"Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town" - what the heck does that mean?!

Renaissance Blackstone Lobby

I had pizza last night. Good pizza.  It got me thinking about the best pizza I've ever had -  Chicago?  New York?  Both are fantastic, and I haven't visited Chicago in awhile soooooo....

First I'll need a place to rest my pizza eatin' belly (hmm...pretty).  Sometimes chic & sleek hotels get a little cold and boring....I like something warm and homey.  ok....so by "homey" I mean "mansion-like homey" - I found the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Smoke Filled Room Suite - I'm serious.  That's what it's called.
The fact that anyone has the nerve to name anything "smoke filled" today makes me giddy. The suite pictured above was the site of Warren G. Harding's 1920 Republican nomination for Presidency. The hotel says, "Restored and refurbished to its original elegance, our Vice Presidential Suite is accommodating for the most elite of guests".  Read "expensive", but interesting anyway.  Rates for a regular guestroom average around $250.

I always knew that a hotel concierge was kind of a rock star, but the concierge at the Renaissance has his own web site.  It's called  "Renaissance Navigator Travel Guide" and currently your lead navigator is Jeremy Meerstra. The photo makes him look like an angry Calvin Klein model, but apparently he's a native of Chicago and knows everything there is to know about anything.

Find Jeremy at:

Hotel Monaco Suite
 If you're looking for digs that are a little more casual, I found the Hotel Monaco Chicago.  How cute is this place?  A great location in the heart of everything too. I've stayed at a Hotel Monaco in San Francisco - excellent service and an immaculate hotel. 


Hotel Monaco Guestroom

Now to the important part: the pizza.  A little more than a mile away from the Renaissance (you'll need to walk it off, anyway) is Gino's East on Superior St.  Beware. That's all I'm sayin'. You'll be so hooked that when you get home you'll be calling Fed Ex trying to get them to ship you one.  The good news is:  they will!!! check the website for details.


Gino's East
Of course, you really can't go to Chicago and not hit a seedy blues club.  Try B.L.U.E.S. 2519 N. Halstad.  Get there early because a line usually forms out the door.
Blues guy - Preston Shannon
Nearby is Chicago's oldest blues club - Kingston Mines. This is serious blues.

The Magnificent Mile is also a must. So much more than shopping. Outdoor concerts in the summer, fireworks, kid's events etc.   http://www.themagnificentmile.com/

Have fun and save me a slice. 


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I didn’t dip my toe in an ocean until I turned 25 and my friend Sandy and I traveled to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. After that week, I was hooked. I loved being somewhere new; smelling the smells, tasting new food, seeing how other people lived. It energized me. As luck would have it, I landed a job that allowed me to travel all over the US and often to Canada. Being a sports event television producer, I was on the road all the time. That's when my love affair with travel began. Now, its 20 years later and still no one gets more “geeked up” about planning a vacation than I do. All I need is a destination and some travel companions and my fire is lit! I start delving into my favorite hotel sites, sifting through photos and reviews, comparing, contrasting -it’s like an addiction. The travel shows with tips and trends? I study them like a playbook. I LOVE doing the things most people hate doing before they go on vacation. Whether it be searching for a food tasting tour with a local or discovering a romantic B&B in the middle of New York - I’ve found it and I’ll share it with you. So....where should we go?