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Since the Cubs are in the World Series, I thought it would only be appropriate to share a quick recap of my latest trip to Chicago for the Chicago Marathon.

I love Chicago. This was my fourth visit during my adult life (Travel recaps from last year can be found below.) and while the trip was marathon-centered, we definitely did some eating and sightseeing. I can’t wait to go back.

Scenes from Chicago

Goose Island Tour and Tasting

Architectural Boat Tour

This time around we stayed at the Thompson Chicago which we ended up absolutely loving. It was right in the center of the North Rush and Division restaurant scenes and easy walking distance to the lake, Magnificent Mile, and the Riverwalk. It was also a celebrity hangout where we met Eddie Vedder and saw Bill Murray, both in town for Cubs games. Meeting Eddie Vedder was definitely a highlight of the trip. . . and my life. Swoon.

Thompson Chicago

On our first full day we relaxed and roamed aimlessly around Chicago, just enjoying a beautiful fall day and the architecture before heading to the suburbs to visit with family.

Chica Fire

Chicago architecture

Chicago River


Chicago Marathon 

Chicago Marathon Day: I was injured going into this marathon and was definitely not feeling very confident about my ability to finish. Still, I tried to keep calm as I got ready to enter my corral in Grant Park. It was a gorgeous morning, clear and cool, and that nervous energy that fills the air before a marathon also filled me up, giving me the boost I needed as we counted down to the gun.

Grant Park

 Chicago Marathon Long story short; my first six miles were perfectly on pace, and I felt amazing, like I was barely working. Sometime after mile six, I felt a tearing in my injured calf muscle, followed by some pretty excruciating pain. That was it for me. I ran/limped the rest of the way,  giving up any hope of beating my PR or even running a time that I was happy with.

That finish line was the best sight. I just wanted it over with. And I want to do it again. Despite my struggles, it is an incredible race.

Chicago Marathon finish

If you’re a runner, I definitely recommend adding the Chicago Marathon to your running bucket list.

Other Chicago recommendations?

Hash House a Go Go

Hash House a Go Go for brunch – The Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles is a specialty and a spectacle. People came off of the street to gawk at this plate of food!

Navy Pier Spend a few hours wandering and relaxing at Navy Pier if the weather is nice. The views are gorgeous, and there’s plenty of people-watching to be done. 

Downtown Dog

Chicago hot dogs at Downtown Dogs


Chicago water taxi

Taking a water taxi AND an architectural boat tour – the water taxi is just a fun way to get around, while the architectural boat tours are super informative and a great way to spend 90 minutes.


Carmine's Chicago 

Classic Italian food at Carmine’s, perfect for pre-marathon carb loading!


Gibson's Steakhouse 

Dinner at Gibson’s, one of the best steakhouses in the US


Signature Lounge

Followed by drinks at the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock building – the views are everything.


City Winery Chicago

Leisurely time on the Riverwalk, including a glass of wine at City Winery Chicago – the Riverwalk is one of my favorite parts of Chicago and a perfect place to log a few miles as a pre-or-post race wander.

I have so much of Chicago that I still need to see and a much faster Chicago Marathon left in me, and I hope to visit again soon. Go Cubs!

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Tags: Chicago, Chicago Marathon, cities, Food, running, Travel, travel blogger

On our recent trip to Asheville, we ran out of time to visit the Biltmore Estate and decided to definitely save it for our next trip. We’d heard from many people that it takes at least a few hours to tour properly, and with the extreme heat we enjoyed, we figured we would also have needed to build in rest breaks.

That didn’t stop me from tasting Biltmore wine, however. (You know me better than that!)

biltmore estate brut sparkling Before we checked into our house rental, we made a stop at the local grocery store to stock up on breakfast items and celebratory drinks. I was so excited to see that they sold Biltmore Estate Brut Sparkling Wine. Did you know that the Biltmore Estate has America’s most visited winery?

biltmore estate brut sparkling

With the Estate being involved in so many things, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the wine. This sparkling wine was made in the traditional Champagne method, and as such had those yeasty, bread-y notes that I love in Champagne, along with notes of honey, vanilla, and citrus. Lots of tiny bubbles and a celebratory spirit made this wine one that will most definitely stand out in my Asheville memories and makes me want to do a full tasting experience at Biltmore. The tasting notes say it pairs well with seafood, but as a brunch drink, we paired it with salty bacon and eggs. Bacon and bubbly has become my favorite pairing as of late, and I look forward to the weekend for an excuse to enjoy the two.

The Biltmore Estate also has a marathon on property that I may or may not have considered over the past couple of years. . . We’ll wait until after Chicago to see about that!

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Tags: Asheville, bubbly, sparkling wine, Travel, wine, wine of the week

Visiting Asheville, North Carolina has been on my list for years, and despite the fact that I have an aunt and cousin living there, I didn’t make the journey until this past August when said cousin was getting married.

When planning any travel lately, I tend to look at house rentals even before checking out local hotels. I love hotels, but for any extended period of time, and especially with a group, I have found that renting a house is comfortable, fun, and usually a great savings. Once again I consulted Flipkey for houses that would fit seven of us so my little family could all stay together.

We’ve used Flipkey a few times before, starting with this amazing Sonoma wine country cottage (a portion of which was generously covered y Flipkey) and this last minute Ipswich rental last week.

Once again, a house rental turned out to be the perfect solution. Our two story, three bedroom house was immaculate and beautiful with some stunning mountain views. It was super clean, well-stocked with all of the basics we needed, and a minute from the grocery store. We were slightly outside of downtown Asheville and closer to the wedding venue, a decision we made purposely as we knew we would be visiting the venue the day before to help out as well as the day after.

asheville  flipkey rental

The house had two living rooms and plenty of space for the kids to run around. We generally had breakfast there in the mornings and then spread out at night watching the Olympics and enjoying being together but also the space we had if we needed some time apart!

Much of the rest of the time was spent at my aunt’s house near Biltmore Village.

cottage She lives in the most charming English garden style cottage, and it was love at first sight. She has great style and has collected so many beautiful things over the years, making for a lovely space that I didn’t want to leave. The grounds were equally as beautiful and made for lots of outdoor time playing with neighborhood dogs and looking for butterflies. My aunt’s neighbor grew the flowers for the wedding, and my aunt arranged them. The day before the wedding we loaded them in the car and drove them up to the wedding venue, Sherrill’s Inn at Hickory Nut Gap Farm.

wedding flowers Hickory Nut Gap Farm The wedding venue was one of the prettiest I have been to; it included a historic home, cold spring house, plenty of green space, and horses, who were wandering around just behind the reception for most of the evening. Magical.

horses in asheville

sherill's inn

The beauty of the Asheville area didn’t end there. The day after the wedding we made the drive up to Lake Lure, through winding mountain roads taking in stunning vistas and a hot, blue sky summer day. Lake Lure was stunning and felt so relaxed, definitely a place I would like to visit again to stay for a few days. We also JUST missed the Dirty Dancing Festival by a few days; maybe a return visit for that next year?

Lake Lure  Lake Lure

We rounded out our visit to Asheville with a family dinner at Luella’s for BBQ, plates piled high with yummy BBQ meats and sides, my favorite of any BBQ meal. All paired with local Asheville beer, of course!

Luella's BBQ Luella's BBQ

Speaking of Asheville beer, you can read all about our beer tasting adventures here.

Asheville was the perfect combination of gorgeous nature, great food, music, family, and perfect weather. It’s an easy two hour flight from Boston to Charlotte and a two hour drive after that, close enough for a three day weekend, though you’ll want to stay longer!

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Tags: Asheville, North Carolina, Travel, travel blog, travel blogging

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