Happy Camper Farewell and Why We Left Chicago

So Kyle and I did a thing – a big thing! We decided to completely change our lives, take what we learned and experienced, and follow our dreams. If you follow us on Instagram, you probably already know what I’m talking about. Kyle and I decided to quit our jobs, leave Chicago, and travel the world! No, we’re not kidding!! But let me back up a bit and share the entire story with you.

 

 

 

Our Story and Why We Left Chicago

 

A couple of years ago, 8.5 years to be exact, Kyle and I met studying abroad in Finland, fell in love, and started travelling around Europe. You can read our full story in the About Us section. That’s when the travel bug bit us. And as they say, there is no cure for it! Fast forward a few years, Kyle started reading a few overland blogs and that’s where he got the idea of travelling through South America in a car and tent. It took him a few years to convince me that this was a great idea but after I spent a few years working on my career in finance, I was also dreaming of exploring the world. Other than the tent thing. I couldn’t envision myself sleeping in a tent for more than 5 days (we tried that in Colorado, read about our scary bear situation), so we decided on a pop-up camper instead, which we call Swifty (it's the Four Wheel Campers Swift Model).

 

 

In September 2019, we sold our apartment in Chicago, bought a pop-up camper for our truck, and set sail to spend some time with Kyle’s family in Vancouver, Canada before we would venture to South America in our camper. If you want to follow along our trip, make sure you follow us on Instagram and sign up for The Next Trip newsletter!

Of course, leaving Chicago was not an easy task. During the 4.5 years we lived there, we met amazing people and made wonderful connections. Saying goodbye to our friends would require an adequate goodbye party!

 

The Farewell Party at Happy Camper

 

I was dreaming of having a party and inviting all the amazing girls I met in Chicago over the years. And no place would be more fitting than having the party at Happy Camper – a really cool restaurant with an airy and super cute decorated rooftop in Wrigleyville! I worked with Brianne from Marquette Avenue Events to put everything together! I don’t know what I would have done without her as I was so busy preparing for our move that I hardly had time to think about planning the Farewell!

 

 

Happy Camper reserved part of their rooftop for us and made sure we got delicious food and drinks all night. I personally am a fan of the Mom pizza, which is a veggie pizza with no cheese but just as good as a regular pizza! If you’re not familiar with Happy Camper and have never been, I can highly recommend a visit to either their Old Town or newly opened Wrigleyville location.

 

 

 

Both locations feature real camper caravans inside the restaurant and the Wrigleyville location is decorated to melt every Instagrammer’s heart.

 

 

From the turquoise chairs (you know they had me then), to the yellow umbrellas, disco ball, and chandeliers, everything is designed with a lot of thought.

 

 

 

 

The outdoor rooftop area is covered in fake grass to give you the perfect summer vibes, even if the Chicago weather doesn’t always comply.

 

Farewell Party Guest Gallery

 

The Farewell party would not have been the same without my incredible guests and wonderful blogger community I have met in Chicago. All of these girls have become a substantial part of my life and I am incredibly grateful for each and everyone of them. Talking to bloggers in different cities, they describe their local industry as very competitive – contrary to Chicago. In Chicago, I truly had the feeling that everyone wanted to support each other and help each other succeed.

 

 

One of the most supportive people I have met in this industry is Marii, the owner and founder of Swirl and Sparkle and Sparkle in the City PR. She started her business by creating her own make-up brush cleansers which are the only thing that got me to clean my brushes (I’m sure you know what I mean when I say washing brushes is a task) and I am sure she will go far in life. As a party favor, she created The Next Trip branded cleansers which are so cute – I wanted to keep them all.

 

 

 

These are the girls that made my night at Happy Camper. I am grateful to have met all of them and will miss them dearly.

Thank you to Happy Camper Wrigleyville and Brianne from Marquette Avenue Events to make this Farewell Party so special!

 

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How to Spend a Weekend in Alaska – the Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula is a great place to spend a (long) weekend in Alaska. It is perfect for getting a quick taste of wild Alaska, as it is relatively close to Anchorage. Prepare to see majestic mountains, beautiful glaciers, historic towns, and a chance at wildlife during your trip to the Kenai Peninsula. Be sure you have your camera charged and ready at all times! Unlike Bettina, wildlife doesn't pose and wait for you to be ready. 🙂

 

A weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

We worked with Pursuit Collection to be able to share the full Alaska wildlife experience with you! As always, all our opinions and photos are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us. 

As you may know, it is our goal to visit all 50 U.S. States and Alaska has been a state neither of us had been to yet! You can check out the progress of our states visits on our U.S. States map. You can also read about our previous adventures offroading in Colorado, our cultural immersion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and our weekend in San Antonio, Texas.

 

Laying in the grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We spent the July 4th weekend in Alaska and used the holiday to make it a 4-day trip without missing too much at work. Despite it being the height of summer, temperatures in Anchorage are usually around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius).

Our trip on the fourth of July weekend was unique as a number of record high temperatures were recorded in Alaska that week. This made for a much warmer trip than we expected! For us, summer is definitely the best time to visit Alaska.

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to spend a weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula.

 

Welcome to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

What is the Kenai Peninsula?

 

The Kenai Peninsula extends approximately 150 miles (240km) southwest from Anchorage and includes mountain ranges with glaciers, many lakes and rivers, historic towns, and the famous sounds and fjords of the Gulf of Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula doesn’t include all of the popular sights of Alaska, but it is a great starting off point. We highly recommend it for your first trip to The Last Frontier.

 

River in the Summer at Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

 

How to Get To The Kenai Peninsula

 

You will almost certainly be flying into Anchorage, which is the largest city in Alaska, and also has the largest airport.  All major US carriers fly here multiple times per day throughout the Summer.  Flight frequencies drop off significantly once the weather gets cold.

 

Plane Landing at Anchorage Airport Alaska - The Next Trip

 

You can also fly seasonally from Canada, Germany, Russia, and Iceland! Due to the distance from Alaska to the lower 48 states, there are a lot of flights that arrive and depart late in the evening (for example we arrived at 1am and then flew a red-eye back to Chicago leaving at 8pm and arriving at 4am!).

 

Once in Anchorage, we highly recommend you rent a car to explore the peninsula as it makes getting around much easier and you can make the most out of your weekend in Alaska. You don’t need to rent an SUV or truck to get around, as a car will easily reach all of the main sights.

 

Where to Stay in the Kenai Peninsula for a Weekend in Alaska

 

If you are planning to see all of the Kenai Peninsula in a weekend or extended weekend, having a base somewhere near the middle of the peninsula is a great way to go. That way you can explore each day without having to pack up and stay somewhere new each time. We spent the night in a hotel near the airport as we arrived late the first night. For our next night we used Airbnb to rent a cute cabin in the woods! Our cabin was near the small town of Soldotna.

 

AirBnB Cabin in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

There are so many other options available all over the Kenai Peninsula on Airbnb. We also saw single rooms, small cabins, or massive houses all to yourself; just pick your favorite! If you haven’t used Airbnb before you can signup using this link to get a $40 discount on your first booking.

 

Our cabin was brand new and included a small kitchen with outdoor barbecue, bathroom with shower, and a loft for sleeping which was super fun!

 

Living Room AirBnB in Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip         Loft at AirBnB in Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

Seward, Alaska as the Perfect Base for Your Weekend in Alaska Exploration

 

The city of Seward, founded in 1903, is located at the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. That means you can get to Seward by car, train, boat, or by air! Seward is an easy drive 2.5 hours south of Anchorage and so we drove there on our first day. We were more than excited because it was the base for our Kenai Fjords tour! Seward’s harbor and location makes it one of the best bases to explore the Kenai Fjords National Park.

 

Bettina at Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Seward has a number of restaurants and other places to stock up on groceries for your visit. One of the major attractions of the Kenai Fjords National Park is just a few minutes outside of Seward and is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska, the Exit Glacier.  Unfortunately for us, the heavy forest fires in the area resulted in lots of smoke in the air, so we weren’t able to catch the best view. Also be aware of the mosquitoes here, the hike is not long, but the bugs are all over, be prepared!

 

Exit Glacier in Wildfire Fog Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 
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Kenai Fjords National Park

 

Kenai Fjords National Park Sign Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We partnered with Pursuit Collection to do their Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which was for 6 hours out on the open water. We had the potential to spot whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, and puffins! Their tours are a great addition to any Alaska getaways.

 

Sea Lions on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The friendly staff at Kenai Fjords Tours checked us in and as we were a bit early, they were actually able to get us out on an earlier boat. We started off in thick sea fog and wondered if we would see anything at all on this trip!

 

Foggy Harbor at Seaward, Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Lifting Fog at Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

No sooner than five minutes in, we came across a small group of sea otters. The otters were just bobbing in the water relaxing, without a care in the world!

 

Floating Otter on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Our tour continued onward to a few small islands where a large number of birds were nesting, including puffins! Right next to them was a group of Steller sea lions sunbathing on the rocks.

 

Puffins on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Sea Lions and Otter on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Sea Lions on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

It was a bit of a longer boat ride, allowing us to dig in to the provided lunch. Once finished, we reached the piece de resistance of this tour, the Aialik Glacier.

 

Lunch on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

As we approached the Aialik Glacier you could feel a great silence come over the boat and stillness in the air. The size of the glacier is unlike anything we have seen before. To fully appreciate it, it should be seen in person.

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Bettina and Kyle at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The captain turned off the boat motors and we sat in the bay listening to the cracking of the glacier with the odd bit of ice falling into the water. We witnessed some fairly significant calving while we were watching.

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Calving is when a glacier suddenly releases a mass of ice. The deep and loud booms of the ice cracking echoed across the bay. This is followed by the silent mid-air fall of the ice, and the final plunge into the ocean. Our boat rocked back and forth from the rippling waves, almost a half mile away.

 

Bettina at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Kyle at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We captured the calving on video for you to get a better impression of how majestic it is. Click to the right to see the video below.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzmDASpgB1r/

 

Bettina even managed to snag a picture with some glacier ice!

 

Bettina holding Ice from Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

On the boat ride back to Seward we came across a few separate pods of whales. However none of them decided that they wanted to do a full 'Free Willy' jump out of the water. As a result we were left trying to snap a few tail photos off in the distance. You might be more lucky though as these are some of the best places to spot whales!

 

Whale Hump on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Whale Tail on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The boat soon returned to Seward harbor, indicating the end of the tour. We were very impressed by how much wildlife we saw during the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour.

 

Exploring Homer Spit, Alaska

 

To be honest we didn’t expect much of Homer, it seemed to be just the end of the road, or the end of the Sterling Highway, on the edge of Kachemak Bay. Given that we only had an extended weekend in Alaska, we spent all of our time here at the Homer Spit. The Spit is one of the main highlights of Homer, and is a gravel bar that sticks out 4.5 miles (7.2km) into the bay.

 

Harbor at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Once you make it to Homer Spit, you can walk around the harbor and stroll along the colorful houses on the promenade. Most importantly, try some Alaskan fish and chips!

 

Bettina in Harbor at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Boardwark at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The sea fog was still thick, well into the afternoon, and provided for a magical atmosphere on the beach!

 

Fog at the Beach at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Once the sun pokes through, you should be able to see the surrounding mountains which are worth a trip themselves. Bettina on the other hand, was most excited when we found a swing underneath the boardwalk.

 

The Swing Location Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

This may look like the perfect shot; however it was the result of hundreds of ill-timed attempts on the swing. If you want to get the perfect Instagram shot, check out the swing! It's located under the promenade near 4350 Homer Spit Road. It's best to access the swing from the beach.

 

Explore the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

 

With your rental car you can explore a large portion of the Kenai Peninsula, with additional side trips to Whittier, Chugach State Park, or wherever your heart desires.

 

Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

During our trip to Alaska there were a number of forest fires burning in the middle of the Kenai Peninsula. Smoke drifted all the way to Anchorage. This meant that you couldn’t see the beautiful mountains all around, and sometimes hardly the car in front of you. As a result, we  spent more time on the western edge of the Kenai Peninsula where the sun was shining and the air was much clearer.

 

Laying in grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

On our drives we pulled off onto a few side roads and even spotted a few elk out for lunch. Remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints!

 

Wild Elk in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Wild Elk in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Wild Elks in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

If you have time, you can also venture to Captain Cook State Park to take in the late afternoon sun and go for a walk along the beach.

 

View in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Before arriving, we knew that the sun would rise early and set late for the month of July in Alaska. However, we weren’t quite prepared for how much sun there was. The sun rose around 4:45am and set around 11:30pm. That meant never truly became ‘dark.’ The benefit of this is that we were out sightseeing and driving to 9pm, and we didn’t have to rush anywhere to see something before the sun set. There were so many sunny hours in the day! However, falling asleep was somewhat difficult given that it was still broad daylight at 10pm. If you plan your trip to Alaska, make sure to read our 5 top tips below!

 

We loved our weekend in Alaska, exploring the Kenai Peninsula and can absolutely recommend as it is a great beginner’s “taste of Alaska” to start your adventures in the state.

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Weekend in Alaska - the Kenai Peninsula

 

1) Rent a car.  There is no better way to see the Kenai Peninsula than by driving the open roads. This gives you the flexibility to stay exactly where you like. When driving, you can stop at any viewpoint along the way, including when you see wildlife! Some tour buses will stop when wildlife are near the road, but you don’t want to be on the one that drives right by!

 

2) Prepare for the sun. While it may not get as hot as the lower 48 states, Alaska can still have long days of sun during the summer months.  Don’t take this to mean that the sun is less intense. It is just as intense in Alaska as it is in other places, and sometimes more so depending on elevation. In addition, as the days are longer you will have more exposure to the sun each day. It helps to prepare with sunglasses and sunscreen during the day. For the night, don’t forget a good sleeping mask to sleep properly when it is still light outside!

 

3) Prepare for the unknown.  Despite the Kenai Peninsula being relatively populated compared to the rest of Alaska, this is still “wild Alaska.” You should always know where you are and where you are going, without relying on any cell service. You should also always make sure to have enough gas in the car and water and snacks, in case you end up stranded somewhere. Even if you don’t end up stranded, it can be a long drive to the next town if you get hungry or thirsty. Furthermore the temperatures can drop drastically. So make sure you pack right for the perfect weekend in Alaska.

 

4) Bring your best camera and a zoom lens. Moose, deer, and bears don’t generally walk up to your car so they can be nicely framed in your phone’s camera. The animals are generally a bit further away, and if they are close you should probably back away, so be prepared by bringing your best camera with an excellent zoom lens.

 

5) Book a tour. We are staunch believers in doing your own thing when traveling. However, sometimes it is not always reasonably possible, and a tour is the best way to go.  For Alaska, you are likely here to see nature and wildlife, and the best way to do that can be to go with someone who knows the area best. We highly recommend setting aside time for a whale watching, glacier, or other tour that intrigues you the most. We toured with Pursuit Collection and the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which we can highly recommend.

 

Pin this blog post to your U.S. and Alaska destinations boards to save all your ideas about the Kenai Peninsula and a weekend in Alaska!

 

 

A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway

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Fun Things To Do In Albuquerque In A Weekend

For the last four years that we have lived in the United States, we have made it our mission to visit all 50 states (check out which States are outstanding here). One by one, we have slowly been crossing them off our list and New Mexico is the third to last state for us to visit! There is some debate about what constitutes having "been" to a state, but we believe that to truly say that you have been to a state and experienced it, you should spend a decent amount of time there. At the very least have one meal there, and preferably enjoy exploring it for a weekend. Neither of us had been to New Mexico before, and having heard so much about the incredible scenery and Native American culture, we couldn't wait to experience it ourselves.

 

Red Dress outfit at Fly Away Project in Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico, so it was an obvious choice to get the first taste of New Mexico. The city is most famous for its Balloon Fiesta which occurs each October, but there are so many fun things to do in Albuquerque year-round. Since Albuquerque has on average 310 sunny days a year - there is really no bad time to visit! If you're in a hurry, skip to our 5 Top Travel Tips for Albuquerque here or keep reading for the full experience.

 

Bettina at Greetings from Burque Mural in Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

We have worked with Visit Albuquerque to be able to share our weekend getaway with you and were hosted by Hotel Chaco and Nativo Lodge. Our meals and excursions were compensated as part of our Albuquerque experience. We are excited to share our trip with you and all opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Where to Stay in Albuquerque

 

Hotel Chaco

 

We spent our first night in Albuquerque at Hotel Chaco, a brand new luxury hotel, inspired by Chaco Canyon. Located less than a block from the Albuquerque museum and within walking distance of Old Town, it is a great place to stay to explore the city.

 

Hotel Chaco Street View - The Next Trip

 

Hotel Chaco Garden - The Next Trip

 

After a busy day exploring, you can cool down at the pool area and ring in the evening with an in-house wine tasting, or dinner and a drink on the rooftop, which offers expansive views of Albuquerque.

 

Hotel Chaco Rooftop - The Next Trip

 

Rooftop Restaurant and Bar at Hotel Chaco - The Next Trip

 

View of Albuquerque from Hotel Chaco Rooftop - The Next Trip

 

The rooms are very spacious and thoughtfully designed; perfect for a restful sleep.

 

Hotelroom at Hotel Chaco - The Next Trip

 

Bathroom at Hotel Chaco - The Next Trip

 

 

Nativo Lodge

 

For our second night, we got to experience true New Mexican Native American artwork at Nativo Lodge. Their uniquely decorated artist rooms feature art work by contemporary Native American artists. No two artist rooms are the same! We stayed in the Essence of Life room which was created by Garrett Etsitty and features two gorgeous wall paintings of a humming bird.

 

Essence of Life Room at Nativo Lodge - The Next Trip

 

Half way between Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains, Nativo Lodge is a great pet friendly hotel in Albuquerque for those who want to explore the areas around Albuquerque and enjoy local art work.

 

Driveway Native American Art Work at Nativo Lodge - The Next Trip

 

 

Where to Eat in Albuquerque

 

Largest Restaurant in New Mexico - El Pinto

 

Being in Albuquerque, I really wanted to try some New Mexican-inspired cuisine. Saturday evening, Kyle and I went for a romantic dinner at El Pinto - a Mexican restaurant outside the city with beautiful patios surrounded by lush gardens and a very Instagrammable entrance walkway.

 

Walkway to El Pinto Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

El Pinto is the largest restaurant in New Mexico and I was completely overwhelmed by the never ending dining tables and patios! Each of their five patios has a slightly different vibe to them, depending on the atmosphere you are looking for.

 

Margarita at El Pinto - The Next Trip

 

We toasted to our weekend in New Mexico and enjoyed what felt like three baskets of tortilla chips with delicious house-made salsa. As mains, we tried the stuffed sopapillas - a traditional dish in Spanish heritage regions, and the New Mexican Red Chile Ribs. I couldn't decide whether I wanted my sopapillas with their home-made green or red chile. Thei waitress suggested I try both which is what the New Mexicans call "Christmas style."

 

Sopapillas with Christmas Style Chile and Red Chile Ribs at El Pinto Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Red Chile Ribs at El Pinto Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Both were delicious and we were way too full from the tortilla chips to finish it all.

 

Fine Dining in Albuquerque at Ten 3

 

If you're looking for the perfect place to have dinner with an incredible view - Ten 3 is your spot! They opened their doors for the first time on August 17th and we were super excited to be dining with them on their opening weekend! Ten 3 is located at an altitude of 10,300 feet, at the top of Sandia Peak, which provides for the most amazing dining views. To reach the restaurant you need to take the Sandia Peak Tramway, which you can read more about below.

 

View at Ten 3 on Sandia Peak - The Next Trip

 

We started our dining experience with delicious cocktails, a bread basket full of home-made creations, and a goat cheese flan. Fun fact: because there is less oxygen in the air at higher altitudes, it is said that you feel the effects of alcohol quicker. Ten 3 takes this into consideration and serves their drinks with slightly less alcohol content than you might typically find.

 

Goat Cheese Flan at Ten 3 on Sandia Peak - The Next Trip

 

Red Chile Buffalo Short Rib at Ten 3 on Sandia Peak - The Next Trip

 

Kyle and I tried the crispy skin chicken and the red chile buffalo short rib which were both outstanding! If you have never tried buffalo I can highly recommend trying the Ten 3 variation which was so delicious that I was about to steal Kyle's plate!

 

Red Chile Buffalo Short Rib at Ten 3 on Sandia Peak - The Next Trip

 

While you're at Sandia Peak - make sure you walk around the top and enjoy the views outside the restaurant as well!

 

Things To Do in Albuquerque

 

Albuquerque has so much to offer, it is a shame to not explore the city for at least a full weekend. Here are our top things to do in Albuquerque that you can’t miss out on.

 

Church Street Cafe in Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

 

ABQ Trolley Tour

 

There is really no better way to see the city and all its sights than from the comfort of a trolley with the ABQ Trolley Tour. The Best of Albuquerque tour is a narrated 1 hour and 45 minutes tour that takes you to Old Town Plaza, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, along Route 66, down Nob Hill, and more! It is an incredibly informative tour and you will get an appreciation of the many different neighborhoods in Albuquerque.

This was a great activity for us to complete at the beginning of our visit as the tour highlighted the many neighborhoods and sights all around activity so that we could properly plan the rest of our weekend.

 

 

ABQ Trolley Tour The Best of Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

The highlight of the tour by far was exploring the street where Breaking Bad was filmed and admiring all the filming locations. There is something about seeing famous TV locations in real life that fascinates me - especially if they are from Breaking Bad!

 

Chris' House Breaking Bad in Albuquerque ABQ Trolley Tour - The Next Trip

 

Explore Old Town

 

After you get a feeling of the city with the ABQ Trolley Tour, you get dropped off at Hotel Albuquerque which is only a few steps away from Old Town. Walking through the streets of Old Town felt somewhat surreal as the pueblo style houses are something you don't get to see every day.

 

San Felipe de Neri Church Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Hacienda Del Rio Indian Gift Shop Old Town Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Old Town Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

 

The unique architecture together with the colorful decorations and the blue doors gave me the feeling of being in a totally different country. This is the place to shop the various artisan shops filled with jewelry, rugs, pottery, and other souvenirs.

 

Old Town Emporium Gift Shop Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

 

Admire Local Street Art

 

Albuquerque has a rich art scene and the city actively promotes murals and street art.  This became very evident as we completed our trolley tour, but also as we walked around the street of Albuquerque as you could find colorful murals at almost every corner. What is unique about these murals compared to other cities is that many of them represent some portion of Albuquerque's rich history.

 

Street Art Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Street Art Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Street Art Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Some of my favorite murals were obviously the one’s full of turquoise!

 

Visit the Turquoise Museum

 

One of the best-kept secrets of Albuquerque is the fact that they have their very own Turquoise Museum - all owned and operated by the Zachary family. Now, if you follow us on Instagram, you will quickly understand how spending time at the Turquoise Museum is an absolute must for me. In addition to my love for everything and all things turquoise - seeing turquoise jewelry on display around the Albuquerque Old Town shops peaked my interest in the gem stone even more.

 

Turquoise Museum at Turquoise Castle - The Next Trip

 

If you're not familiar with the gem stone turquoise, you will have to believe me when I say that it comes in many more shapes and forms than you could imagine. The museum presents the Zachary family's own collection which includes everything from raw stones, furniture, weapons, lighters, chandeliers, and all kinds of jewelry.

 

Turquoise Chandelier at Turquoise Museum - The Next Trip

 

Turquoise Nuggets at Turquoise Museum - The Next Trip

 

Turquoise Jewelry at Turquoise Museum - The Next Trip

 

They also have several interactive stations which teach how to differentiate the different grades, cuts and polishes of turquoise as well as how to tell the difference between real and fake turquoise!

 

Turquoise Stones at Turquoise Museum - The Next Trip

 

I learned so much at this museum, that turquoise is part of so many cultures around the world, but is one of the lesser known gem stones. Needless to say that I could have spent all day at the museum - gazing at the beautiful pieces - and splurging on something for myself.

 

Turquoise Exhibit at Turquoise Museum Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

 

Sandia Peak Tramway

 

The best views of New Mexico are from the top of Sandia Peak, which is 10,678 feet high and overlooks 10% of the state (that is twice the size of Connecticut!). Getting up there is super easy with the longest aerial tramway in the United States, the Sandia Peak Tramway. It's a short 15 minute ride and the views get better by the minute.

 

View of Sandia Peak Tramway - The Next Trip

 

Sandia Peak Tramway Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

View from Sandia Peak - The Next Trip

 

On the way up, our guide told us all about the Sandia Mountains. They have some incredibly steep drops, rock walls for climbing, and diverse wildlife. He also highly recommended we watch the sunset from the peak, which did not disappoint.

 

View from Sandia Mountains - The Next Trip

 

As everyone is trying to catch the last rays of the day at the peak, the trams after sunset have the tendency to be very full. As such, we took an earlier ride back and enjoyed stunning views on our way downhill.

 

Sunset from Sandia Peak Tramway - The Next Trip

 

When you explore Sandia Peak, you can buy your tickets at Sandia Peak Tramway online in order to skip the line when you're at the base station. Don't forget to bring an extra layer of clothing, as the peak is easily a few degrees cooler than the city.

If you're planning a weekend getaway in Albuquerque, make sure you read our 5 top travel tips below and let us know how you liked the city!

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Weekend in Albuquerque

 

1) Water and sunscreen.

As Albuquerque gets 310 days of sun a year and is located in the desert, days can get very hot. Make sure you always carry enough water and sunscreen with you. We know this may seem a bit boring, and there are signs saying so everywhere, but we really mean it! It reached 100F (38C) during our trip!

2) Try the local chiles - yes both red and green!

The New Mexico chile, or Hatch chile, is a big deal in New Mexico. Everywhere you go in New Mexico you will find something on the menu with either red or green chile in it. If you can’t decide your favorite, you can always combine them in the same dish which is called "Christmas style."

 

Drying Chiles in Albuquerque Old Town - The Next Trip

 

3) Start your days early.

As we mentioned above, it gets really hot in Albuquerque. To avoid the heat and still get the most out of the city, plan to start your day with the sun! The heat of the afternoon really takes a lot out of you and is not as pleasant to explore the city. That is if you can bear the heat at all.  Explore in the morning, refresh yourself indoors in the afternoon, and get back out there in the evening for some amazing New Mexico sunsets.

4) Sunsets.

Speaking of sunsets, visit Sandia Peak 1-2 hours before sunset so that you will get to wander around the peak in full daylight and also get to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the desert before heading back down. The sunset from Sandia Peak is incredible and evolves through many different colors and shades as the sun sets over the desert horizon.

5) You’ll need a car.

While Albuquerque does have public transportation, if you plan to explore all the neighborhoods, it makes the most sense to get a rental car. It makes it so much easier to get around the city, the various neighborhoods, and up to Sandia Peak. Plus, you have your own personal sanctuary of air conditioning wherever you go!

 

Pin this blog post to your U.S. city destinations boards to save all your ideas about Albuquerque!

 

Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!

 

Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!
Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!
Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!
Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!
Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!

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San Antonio for the Weekend

Did you know that San Antonio is the seventh most populous city in the United States? We did not know that before we visited, and we also did not know how much you can do in San Antonio for the weekend. The city is a fantastic size for a weekend getaway, and invites you with warm weather, delicious food, and their beautiful river walk.

 

San Antonio in a Weekend - River Walk

 

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to make the best of San Antonio for the weekend, click here.

 

How to Get There

 

San Antonio is easily accessible by plane with all major US airlines flying there; for us it was less than 3 hours on a direct flight on Friday evening from Chicago. A huge bonus is that the airport is actually very close to the city. As a result you can arrive at your hotel in less than 20 minutes, ready to get your weekend started.

 

Where to Stay

 

For our weekend in San Antonio, we stayed at Stay Alfred San Antonio. If you haven’t heard of Stay Alfred before, they offer travel apartments in almost all major US cities and allow you to have “your own place” but with the amenities and consistent experience of staying at a hotel.

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

As our flight was arriving quite late into San Antonio on Friday night, we utilized Stay Alfred’s grocery shopping service and pre-ordered some breakfast items prior to our arrival.  When we arrived the fridge was stocked with our order!

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio Breakfast - The Next Trip

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

Our apartment was just the right amount of space for us to relax in for our weekend in San Antonio, and included free pool views.

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio - Pool - The Next Trip

 

We took advantage of the amenities, and spent our Sunday morning suntanning and swimming in the pool.

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio - Pool - The Next Trip

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio is located just off of the San Antonio River, between the downtown core and The Pearl. We rented bicycles for our stay, and were a short bike ride along the beautiful River Walk into downtown or an even shorter bike ride up to the Pearl. It was a great base for our weekend adventures.

Check out Stay Alfred for your next getaway and get 10% off any stay using our code YOURPLACE.

Stay Alfred provided us with a free hotel stay for our weekend getaway to San Antonio, however, all opinions and content are our own. 

 

What to Eat

 

San Antonio is basically the birthplace of Tex-Mex cuisine. As a result you will definitely be eating as much chili con carne, nachos, tacos, and fajitas you can find. There is absolutely no shortage of places to eat at, spread all across the city.

 

Pete's Tako House San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

We enjoyed a delicious meal at Pete’s Tako House complete with more chips and salsa than we could eat, fresh fajitas, and savory enchiladas, all washed down by a margarita or two.

 

Pete's Tako House San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

Pete's Tako House San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

Other great options are La Fonda on Main (slightly more upscale, for Tex-Mex) and Rosario’s.

 

What To See in San Antonio in a Weekend

 

San Antonio in a weekend does not seem to be long enough to explore the entire city but we compiled a list of our favorite places so that you can get a good feeling of the city in 48 short hours.

 

The River Walk

 

The San Antonio River Walk is specially designed network of pedestrian pathways and bridges surrounding the San Antonio River, running throughout the downtown area. The main area in the downtown core is full of restaurants and bars and is definitely the place to be in San Antonio. However, you won’t be mistaking yourself thinking you are in Venice. That being said, the River Walk is very impressive and you can easily spend a half day walking the pathways and stopping at a restaurant or two.

 

San Antonio River Walk - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio River Walk - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio River Walk - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio River Walk - The Next Trip

 

The River Walk is clean and well maintained. It was refreshing coming from Chicago, where most of the city is quite literally crumbling! Extending North and South of the main area, the River Walk pathways total 15 miles of continuous trails to explore. Once outside of the main tourist area, the River Walk widens and is safe and great for bikes.

 

San Antonio River Walk - The Next Trip

 

 
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The Alamo

 

The Alamo Mission is located just a few blocks away from the River Walk and is easily accessible. It sits on a historic location where in 1836 Texans fought for their independence from Mexico and is probably what San Antonio is most famous for.

 

San Antonio The Alamo - The Next Trip

 

Conveniently, the Alamo Mission is free to enter. The only cost of admission for us being a 5 minute wait and the requirement to have our picture taken prior to entry, should we feel the need to purchase an overpriced souvenir at the end.

 

San Antonio The Alamo - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio The Alamo - The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Purse by Nikki Williams / Top by Chicwish / Skirt by Chicwish

 

The interior is quite sparse, but has a lot of information on this historic site. The best views of the Alamo are without a doubt, facing the front of it’s famous façade. While the Alamo may be the most famous, there are a number of other beautiful old historic Spanish missions around San Antonio to see if you have time.

 

The Pearl

 

We briefly read about The Pearl prior to arriving in San Antonio, and knew that it was something that we wanted to check out. We had no idea how cool it would be!

 

San Antonio The Pearl - The Next Trip

 

The Pearl is centered around the site of a former brewery that operated here for over 100 years, but has since been converted into a (what I can only assume to be) a wildly successfully culinary and cultural hot spot. Basically, The Pearl has a large assortment of dining and shopping all centered around the fascinating old brewery location. There is a culinary school, apartments, a hotel, and some office space sprinkled in for good measure.

 

San Antonio The Pearl - The Next Trip

 

We first went to The Pearl on Saturday night to indulge in some Lick ice cream and devoured our delicious ice cream. Bettina was particularly impressed by the variety of vegan and non-dairy options, of which she sampled almost all of them!

 

San Antonio The Pearl - The Next Trip

 

We returned back to The Pearl on Sunday and spent part of the day wandering through the Farmer’s Market and going for brunch at The Granary.  The afternoon was spent hanging out at Sternewirth in the Hotel Emma lobby, for a drink.

 

San Antonio The Granary - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio The Granary - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio The Granary - The Next Trip

 

If you haven’t tried beef brisket eggs benedict before, you might just be missing out!

 

Explore

 

If you are willing to venture all around the city neighborhoods, you will be rewarded with great sites! The King William District is just south of downtown and has a huge collection of majestic 19th century mansions. This area is full of quiet residential streets that are nice to bike through.

On the West side of the San Antonio River, the Historic Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the United States.

 

San Antonio Historical Market Square - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio Historical Market Square - The Next Trip

 

On your way there, don’t forget to stop and check out the San Fernando Cathedral.

 

San Antonio Historical Market Square - The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Bodysuit by Shein (get 15% off with thenexttrip315) / Skirt by Chicwish / Shoes by Mi.iM / Earrings by H&M

 

Still not sure whether you could conquer San Antonio in a weekend? Check our top tips below to help plan your visit.

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Weekend in San Antonio

 

1) Stay somewhere with a pool.

We visited San Antonio in early June and it was already over 100F (38C). That means it is likely going to be hot when you visit San Antonio, and there is no better way to cool down than with a dip in a pool. The Stay Alfred pool was our respite from the heat. (Use the code YOURPLACE to get 10% off any Stay Alfred stay!)

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio Pool View - The Next Trip

 

2) Rent a bike.

The main tourist sites of San Antonio are located quite close together, and can easily be reached mostly by foot. However, if you want to explore the full River Walk, the King William District or up to The Pearl, we highly recommend renting a bike. We used SWell Cycle, but there are multiple companies available, as well as scooters.

 

San Antonio SWell Cylce Bike Share - The Next Trip

 

3) Spend a half day at The Pearl.

It may be slightly commercialized and a “tourist trap” in some minds, but there is a lot to like about The Pearl. The architecture of the converted brewery is amazing, and the food options are all top notch. A must visit!

4) Skip the rental car.

Not only should you rent a bike to see the sites (see tip #2) but you really don’t need a car at all. The airport is close to downtown and there is just really no need. Save yourself the money for more Tex-Mex!

5) Eat as much as you can.

The great thing about Tex-Mex food in San Antonio is that it is plentiful, very affordable, and located all over the city. And if you are looking for some variety, there’s no shortage of Texas Barbecue and other restaurants to keep you happy during your visit.

 

Pin this blog post to your U.S. city destinations boards to save all your ideas about San Antonio!

San Antonio for the Weekend - Your guide for what to see, where to stay, what to eat, and The Next Trip's Top 5 Tips

 

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Top 5 Things to See in Chicago

We are lucky to be able to call Chicago our home for the past 4 years. During this time, we explored the city and all of its beauty, and we truly love everything it offers. Our favorite thing to do is to show our out of town guests around the city and share the top things to see in Chicago while they visit.

Kyle and I receive a lot of questions about what to see and do while visiting Chicago and thought we would round up our 5 top things to see in Chicago in a blog post for you!

We hope this helps you plan your next trip to Chicago and explore some places that may not be on your list just yet. If you're looking for the most Instagrammable indoor spots in Chicago, check out this post.

 

1. Top Things to See in Chicago: Architecture Tour with Shoreline Sightseeing

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

We take all of our out of town guests on the Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Tour and it has easily been everyone's top thing to see in Chicago! It's a 75 minutes boat tour on the Chicago River where you learn all about the history of the windy city. An added bonus is getting up close and personal with some of the most beautiful skyline views.

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

Outift: Two Piece Set from Chicwish / Earrings from H&M

 

The boat tour has two different starting points: Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue. Both are really easy to get to and close to downtown Chicago. Shoreline Sightseeing will take you along the river through downtown, underneath many iconic bridges. The tour continues all the way to the North Branch of the Chicago River, and then turns around to share one of the most recognized buildings from the opening scene of The Dark Night: the post office!

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

In addition to getting incredible views of the city and great photo opportunities, Shoreline Sightseeing shares some interesting facts about the city. I learn something new every time I join my guests on the cruise!

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

Tickets are available online here or buy them at the Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue booth  before the tour. If you're visiting in summer, I recommend you purchase your ticket a few days in advance as their tours do sell out.

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

Thank you Shoreline Sightseeing for treating my friend Vivian and me to your Architecture River Cruise!

 

2. Top Things to See in Chicago: Have A Drink at the Signature Lounge

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - View from Signature Lounge

 

If you are looking for incredible views of the city from above, without standing in line or paying admission fees for the Willis Tower, I can highly recommend going for a drink or two (or three!) at the Signature Lounge. The lounge is located on the 96th floor of the Hancock Tower in River North. While their cocktail prices might be a bit higher than what you're used to, you don't pay admission to get to the 96th floor. And the views certainly make up for the prices. A tip for all the female readers, by far the best view of downtown is from the ladies room in the Signature Lounge! You read that correctly, plan some extended time to powder your nose! 🙂

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - View from Signature Lounge

 

If you're in town for a few days, visit the Hancock tower on a clear day right before sunset. This way you get the best of the daytime views and nighttime city lights. You might have to wait in line to access the elevators on a busy weekend night, but I personally never waited longer than 15 minutes.

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - View from Signature Lounge

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - View from Signature Lounge

 

If you're looking for a unique place to eat, check out Machine Engineered Dining and Drinks and 3 Arts Cafe.

 

3. Top Things to See in Chicago: Take a Selfie at The Bean

 

Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean, is one of my favorite landmarks in the city! It is also one of the most well-known icons of Chicago. You haven't truly seen Chicago without taking a selfie at The Bean. Cloud Gate is beautiful in its simplicity and I love the way it reflects the city and blue skies. Due to this beauty, it's easy to see why it's surrounded by tourists on any given day. You can find it in Millenium Park, off Michigan Avenue, between Washington and Madison Street and it is easily accessible if you take the "EL" (Elevated Train) to Washington and Wabash.

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - Selfie at the Bean or Cloud Gate

Outfit: Top from Zara / Jeans from Mint Julep Boutique / Shoes from Aldo / Purse from Nordstrom

 

The best time of day to visit The Bean if you want to avoid the crowds is early in the mornings around 7am. Kyle and I managed to get it all to ourselves on one Friday at 7am. During the cold and harsh Chicago winters, getting a reflection selfie in The Bean without interruption is much easier. You will still have the odd tourist suffering through the cold as well though!

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - Selfie at the Bean or Cloud Gate

 

Outfit: Top from Zara / Skirt from Chicwish / Shoes from Aldo / Purse from Nordstrom

 

 

While you're already there, you might also stop by the corner of Michigan and Adams. This marks the beginning of the historic Route 66. Route 66 technically started on Jackson Boulevard, but Jackson Boulevard is now a one-way street East. As a result, the landmark sign was moved one block north to Adams Street.

 

4. Top Things to See in Chicago: Enjoy the Skyline from the Adler Planetarium

 

The first time I visited Chicago in 2013, I was determined to find the best place to take pictures of the Chicago skyline! I stumbled upon a forum which mentioned the view from the Adler Planetarium. Little did I know that a few years later, I would move to the city and live in the South Loop, biking past the Planetarium on my way to work almost every day.

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - Chicago Skyline from Adler Planetarium

 

If you love skylines and observing the city from a distance as much as I do, you may not want to pass up this opportunity. On a warm sunny day, bring a picnic basket and enjoy the sunshine, view, and beautiful Lake Michigan.

Getting to the Adler Planetarium using public transport will involve a fair bit of walking. Therefore, our recommendation is to rent a Divvy bike and bike the lakefront trail to get there (more on the trail below).

 

 

5. Top Things to See in Chicago: Bike Along the Lake Front Trail

 

Most people are surprised by the fact that Chicago has sandy beaches. Not only that, but there is a bike and pedestrian dedicated lake front trail for almost 20 miles. On a warm sunny day, rent a Divvy bike and bike along the lake front trail. You can easily spend a few hours exploring the city, starting at the Adler Planetarium, biking north past Navy Pier, North Avenue Beach, all the way to Lincoln Park. You'll get a completely different feel of the city - being away from the hustle and bustle and able to absorb its beauty from a distance. Another top tip is to cool off after your ride by joining the many Chicagoans dipping their toes in the lake.

Have you been to Chicago? What was your favorite thing to see? If you end up taking my advice and sharing your trip on social media, please tag me (@thenexttrip) in your picture! I would love to see how you enjoy the city and maybe share that drink or two!

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - Chicago Skyline from Signature Lounge Hancock Tower

 

Pin this blog post to your Pinterest board to save all your ideas about the top things to see in Chicago!

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for supporting the brands that support us.

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Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink

If you’re looking to get an incredible and unique Chicago restaurant experience and a bouquet of flowers at the same time, I have the perfect place for you. Yes, you read that correctly, Machine Engineered: Dining & Drink is an experience, not just a place where you get great food. 

 

Machine Engineered: Overview 

 

The restaurant is brand new to Chicago and combines the two concepts of a flower shop and a restaurant in one. It was one of the 10 most anticipated restaurants to open in Chicago and I can see why. It is easily one of the best-designed places in Chicago and I featured it in my post on the 10 Best indoor Instagram Spots in Chicago.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Immediately as you step in, you are greeted by the most welcoming host Mikey and a gorgeous display of flowers.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

 

In addition to including a flower shop within the establishment, it features flowers throughout the entire space. As much as I love flowers,  the highlight of Machine Engineered: Dining & Drink are their uniquely designed drinks.

 

 

Machine Engineered: Space

 

Three uniquely decorated dining rooms make up the space of the restaurant. You can choose between dining in a small European town right next to a flower shop,

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

in a modern American restaurant,

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

or in a luxurious dining hall with blue suede chairs, chandeliers, and walls covered in white roses.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

 

Machine Engineered: Bars

 

The heart of Machine Engineered: Dining and Drink are the two bars – I call them the ballerina bar and the library bar.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

The ballerina bar is the light marble counter bar decorated with a beautiful tulle skirt and floating leaves. In stark contrast is the second bar which reminds me of a library with its green lamps and leather chairs.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

 

Machine Engineered: Flower Shop

 

Next to the European-style street cafe corner and the ballerina bar is the flower shop. (If you're anything like me and love flowers, this corner alone will make you very happy!) Their flower selection includes everything you could possibly wish for.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

You can build your own bouquet by selecting your favorite flowers from the cart and have them arranged by the florist. (This is during the Florist hours only.)

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

If you'll be dining there late, you can order a pre-assembled featured bouquet which changes weekly. Last, if you're looking for something to go, the bottle & bouquet might be your choice which combines a bottle of wine with one of the featured bouquets.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

This gorgeous lace dress was gifted to me by Chicwish and makes the perfect spring cocktail party dress or bachelorette party dress for all brides.

Shop My Brunch Look

 

 

Machine Engineered: Drinks

 

The drinks served at Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink are just as beautiful and thoughtful as the décor. After a quick chat with the bartender, we quickly decided that the Aviation is the drink of the hour  - a very unusual drink choice for me, as I'm not a big gin lover. However, Dine Machine takes their Aviations to the next level by infusing gin with blue butterfly pea flower, lemongrass syrup. It is served with a dome made out of spun sugar which you crack with a little hammer.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

The dome does not just serve as an eye-catcher, it is meant to be cracked with this little hammer. Once mixed with the drink, it enriches the flavor of the Aviation. I was ready to order another round!

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

The aviation is not the only spectacular drink on their menu. Machine Engineered: Dining & Drink is just as inventive with their clear Bloody Mary's,  Cage Old Fashioned, and their gin-based Breakfast at Tiffany's which is served in a diamond!

 

Machine Engineered: Experience

 

I met a friend for brunch at this unique restaurant and had a taste of their deliciously fresh and healthy power bowl with avocado dressing. To all my vegan and vegetarian friends, there are a few options on the menu which could also make your heart beat a little higher.

What started as a quick brunch with coffee, ended up being an hours long experience in this incredible space and has me wanting to go back ever since! You can review my experience on my Instagram stories here.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Next time you're looking for a place for brunch, a drink, or a place to make your own flower bouquet, check out Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink. You will definitely be impressed!

 

Pin this blog post to your Pinterest board to save all your ideas about the Dine Machine experience in Chicago!

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for supporting the brands that support us.

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10 Best Indoor Chicago Instagram Spots

Winters in Chicago can be long and cold. Even though it's April, we are still experiencing temperatures only just above freezing. To help you stay warm while you're taking pictures, I rounded up my favorite 10 indoor Chicago Instagram spots for you. These instagrammable coffee shops, stores, and restaurants are all free to access, although I recommend always asking the owners or staff if they are okay with you taking pictures. Also, while you’re there, why not try that new featured coffee or a delicious snack?

I hope this guide helps you pass the time until the temperatures are high enough to roam the streets. I would love to see your content and connect with you. When taking pictures at these Chicago Instagram spots, make sure to tag me in your posts!

If you’re looking for more beautiful indoor spaces in addition to the below, don’t miss my blog posts of Restoration Hardware and The Peninsula.

 

1. Left Coast

 

Situated in River North, this coffee shop has everything you need for a great picture: cute décor, a pretty stair case, lots of natural light, and let’s not forget, delicious coffee and bites.

717 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654

 

Left Coast - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

Outfit: Shirt / Jeans / Shoes (Similar) / Purse (similar)

 

2. Limitless Coffee

 

Only a block away from Left Coast is Limitless – a coffee shop famous for their glitter coffee. I’m a big fan of the charcoal latte which comes with a colorful swirl and is topped with edible glitter.

675 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654

 

Limitless - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

 

Limitless - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

 

While you’re in River North and if you have time, make sure to stop by the Flamingo wall on N Wells and W Ohio to capture the ultimate spring feeling.

 

Flamingo Wall - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

Outfit: Dress from Tyche / Purse / Shoes (similar)

 

3. Machine: Engineered Dining and Drinks

 

Brand new to Chicago and located in Wicker Park, this restaurant has everything an Instagrammer’s heart could desire. From beautifully decorated bars, to flower walls, Instagram-worthy drinks (which also happen to be delicious), and a flower shop – Machine: Engineered Dining and Drinks has it all. Furthermore, check out this post to get a full tour of the restaurant.

1846 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622

 

Machine Engineered: Dining and Drinks - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

 

Machine Engineered: Dining and Drinks - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

Outfit: Dress / Purse / Earrings

 

4. Sweet Mandy B’s

 

Just as sweet as their treats is the interior of this bakery and coffee shop. Step into a world of pastel tones, striped walls, and colorful furniture. You can’t help it but take a few pictures here, and their cupcakes will make your visit even sweeter.

The space at Sweet Mandy B’s is limited so I recommend arriving early in the morning to ensure that you have time to take pictures before the crowd arrives.

1208 W Webster Ave
Chicago IL, 60614

 

Sweet Mandy B's - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

Outfit: Top / Skirt (Similar) / Shoes (Similar)

 

Sweet Mandy B's - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

 

5. Le Macaron French Pastries

 

Speaking of sweet, if you’re looking for a hue of pink, you can’t miss Le Macaron. It’s a French bakery owned by Jeanne and Julien, specializing in, you guessed it, macarons. Their macarons are directly imported from France and are the perfect combination of a firm shell with a soft center that make your taste buds melt away. Besides the delicious treats, the highlight of the bakery is certainly their bright pink wall.

958 West Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

 

Le Macaron French Pastries - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

 

Le Macaron French Pastries - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

Outfit: Dress / Boots

 

6. Garfield Conservatory

 

Situated a 30 minute drive from the Loop, the Garfield Conservatory is a botanical conservatory and transports you to a tropical mood as soon as you enter those doors. There are a variety of rooms at the Conservatory, each of which are home to different fauna and flora. The mosaic fountain was a present from Chicago's sister city Casablanca, and it provides the ultimate Moroccan feeling.

Note that professional photography is restricted at the Garfield Conservatory and a permit is required prior to taking pictures here. I was able to take pictures for my personal Instagram account, but no outfit changes were allowed. To request a permit, you can give them a call: 312 742-4786.

300 N Central Park Ave
Chicago, IL 60624

 

Garfield Conservatory - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

 

Garfield Conservatory - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

Outfit: Wrap Top from Tyche / Skirt / Shoes (Similar)

 

7. La Bodega

 

Where La Bodega lacks in space, it sure makes up in instagrammable drinks and décor. Their churro hot chocolate makes every blogger heart melt and is only topped by the churro cone with customizable toppings. Did I mention that they also serve delicious tacos?

355 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654

 

La Bodega - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

 

La Bodega - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

 

8. Maison Marcel

 

If you’re looking for some shabby chic spring vibes paired with delicious brunch or afternoon tea, Maison Marcel is your place! Originally from Marseille, the owners brought the French je ne sais quoi to Chicago and paired it with a cozy ambiance, wicker furniture, turquoise accents, and a bright space.

As a result, Maison Marcel is just as popular as you might think. I suggest you go early in the morning or mid-afternoon on week days to get as much space as possible, as it is one of the great Chicago Instagram spots!

3114 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657

 

Maison Marcel - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

Outfit: Coat / Sweater (Similar) 

 

9. Serena and Lily

 

Easily one of the most beautiful furniture and home décor stores in Chicago is Serena and Lily. Their new location right on Armitage is exquisitely decorated and transports you into spring even on the coldest or rainiest winter days. I was dreaming about decorating my future home with their blue and white pillows.

Serena and Lily is a retail store, however they allowed me to take pictures while the store wasn’t busy and as long as I did not interfere with any customers. I recommend giving them a call before going to ensure that they know you will be there.

853 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

 

Serena & Lily - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

Outfit: Jeans from The Mint Joulep Boutique / Sweater (Similar) / Bralette / Shoes (Similar) / Earrings

 

Serena & Lily - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

 

10. Harold Washington Library

 

Last but certainly not least is the atrium at the Harold Washington Library. The skylights and the large windows provide a lot of natural light and together with the open space and turquoise/light blue are a blogger’s dream come true. The atrium is on the 9th floor of the library building and free to access. Note that Harold Washington Library is exactly that, a library. As a result, the atrium is frequently used as a space to study and for events. Make sure to check their event schedule prior to planning your photo shoot there.

400 S State St
Chicago, IL 60605

 

Harold Washington Library - 10 Best Chicago Instagram Spots | The Next Trip

Outfit: Dress from The Mint Joulep Boutique / Clutch (Similar) / Shoes (Similar)

 

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These are the 10 Best Indoor Instagram Spots in Chicago! The Next Trip

 

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Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. Living in a city like Chicago, there are so many great ways to experience the holidays if you need a little help getting into the Christmas spirit, or if you just want to take it all in!

 

Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

I feel like no trip downtown into the Loop is complete without a quick visit to the Bean. It’s my favourite Chicago landmark, and no matter the weather or time of day is always so photogenic.

 

Cloudgate or Bean - Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

Cloudgate or Bean - Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

One of my newest favourite pastimes (you might already know if you follow me on Instagram) is lobby hunting! There are so many great hotels and office towers in Chicago and it seems that each year they try to out-do each other in Christmas decorations!

My favourite office building decoration was by far the tree at 77 W Wacker Drive and you easily see why! (Hint: their ornaments are my favourite colour!)

 

77 W Wacker Drive - Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

77 W Wacker Drive - Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

As far as hotel lobbies go, the lobby at the Conrad Chicago Hotel surpassed all my expectations. Located on the 20th floor, it is secluded from the shopping fever on Michigan Avenue and made me feel more relaxed the moment I stepped off the elevator. The lobby is flooded with natural light. Once you make your way to the floor to ceiling windows to catch a glimpse of the fantastic city view, you can't help but admire the colourfully decorated staircase and Christmas tree.

 

Conrad Chicago Hotel - Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

Conrad Chicago Hotel - Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

Conrad Chicago Hotel - Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

Conrad Chicago Hotel - Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

Finally, a Christmas tour of the Loop would not be complete without stops at the the Macy’s Christmas windows and the Christkindlmarket. Both attractions are so popular that I suggest going as early in the morning as possible to avoid the crowds if you're visiting on a weekend, or try to stop by on a week day.

 

Christkindlmarket Chicago - Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

Every year, I treat myself to a gluhwein, which tastes just like at home in Switzerland, but this time I couldn’t help myself and caved for some hot chocolate.

 

Chirstkindlmarket Chicago - Favourite Christmas Activities in Chicago with Chicwish

 

One thing to keep in mind when exploring the city in December - it can be really cold and windy. Big thanks to Chicwish for keeping me warm as I explored Chicago’s Christmas wonders this year. Their cozy sweaters are the perfect combination of fashionable, cute, and warm! I have been wearing them non-stop since they arrived in the mail. I also love the elegance of the Cape Coat which will easily make any winter outfit look more put together. If you're curious to see how the sweaters and the coat fit, you can check out my try-on Instagram stories which include sizing information.

 

Shop My Chicwish Looks

 

 

These are just a few of my favourite holiday traditions in Chicago, and we didn’t even get a chance to ice skate over to Millenium Park, admire the Zoo Lights, or take a ride on the holiday train! What is your favourite way to celebrate the holidays in Chicago?

 

Make sure to pin this pin to your favourite personal travel board on Pinterest so that our tips are only one click away!

 

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. My outfits are courtesy of Chicwish.

 


 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon

Thank you RM Champagne Salon for having us. A part of our meal was gifted to us by RM Champagne Salon to allow us to experience their full service and be able to tell you about it. All our opinions are our own.

 

If you ever find yourself in Chicago looking for a great fire-side brunch spot with unforgettable mimosas, I know just the place for you. The RM Champagne Salon is tucked away in the middle of the West Loop and easy to miss if you don't know where you're going.

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon

 

A sign indicates to walk through the cobblestone alley to get to the entrance and start your culinary experience. The RM Champagne Salon is known for romantic dinners and their outstanding seafood, but they recently started serving brunch on weekends starting at 11am.

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon

 

With their antique mirrors, chandeliers, and marble fireplace, RM takes you back in time and provides a relaxed yet luxurious ambience. Their attention to detail is mirrored in the service and food presentation. You don't have to take my word for it - see for yourself!

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon

 

When a few girlfriends and I  were planning to go for brunch, we decided to try the RM Champagne Salon's new brunch menu as none of us had experienced it before. We explored the idea of enjoying a drink or two with breakfast and our waiter highly recommended the mimosa bar. Little did we know, RM Champagne Salon provides a fully customizable mimosa bar allowing you to combine your champagne of choice with mixers and garnishes.

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon - Mimosa Bar

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon - Mimosa Bar

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon

 

Their mixers include a variety of fruit juices, and the garnishes are as pretty as they are tasty!

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon - Mimosa Bar

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon - Mimosa Bar

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon - Mimosa Bar

 

The mimosa bar is served with a tower of nibbles consisting of bite-sized sandwiches, macarons, fresh fruit, truffles, and puff pastry treats - and let me tell you, it was absolutely scrummy (for all the ones who love the Great British Baking show as much as I do, you know what I'm talking about. :-))

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon - Mimosa Bar

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon - Mimosa Bar

 

I'm already a foodie but having everything come in bite-size format, makes me even happier!

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon - Mimosa Bar

 

And the picturesque presentation didn't leave anything to be desired.

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon - Mimosa Bar

 

Brunch at RM Champagne Salon

 

With our eyes bigger than our stomachs, we couldn't help ourselves and also ordered some of our favourite appetizers.

 

 

The avocado toast was a sight for sore foodie eyes. The cheese platter and the salmon dip did not disappoint either.

 

 

 

We left RM Champagne Salon extremely full, slightly tipsy, and in awe of their new brunch. All of us decided that we'd be back and would rave about this place for days to come!

Don't take my word for it but check RM Champagne Salon out yourself! You can make reservations here or give them a call at (312) 243-1199.

 

 

Cheers!

 

Make sure to pin this pin to your favourite personal travel board on Pinterest so that our tips are only one click away!

 

 


 

A Day of Discovery in Denver

Denver is surprisingly close to the Rocky Mountains, which means you’re never short of mountain views while in the city. We only had one day in Denver at the tail end of our Colorado adventure (which you can read about here,  here, and with amazing sand dunes here) before our two days of driving back to Chicago.

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - State Capitol

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - State Capitol

 

Since we only had one day we wanted to get a bit of an early start, and probably started our self-made walking tour of downtown around 10:00am. Let’s just say that we were definitely not impressed the first few hours in the city. There seemed to be camps of people (quite literally camps, with tents, chairs and everything) around every second corner with many of them giving an all new meaning to the ‘mile high city.’ It overall gave us a bit of an uneasy feeling while walking around. We did, however, find time for a few quick shots around the Colorado State Capitol building and loved the view from one mile above sea level.

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - State Capitol

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - State Capitol

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - State Capitol

 

We ventured over to the LoDo neighbourhood and found Urban Farmer, a modern yet rustic steakhouse with delicious brunch options and outdoor seating. Things were starting to turn around.

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - LoDo

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - LoDo

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Urban Farmer

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Urban Farmer

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Urban Farmer

 

Our brunch was excellent, the sun was shining, and my mimosa and Bettina's bloody mary bar were on point.

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Urban Farmer

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Urban Farmer

 

We can definitely recommend Urban Farmer if you're looking for a great Sunday brunch spot!

No sooner had we finished eating were we looking for even more food. Bettina had been talking to a few locals on Instagram and received a large list of places to go to. The Milk Market at Dairy Block came highly recommend to us, and we can only pass along the recommendations.

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Customizable Disk Necklace by GLDN

Earrings by Coco Loves Rome

 

This bumping market hall was full of modern restaurants and bars all with delicious looking and (smelling!) food. Since we had just eaten brunch, we weren’t that hungry but that has never stopped us in the past from indulging in more food!

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market

 

As we strolled around the market, we stumbled upon Morning Jones and just could not resist their decorate your own doughnut station. You basically got six fresh doughnuts on a plate and were free to add as much Oreo crumble, sprinkles, bacon, marshmallows, chocolate sauce, or caramel as you could fit.

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market Morning Jones

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market Morning Jones

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market Morning Jones

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver - Dairy Block Milk Market Morning Jones

 

For better or worse, we finished it all and were thoroughly stuffed the rest of the day. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking along 16th Street doing some shopping before heading back to Chicago.

 

A Day of Discovery in Denver