Friday, April 28, 2017

The DC Instagram Accounts that Feature the Best of the City


We all know Washington, D.C. is a city full of history, politics, and monuments, but it's also a city of five-star restaurants, the best museums, art exhibits, and community events. It's hard to keep up with all that goes on here, but a few Instagram accounts attempt to snapshot the buzz of this vibrant metropolitan capital.

Read on to not only find the best Instagram accounts of DC but also the best DC accounts that will feature your photos!



▶   1. @IGDC // #IGDC


Holly Garner had no expectations when she organized a small Instameet at Bar Pilar in 2011. Fifteen 'grammers chatting over drinks is what sparked the @IGDC account and Instagram DC Community. @IGDC now has over 600 thousand posts tagged with #IGDC. Holly (@golightly) runs the account with the help of community managers Phil Martin (@phil.martin) and Laurie Collins (@dccitygirl). The three maintain a schedule for daily features and connect to the community through social media as well as scheduled meet-ups.

What types of photos do you feature?

Holly: Our criteria is simple: we look for a great capture. Something that shows a photographer's skills, creativity, and passion. We also try to be topical when possible by featuring photos that celebrate holidays, special installations or events around town. And we strive to show the diversity of our DMV area by showing a city beyond just the beautiful monuments and iconic structures.

What else do you like to see on Instagram?


We love to see what our followers are doing; what they are out there capturing and creating. Much of what is happening around town, I learn about from looking at the #igdc tag.

Do you have any favorite DC Instagrammers?

I get this question a lot and I always have to say it's everyone. Everyone inspires me in one way or another. Plus, I could never pick favorites since we're a close-knit community and family.

This community has brought so many people together and I've seen countless friendship made from it. In a city that is so transient, that is the most rewarding thing for me. I've met and formed great bonds with people who I probably would never have met if it weren't for a common love of photography and of Washington DC.





▶   2. @WalkwithLocals // #WalkWithLocals



An all-inclusive community for iPhone photographers and pros alike. That was the goal when Carl Maynard decided to create @WalkWithLocals (WLL). He imagined community events where nobody would have a reason not to join, and it appears that he has succeeded. Carl (@carlnard), with his crew of Anna (@annameyerphoto) and Julian (@_julianthomas), choose the content and provide the voice with an occasional #WWLxTAKEOVER from community members. WWL hosts walks in DC and is branching out to other cities worldwide. Each walk staying true to the original theme: inclusivity.

What types of photos do you feature?

Carl: This is always something that we pay very close attention to at WWL. We walk a fine line of trying to set our account apart while also keeping current on what is happening in our home city of DC. We have users of our tag and members of our community all over the world now, so we don't want to only feature DC photos but we also really wanna share the Cherry Blossoms right now. For the most part, I'd say we look for photos that stand out and send a clear message of adventure. Whether that is to a coffee shop or the middle of the woods. Adventure always means something else to each person. it is truly enjoyable to see where people take the tag. But, as a pro-tip, the best way to get regrammed might be coffee shop photos with Drake lyrics... joking.. well, sort of.

What's the goal of this community?

One of the things we hope to accomplish with Walk With Locals is folks take their experience from a walk into their everyday life. For instance, at every walk, we encourage folks to not walk with the folks they already know but instead talk to someone they haven't met yet or someone whose first time it is. We want people to not dodge that open seat at a community table at their favorite coffee shop all because they don't know the other person sitting there. We say, sit down and say hello to strangers. Everyone should know everyone. That and also, just be kind.

Aside from DC photos, what else do you like to see on Instagram?


From a Walk With Locals perspective, I think we just like seeing where people go with the people they met and became friends with at WWL hangs. In a big city like DC, it is really easy to actually feel alone and isolated. To be able to give people a chance to find a community that works for them and then to see them make friends with others who were looking for the same thing is truly an incredible feeling. When photos pop up and we know they met at WWL. That is something we will never get used to.





▶   3. @YelpDC  //  #YelpEatsDC + #YelpExploresDC


The popular crowd-sourcing reviewal site, Yelp, has a DC Instagram account that recently became one of my favorites. @YelpDC mostly features the people of DC and the delicious food they're eating with occasional takeovers by locals showing their go-to businesses in the area. Yelp Community Director Kimberly Santos (@hola.kimi) curates the account along with Yelp Marketing Coordinator Rebecca Dickinson (@she.well).

What's the inspiration for @yelpdc's Instagram account?

Kimberly: @YelpDC is a love letter to the wonderful, vibrant city that we live in. In the past, DC has gotten a bad rep as a 'boring city' but that is not the case at all, we love showcasing all the hidden gems and great local businesses that make our city so unique. We also love featuring our vibrant Yelp community which is the heart and soul of our website

What types of photos do you feature?

We love featuring photos that capture anything quirky, cool, fun and delicious in the District. Additionally, we love bright, colorful and well-lit photos.





▶   4. @BrightestYoungThings  //  #BYThings

A post shared by BYT (@brightestyoungthings) on

Want to hear about the best events and most interesting people in DC? Also throw in some occasional motivation and you've got @BrightestYoungThings. This digital magazine's account claims to feature only the things to make your life better and they're doing a darn good job at it. Events Manager and Social Strategist Marissa Rubenstein (@marissaevee) runs the account with BYT Co-Founder Svetlana Legetic (@svetlanabyt). They choose from a feed of over 160 thousand photos tagged with #BYThings.

What types of photos do you feature?

Marissa: An easy way to be featured on the BYT Instagram is to post a dog photo (kidding.. mostly!). I usually look for photos that are great quality, and stand out to me as I'm scrolling through the feed, the more unique the subject the more likely I probably am to feature it. Also, for awhile there it was all Kusama! We couldn't (and didn't want to) get away from it.

Do you have any favorite Instagram tips or tricks?

Put at least two hours between your posts! Otherwise, you're just clogging up everyone's feed (even with the new feed format, it still seems to happen a lot). Also don't stress out too much about your caption, people are constantly asking me for caption advice and I just tell them to say what they want and not to worry! Sometimes you just won't have the perfect thing to say about a random cup of coffee, and that's 100% okay. Sometimes an emoji will do.

Any DC spring/summer photos that you're looking forward to seeing soon?

IF I SEE ONE MORE GEORGETOWN WATER FOUNTAIN PHOTO (just kidding). I'm excited to see all the photos from the (I'm assuming very Iinstagrammable) rose garden that Whaley's is doing as well as people out on vacation- we get tagged in DCers photos in all sorts of cool places and I love seeing them! There's a girl in Turkey right now and every time I see one of her photos I get so jealous but I also love that people are sharing their international travels.





▶   5. @Edible_DC  //  #EdibleDC

A post shared by Edible DC (@edible_dc) on

What would this list be without some dedicated food porn? No longer is DC the happy hour city! DC  offers an abundance of great restaurants across various neighborhoods as well as award winning food trucks, delectable bakeries, creative markets, and some amazing home chefs. Edible DC, a local magazine, uses their Instagram account @Edible_DC to share mouthwatering photos while also telling the stories of local farmers and food entrepreneurs. Associate Publisher & Digital Editor AJ Dronkers manages the account along with Edible DC Publisher Susan Able, but look out for takeovers in the near future!

What types of photos do you feature?

AJ: We love to regram people who use our hashtag #edibledc -- we prefer people who use the hashtag vs. tagging us in the photo first of all. Mostly because it's easier for me to track the actual photos. If you tag me in a photo and I don't see it quickly it disappears from my notifications.

As far as photos, I look for something that captures my attention -- is it bright, colorful, does it look appetizing? Does it feature local food or home seasonal cooking? I tend to prefer non-professional photos that are taken from a smartphone.

We also dedicate a full page in each issue of our print magazine to our favorite Instagram photos of that quarter... "Instagram Picks." You can see the current page online.

What are you favorite Instagram tips?

Like any platform, I feel that the tips and tricks are evolving but I think something that matters is having a real point of view. EdibleDC is all about sourcing local and supporting local and then we consistently deliver on that promise. It builds brand trust and engagement. Also, don't be afraid to test and try new things to see how they do. 

Any DC photos that you look forward to seeing soon?

It's Spring so that means dining al fresco, picnics, outdoor tablescapes, camping, boating, day trips to Virginia wineries or Annapolis. "Instagram Picks" you can see the current online and I've attached an example one too.




▶   6. @VisitWashingtonDC  //  #MyDCcool

A post shared by Washington DC (@visitwashingtondc) on

Whenever I travel to a new city, I try to find a city tourism board on Instagram for ideas and inspiration. Some tourism Instagram accounts need work and others are very resourceful. Destination DC is definitely doing it right with their @VisitWashingtonDC account and #MyDCcool hashtag. Destination DC is a non-profit organization that markets DC as a premier tourism and events destination. Social Media Coordinator Cara Hedgepeth manages the account.

What's Destination DC's goal/inspiration for the @visitwashingtondc Instagram account?

Cara: We want to inspire travel to DC through the pictures we share. Whether it’s stunning pictures of the monuments or showing off the latest funky museum exhibit or mouthwatering foodie pics, we want people to see the photos on our account and go, ‘I have to check that out!’ The other thing we’re trying to do is tell DC stories through our followers. We want locals and visitors alike to share their experiences through our #MyDCcool hashtag.

What types of photos do you feature?

We’re of course looking for visually stunning photos, but more than that, we’re looking for photos of experiences; experiences that visitors could get out and have for themselves.

Any DC photos that you're looking forward to seeing soon?

Springtime in DC means one thing: Cherry Blossoms. There’s so much excitement surrounding the blooming of the trees and the festival’s events. People take incredible photos during this time of year, so it’s definitely a great time for our social channels. As we move into summer, kids are out of school, families go on vacation, so it’s a great time to plan your trip to the nation’s capital. We love seeing photos of people on their vacations and what they choose to do once they get to DC. We hope our Instagram account can inspire certain can’t-miss DC experiences, like touring the National Mall or eating at some of our award-winning restaurants.





▶   
7. @MissLustLocal  //  #LustLocalDC



What started as a personal twitter account soon turned into much more for Diane Morales. @MissLustLocal is now a feed that curates the millennial life in the DC area. Last summer, she began using the hashtag #LustLocalDC and it quickly grew in popularity. Now, the hashtag has been used with over 3,000 photos on Instagram and is continuing to grow.

How do you feel about the growth of #LustLocalDC?

Diana: It’s honestly very humbling that people are taking to the tag.  When I first thought of adding it to my photos last summer I didn’t know or think that anyone else would use it.  I’m very excited to see it grow and know that people are really interested in finding new places around town that can go to or share with the Lust Local community.

Do you have any favorite Instagram tips or tricks?

Don’t be afraid to use hashtags.  Everyone is on Instagram to share in the human experience, people are curious by nature and learning about people and places you’ve never been is what opens our minds and hearts.

Any DC photos that you're looking forward to seeing soon?

So there’s a really cool new painted wall painted somewhere in this city (it’s a little hidden and you’d really have to look to find it) I haven’t seen it pop up anywhere… I’m really excited to see it on the gram! Maybe I’ll feature it really soon.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

#WeekendWanderlust in New Orleans: The perfect long weekend in The Big Easy

I visited New Orleans for the first time back in October. It was a work trip and although I tried to see and do as much as I could, it still left me itching to go back and experience all that The Big Easy offers.

A girls trip for a long weekend in March was the perfect opportunity to revisit Nola.


Saturday

We flew in early Saturday morning, checked into our hotel and headed straight for brunch. The Ruby Slipper was the perfect first stop for our weekend getaway. There are a few different locations and most will be crowded, but you can use the NoWait App to reserve your place in line. Order the Chicken St. Charles Benedict for your first taste of that signature Louisiana fried chicken.


Chicken St. Charles Eggs Benedict at The Ruby Slipper by KelseySocial.com


We then walked down Bourbon Street, got some hand grenade slushies from Tropical Isle and wandered the French Quarter while making our way to Jackson Square.


Hand Grenade in New Orleans by Kelsey Social


The rest of the day consisted of more to-go drinks and aimless wanders around the vibrant neighborhoods of the city. St. Anne was my favorite street. It's further away from the crowds and full of cute, colorful houses. 


St. Anne Street Pink House New Orleans by Kelsey Social
St. Anne Street New Orleans by Kelsey Social


The Garden District was another must-see on our list. We grabbed a quick Uber to Magazine Street to look around the shops and admire the ornate houses in the area. If we weren't still so full from brunch, we would have definitely gotten treats from District Donuts.

Magazine Street tiles New Orleans by Kelsey SocialGarden District by Kelsey Social


Our final stop in The Garden District was the Pontchartrain Hotel on St. Charles Avenue. The lounge area looks like a setting for the perfect tea party of your childhood dreams. Brightly colored plush sofas and floor-to-ceiling artwork with ornate frames line the room, including a large portrait of Lil Wayne.

On the roof of the hotel, The Hot Tin has a Tennessee Williams theme with perfect sunset views of the city. Order the "Death in the LGD" cocktail to try Herbsaint, an anise-flavored liquor originally from New Orleans.




Pontchartrain Hotel Lil Wayne by Kelsey Social
Pontchartrain Hotel Rooftop Bar by Kelsey Social


Sunday

For Sunday, we had booked a food and bike tour with Confederacy of Cruisers. Our local guide took us all around the city on a 4-hour tour to try the Creole food that's not well-known to tourists.

The highlight of the tour was eating pounds of crawfish and learning to pinch the tails and suck the heads!


Confederacy of Cruisers Bike Tour by KelseySocial.com
Bevi's Seafood Co. by KelseySocial.com


We walked off our food for a few hours before hitting up the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleon for appetizers and drinks. The bar is a merry-go-round that slowly revolves while you drink. If you go for more than a drink, get the chargrilled oysters!

That night, we had booked tickets to a show at Gasa Gasa. Soffi Tukker was in town from New York and put on a fun electronic dance party.

After, we continued the search for good music on Frenchmen Street in the Fauborg Marigny District and easily found great live jazz at The Spotted Cat


Gasa Gasa mural by KelseySocial.com


Monday

On Monday morning, we realized there were still a few items we needed to check off our Nola Food Bucket List. An absolute must-do is coffee and beignets at the iconic Cafe du Monde on Decatur Street. It may be touristy and overrated, but it's still a great experience and the beignets are delicious.

Be sure to have cash ready because they do not take cards. Also know that the long line in the back of the building is for to-go orders while the line in the front is for tables. If there is no line in front, grab the first open table you see.


Cafe du Monde by KelseySocial.com


Then, to round out our breakfast, we explored the nearby French Market and stopped for muffuletta sandwiches at Alberto's Bistro. Don't leave New Orleans without trying this Sicilian-Cajun invention. 

Central Grocery is another popular spot for muffulettas, but we tried Alberto's after a recommendation on our food tour. The cold sandwich with melted cheese, Italian meats, and olive tapenade is delicious.


Alberto's Mufuletta by KelseySocial.com
Alberto's Mufuletta by KelseySocial.com


After the French Market, we felt as if we couldn't possibly eat our drink anything else and needed a change of scenery. The sunny day was perfect for City Park. Walking around the free park is great but we also paid the $6 to get into the New Orleans Botanical Garden. If I'm back in Nola, I'll check the events schedule first to try and catch a concert in the garden.


New Orleans Botanical Garden by KelseySocial.com
City Park bridge by KelseySocial.com


We ended our night with more crawfish - Bevi's Seafood Co. was our favorite place - and then the last food item on our must-try list: Banana's Foster at Brennan's. The caramelized banana dessert was created at Brennan's Restaurant in the 1950s.

Your server will bring out the ingredients and make the dish at your table. The atmosphere of the restaurant screams sophisticated southern and it was the perfect end to our weekend in The South. But when I go back to Nola, I'll be making reservations one night to dress in my southern best and eat a full meal at Brennan's.


Brennan's Banana Foster by KelseySocial.com

Did we cover it all for the perfect weekend in New Orleans?
Let me know if you have any suggestions for my next trip to The Big Easy!

Want more #WeekendWanderlust reads? Try these:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Snowboard Trip to Breckenridge, Colorado

One of the trips I look forward to most each year is a winter vacation in search of snow. For the past three winters, I've gone out west with a big group of friends for a 5-day snowboarding trip. (You can read about my previous trips here: 2016, 2015).

This year, we chose Breckenridge, Colorado because of the easy flight from Washington, D.C. to Denver and the fun reputation of the little mountain town.


Colorado has gotten multiple feet of snow this winter, so we were happy with our choice for the visit. We rented a house downtown for our group of 17 friends. This was the biggest group I've traveled with, but it allowed us to afford a great house in walking distance to Main Street and the BreckConnect Gondola.


Our trip was very focused on hitting the slopes hard each day and hanging out at the house at night. We cooked family style dinners and relaxed with cocktails in the hot tub.

The two places we enjoyed visiting in town were Downstairs at Eric's and Breckenridge Brewery. Eric's is great for large groups and has a bunch of good arcade games. Their Moscow Mule and fried pickles helped me forget about my sore muscles from long days on the mountain. Breckenridge Brewery has a good beer selection in a casual environment. I was drinking their Agave Wheat throughout the trip.


I'd heard warnings about how crowded Breckenridge can get, but we didn't feel that way when we visited. We were on the slopes Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. On Sunday, there were lines at the lifts but not a long enough wait to frustrate us.


Peaks 8 and 9 were the most popular areas with other skiers. We had a lot of fun riding the almost-empty blue runs on Peaks 6 and 7 while enjoying the views from over 12,600 feet high.


While some people may want to visit other mountains close by, we were content staying in Breckenridge for the three days of snowboarding. Over three full days, we weren't able to hit every run or visit each bar on the mountain. We ended the trip with some parts still left to explore.


The 2017 snowboarding trip was a great success and I can't wait to get back to Colorado for another visit - whether it involves snowboarding or not. If you have any suggestions where we should go to snowboard in 2018, please let me know!

Friday, February 24, 2017

My favorite hikes to lookouts near Washington, D.C.

I feel lucky to live in a place that has many different hiking options nearby. I love the excuse to escape the city and get a different workout than my usual soccer game or yoga class. And honestly, what better feeling is there than standing on top of a mountain?

For me, a good hike has some type of reward. Usually, it's a great lookout point, but sometimes a waterfall or other interesting site will do. Below is a collection of a few of my favorite day hikes with incredible vistas at the top. And each one is less than a 2-hour drive from Washington, D.C.!

Little Stony Man

3.4 mile hike
88 miles from D.C.

This incredible view is off of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. While you can walk the short trail to the lookout and back, I recommend doing the full loop. Hiking the loop, you'll come across many lookouts with a lot fewer people. I last visited this spot on a sunny summer day and the blue-green landscape was gorgeous.

Insider's Tip: Entrance to the National Park is normally $25. Choose to go on fee free day.





Maryland Heights

3.9 mile hike
65 miles from D.C.

A very steep hike up, but well worth it for the views of the cute town of Harpers Ferry. I last hiked this on an extremely hot and sweaty day in July. It was a great workout, but exhausting. Make sure you prepare yourself for this uphill hike and bring plenty of water.

Insider's Tip: Make a day of it. Go early and complete the hike, then go tubing down the Shenandoah River. Try River Riders Inc. or Harper Ferry Adventure Center.




Billy Goat Trail

4.3 mile hike
13 miles from D.C.

This hike is fun for scrambling over rocks and catching great views of the Potomac River. There are three trail options: A, B, and C. The most popular and most challenging is Trail A. Trails B and C are good for more casual walks or trail runs. I liked Trail A because of the great lookouts. It's also nice that you're not dealing with uphill or downhill hiking, but rather climbing over rocks to again reach flat ground.

Insider's Tip: Located close to the city, this gets crowded. The earlier you arrive, the better. 



Raven Rocks

5.5 mile hike
57 miles from D.C.

I only recently discovered Raven Rocks and loved the hike. It was tough with a lot of uphill and downhill movement. The day of, I was debating on wearing flimsy sneakers but I'm so glad I stuck with my ugly hiking boots. We completed this trail fast with my hamstrings burning, but most people should slow down and enjoy it. Pack some snacks to refuel while taking in the incredible views at the top.

Insider's Tip: After hiking, reward yourself with a drink at Bluemont Vineyard or Dirt Farm Brewery.




Bull Run Mountains Conservancy

4.3 mile hike
40 miles from DC

This nice, easy hike is not too incredibly steep but leads to High Point, a great 180-degree overlook. It's a good trip for kids or those seeking a more leisurely trek. From the highpoint, you can see the city of Warrenton and the mountain silhouettes from Shenandoah National Park. Be prepared to find a little mud and hop over a few creeks on your way to the lookout.

Insider's Tip: The Virginia Outdoor Association occasionally closes the High Point cliff area and some trails for preservation. Be sure to check the status of the area when planning your trip.



I'm always looking for nice hikes in the Washington, D.C. area (especially those that have great views at the top)! Am I missing any fun trails? Let me know!

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Friday, February 10, 2017

A visit to Las Vegas without the clubs or casinos

In 2016, I spent 12 days in Las Vegas. Although my time was split across two separate work trips, 12 days in Vegas in one year was a lot for me. Or so I thought.

During my second trip in December, I decided to experience the “What Happens Here, Stays Here” city a little differently. And I loved it.

Seven Magic Mountains


After arriving in the morning, I picked up my rental car and headed out for breakfast. I wanted something to grab-and-go, so Pink Box Doughnuts was a perfect stop. I drove out to the desert for breakfast with a view at Seven Magic Mountains, a two-year public art installation of colorful boulders stacked more than 25 feet high.

Seven Magic Mountains and PinkBox Doughnuts by KelseySocial.com
Seven Magic Mountains Las Vegas, colorful rocks by KelseySocial.com
Seven Magic Mountains Las Vegas, colorful rocks by KelseySocial.com

Red Rock Canyon


The next desert destination was Red Rock Canyon. You can drive the scenic 13-mile loop around the park while stopping along the way for short hikes and lookouts. I really wish I had more time there for a longer hike but I will definitely make time during my next trip to Las Vegas.

The scenery is incredible and very Grand Canyon-esque, but the pictures don't do it justice. I've never seen rocks these colors or hiked this terrain before so it was interesting to experience a contrast from the wooded mountains that I'm used to.

 

High Roller Ferris Wheel


Back on the strip in Las Vegas, there are fewer options for outdoorsy fun and beautiful views, but the High Roller Ferris Wheel is a way to see the city lights from a different perspective.

When my coworker told me that it's the tallest ferris wheel in the world, I decided it was worth checking out. We went right before sunset to pay the daytime discount price but were also able to see the city at night. The 360 degree views were great and since the landscape is flat, you can see for miles into the desert.

 

Eat and drink your way down the strip


Las Vegas is a foodie's dream. Yes, you can easily blow a whole paycheck on one meal, but there are also dining options for every budget. If I wasn't on the hunt rainbow lattes, I could've never left my hotel, The Cosmopolitan, and been culinarily pleased. I mean, if Jose Andres, Christina Tosi, and Chris Santos all have restaurants under one roof, you can only imagine the possibilities surrounding the strip!

My recommendations? Rainbow lattes at Sambalatte, enormous milkshakes at Holstein's, The Fairfax sandwich at Eggslut, Secret Pizza in The Cosmo [no link because it's secret], and olive oil gelato at Otto. If you really want to treat yourself, do the chef's tasting menu at Nobu.

Eggslut Las Vegas

 

Treat yourself to a spa day


Some great spas reside in the fancy schmancy Las Vegas hotels. The Cosmopolitan has a top floor Moroccan hammam while the Aria has a cavernous spa complete with a salt therapy room.

I had full intentions to treat myself to an evening at the spa, but after discovering a Lush store near my hotel, I decided to save money and create my own spa experience on a budget. Next time I'm back, I'll be sure to set aside some time and money for the real thing.

Bathroom at The Cosmopolitan Hotel Las Vegas


Overall, I kind of fell in love with Vegas on this trip. It's not my ideal vacation spot, but I'm hoping to go back to spend more time at Red Rock Canyon and explore all of the restaurants in the city.

Any recommendations for my next trip?  Let me know!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#WeekendWanderlust in Chicago

While planning a winter getaway to Chicago seems a little risky, don't let the threat of freezing temps and high winds scare you. I recently spent a long weekend visiting friends in Chicago and the city did not disappoint.

My childhood (and adult) best friend Ashley has family in the city and when she and her husband decided to make a trip after the holidays, I knew I had to tag along. Luckily, they agreed to let me and our friend Pam join the fun.

The weekend was heavily focused around food, drink and family and I was definitely on board with the plan.

We had a delayed flight and started off the trip with some late-night burgers at Kumas Corner. It's a heavy metal kind of place with crazy toppings stacked high between pretzel buns. And luckily for me, you can substitute any beef patty with grilled chicken or a garden burger. I don't have a picture because it was so dark, but the restaurant definitely deserves a mention.

Saturday morning brunch at Cindy's Rooftop may have been my favorite part of the weekend. The family-style menu including chilaquiles and Nutella pancakes was everything I could've hoped for. Aside from good food, the main attraction of Cindy's is the rooftop view of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan.


Cindy's is a great spot to visit because, after brunch, you can head right down to Millenium Park to see the infamous Chicago bean. 


We then popped in the London House to steal another rooftop view and catch a glimpse of the icy Chicago River. We opted out of pricey cocktails at the LH Rooftop and instead went to warm up in Rossi's Liquors, possibly the darkest, dive-iest dive bar I've ever been to. And of course, I loved it.


We continued the weekend brunching (I highly recommend the Fried Egg Sandwich and Avocado Toast at Bernie's Lunch and Supper) and exploring different neighborhoods while stopping in every appealing bar we came across.

Another favorite of the weekend was Green Street Smoked Meats. Luckily we had Ashley's dad as our resident tour guide or else we may not have found this place at the back of an alley with an unmarked door. With long, wooden benches, rough brick walls and string lights hung across the entire beam ceiling, the place was perfect. I also like the mix of people - some working on computers with lattes, others grabbing lunch with the family, and then those of us sitting at the bar.

The barbecue looked and smelled delicious, but we were still full from and just came for a drink. The beer selection was impressive, but my Paloma cocktail did not disappoint.


And possibly the most important part of visiting Chicago is the pizza. After some debate, we decided to go to Pequod's to fulfill our deep dish cravings. The sauce was tangy and the cheese was plenty, but the real winner was the caramelized corn-meal crust. There's no doubt that I will be dreaming of this pizza until I can make it back to Chicago.


My Chicago weekend of brunching and barhopping was perfect, but I'm hoping to make it back for a weekend in warmer weather. Have any suggestions for places to see or food to try for my next visit? Let me know in the comments!
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