Tag Archives: Chicago

The 2016 Coffee Moment(s) for Me.

Happy Holidays to all! Another caffeinated year is in the books. 2016 brought more memorable coffees and coffee shop experiences. Lots of lattes, pour overs, nitro brews and cold brew coffees were consumed from all around Michigan, Chicago and Ohio. Some of these were enjoyed alongside my son and first child, who was born this year. 🙂

The year ib coffee is highlighted in a short video snippet. The background song is the appropriately named “Coffee Shop” by Gorilla Zoe. The cover photo is a Military Latte from Sawada Coffee in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. I would easily say this is my favorite coffee drink and moment of the year.

Too many more coffees in the new year! Hope to see you all out on the caffeinated open road. Aaron 🙂

Check out the great coffee moments from last year in The 2015 Coffee Moment(s) for Me.

Chicago: A Million More Skyline Looks.

I’ve made it no secret through this blog and on Twitter and Instagram that I love the Chicago skyline. The Windy City was highlighted in my ongoing A Million Skyline Looks series earlier in the year.

A few months back I made my annual summer time trip to Chi-town which meant more skyline photo opportunity. Each trip brings with it the same tried-and-true spots along with new roof top bars, new neighborhoods and different vantage points. It was not an issue finding a million more skyline looks! Well without further ado:

Chicago skyline from alongside Michigan Avenue

Michigan Avenue at the Chicago River, enough said.

Chicago skyline from Michigan Avenue looking towards Lake Michigan

Looking down the Chicago River towards Lake Michigan, between all the tall buildings.

Chicago skyline from Hyatt Regency Chicago

Looking at all the skyscrapers due north from up-top Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Chicago skyline from Grant Park

Plenty of cityscape awaits the visitors of Grant Park.

Chicago skyline from alongside Adler Planetarium and Lake Michigan

Chicago skyline from alongside Adler Planetarium and Lake Michigan.

Chicago skyline from Grant Park

There you are whenever I need you Willis Tower from Grant Park.

Chicago skyline from Grant Park

Looking straight towards Chicago Union Station. Where are you Amtrak?

Chicago skyline from up-top The Godfrey Hotel

Enjoying the night-time city views from up-top The Godfrey Hotel in the North Loop.

Chicago skyline from up-top The Godfrey Hotel

The Godfrey Hotel rooftop in the North Loop.

Chicago skyline from the 26th floor and Vertigo Sky Lounge

Hanging out at the Vertigo Sky Lounge brings with it city views in all directions.

Chicago skyline from the 26th floor and Vertigo Sky Lounge

Dusk up-top the Dana Hotel & Spa at Vertigo Sky Lounge.

Chicago skyline from the 26th floor and Vertigo Sky Lounge

The 26th Floor and Vertigo Sky Lounge equals lots of Chicago skyline beauty.

Chicago skyline from the riverfront and along Michigan Avenue.

The Chicago Riverfront brings with it beautiful city views.

Chicago skyline from Hyatt Regency Chicago

Looking to the south from up-top Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Chicago skyline from up-top ZED451 in North Loop

Chicago skyline from up-top ZED451 in North Loop

Besides capturing the vastness of the city on this trip I decided to play a little peekaboo with the Sears, I mean, Willis Tower. It always seems to be in view. A great navigational tool in fact if you ever get lost.

Chicago skyline from Grant Park

The skyline is always making its presence known within Grant Park.

Chicago skyline from the Green Line in South Loop

The Willis Tower and skyline are standing tall from the Green Line in South Loop.

Chicago skyline from alongside Millennium Park

Sears, I mean, Willis Tower is playing peekaboo along Michigan Avenue.

Chicago skyline from the Green Line in the West Loop

Enjoying the skyline view as I await the Green Line train in West Loop.

Chicago skyline from the West Loop

Willis Tower is standing tall from West Loop.

Chicago skyline from the West Loop

You can see the Willis Tower is everywhere. Walking along West Randolph in West Loop.

Where do you like to capture the Chicago skyline from?

Experiencing Chicago’s Wicker Park Food and Evening Scene

On a recent trip to Chicago, I was going to meet up with a friend who lives in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Wicker Park is known as being the hipster part of town and a great place to hang out at night. Its gained steam as a food destination with restaurants and independent coffee shops springing up like hot cakes. I decided to make a longer foodie evening of it and soak some of that atmosphere in.

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood

I hopped on the Blue Line “L” train in The Loop along with the masses getting off work and headed towards the northwest. A little bit later it seemed like half the train got off with me at the Damen station in the heart of neighborhood. What a happening place.

Since I don’t usually follow eating conventions, I’ll eat pizza for breakfast, I decided to begin with dessert. Just outside the train station entrance my feet took me into Stan’s Donuts on Damen. Starting in Los Angeles more than fifty years ago, Stan’s is a gourmet donut institution that has spread to several locations in the Windy City. Having spent only mornings in Wicker Park in the past, I’ve seen one endless line after another, with everyone grabbing pastries and coffee before hopping on the “L” to get to work. Being it was the evening this time there was no line score!

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood - Stan's Donuts

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood - Stan's Donuts

Upon entering I saw the donuts in the display case. The gourmet one with the longest name immediately caught the eye. Hey, the more words in its name, the more goodness it must have in it right?! I enjoyed a Maple Caramel Bacon Pecan Bar amongst the retro decor. Wait nothing to wash it down with? I was saving that for my next stop.

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood - Stan's Donuts

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood - Stan's Donuts,  maple caramel bacon pecan bar

A short walk down W. Milwaukee Avenue, the main street of Wicker Park, brought me to my favorite coffee shop in the city and arguably anywhere, The Wormhole Coffee. I entered the sci-fi themed coffee shop already knowing what I was craving, a Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa latte. I sat next to an Apple II computer bringing back memories of childhood, while listening to one Depeche Mode song after another. That brought back memories of road trips pasts. I was in heaven. Of course I had to say hi again to the Back to the Future style DeLorean that sits in back.

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood, The Wormhole Coffee

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood, The Wormhole Coffee

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood, The Wormhole Coffee, Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa

chicago-wicker-park-food-008

It was time to meet up with my friend, who recently moved here from Michigan. He gave me some choices on places where we could grab some dinner. Dessert first, then a specialty coffee, with the main course last, that is indeed how I like to roll! Burgers, pizza and ramen noodles were the choices. I thought to myself I eat the first two things a lot, so let’s go with ramen.

We hit up Furious Spoon and both ordered the Shoyu Ramen. Fresh ramen noodles made in-house mixed in with Chashu pork belly, bamboo, bean sprouts and more foodie goodness. The outside seating along Milwaukee was full, so we hung out and caught up at a long, wooden communal table alongside the open kitchen. I thought to myself, what a great place to hang out after a long day. That was my first time dining in an authentic ramen restaurant. What took so long?

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood, Furious Spoon ramen noodle shop

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood, Furious Spoon, pork belly ramen noodles

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood, Furious Spoon ramen noodle shop

I continued to get my first taste of Wicker Park at night as we walked some of the neighborhood afterwards before calling it a night. It was a quick, but memorable evening of treats and food in one of Chicago’s more popular neighborhoods. All the other establishments and outside seating we walked by makes me want to experience more of it on another trip soon.

Wicker Park Chicago neighborhood

What other food and coffee spots would you recommend checking out in the Wicker Park part of Chicago?

Chicago: A Million Skyline Looks.

A while back I posted Toronto: A Million Skyline Looks, which highlighted some of my favorite shots in Canada’s biggest city. I recently re-read the post and it inspired me to start a series of posts highlighting what my camera has shot while hanging out in a big city. Next up the Windy City and the million skyline looks it has to offer!

Chicago is one of the biggest cities in the United States, home to one of the most impressive and beautiful skylines you will find anywhere. I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years, being not to far from home. Below are some of the favorite Chicago skyline photos I have taken, so far that is. 🙂

Chicago skyline

Always keep an eye on Chicago’s tall buildings when along the water.

Chicago skyline from Shedd Auditorium

The city view from Shedd Auditorium opposite Lake Michigan.

Chicago skyline

The panoramic skyline sits beyond the morning snow and frost of North Street Beach.

Chicago skyline

Looking south from North Street Beach.

Chicago skyline

Sand, lake and skyline from Ohio Street Beach.

Chicago skyline from Navy Pier

Skyline views await walking either side of Navy Pier.

Chicago skyline from the Chicago River

Looking west from N. Lake Shore Drive at the buildings that line both sides of the Chicago River.

Chicago skyline from the Pump Room

Dine to these views at the Pump Room, up-top the Public Chicago hotel.

Chicago skyline from Vertigo Sky Lounge

Capture the hustle-and-bustle of Chi-town from the 26th floor and Vertigo Sky Lounge.

Chicago skyline from Vertigo Sky Lounge

Capture the Windy City at sunset from up-top at Vertigo Sky Lounge.

Chicago skyline from Vertigo Sky Lounge

You never known when that next Chicago city shot will present itself, more from up-top Vertigo Sky Lounge.

Chicago skyline

Capture the heart of the Windy City from the 26th floor and Vertigo Sky Lounge.

Chicago skyline

Capture the heart of the Windy City from the 26th floor and Vertigo Sky Lounge.

Chicago skyline

Up-top Vertigo Sky Lounge. You can tell it’s a favorite spot to capture the city.

Chicago skyline from the Hyatt Regency Chicago

Views looking northward from the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Chicago skyline

Make sure to look northward when walking along E. Upper Wacker Dr. in the Loop.

Chicago skyline from Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain

The heart of Chicago sits beyond Buckingham Fountain.

Chicago skyline from Grant Park

Plenty of skyline views to be had in Grant Park.

Chicago skyline from Grant Park

Willis Tower and the skyline are peaking through the trees in Grant Park.

Chicago skyline from Grant Park

Looking north from a pedestrian bridge in Grant Park.

Chicago skyline

Walking northbound along Michigan Avenue as you are about to cross the Chicago River.

Chicago skyline from Navy Pier

Early morning from the south side of Navy Pier.

Chicago skyline up-top John Hancock building 360 Chicago

Night time views up-top the John Hancock building at 360 Chicago.

Chicago skyline from up-top Willis Tower, Sears Tower

Majestic views up-top the Sears Tower, I mean Willis Tower.

Chicago skyline

Capturing the tall buildings randomly as a camera holding car passenger. 🙂

Chicago skyline

Capturing the tall buildings randomly as a camera holding car passenger. 🙂

Chicago skyline reflecting off The Bean

Reflecting on the city at The Bean in Millennium Park.

Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan

Night time city shot from Lake Michigan.

Chicago skyline

Make sure to always look up when walking in a big city. Random shot while walking the streets.

What other spots would recommend for capturing the Chicago skyline and heart of the city?

The Blue Shoes and I Finding Solitude Out on the Open Road.

When out on the open road the blue shoes and I make sure to soak in all the scenery. While staring at all the beauty this world has to offer, lots of solitude has been enjoyed in summer and winter, in big cities and small-towns, inside a coffee shop and outside in nature and in the desert, on the lake and more. Who knows where and when that next minute of alone time to reflect will occur when traveling?

The inspiration for this post is #FriFotos on Twitter whose theme this week is “Solitude”.

Frifotos - Solitude - BleakHouse Coffee in Toledo, Ohio

BleakHouse Coffee in Toledo, Ohio

Frifotos - Solitude - Rowster Coffee in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Rowster Coffee in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Frifotos - Solitude - Buon Giorno Coffee in Grapevine, Texas

Buon Giorno Coffee in Grapevine, Texas

Frifotos - Solitude - South Haven Lighthouse in Michigan

South Haven Lighthouse in Michigan

Frifotos - Solitude - Ren Cen and Downtown Detroit

Ren Cen and Downtown Detroit straight ahead

Frifotos - Solitude - The wintry Findlay, Ohio country open road

The wintry Findlay, Ohio country open road

Frifotos - Solitude - Solitude in a Kalamazoo, Michigan blizzard

Solitude in a Kalamazoo, Michigan blizzard

Frifotos - Solitude - The Findlay Reservoir in Ohio

The Findlay Reservoir in Ohio

Frifotos - Solitude - Pere Marquette Park Beach in Muskegon, Michigan

Pere Marquette Park Beach in Muskegon, Michigan

Frifotos - Solitude - Appleton Lake near Brighton, Michigan

Appleton Lake near Brighton, Michigan

Frifotos - Solitude - Runyan Lake in Fenton, Michigan

Runyan Lake in Fenton, Michigan

Frifotos - Solitude - Seven Lakes State Park, Michigan

Seven Lakes State Park in Michigan

Frifotos - Solitude - Hanging alongside Jiffy Mix in Chelsea, Michigan

Hanging alongside Jiffy Mix in Chelsea, Michigan

Frifotos - Solitude - Wawatam Lighthouse in St. Ignace, Michigan

Wawatam Lighthouse in St. Ignace, Michigan

Frifotos - Solitude - Nickels Arcade in Ann Arbor, Michigan

The first ever blue shoe shot at Nickels Arcade in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Frifotos - Solitude - San Dieguito River Park in San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park in San Diego, California

Frifotos - Solitude - Lake Hodges in San Diego, California

Lake Hodges in San Diego, California

Frifotos - Solitude - Lake Mead Recreation Area in the Nevada desert

Lake Mead Recreation Area in the Nevada desert

Frifotos - Solitude - Hanging amongst the Georgia flowers

Hanging amongst the Georgia flowers

Frifotos - Solitude - Midtown Atlanta Skyline from Piedmont Park

Midtown Atlanta Skyline from Piedmont Park

Frifotos - Solitude - Cleveland skyline, Lake Erie from Edgewater Park

Cleveland skyline, Lake Erie from Edgewater Park

Frifotos - Solitude - Beachside along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago

Beachside along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago

Frifotos - Solitude - Up-top Vertigo Sky Lounge In Chicago

Up-top Vertigo Sky Lounge in Chicago

What kinds of places do you usually find solitude in when traveling?