Taste of Chicago 2012 | World Famous Annual Food Festival

We attended the famous Taste of Chicago 2012!

2012 Taste of Chicago JenThereDoneThat.comI was told that this year was  smaller than previous years, for both restaurants and crowds.  A lite drizzle of rain really cleared the streets of Grants Park on Friday.  I was glad to avoid the crowds, and I am not sure we really missed out on fewer vendors.  Many smaller or less well-known restaurants were able to make an appearance in “pop-up restaurants” which allowed many delicious food options.  There were MANY pizza places, and a great variety of food from around the world.  Our favorite meal of the day was Jerk Chicken Belize-style from Garifuna Flava.

Tickets were 12 for $8. Eli’s cheesecake offered “taste” size original cheesecake for just 3 tickets ($2).  While most glasses of wine were between 8 to 10 tickets (average $6 each).  3 Ticket items were rare, and most portions were 8 tickets.  Not enough places had true sample or tasting size portions. There were quite a few chain and multiple location restaurants, and only a few unique Mom & Pop places that we could see.

Overall, we left full and happy.  We ate some good food and some amazing food.  The cool weather and a bit of precipitation was an added bonus!

 

Vino Loco Wine Tasting in Flagstaff, Arizona

While in Flagstaff recently, I discovered Vino Loco wine bar.  This is a darling little boutique wine bar, located in downtown Flagstaff, walking distance from the Monte V.  Vino Loco stocks many varieties of wine, including some great local Arizona wines. 

Due to the altitude, and my resulting diminished tolerance for wine, I decided to try the wine flights in order to try as many different wines as possible.  Prices are reasonable for flights, by the glass, or by the bottle. 

It is one of the best selections for hard to find Arizona small batch boutique wines.  The staff is friendly and they offer a few cheese & fruit platters to accompany the wine.  My next trip to Flagstaff will certainly include Vino Loco!

Kendrick Park in Flagstaff | Easy Hiking in Northern Arizona

On a recent trip to Flagstaff, Arizona we started the day with a nice warm-up hike.  The city of Flagstaff is located at 8,000 ft, and if you are not accustomed to high elevations, I strongly suggest starting with an easy hike.  Kendrick Park is located a 20 miles north of Flagstaff on the 180.

The parking lot is well paved with great views all around.  Summer or Winter, this hike is worth the stop.  There is a 1/4 mile loop that is even paved for wheelchairs & baby strollers!  The larger loop is 1.5 miles.  Our only regret was not being prepared for such a beautiful picnic spot!

Hotel Monte Vista Flagstaff | Old Hollywood Glamour in Northern Arizona

I love unique, boutique-style hotels. Hotels will a bit of history are even better. The Monte Vista is a four story, red brick hotel with a rich history located in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona.  Typical for buildings of this age, the rooms are small, but decorated for full use of the space.  It was built in 1926 and was visited by old-Hollywood actors, many have rooms named after them. We stayed across from the Jane Russell room, due to a last minute booking. Next time, we will plan better and that Bob Hope room will be mine!

The hotel is off of the famous Route 66 (which offers its own sight-seeing and history), walking distance from NAU campus, near the Amtrak train station, a short drive to Snow Bowl, 81 miles south of the Grand Canyon, and very close to some of my favorite hiking trails!

Flagstaff is a great place to visit year-round.  It is a refreshing place to cool off in the summer, at nearly 7,000 ft elevation.  Be sure to avoid NAU graduation (usually early May) and homecoming (end of October), as these weekends tend to be crowded and expensive.

Arizona Inn | Tucson’s Best Boutique Hotel

The idea for this blog originates while my Sister and I were lounging by the pool at Tucson’s Arizona Inn. Discussions turned to the “what are some fun activities around here?” from several Canadian families visiting, as well as the pool staff who were new to Arizona. We mentioned some of our favorite sights and activities for the area, which grew into all of the cool things “off the beaten path” in the Wild West! My Sister and I started a short list of things close by, and as we relaxed our definition of “close by” the list grew to several pages long. Several months have passed and the list just keeps growing.

It is only appropriate that I start off with Arizona Inn, where the spark began! Arizona Inn is a gem hidden away in the heart of Tucson, Arizona just minutes away from University of Arizona.

Arizona Inn interior room

The 1930’s resort has a vintage Hollywood style from the immaculate grounds for croquet to the classic swimming pool. The casita-style rooms have a simple charm for the ultimate relaxing vacation. Many of the rooms have a private patio for total seclusion.

Arizona Inn hotel room Patio
Arizona Inn hotel room Patio

This little hide-away is perfect for a mid-week break, or to celebrate that special anniversary.  Room rates are reduced in summer for a great price and tons of seclusion!  Any time of year, Arizona Inn is wonderful.

Arizona Inn Pool

 During Summer, the Inn provides an Ice Cream Sundae bar pool side. They offer a variety of flavors, hot fudge & syrups, nuts, sprinkles, and a wide assortment of toppings. There is nothing more decadent than eating a custom made Ice Cream concoction by the pool!

Lovely Summer day at the Arizona Inn Boutique Hotel of Tucson, Arizona
Arizona Inn
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