What to Do at the Zoo in Chicago, Illinois

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The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois is unfortunately closed until March 4th due to city and state regulations to keep buildings closed for the time being during the Covid-19 pandemic. That means zoo goers would be outside and exposed to the cold winter temperatures during the coldest part of the year in the windy city of Chicago. In order to ensure the safety of their animals and their guests, the Lincoln Park Zoo has made the hard decision to close its doors until March 4th.

However, for zoo members, they are opening the zoo for one weekend in February, on Saturday and Sunday the 27th and 28th. All members must have a reservation to this event. If you are not yet a member of the Lincoln Park Zoo, you can purchase your membership online and sign up for the event.

Individual membership is $69 with a $9 flat fee for parking whenever you visit the zoo. A Household Membership can be purchased for $95 and a Safari Membership can be purchased for $189.

If you’d like to check out what’s going on at the zoo from the comfort of your own home, every Tuesday and Thursday they offer “Stay Tuned to the Zoo” on the YouTube channel of the Lincoln Park Zoo. This virtual video is also live streamed on their website, linked below.

Once the zoo reopens, you’ll be happy to note admission is absolutely free! Ever since 1868, the Lincoln Park Zoo has been free since they first opened their gates. It is one of the most established zoos in the nation. Donors, visitors, and members make up 80% of the revenue that allows the zoo to remain free to the public. The remainder is covered by a subsidy from the Chicago Park District.

Membership to the zoo not only helps the zoo stay free, but also gains you discounted parking depending on your membership level, invitations to events exclusive to members, and special discounts to restaurants and shops. Becoming a member definitely has its perks!

From February to July, the Lincoln Park Zoo will hold two sessions a month for virtual animal experiences. These will be held on their website (linked below) Saturdays & Sundays at 10am or Fridays at 1pm. There is a $15 fee for virtual admission, with a 10% discount for members. These virtual animal experiences are good for children of all ages. You’ll learn about various animals throughout the zoo including the food they eat, their natural defenses, as well as their habitats and what it takes to care for them. Do not miss these opportunities to learn more about our amazing world!Mark your calendars, March 4th is the official re-opening of the Lincoln Park Zoo! Until then, enjoy some virtual events, both some open to members only and others to the public. Become a member and support the zoo to remain free for the general public!

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Five Best Airbnb’s in Chicago, IL

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Whether you are looking for some time away from work, a romantic weekend with your significant other, or just some quality downtime with the family, you can’t go wrong with an Airbnb.

Through the booking and use of an Airbnb, you can choose the environment of your choice, along with the city and location as well.  Choosing an Airbnb can prove to be an economical choice when looking to spend some getaway time. 

With this in mind, we have gathered five of the top-rated Airbnb’s in the Chicago, IL area.

Romantic Getaway Artsy Apartment With Funky Vibes

Great location in Chicago’s Wicker Park/Bucktown community.  Fully furnished living room along with a small refrigerator and coffee maker.  A small safe is available for the convenience of storing any essential valuables, and there is free private parking.  Only 35 minutes to O’Hare via the train and 10 minutes to the city via blue line.

No parties or smoking permitted.

Family Large Balcony, Chicago Views

Quiet, clean 3-bedroom apartment in the heart of Chicago with free parking.  Very safe Little Italy/Greektown neighborhood—24/7.  Guests will have the apartment to themselves and can come and go with a secure smart lock.  Various upscale bars and restaurants are just around the corner within walking distance.  Only five minutes to downtown Chicago and a three-minute walk to the University of Illinois at Chicago.

No pets, parties, or smoking permitted.

Near a famous landmark Private Studio

Located 6.9 miles from Wrigley Field and 9.7 miles from Lincoln Park Zoo.  This private studio has a dining area and a kitchen and is an excellent getaway.  Located 12.9 miles from 360 Chicago, and well as all the popular shops and restaurants that the area of has to offer.  There is free on-premises parking and offers Wifi.  Guest will have the use of the entire apartment.

Pets and smoking are not permitted.

Luxury Zen Loft in Downtown

This Zen Loft of Old town is a massive 3500 square foot apartment located over a commercial strip center.  The apartment has its own private entrance and is steps from the Brown Line Train Station.  Easily accessible to areas such as both of Chicago’s airports, O’Hare and Midway, with the location in the heart of Old Town, this apartment is hard to top.  It is also within walking distance of the lake.  It offers incredibly spacious rooms and 7 TV’s throughout the condo.

Pets, parties, and smoking are not permitted.

Budget Renovated Apartment Lincoln Square

Kick back with a fresh coffee and enjoy the designer touches of this renovated apartment, which include such beauty as wood floors and exposed brickwork from the 1920s.  There are great views from the courtyard, and guests will have the apartment all to themselves.  Enjoy the comfort of home as you explore all that the city of Chicago has to offer.  Lincoln Square is a quaint, family-friendly neighborhood and is only 27 minutes by car to O’Hare International Airport.

No pets, parties, or smoking permitted.

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Five Awesome Ways to Celebrate Galentine’s 2021 in Chicago

Valentine’s Day is coming up next month, but roses, chocolate, and Hallmark cards aren’t for everyone. If you’d rather round up your best gal pals and celebrate the joys of female friendship on Galentine’s Day, read on, because we’ve rounded up five fun ways to celebrate with your girls this year in Chicago!

Alinea

If you and your gals want to be fancy, a classic way to spend the evening is dinner and drinks at what has been proclaimed the best restaurant in Chicago (and seventh-best in the world!) by Chicago Magazine: Alinea. Located in Lincoln Park, Alinea has three Michelin Stars and offers Contemporary American fare served up by Chef Grant Achatz. All those accolades mean a night out here is pricey, but the plates are creative and the restaurant is committed to delivering more than a meal; they give you an experience.

Vito & Nick’s

If you’re looking for a more mom-and-pop type of restaurant, try The Original Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria. Established all the way back in 1920, this family-owned Italian food joint puts a delicious spin on Chicago-style pizza, making it with a thin crust! This retro pizza place has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and has been reviewed by food reporter Catherine de Orio. The sausage pizza here especially comes highly recommended, so grab your girls then grab a slice!

Promontory Point

If you’re trying to be safe due to COVID-19, an outdoor celebration is the way to go. And even in February, a picnic is a fun way to connect with your gals! Just bring a waterproof tarp for under your picnic blanket, some cozy blankets to snuggle in, and a thermos of hot cocoa. The best local spot for your Galentine’s picnic is Promontory Point, located in Burnham Park. This peninsula juts into Lake Michigan and will treat you to a gorgeous view.

Ice Skating Ribbon

If your friends aren’t content to just sit around and chat, you’re going to want an activity to get everyone moving. A fun, wintry activity to enjoy with your gals this February is skating on the Ice Skating Ribbon in Maggie Daley Park on The Loop. The ribbon is different than a typical rink, it’s shaped more like a walking path. You’ll need to make a reservation ahead of time to book your spot. Skate rentals are an option for those who don’t have their own.

KOVAL

If you’re looking for something a little different to try for Galentine’s Day, you should book a group class. A fun option is the classes offered by KOVAL, Chicago’s first distillery since the 1800s! It was founded in 2008 by two academics, one of whom comes from a family with a long distilling history in Austria. They offer a virtual group cocktail class, in which you get an interactive lesson on the art and science of making a cocktail. Better have extra olives on hand for this one!

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Best resources in Chicago, IL to throw a fabulous virtual New Years’ Eve Party!

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, many party-goers are trying to plan out how they will ring in the new year and still keep the party safe and festive.

With the ongoing pandemic, and many cities and states mandating that party-goers forego the usual gathering in groups to celebrate the festivities, an alternate method of celebrating the ball drop appears to be in order this year—virtual celebrations.

With this mindset, we have sought out some of the best sources in Chicago, IL for drinks and food that will make ringing in the New Year less of a chore, and more of a blast!

Three Dots and a Dash

Located at 435 N Clark Street

312.610.4220

This cocktail bar offers both pick-up and delivery.  Choose from bottled cocktails or cocktail kits to go—either way, your party guests will love them and you can’t go wrong.

Lost Larson

Located at 5318 N Clark St

773.944.0587

This bakery café offers curbside pick-up and delivery of a wide selection of pastries, sandwiches, and bread that will have your party jumping.

The Violet Hour

Located at 1520 N Damen Avenue

773.252.1500

Offering takeout, creative cocktails & small bites to go that are sure to make your party shine.

If you are looking more for options that offer delivery to those friends that are close and local, who you want to be able to join in on the festivities as well, we have two suggestions.

Garfield’s Beverage Express

Located at 1704 N Milwaukee Ave Ste A

773.666.5747

Offering several locations to serve you, as well as delivery of wine, beer, and exciting new products arriving daily, that are guaranteed to keep the party going.

Foremost Liquors & Tavern

3210 N Cicero Avenue

773.282.6064

Unassuming store with a typical range of wine, beer, and hard liquor available for delivery.

And, lest we forget those friends and family that are out of town.  For them, why not have a little libation delivered conveniently to their door, whether they live across town or across the country.

Drizly

When you want a variety and you want it quickly, Drizly has up a large, alcohol marketplace to shop for beer, wine, and spirits. Drizly collaborates with retail stores in cities across North America to offer a huge selection and competitive pricing, delivered to your door in as little as an hour.

Most of us will find ourselves celebrating New Year’s at home this year.  However, that doesn’t mean that the party has to be put on hold.  With the age of the internet, why not take your party to the next level and have a virtual get-together. 

With a little creativity and the use of the internet, you can have your food and drinks delivered right to you, or those party guests from out of town.

The extra added advantage is that everyone can join in the fun as no designated drivers are needed, and once the party is over, hey, you are already home.

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Noteworthy Places to View Christmas Lights in Chicago

The dreaded 2020 is finally coming to a close and the holidays are here along with hopes for holiday cheer. Although many holiday traditions are being altered or skipped this holiday season, there is still cheer to be found! In many cities, including Chicago, a festive activity that is still socially-distant is viewing Christmas lights around the town.

Whatever you’re looking for this year, there are multiple options for a festive outing either walking outdoors or driving past in your car. Check out the list below for the top spots to get lost in the twinkle of Christmas lights!

ZooLights

ZooLights is back at Lincoln Park Zoo for the 26th year! The event is ticketed this year at $5 per person. Enjoy a twinkling winter wonderland complete with festive activities, such as socially-distant visits with Santa, a holiday pop-up bar, and an Enchanted Forest. The event is running now through January 3rd, but be sure to snag tickets in advance. 

For more details, you can check out their website: HERE

Let It Shine Lightshow

Let It Shine Lightshow in Northbrook, a suburb of Chicago is North Shore’s largest drive-thru world of Christmas lights! This is a family-friendly attraction and Covid-safe as visitors remain in their vehicles. Tickets must be bought in advance and will not be available at the door!

For more details, visit their website and click: HERE

Festival of Lights, Aurora

Just outside of Chicago in Aurora, is the Festival of Lights. Back for its 14th year, the festival has spectacular lights displays and festive attractions! The event runs through Sunday, December 27th, Thursdays 5-9 pm, and Friday and Saturdays 5-10 pm. They’re partnering with the Rotary Club of Aurora and accepting online donations.

For additional information, visit their website: HERE

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About On Air Parking

On Air Parking is an airport parking reservation company that aims to disrupt the airport parking vertical. Present in 35 markets, the San Francisco-based startup guarantees the cheapest rates at five-star parking facilities, with free cancellations and free shuttle services to get to and back from the airport. To purchase guaranteed off-airport parking near your local airport, visit onairparking.com.

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Noteworthy Places to View Christmas Lights in Chicago

The dreaded 2020 is finally coming to a close and the holidays are here along with hopes for holiday cheer. Although many holiday traditions are being altered or skipped this holiday season, there is still cheer to be found! In many cities, including Chicago, a festive activity that is still socially-distant is viewing Christmas lights around the town.

Whatever you’re looking for this year, there are multiple options for a festive outing either walking outdoors or driving past in your car. Check out the list below for the top spots to get lost in the twinkle of Christmas lights!

  1. ZooLights

ZooLights is back at Lincoln Park Zoo for the 26th year! The event is ticketed this year at $5 per person. Enjoy a twinkling winter wonderland complete with festive activities, such as socially-distant visits with Santa, a holiday pop-up bar, and an Enchanted Forest. The event is running now through January 3rd, but be sure to snag tickets in advance. 

For more details you can check out their website: HERE

  1. Let It Shine Lightshow

Let It Shine Lightshow in Northbrook, a suburb of Chicago, is North Shore’s largest drive thru world of Christmas lights! This is a family-friendly attraction and Covid-safe as visitors remain in their vehicles. Tickets must be bought in advance and will not be available at the door!

For more details, visit their website and click: HERE

  1. Festival of Lights, Aurora

Just outside of Chicago in Aurora, is the Festival of Lights. Back for its 14th year, the festival has spectacular lights displays and festive attractions! The event runs through Sunday, December 27th, Thursdays 5-9pm and Friday and Saturdays 5-10pm. They’re partnering with the Rotary Club of Aurora and accepting online donations.

For additional information, visit their website: HERE

This blog post is brought to you by On Air Parking, a parking service offering affordable and convenient parking by major airports. On Air Parking is currently offering parking rates as low as $6.49/day for Chicago Airport. For more details visit OnAirParking’s website.

The San Francisco-based startup first launched its popular parking deals in 2016, with pilot locations in Denver, Atlanta, and Chicago. They now have locations across the country.

To purchase parking at your local airport, visit https://www.onairparking.com/

About On Air Parking

On Air Parking is an airport parking reservation company that aims to disrupt the airport parking vertical. Present in 35 markets, the San Francisco-based startup guarantees the cheapest rates at five-star parking facilities, with free cancellations and free shuttle services to get to and back from the airport. To purchase guaranteed off airport parking near your local airport, visit onairparking.com.

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Best Local Virtual Workouts in Chicago to Get the New Year Started Right

Does recent holiday overindulgence have you starting to think about kick-starting your workout routine for the new year? Whether you’re regretting how all those extra slices of pie have your pants fitting a little more snugly or just want to get healthier, making a commitment to working out is always a great New Year’s Resolution. 

It can be especially hard to stay motivated to getting fit during a pandemic when many gyms are either closed or don’t feel as safe as they used to. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of Chicago-based gyms and trainers that are offering virtual workouts. Check them out so that you can be the best version of you in 2021! 

Best Free Virtual Workout

Chicago Athletic Clubs

Times are hard right now, with the pandemic taking a major toll on the economy. If you’re being budget-conscious, the good news is there are great free virtual workouts in Chicago! Chicago Athletic Clubs has put together a lot of free at-home workouts for you, including a full four week plan to get you in shape for the New Year through their app.

Best Paid Virtual Workout

Chitown Trainer

Of course, if you can afford to pay for workouts, you’ll be helping to stimulate the economy and supporting the livelihoods of fitness instructors and gym owners. And if you’re looking to really get serious about meeting your fitness goals this year, you’ll want the structure and accountability that comes with having your own personal trainer. Chitown Trainer, a small company founded by a native Chicagoan, will virtually pair you with a personal trainer for $149/month.

Best Live Virtual Workout

LiveWithS3

One of the things many people miss about in-person exercise classes is the feeling of community and accountability that they foster! Studio 3, a Chicago HIIT, cycling, and yoga studio, is offering live at-home classes through their LiveWithS3 Program. You can purchase a drop-in for $10, a 5-pack for $45, a 10-pack for $80, or an unlimited monthly subscription for $125.

Best Recorded Virtual Workout

FFC On Demand

One consistent throughout this pandemic has been that nothing is consistent. So, if you’re not sure you can commit to working out at specific days and times, you’ll want pre-recorded classes that you can do at any time. Get your fix with FFC On Demand, launched by the small Chicago-based chain of gyms, Fitness Formula Club. You’ll get access to a library of classes, plans, tools, and nutrition tips. Better yet, you can get started with a 14-day free trial.

Best Unique Virtual Workout

Vaudezilla Burlesque

If you’re getting sick of crunches, push-ups, and jumping jacks, it’s probably time to switch up your workout routine. Mixing up your workout is really important to keep things fun and interesting, help you avoid burnout, and challenge your body in new ways. To try something totally different, how about “empowering the goddess within” with an online Burlesque class through Vaudezilla?

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Great Places to Buy Gifts Traveling to Chicago

The holiday season is upon us! That means family time, cozy nights by the fire, baked goods…and scrambling to buy presents! But here’s an idea for you -save some time by grouping your holiday travel and holiday shopping!

If you’re traveling to Chicago this holiday season, we’ve compiled a few local stores you absolutely must check out for your holiday gift needs. You’ll get to explore a new place, avoid the online shopping shipping wait, and best yet -by shopping small you’ll be supporting the local economy and small business owners!

Milk Handmade

You can find ethically and sustainably produced clothing and accessories from independent designers at Milk Handmade. The store also sells clothing from its own private line, which is locally sourced and made of sustainable fabrics using natural dyes. The shop is owned and operated by Chicago-native Hallie Borden, whose passion is supporting local artists and businesses. Be sure to stop by the shop’s sofa and say hi to Sauvie, Borden’s rescued greyhound.

Local Goods Chicago

You could easily complete all of your holiday shopping at Local Goods Chicago. There’s a huge variety to choose from, including face masks, soap, candles, stickers, magnets, books, pet items, jewelry, and purses, to name just a few. Many of the products sold here have a Chicago theme to them, and all of them are locally-made. The shop has extra safety measures in place due to the pandemic and is offering curbside pickup or you can schedule a semi-private shopping session for yourself to ensure social distancing.

Neighborly

With their selection of gifts “aimed at the Modern Midwesterner,” you’re bound to find something at Neighborly for that Chicagoan on your shopping list. Neighborly stocks a range of home goods, gifts, and artwork that are sourced either locally, from eco-friendly producers, or from independent artisans with ethical manufacturing processes. You can visit the shop at one of its two locations on West Division Street or Lincoln Avenue.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Of course, if your hectic holiday has you rushing straight from the plane to a family gathering, you won’t have time to browse through the boutiques in downtown Chicago. Don’t worry, the Chicago O’Hare Airport has you covered! This massive airport has a ton of options, and while many are currently shut down due to COVID-19, you can still find some great gifts at the stores that remain open.

·        A purchase from The Field Museum shop in Terminal 1, “fuels the work of over 150 scientists.” Shopping here is a great option for gifts for kids and adults alike as they have an extensive range of anthropology, culture, and educational-themed toys, books, jewelry, and more.

·        With locations in Terminals 1 and 2, Hoypoloi An Uncommon Gallery has eclectic art and gifts, including art from local Chicago artists.

·        Dufry in Terminal 5 has a selection of accessories and gifts.

·        For some sweet treats to stuff into stockings, visit woman-owned Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Terminals 1 and 3 and pick up some gourmet truffles.

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Renting Ebikes in Chicago

Electric bikes, also known as ebikes, are gaining traction as a fun and exciting mode of recreation in Chicago. These bikes assist the rider while pedaling, making your ride smooth and effortless wherever you happen to go.

Chicago recently passed an ordinance in 2019 that declares all low-speed electronic bikes as “bicycles”, which means they not classified as a moped or a scooter and are still allowed on bike paths and trails. For adults, bike helmets are not required to ride an ebike, however, it is strongly encouraged for children to wear helmets while operating bicycles of any kind. Several shops rent ebikes in Chicago, and we’re here to help you find them. All pertinent links will be provided below!

Bobby’s Bike Hike rents electronic bikes either by half a day or a full day. For a half-day, which is four hours or less, pricing begins at $64.75, however for the whole day, you’ll pay $85.75. It is better for your pocketbook and for your sense of adventure to rent your ebike all day. This shop takes online reservations, and if you do reserve your ebike online, these rates are discounted 10%!

Another shop in Chicago renting ebikes is Samcycle Electric Bikes. This shop is a ride-and-try shop, meaning, if you’d like to purchase the electric bike, they will apply the cost of your rental toward the cost of the ebike. For an all-day rental, the fee is $80, and rentals should be made online or by phone. All rentals must be returned by 5pm on the day of rental. If you’d like to simply rent your ebike and go on a ride, you can do that too!

For some great bike trails, we have a couple great suggestions. First, you’ll want to ride on the Green Bay Trail, with 8.9 miles of gorgeous scenery to encounter. It is a mixture of concrete, asphalt, and crushed stone, of which all are no match for your rented ebike. If you have young riders with you, this is the trail to ride as it’s amazingly easy with little to no hills, sharp corners, or obstacles of any kind.

Another trail for you to try would be the Deer Grove Forest Preserve Trails. These trails total 13.6 miles altogether, and the ride itself meanders through prairie, wetlands, and woods alike. Come and watch the wildlife as you ride on a paved path for novices, or an unpaved trail for more experienced mountain bikers. If you want to take an ebike journey in all nature has to offer, this is the trail for you.

There is no shortage of ebike rentals or bike trails in Chicago. If you’re looking for something new and fun to do while you’re in town, rent an electric bicycle and experience all the beauty of Illinois!

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Outdoor activities near Chicago IL

For most people, when they think of Chicago, they think of pizza, architecture, and of course, extremely cold winters. While all those things are true, that doesn’t mean that outdoor activities don’t exist, in fact, there is an abundance of great and adventurous outdoor activities near Chicago IL. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones below.

  1. CHICAGO’S FIRST LADY CRUISES

What better way to mix the luxury of a cruise with such a fine city. This cruise will take you on a tour down Chicago’s River, where you will get to see some of the top spots in the city, as well as the fantastic architecture right up close from the top deck. Explore the city in a completely different way, in any weather, and make some great memories along the way.

  1. BOBBY’S BIKE HIKE

For the city’s best biking tour, walking tour, or even food and drink tour, Bobby’s Bike Hike is one of the best outdoor activities in the area. Explore every inch of this vast city in style, learn about the history, discover the food, and soak up the culture of one of America’s top cities. You can go as part of your own group, but don’t worry if you end up going alone, as it is the perfect way to meet new people and make new friends.

  1. KAYAKING THE RIVER

If you want to take a tour along the river but aren’t a fan of boats, then not to worry, because kayaks are here to the rescue. Hire a kayak and head down the river at your own pace, weaving in and out of the passing boats, and seeing the city from a completely different angle. Or, if you prefer, you can have a guided tour in the kayak, if you don’t trust yourself to head through the city.

  1. MAGGIE DALEY PARK ROCK CLIMBING

For anyone who likes to stay active, rock climbing is a great outdoor activity that makes a change to the usual type of exercise you might be accustomed to. This forty-foot outdoor wall is completely safe, and with a total of nearly twenty thousand square feet, there’s plenty of room for everyone!

  1. CHICAGO HELICOPTERS

For an outdoor activity that will get your heart racing like nothing else, head to the Chicago Helicopters Experience, and see the city from the sky. During your ride, you will get to see the most incredible views of the city from above, as well as the river, the waterfront, and all of the historic landmarks that make Chicago so special. This may be more of an activity that you do less frequently, but it sure will be one of the most memorable things you’ll do in your life.

Thee list of outdoor activities near Chicago IL is vast, we may have only been able to cover five of the top ones here, but we can assure you that once you get outside and start exploring the outdoor activities this city has to offer, you’ll never stop.

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