Hiya pals! We've been back from our vacation for about a month now and finally feel all caught up on life. We had the most incredible time at Walt Disney World and we want to share all of our adventures with you today! So grab a lemonade and snuggle up because it's going to be a long one ;)
Day 1 - Magic Kingdom
We had a super early flight out of Chicago at 7am so we could make the most of our first day at Disney World. We got in to Orlando around 10:30am and took the Disney Magical Express over to our resort. Our room wasn't ready yet so we did a quick outfit change in the restrooms in the main lobby, grabbed some Mickey shaped beignets (oh my gosh you guys, new favorite Disney snack ever!?), and hopped on the bus to Magic Kingdom.
Walking in to Magic Kingdom for the first time was everything and more, you guys. We walked down Main Street together toward Cinderella's Castle and it was honestly more than I've dreamed of. The sparkle in Kai's eyes was unreal. Every time we watch a Disney movie, he watches the opening credits when they show the castle and I always tell him "We're going there, Kai!" So when he saw it in real life, I just know he knew where we were.
After we took all the magic in, we grabbed some lunch at Casey's Corner and ate on the hub grass with the most perfect view of the castle. Eating corn dog nuggets and fries from Casey's on the hub grass is one of mine and Caleb's favorite things to do while at Disney World. It's like having the ultimate picnic! Kai crawled around the hub grass and we just enjoyed a slow lunch at our favorite place in the world.
Next, we popped Kai in the stroller so he could nap and did a little bit of shopping. We got our ear hats and had them embroidered and watched a little bit of the Festival of Fantasy parade. After the parade ended it was time to go meet Mickey and Minnie! We headed over to the Town Square Theater for Kai's big moment. He saw Mickey in real life and the look on his face was incredible. He smiled, laughed, hugged, and kissed him on the nose. He wasn't scared at all and it's a memory I will hold in my heart forever.
We had some time to kill before dinner so we just walked around Magic Kingdom, grabbed the new Hei Hei Cone from Aloha Isle, went through the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, and took a bunch of pictures with the castle in the rain. We then had dinner at the Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore. The buffet spread was delicious and Kai once again loved all the characters. I think his favorites though were Piglet and Pooh ;).
We ended our night after that and headed back to our hotel. We stayed at the Port Orleans - French Quarter resort, and oh my goodness, it was the best! We have a Disney bucket list item for staying at every resort at WDW, but I'm not sure we're going to be able to pass up staying at the French Quarter every time we go! We loved it so much! Our room was spacious and had a huge bathroom area. It was big enough that we could put Kai's pack and play in it so we didn't have to sit in total darkness as soon as we put him down if we weren't ready to go to bed yet. The grounds of the resort were so beautiful and peaceful, too.
Mickey Onesie - SparkleDesignCo | Red Shorts - Little Me (similar) | Mickey Oxfords - Freshly Picked | Mickey Hat - Walt Disney World | Mickey Ears - Amazon
Mama Shirt - SparkleDesignCo | Shorts - Zara (no longer available) | Sneakers - Nike (similar) | Minnie Ears - Walt Disney World | Ring Sling (Cardinal) - WildBird (no longer available)
Dad Shirt - SparkleDesignCo | Navy Shorts - Target (old, similar) | Sneakers - Cole Haan Outlet (similar) | Mickey Hat - Walt Disney World
Day 2 - Hollywood Studios
I started out my morning like I usually do at home actually but it was extra special waking up at our hotel at Disney. I got up early, grabbed some coffee from our cafe at the French Quarter, and found a quiet bench by a little fountain outside and read my book. I enjoyed the sunrise, my coffee, and my book while the boys got a little extra shut eye. I did this every morning we were there and it is honestly one of my favorite parts about our trip!
We headed out to Hollywood Studios for an early breakfast at Hollywood & Vine that morning where Kai got to try Mickey waffles for the first time and meet some of the Disney Jr. characters! He really loved Princess Sofia. After breakfast, I went on Rock N Roller Coaster while Kai was supposed to be sleeping but that didn't work out so well, ha! He was too excited to sleep and I couldn't blame him. We headed over to Toy Story Land next where we grabbed a quick lunch at Woody's Lunchbox. I got the chocolate hazelnut pop tart and Caleb got the BBQ Brisket Melt. Both 10 out of 10, highly recommend! We tried out the mobile ordering for the first time here, too, and it was so easy! We didn't have to wait in the long line and our food was ready so quick. After lunch, we went on Toy Story Mania where Kai fell asleep about 15 seconds after I put him in the ring sling, ha! He slept through the entire thing and yes, Caleb totally kicked my butt on it!
We decided to take a short break from the park after Toy Story Land and headed back to our hotel. Kai woke up when we got back and we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather so we headed to the pool! They have a fun little kids water play area, which we tried out first and Kai wasn't too keen on it. I think there was just too much going on for him but it will be so fun to take him to when he's a little older. We moved over to the regular pool area and got in the water and Kai LOVED it! He was splashing around and kicking his legs like crazy. He was laughing so much and didn't want to get out! We grabbed a pretzel and a couple of drinks from the pool bar and then Vacation Kai was born. (If you followed our trip on Instagram you'll know what I'm talking about but if not, we named Kai Vacation Kai and took lots snapshots of all the posh things he was doing while on our trip...basically just him living his absolute best life, ha!) He ate like half the Mickey pretzel and was ready to take on the rest of the day.
After the pool we headed back over to Hollywood Studios where we explored Star Wars Launch Bay then went back to Hollywood & Vine for dinner. This time we ate with Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Goofy, and Mickey! Kai loved meeting Donald but Minnie and Mickey were the clear favorites again. He gave Minnie so many kisses on the nose when she came over to our table to spend time with him. Mickey was actually greeting everyone at the door when they first came in to the restaurant but had a very long line when we first got there. Our hostess gave us a little raincheck slip to come back and meet him when the line had died down. So after we were finished eating, we went over to Mickey and there was no line. Mickey got down on the floor with Kai and played with him for about 5 minutes. It was probably the best 5 minutes of Kai's entire life. The joy we saw on his face and excitement in his eyes was incredible. It's something I will never forget. That moment is why I love Disney so much.
We ended our night at Hollywood Studios by watching Fantasmic! Kai loved the show and it's probably one of our favorites, too. We got to see a bit of the fireworks from the Star Wars show too as we were walking out of the park! Again Kai wasn't scared at all and watched them in awe. It was another spectacular day!
Padawan Onesie - CouplesTeez (Custom order) | Khaki Shorts - Carters | Grey Moccasins - Freshly Picked
Jedi T-shirt - CouplesTeez | Khaki Shorts - JCrew Factory | Sneakers - Nike (old, similar) | BB=8 Ears - ToNeverNeverland | Ring Sling (Double Swan) - WildBird (no longer available)
Jedi Master T-shirt - CoupleTeez | Khaki Shorts - Banana Republic (old, similar) | Sneakers - Cole Haan Outlet (old, similar)
Day 3 - Disney Springs & Magic Kingdom
We had a nice, slow morning on our 3rd day with breakfast at our hotel and walking around our resort. We caught the boat from the docks at our hotel and went over to Disney Springs. We did some shopping at the LEGO Store, Basin, World of Disney, and Zara to name a few! We also grabbed some super tasty tacos from a food truck called 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa. We ate right next to the water and it was so relaxing. After that we headed back to our hotel for a nap. The whole morning and afternoon was a nice refresh from a busy first two days.
That evening we headed over to Magic Kingdom again. We finally took Kai on some rides! And he was awake! We went on it's a small world, Peter Pan's Flight, and the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. We grabbed a churro to hold us over until dinner as well as a Lefou's Brew from Gastons, which is SO good, by the way. After that we headed over to Be Our Guest for dinner! So I've promised to always be totally honest with you all on this little blog, so here it is...we weren't impressed. Even though there were kids all over the restaurant, we felt really uncomfortable with Kai there. The food was decent but not mind blowing for the price. The experience of being there was also just so so. We saw the Beast walk by a couple of times but that's about it. We all might have just been off that night though, to be fair. Kai was hyper from the churro and actually blew out his diaper at dinner! It frazzled Caleb and we somehow ran out of diapers! I made a quick dart over to the Baby Center though that is located right next to the Crystal Palace and bought a new pack of diapers and was able to change Kai there. So not the most glamorous ending to the night, but I did learn where the Baby Center was inside Magic Kingdom, and I can 100% say those centers are lifesavers!
Blue Striped Romper - babyGap | Beige Moccasins - Freshly Picked | Mickey Hat - Walt Disney World
White Dress - JCrew Facrtory (old, new option) | Gold Sneakers - Keds x kate spade new york (old, similar) | Gold Minnie Ears - Disneyland Paris (now available at Walt Disney World) | it's a small world ears - Walt Disney World | Ring Sling (Mew) - Wildbird
Mickey Polo - Walt Disney World (available at the parks, similar) | Khaki Pants - Banana Republic | Oxford Sneakers - Amazon | Mickey Hat - Walt Disney World
Day 4 - Animal Kingdom
Our next day was spent at Animal Kingdom! We made a last minute breakfast reservation at Tusker House and man am I glad we did! It might be my favorite breakfast spot at WDW! They have this drink called Jungle Juice and oh my goodness, is it delicious. I'm not a huge juice person, but wow, that stuff is amazing. The food spread at the buffet was excellent, too. Everything was so flavorful and not just the same ole traditional breakfast buffet. After we ate, we had some time to kill before we went on the Safari ride, so we went over to Rafiki's Planet Watch and got Kai his first Wilderness Explorer book and a few badges! This was so much fun to do all day long and I'm really looking forward to doing it again with him when he's older and has the will to discover them all and finish to become a Senior Wilderness Explorer! So after we did all that exploring, Kai was pretty tired and took a nap in the sling while we rode through the Kilimanjaro Safari. This is by far my favorite ride at AK, and I was so glad Kai could go on it with us...even if he was asleep!
After our Safari ride, we headed over to the Festival of the Lion King, which is my favorite show at Animal Kingdom. It never disappoints and Kai loved it! Once the show was over, we headed down the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and got Kai some more Wilderness Explorer badges and did some bird spotting! The bird spotting was extra fun for me because you know those ring slings I wear all the time? Well the company's name is WildBird and they name all their slings after birds. So I recognized most of the birds on the chart and got to spot them in real life! Total mom nerd moment, I know, but it was super cool!
So this is where we actually made our first mistake of the trip though. We decided not to take our daily break back at our hotel to go to the pool or nap because it had taken us a long time to get from our resort to the park that morning. Let me tell you though, it doesn't matter...breaks are necessary regardless if you have children or not, especially when you're at AK. That park is so big, it tires you out fast! Anyways, we didn't take our daily break and it kind of just made both Caleb and I cranky...which really affected us later. We did grab some lunch though at our favorite spot in Dinoland called Trilo-Bites. They have buffalo chicken nachos that are to die for! After Kai woke up from his afternoon nap (thank goodness he napped, right!?), we went to the Finding Nemo musical, which is Caleb's favorite show. It was so precious watching Caleb sit with Kai and watch the show. It really is a wonderful little show and we love going every time. After Nemo though, this is where not taking that break kind of screwed us. It was time for our FastPass+ for Flight of Passage. On our way over to Pandora we tried to stop real quick to meet Dug and Russell. The line wasn't that long but then the characters took a break! We waited a few minutes but decided to leave without meeting them because we were afraid of missing our FastPass+. Like I said, AK is big...and it took a bit of time to get over to Pandora. We got there, tried to do rider swap...which guys, rider swap is a joke, don't do it if you have FastPasses. It took forever to speak with the rider swap guy and by the time I was able to get in to the ride, we were needing to leave the park to make it to our dinner reservation. So in the end, neither of us got to ride Flight of Passage...AGAIN. So from there, we went back to the front of the park and thankfully we got to meet Dug and Russell that time, so that perked our spirits up a bit. Plus we were heading to our favorite restaurant in all of WDW for dinner.
We hopped on the bus to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and made it in time for our dinner reservation at Boma. We discovered Boma on our last trip to WDW and have sworn we will go back every single time, we love it so much. It's an African inspired buffet with the most delicious and flavorful dishes. This time my favorite was the steak with the sauces they had available that day as well as the curry. Caleb's favorite was the curry, too. Kai loved the sweet potato and potato dish they had, too. Kai is an interesting kind of picky...he doesn't like bland foods, so Boma was definitely his jam. Oh and the zebra domes...those things are the best dessert at Disney on the planet.
After dinner, we went back over to Animal Kingdom and watched the Rivers of Light show which was so beautiful. Then after the show was over we finally went back over to Pandora to see it at night. We did it guys...we saw Pandora at night...check! and done, ha!
Wilderness Explorer Onesie - LilyBethBoutiques (custom order) | Brown Shorts - Target (no longer available, similar) | Beige Moccasins - Freshly Picked | Wilderness Explorer Hat - Box Lunch | Orange Scarf - Amazon
Pink Tank - Target (old, similar) | White Shorts - JCrew Factory | Glitter Sneakers - Bibbidi Bobbidi Bling | Mickey Dad Hat - AmazEmbroidery | Dooney & Bourke Sketch Backpack - Walt Disney World (only available at the parks, similar) | Ring Sling (Summer) - Wildbird (no longer available)
Hakuna Matata Shirt - Amazon | Khaki Shorts - Banana Republic | Oxford Sneakers - Amazon
Day 5 - Magic Kingdom
The 5th day of our trip was actually my birthday! It was so special to spend this birthday at Disney with my little family and it's one I will cherish forever. We started our morning out early with heading over to Magic Kingdom to have breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table! There was still a decent amount of people in the park around the castle even though the park wasn't technically open yet! I didn't realize how many people actually are there for rope drop. So if that's something you want to experience, make sure you get to the park by at least 8am! We got to go past the rope though to get to the restaurant though, which was really cool because then it was empty! The castle was absolutely breathtaking in the morning light. We went over to the restaurant and were greeted by Cinderella herself when we went inside the castle! We made our way upstairs to our table but just as we sat down, the fire alarm went off! Everyone in the restaurant had to evacuate out the fire escape, so we all had to go down the stairs on the side of the castle. We waited outside for about 30 minutes while everything got sorted out. I guess there was a small kitchen fire because the hoods are old. A little scary...but Disney of course made up for it. We received free any time use FastPasses and a few Disney gift cards. We got to start our breakfast over again and it was worth the wait. Caleb had steak and eggs which were so good and I got the caramel apple stuffed French toast, which was also delicious. Kai found his new favorite breakfast food there too...mini blueberry muffins! We got to meet some of the princesses while we had breakfast including Aurora, Ariel, Snow White, and Jasmine. Kai loved Aurora so much, he is such a little flirt, ha!
After breakfast, we walked around the park a bit and went on the Haunted Mansion, which is my favorite ride at WDW! Kai was asleep for it this time around but it was actually a good thing because after the ride we had our family photoshoot with a photographer at the park. We spent an hour going around Magic Kingdom, taking some gorgeous shots and making incredible memories. I can't wait to receive the photos back and share them with all of you! What a special way to remember my birthday, right!? Once we were done with our photographer, we went on the Jungle Cruise and then grabbed some lunch at Pecos Bill, which is another favorite quick service spot of ours. We highly suggest the pork carnitas nachos. After we devoured those we went on Pirates of the Caribbean then headed back to our hotel so Kai could nap. He fell asleep on the ride back but woke up once we got back to our room, so we decided to spend our break at the pool!
After our nice little pool break, we headed back over to Magic Kingdom because we had a dinner reservation at California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. Oh my goodness friends, this restaurant surpasses the hype! The food, the drinks, the views...all of it was incredible. I had a glass of Cabernet Franc with my dinner of filet mignon. Cabernet Franc! It's so rare to find and it's probably my favorite kind of wine. The sushi was also delicious and we had strawberry creme brûlée for dessert.
Our post dinner plan was to head back over to Magic Kingdom on the monorail to catch Happily Ever After since we hadn't had a chance to see it yet. We got to the park a little late but still got to see about half the show. We watched it from the railroad station and Kai was mesmerized by it. We decided to close down the park since Kai had a bunch of energy so we went on Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, and Haunted Mansion again!
White Onesie - Target | Grey Overalls - Zara (old, similar) | Mickey Oxfords - Freshly Picked | Mickey Hat - Walt Disney World
White Top (same dress as day 3, ha!) - JCrew Factory (old, similar) | Blue Princess Skirt - Amazon | Gold Sneakers - Keds x kate spade new york (old, similar) | Silver Minnie Ears - Walt Disney World (no longer available)
Mickey Polo - Walt Disney World (available at the parks, similar) | Light Blue Pants - Banana Republic (old, similar) | Oxford Sneakers - Amazon | Mickey Hat - Walt Disney World
Day 6 - Magic Kingdom/Epcot
This was our last full day at Disney! Once we got to this day I could to believe how fast the trip had gone by. But that's what happens when you're having the best time of your life, right? We started this day out super early with breakfast at Trattoria al Forno at the BoardWalk. We got to meet Ariel again, plus Prince Eric, Flynn Rider, and Rapunzel! Punzie is my favorite princess, so as you can imagine I was so excited! Again, the food and experience did not disappoint, and if you can get reservations in time for this breakfast, we highly suggest it!
We made our way over to Magic Kingdom after we were done eating and made a little visit to the famous purple wall over in Tomorrowland. They redid it a little bit and it looks so cool now! Last time we were there I took the exact same photo but instead of holding Kai, I was pregnant with him! You can see the photo comparison over on my Instagram. From there, I actually left Caleb and Kai at the park and headed over to the Grand Floridian where I would be spending the next few hours at the spa! Caleb got me a package for a massage, facial, and pedicure for my birthday. It was such a relaxing few hours and I am forever grateful for the small break to have some time for me and some self care. Caleb had a fun time walking around MK with Kai though and grabbed some lunch at Tony's while I was gone! They met me over at the Grand Floridian when I was all done and Caleb and I ate the leftovers from Tony's for lunch on a bench right next to Bay Lake. It was so peaceful, and honestly romantic because Kai was napping. The whole afternoon this day was so relaxing and special, just what my heart needed.
After we were done eating, we hopped on the monorail to go to Epcot. We headed straight for Frozen Ever After, which was definitely Kai's favorite ride of the whole trip! He sure does love Olaf. We then just walked around the World Showcase and grabbed a bunch of different kinds of food as our dinner for that night. We headed back to our hotel early that night because Kai was showing signs of having caught a cold and we were both pretty tired from a long and exciting trip.
Mickey Shirt - Target (no longer available, similar) | Khaki Shorts - Carters | Mickey Moccasins - Freshly Picked
Striped Mickey Shirt - Uniqlo | Khaki Shorts - JCrew Factory | Glitter Sneakers - Bibbidi Bobbidi Bling | Purple Glitter Ears - Walt Disney World | Ring Sling (Summer) - Wildbird (no longer available) | Blue Spirit Jersey - Pretty Little Monograms (no longer available)
Mickey Shirt - Amazon | Khaki Shorts - Banana Republic
Day 7 - Magic Kingdom
We spent our last and final day at Magic Kingdom. We had planned on going back to Epcot but the day before we decided there was still more we wanted to do at Magic Kingdom over Epcot. We had a nice slow morning at our resort of eating at our cafeteria there and dropped our bags off for the Disney Magical Express to take them to the airport for us. We then headed over to MK where we just spent the day roaming around, grabbed some chicken and waffles from Sleepy Hollow (oh my gosh, so delicious by the way!), went on the Teacups and Dumbo again, and got another special ice cream cone called the Adventure is Out There Cone. You can get it from Auntie's Galactic over in Tomorrowland. We ended our time at Magic Kingdom by watching the Festival of Fantasy Parade with a churro.
Mickey Sweatshirt (gifted, unsure of source - sorry!) | Mickey Jeans - Zara (old, similar) | Mickey Oxfords - Freshly Picked | Mickey Hat - Walt Disney World
Wonderland Shirt - The Lost Bros | Castle Leggings - Happily Ever Tees (no longer available) | Glitter Sneakers - Bibbidi Bobbidi Bling | Hot Pink Glitter Ears - Disneyland Tokyo
Peter Pan Shirt - TommyRoseLane | Blue Mickey Pullover - Walt Disney World | Navy Shorts - Target (old, similar)
This was by far the best vacation and trip to Disney we've ever had. If you are wondering if it's worth it to take your babies to Disney, our answer is 100%. Kai is what made this trip beyond special and it's a trip I will cherish forever. Thanks again Disney, for all the magic and memories!
To keep the magic alive, I'll be posting more photos from our trip on my Instagram probably until our next trip, ha! AND to share the magic, I will be announcing a little GIVEAWAY over on my Instagram later today! Make sure you're following along so you can win something extra special that I picked up from Walt Disney World!
Happy Monday and MLK Day everyone! I have the day off of work today and am just embracing my time at home with Kai. We didn't do a whole lot this weekend because we got hit with a huge blizzard on Friday/Saturday, so we've pretty much just been cozied up at home all weekend. We ventured out for a little bit yesterday to go to the Garfield Park Conservatory in the city to do Kai's 1 year old photos! I seriously can't wait to get them back, I just know they are going to be the most gorgeous set of photos. We did make a lot of progress on organizing our office though and it finally feels like a place I can work and be inspired in. In fact, I'm actually typing this at our desk in our office right now and it feels so good! I can't wait to show you all the full transformation of it soon!
Today I want to share with you all my most used travel apps I use on my phone. Using resources like books and apps are some of my best ways for planning and having a great time on our trips. I keep a little EXPLORE folder on my phone with all of my travel apps in it to keep them organized in a place where I can easily find them. And as an FYI, all these apps are free. Alright, so here we go!
I prefer Google Maps to Apple Maps (I have an iPhone), especially when we are traveling. Reason being is that I like to favorite all of the places we are planning on going when we are traveling and they show up as little yellow stars on my map when I open the app. This makes it so easy to find everything and map out routes on how to get from place to place, especially if you're walking. I can also just tap the star and the place will pop up for me to click for directions, too.
I do most of my hotel bookings through Expedia. I personally like the layout of the app the most compared to all the other ones out there like Kayak of Booking.com. I also just feel like I get the best deals through Expedia.
This app is Chicago specific. In order to get around Chicago via public transport, you need to have a Ventra card. This app allows me to refill my account and look up train schedules for all of the lines on the CTA. If you don't live in Chicago and are visiting, I highly suggest this one!
This app is a lifesaver and probably my favorite travel app ever. We use this app all the time to finding parking spots everywhere. We use it every time we drive in to Chicago or Milwaukee, we've used it in Portland and Seattle, etc. The way it works is you type in your destination and it finds you all the available parking lots or garages near your destination and gives you pricing for the time slot you've filled in. We've saved so much money using this app with parking in Chicago. They always have discounted rates for garages in Chicago...I'm talking like we pay $18 for a spot that would normally be $40! Best app ever.
This app is a little specific to us because we always fly Southwest. We personally feel like we always get the best rates through Southwest and like that there are no baggage fees or change of flight fees. I like having their app on my phone especially for checking in for our flights since we have to do it 24 hours in advance to get a good seat (well we don't HAVE to now thanks to family boarding). I also like it just simply for looking up flights for upcoming trips. However, whatever airline you prefer the most, I suggest downloading their app and having it in your travel folder on your phone so you can easily look up flights and check in for your flights on your phone, too.
Skyscanner is another cool one. This app helps you find the cheapest possible flights out there (including Southwest flights!) Apps like Expedia never include Southwest which is always a bummer since that's who we fly with the most! A lot of times though if I'm traveling alone I like to just look up the cheapest airfare and will deal with flying something else besides Southwest since they only fly out of Midway and we live a lot closer to O'Hare. But anyways, you can find some insane deals on this app. Another cool feature of it too is you can pick a date range or a month and "fly anywhere" and it will show you the cheapest rates to everywhere in the US. So if you're in the mood for a little getaway but you don't know where to go, this is a fun little feature to try out! It might spark an idea for a place you didn't even have on your radar.
We're more of a rent a car or take public transit people but if you need to hire a car, Lyft is great. We use Lyft over Uber because you have to go through Lyft for the Minnie vans at Disney World. (A Minnie van is those cute red with polk dot cars at Disney that take you from resort to resort or to the parks so you don't have to use the bus system). This is a great option to save time at Disney because their bus system doesn't take you from resort to resort.
Disney World (My Experience App)
Speaking of Disney...I always have the Disney World My Experience App on my phone. This app shows you everything for your Disney World trips from your hotel reservation, FastPasses, photos from your trip, and dining reservations. You can update all your trip info on the app, too, and make FastPass selections on it. One of the coolest things about the app too is you can see ride wait times! Plus there is a great map of all the parks on the app for easy navigating.
This app is a great one for making dining reservations. They have a huge network of restaurants all over! You can easily search for a specific restaurant or you can search in the area you're in and a whole list of restaurants will pop up. They have reviews and information on all restaurants and you can see most menus on the app, too. They give you all available times for reservations and ask if you need any special accommodations. The best part though is with each reservation you make and honor you rack up points, which eventually turns back in to money!
What is your all time favorite travel app that you have on your phone? Share with me below in the comments!
Hellooooo 2019! I absolutely love the start of a new year. There's something so light and amazing about the week of New Years. I hope you all had a relaxing holiday yesterday and are ready to take on this year!
So for the last few years I've ditched the idea of resolutions and goals. I use to make a nice long list of things I wanted to do and accomplish each year but the problem I use to have with that is that life changes over 12 months. Sometimes a little or sometimes a lot. So when I would go back to reflect on the year I'd look at my resolutions or goals and think about how I didn't really accomplish them 100% because I either forgot about them or they just aren't relevant anymore. I settled on this idea of picking a word or phrase at the start of the year that I feel like my life needs more of and I concentrate on applying it to my life all year long. Last year the phrase was 'go with the flow.' I'm sure you recognize it because I mentioned it all the time. I still plan on continuing to incorporate that mentality in my life but with the start of a new year I'm adding a new word to my life and that word is 'REFRESH.'
I know you're probably thinking, "wow Diana, new year, yeah it's refreshing...how groundbreaking." But stay with me here. We accumulate a lot of clutter in our lives in all areas from things in our homes to emotions we feel about past events. I had a heavy year in 2018 and it's not that I want to just forget about all that happened last year but I do feel the need to purge and at the same time not let 2019 build up on me. I don't want to purge all that is weighing down on me from the past just to replace it with what might happen in the future.
This idea of 'refresh' for me is starting out by quite literally getting rid of what I don't need and use from things, people, emotions, thoughts, etc. I spent my whole winter break purging unneeded things from our house. I've started meditating again to get in touch with my emotions and thoughts. I want to concentrate on things that serve me and keep me motivated to be the best human I can be. I want to stay in touch with what is important to me and let the rest go. I plan to continually check in with myself on all aspects of life to 'refresh' all the time. Just the thought of this word makes me feel light and happy, which I've been needing for awhile now. I am so excited to be on this journey in 2019. I hope you feel just as hopeful for 2019 and can't wait to hear all your words, goals, and resolutions, too! Happy New Year, everyone!
Happy New Years Eve, everyone! I hope you all have the perfect plans for ringing in the new year! Whether it be at a big party or cozied up at home, do whatever your heart calls for. For us, we'll be cozied up at home, eating Chinese food, and having a game night. It's our favorite way to bring in a new year.
I've done a lot of "reflecting" on this past year this whole month of December. The best way to describe this year is that it was very complicated. It was the best year and the worst year. You might be asking, how is that even possible? Well I was blessed with the greatest gift of my life in 2018, the birth of Kai but was also stripped of one of the most important people in my life in 2018 by the death of my dad. If that doesn't make a year complicated, I don't know what does. The ultimate up and down. I've had many people say man you've had a rough year or this was the worst year ever, but I will never say that. Even though the passing of my dad was the hardest thing I've ever had to go through, Kai being born is still the biggest shining star of the year...my life really. So in a way, it's still the best year.
As much as I'm looking forward to 2019 beginning, I'm actually scared for it. New Years Day is probably my favorite day of the year. I love that feeling of new and fresh. You get to "start over," right? While I'm still so excited for that and all the new goals and accomplishments that will come in the new year, I'm also sad to leave 2018. I'm not ready to start a whole new chapter without my dad. When the clock strikes midnight tonight, we'll be in a new year where my dad will never be. But that's life. You have to roll with the punches and make the best of the situation you're handed. I'm trying to hang on to the thoughts that he's not going to be forgotten...ever. But it's still scary to think that a new year is starting tomorrow without him. It makes all this even more final. I'm so ready for the pain and hurt to go away from his passing, but I'm not ready to say goodbye. But life is forcing me to wave goodbye to 2018 and move on a little more.
The other thing that 2019 brings is Kai turning 1. Which is so exciting! But it's also another point of sadness for me. I plan to stop breastfeeding at the 12 month mark and for some reason this is so hard on my heart. It's such a special bond we have together. He's literally lived off of me for almost 2 years now and to think that he no longer will need that brings a lot of sadness to me. There is so much to look forward to with him turning 1, but on this last day of 2018, I am going to hold on to his babiness as much as I possibly can.
As for my 2018 mantra of going with the flow, I think I rocked this. I use to be such a stringent planner and I look back and laugh at myself. I started the year out real strong with going with the flow. I allowed myself to slow down, go in to labor naturally even though I wanted so bad to be in control and know when Kai would arrive. I went with the flow of that historic day in my life too of becoming a mother by trusting my body, my doctor, and the universe to safely bring Kai in to this world no matter what it took or how long it took. I allowed myself to enjoy his newborn stage so well and really bond with him with no expectations of being super mom or adventuring too much. I had a small hiccup mid-year with my bout of PPD, but I give myself grace when I think about this period because it's not my fault. My brain literally was not working the way it needed to in order to function properly and I needed help. Thankfully I got that help and was able to move past it fairly quickly. Most importantly though, I did my absolute best with my dad. I was there for him whenever he needed me, but I was able to keep rolling with life of being a mom, a wife, kicking ass at my job, and still took care of myself. I wouldn't have been able to handle all of it if I wasn't able to let go of things and go with the flow of each and every day. I didn't care if I didn't fold the laundry that exact day or if I didn't finish tidying up the house before bed. There is always tomorrow for those things and that mentality allowed me space for the things that really mattered. Kai, Caleb, and my dad.
I am very grateful for this year of growth and I am also thankful to all of you who are here. Whether you joined me on this journey in 2018 or if you've been here all along and stuck around through this complicated year. Thank you. I hope you all can look back on 2018 with a smile, too and I wish you all the best in the new year!
Metra - This train takes you to and from the suburbs of Chicago in to the city as well as along the lakefront within the city. It's one of the easiest ways to get in to the city if you are staying out in the suburbs and a great way to avoid the awful Chicago traffic.
CTA - This train primarily runs within the city limits of Chicago, but there are a few lines that run out in to the suburbs...the most convenient one being the Blue Line that will take you to O'Hare International Airport. It's only $2.50 to ride one way on the CTA with free transfers to each of the different lines. There are stations all throughout the city. This is the easiest and cheapest way to get around Chicago. You'll need a Ventra card to ride the CTA, but they are easy to get at any of the stations.
Pace - This is Chicago's bus system, which also runs on the Ventra card. There are bus stops all over the city and will take you just about anywhere you need to go, including the suburbs. This is a slower option of transportation though since you'll have to deal with traffic. But it's still better than driving yourself! The cool thing about Pace is they have special buses that will take you to Cubs games, Sox games, and Bears games from the Schaumburg and Lombard hubs if you're out in the suburbs.
Art Institute of Chicago - Chicago's amazing art museum. General admission for adults is $25 and children under 13 are free. They have special admission prices for teens and seniors, as well, which is $19. You can see some amazing pieces of art here including A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, American Gothic by Grant Wood, and The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso. They always have special exhibits going on, as well.
The Field Museum - This is Chicago's museum of natural history. Basic admission is $24 for adults and $17 for children 3-11 years old. There is so much rich history at this museum including a massive dinosaur exhibit, history of the Pacific, and Ancient Egypt. This is home of Sue the dinosaur, who now has her very own exhibit! You can also see Lucy, the famous Australopithicus.
Shedd Aquarium - Chicago's aquarium! General admission for adults is $39.95 and $29.95 for children ages 3-11. Experience all the amazing fish and sea creatures including penguins, dolphins, and sharks. There is a fun dolphin show that runs all day long as well as many special exhibits.
Adler Planetarium - Chicago's space museum. General admission for adults is $12 and $8 for children ages 3-11. Explore the wonders of space through shows, exhibits and events. A big highlight of this space museum is the Mission Moon exhibit that is currently open!
Museum of Science and Industry - This is Chicago's science museum. General admission for adults is $21.95 and $12.95 for children ages 3-11. This museum is so great for kids because it is very interactive and a fun way for them to learn. They always have amazing extra exhibits and IMAX shows, too! A couple of the permanent exhibits that are worth noting are the spinning vortex, the model train, and the U-505 submarine.
Navy Pier - This fun attraction is a pier out on Lake Michigan. There are tons of restaurants, shops, mini golf, and a Ferris wheel that you can ride to see some amazing views of the lake and city. They also have massive exhibition halls that always have something going on in them, too. Whether it's a sports tournament or a special exhibit, it's worth checking out.
Millennium Park - This park is where The Bean is! It's an iconic spot in Chicago and fun to take pictures at. There is also a beautiful garden to walk through, a great cafe, and ice skating during the winter months! Ice skating is free and you can rent skates for $12. They also have a big lawn area where you can sit and relax to enjoy concerts that go on at the amphitheater and there is a fountain area in the summer for kids to run around in to cool off on hot summer days.
Sky Deck at Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower to us Chicagoans) - The Sky Deck is located at the top of the Sears Tower and offers incredible views of Chicago. They installed The Ledge a few years ago where you can walk out in to a glass box that hovers 100 stories above the city. You can look straight down and see the Chicago River.
Lincoln Park Zoo - This free zoo is located right in the heart of the city and is a fun one to do with the kids! You can walk around and see all the animals and it's the perfect size. During the holiday season, they have a special event every night called Zoo Lights, where the whole zoo is lit up to celebrate the holiday season.
Garfield Park Conservatory - This indoor botanical garden is fun to walk around in, especially in the winter. It's a nice break from the cold + it's free!
where to eat + drink
breakfast + brunch + coffee
The Doughnut Vault ( 401 N Franklin St.) - The best doughnuts in Chicago! They have a simple menu + specials every day.
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits (2051 N California Ave.) - Great biscuits for breakfast, great pies for later. Delicious coffee + amazing jams.
avec (615 W Randolph St.) - A perfect spot for Sunday brunch serving Mediterranean style food. The bacon wrapped dates are a top 5 food item of all time for me.
Miller's Pub (134 S Wabash Ave.) - A Chicago institution serving the best burgers. Standard American fare done so well.
Lou Malnatis (1120 N State St.) - Best pizza joint in Chicago. The original spot for deep dish pizza. Sausage deep dish is our favorite!
Cindy's (12 S Michigan Ave.) - A swanky rooftop spot overlooking Michigan Ave. Amazing views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. What's even more amazing is their food...especially the lobster roll.
Tortoise Supper Club (350 N State St.) - Our favorite dinner spot in Chicago. A traditional American fare spot with a nice intimate feel. The food is the best in the city, especially the Berkshire pork chop.
Quartino (626 N State St.) - The best Italian food in the city. All served family style for sharing. There's nothing on the menu that isn't a 10 out of 10. All their pastas are made in house and I honestly can't pick a favorite!
Frontera Grill (445 N Clark St.) - The famous Rick Bayless Mexican restaurant. Their enchiladas are mouth watering and their margaritas are perfection. + the chips & salsa & guac are phenomenal.
Garrett's Popcorn (4 E Madison St.) - The best gourmet popcorn you'll ever have. Get the a large bag of Chicago mix and walk over to Millennium Park to sit and enjoy. Be careful though...the whole bag will be gone before you know it!
Original Ferrara Bakery (2210 W Taylor St.) - This 100 year old Italian bakery is the real deal. I personally think they are better than what you'll find in Italy! The tiramisu and canolis are the best we've ever had.
Alliance Patissere (615 N State St.) - A little French bakery with great macarons. They serve Collectivo coffee and is a fun little spot to pop in to for some sweets any time of the day.
cocktails + bars
Andy's Jazz Club (11 E Hubbard St) - A jazz club with a full bar and menu. Enjoy some drinks and listen to some spectacular jazz music.
Three Dots & a Dash (435 N Clark St.) - A fun little underground tiki bar! They serve some elaborately decorated drinks that are so yummy. It's worth booking a reservation to get a table so you can check out their food menu, too. The pork sliders are amazing.
Watershed (601 N State St.) - This basement cocktail bar is our favorite in the city. It's located underneath Pops for Champagne...another great bar, but they serve all local Midwest spirits, beers, and wines. It's a swanky local watering hole of sorts. It's nice and intimate and the perfect spot for great drink and conversation with good company.
where to stay
The Palmer House (17 E Monroe St.) - A beautiful Hilton hotel located in the Loop. Just a few steps away from Michigan Ave and Grant Park.
Sheraton Grand Chicago (301 E N Water St.) - The perfect spot to be if you love to shop. This hotel is right off the Magnificent Mile.
I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
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