing it with a white skirt. :)

I also found a navy dress that might be my dress for the Iowa wedding next month, and a few tops.  SO CUTE!  Where I thought these would fit in my carry-on… well, that’s another story altogether, but I couldn’t resist!

After Zara, we peeked into an ENORMOUS Express, and then headed to Trader Joe’s for some snacks for the road.  Oh, Trader Joe’s… I can’t even believe how much fun it was to be in there again.

I can’t wait for our store to open in Denver.  Absolutely can’t wait!  I picked up some pretzel chips and reduced fat greek yogurt guacamole, and a caprese-arugula salad for the car ride back to the ‘burbs. 

We spent our 2nd night at Lisa’s house in St. Charles. LOVED this area, and so incredibly nice to meet Lisa’s family after hearing about them for years. 

We ended up visiting at the house, and then heading to a local Asian bistro for dinner with new friends.  With early flights on Sunday, the night ended early with Crystal and I needing to rest up and pack up for our trips home.

One awesome outcome of this trip:  We’re definitely going to do it again.  Lisa, Crystal and I had an absolute blast… and we’re hoping that next time Janet and Paula can join too!  Now to figure out the when’s and the where’s… No one’s been to Denver, so I might end up hosting next time!

Regardless of where we choose to meet up next, I can’t wait to see these ladies again.  Such a great weekend!

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  1. Jennifer Fournier says:

    I totally agree about the views from the Ladies Room at the Signature Room! I still remember being amazed! I kept trying to text pictures and there was no service (it was a few years ago :) ). I love that city…can’t wait to get there again!


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