5 Chicago Havens for the Design-Obsessed

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5 Chicago Havens for the Design-Obsessed

Sarah Bernhardt famously said, "I adore Chicago. It is the pulse of America" and we couldn't agree more. After a pretty brief first visit, we left wanting so much more...more of the eye catching skylines, more delectable dining, more rooftop-drinking and more coffee shop sipping. That said, if your heart swells at impeccable design and visual bounty, here are a handful of essential stops whether you are working in or passing through the Windy City. 


1. THE HOLLANDER

The Hollander: 2022 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 | @thehollandergh

A unique combination of hotel, hostel, and hip coffee shop, The Hollander is the picture-perfect hangout. Serving a limited selection of handpicked teas and coffee, the raw interior invites you to linger and read, work, and/or play any of the board games available for guests (hello Jenga!). With loads of window light pouring in from the street and plenty of stylish yet comfy seating, you won't want to leave but when you do, the surrounding Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood is full of chic restaurants and boutiques within walking distance. 

Raw + chic interior

Raw + chic interior

Love that hexagon tile

Love that hexagon tile


2. 3 ARTS CLUB CAFE

3 Arts Club Cafe: 1300 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60610 

Located in the famed 3 Arts Club Building, (formerly a home and club for Chicago women in the "three arts" of music, painting and drama) the 3 Arts Club Cafe spectacularly blends classic Chicago architecture with luxurious modern design. The original building was designed by legendary Chicago architects Holabird and Roche and retains its structure and opulent vibe. Beyond the Brendan Sodikoff-operated cafe, the building also houses a wine tasting room, music venue, and floors of Restoration Hardware eye candy. The food doesn't disappoint either: classic menu items are presented in their best possible form, no exaggeration here. The simple-looking charcuterie platter had the most buttery-tasting prosciutto and warm rustic bread. Cocktails were created with care and the gooey grilled cheese sandwich might be one of the best executions of a simple childhood staple. (Reservations recommended.)  

Stunning surroundings at 3 Arts Cafe

Stunning surroundings at 3 Arts Cafe

Charcuterie platter with champagne and peach bellini

Charcuterie platter with champagne and peach bellini


3. ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

Art Institute of Chicago: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 | @artinstitutechi

One of the largest and most renowned art museums in the United States, the Art Institute of Chicago sits in the heart of downtown at Grant Park. Founded in 1879, the museum with its new Renzo Piano-designed wing now encompasses a whopping 1 million square feet. With 11 different galleries ranging from Ancient and Byzantine to Architecture and Design, you can either make a day of it, exploring all that this history-rich museum has to offer, or simply focusing on a few galleries and then picnicking outdoors in Millennium Park.

The natural light courtyard here is everything.

The natural light courtyard here is everything.

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4. LINCOLN CONSERVATORY

Lincoln Park Conservatory: 2391 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614 

So. Much. Green. If you happen to be in Chicago during a chilly spring or frigid winter, step into this wonderland of stunning flora and fauna. Although its free to visitors every day, a weekday visit is recommended if possible. Take your time and weave through one of the largest publicly owned conservatories under one roof. The main glass-enclosed greenhouse with its 65-foot ceilings is a stunning sight in itself. There are a few detours, such as the orchid room, succulent room, and a children's garden. Our absolute favorite was the Fern Room, a oasis of vines that simulates the lush environment dinosaurs thrived in during prehistoric Chicago.

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5. THE ROBEY CHICAGO

The Robey: 2018 West North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

When the day is winding down and you are ready to kick your feet up on some 400-thread count sheets and sip some artisanal gin in delightful brass-rimmed cocktail glasses, check into The Robey Chicago. As recent member of the Design Hotels family, you can be sure that every visual and textural detail at The Robey was carefully considered and executed. Despite the cozy size of our room, we were impressed by the layout and shrewd use of limited space. After check-in, head to the rooftop bar Up & Up, a hopping hangout popular with locals where you can take in a 180 degree view of Chicago's famous skyline.

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Hope you get a chance to stop by any of these spots while in town - would love to hear any thoughts and additional recommendations for our next visit!

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Glamping In Style: A Luxurious Adventure in Big Sky, Montana

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Glamping In Style: A Luxurious Adventure in Big Sky, Montana

Path to the communal area at Collective Retreats in Big Sky

Path to the communal area at Collective Retreats in Big Sky

I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.
— John Steinbeck
Stunning views of Lone Peak from Collective Retreats in Big Sky.

Stunning views of Lone Peak from Collective Retreats in Big Sky.

Stacked firewood for those nightly campfires and s'mores. 

Stacked firewood for those nightly campfires and s'mores. 

Every inch of Montana radiates undeniable allure; from the breathtaking landscapes in every direction, the brisk mountain air, and the all-around warmth shared by people who call this magnificent state home. From the moment we arrived in Bozeman, I was taken by the log cabin decor of the airport (fireplace included!) welcoming us into the "The Treasure State". 

In our four days there, we meandered from Bozeman to Pray, south to Yellowstone, and then on to Big Sky to end our trip with a glamping experience with Collective Retreats that we were super excited about. Following the detailed directions we were sent upon booking, we started to wonder what we were getting ourselves into. As we got further away from the main road into Big Sky, we twisted and turned onto bumpy dirt roads and wondered if we were on the right track. We were. When we reached at the landmark described in the email, there they were- our guides from the retreat waiting for our arrival with a golf cart to transport our bags to the campsite as we walked to check in. (We realized later on it wasn't that far of a distance, but it was a nice bit of separation between our car and the campsite.) 

We felt immediately transported into a Wes Anderson film at the lodge, a gigantic tent decked out with string lights, plaid blankets, and eclectic tchotchkes. Then, we were led along the marked path to our tent, passing the spectacular mirrored lake with the clearest views of Lone Peak cutting across the boundless sky. 

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To say we adored our boho-meets-shelter-mag tent would be an understatement. No detail was too small here, from the Moonrise Kingdom-inspired decor to the mix of textured bedding and rugs that made it so cozy and warm. There were so many moments when we were torn between hunkering down in the tent or going outside to bask in the outdoor air.  

First things first, we settled in. We unpacked our snacks and stored them in the bear box provided behind the tent. (Apparently there had been a few bear sightings so we weren't taking any chances). We cracked open a couple cans of our favorite craft brews we discovered during the trip and lounged on the sheepskin rugs, alternating between admiring the decor inside and views outside over a casual game of Gin Rummy. 

Obsessed with the eclectic (and functional) decor on the side tables.

Obsessed with the eclectic (and functional) decor on the side tables.

Pure coziness.

Pure coziness.

Our favorite craft beer of the trip from Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder, CO.

Our favorite craft beer of the trip from Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder, CO.

Cards for the night ahead by the wood burning fireplace in the tent. 

Cards for the night ahead by the wood burning fireplace in the tent. 

Inevitably, there are questions about the bathroom setup at the site. We had own bathroom, directly behind the main tent that might be the most picturesque "outdoor" bathroom ever. Again, all about the details. 

Yes - this is the bathroom, housed in its own tent. 

Yes - this is the bathroom, housed in its own tent. 

Details, details, details. No "roughing it" here. 

Details, details, details. No "roughing it" here. 

A few essentials for our stay.

A few essentials for our stay.

Being completely surrounded by trees, mountains, lake and sky felt extremely therapeutic. Simply sitting on the deck of our tent and gazing at Lone Peak was more than enough for us. There is something about being so captivated by mother nature that makes it easy to disconnect from our digital devices and be present in each other's company. It was almost as if time had stopped and it was solely our little family out in the world.

Whether you're camping or glamping or anything in between, we found that its best not to have much of an agenda after doing all the hard work of planning and making the actual journey. Just letting yourself be guided by intuition, not wearing a watch or phone, challenging yourself to guess time by the position of the sun in the sky, and being aware of how your body is responding to the slower pace- the experience can be one big mind-clearing meditation, your very own mental detox. 

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As the sun started to go down and the Montana sky began its nightly show, we made our way to the main campsite for dinner. Upon check-in, we had ordered the BBQ in a box for two, basically a steak dinner without any of the work. Our box came with a potato salad, pre-seasoned steak, and veggie sides. While we normally enjoy doing all of our bbq prep at home, here we simply threw the steak on the preheated grill and went to watch the sun set over the lake. When we came back to check on the steak, we realized we overcooked it slightly after getting carried away with pictures, but the small trade-off was more than okay. 

We took our time chowing down on steaks while the campfire got prepped. For dessert, our guide brought out s'mores for roasting- not just traditional smores (my personal favorite) but scores of s'more options with peanut butter cups (Aaron's new favorite), Kit Kat and other childhood candies.

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We lingered at the roaring campfire, set against the dramatic backdrop of Big Sky, for as long as Calder let us. After our faces were toasty and our bellies full, we made our way back to the warmth of our tent (the wood burning fireplace was lit and prepped while we were at dinner) and snuggled into the electric blanket tucked underneath the duvet, talking into the night like teenagers.  

Breakast area in the main tent. 

Breakast area in the main tent. 

Our toasty campfire. 

Our toasty campfire. 

Good night and sweet dreams, Montana.

Good night and sweet dreams, Montana.

While glamping can sometimes be the equivalent of a hotel room that happens to be outdoors, there are still a few things I found handy to pack and have on hand...somewhere in between having a few key items to enhance your experience but not going overboard with too much unneeded gear. 

  • Journal + Pen 
  • Your own tea/coffee (if you're picky like me- my morning ritual always involves some some sort of green or jasmine tea) 
  • Camera (Whether you bring an old school point-and-shoot, or full on DSLR, we found it refreshing to put our phones away, but still having something at hand to document our trip)
  • Scented candle (Definitely be aware of where you light the candle but a small scented tealight is always a nice touch to personalizing the space)
  • Wellies / Sneakers / Moccasins (Footwear for inside and outside)
  • Poncho blanket/shawl
  • Thick knit beanie hat
  • Dry Shampoo (When washing your hair just isn't in the cards)
  • Face Wipes 
  • Bug Repellent 
  • Lip Balm (Dry mountain air. Enough said)
  • Layers of clothing
  • Thick Socks
  • Old School Games Twister, Monopoly etc. Nothing better than sitting by the furnace in your tent while the wind is whisking around outside, getting lost in a game of with your loved one(s).

And that's a wrap for this post; would love to hear about your glamping experiences below- off the beaten path sites you've discovered and/or tips you realized along the way!

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24 Hours in Solvang, California: Where To Stay, Eat, and Wine in This Charming Danish Town

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24 Hours in Solvang, California: Where To Stay, Eat, and Wine in This Charming Danish Town

Dusk: Arrival at The Landsby


Sometimes, a speedy jaunt out of town is exactly what your system needs. A brief absence to to recharge, to rejuvenate...One of the best parts about living in Los Angeles is the many possibilities for weekend trips reachable by car.

On a sunny summer Friday, we did just that. Threw a weekend bag into the car and hopped onto the 101. Having made several trips to Santa Ynez already, we didn't feel the need to pack the itinerary with an exhausting amount of to-dos. This particular trip was more about breathing in some fresh country air and returning to Los Angeles rested and renewed. 

After some agonizingly patchy traffic up the 101, we found solace at an awesome boutique hotel, The Landsby, right around dusk. It was a relief to step into the mid-century styled lobby, retrieve our room key and flop onto the luscious king-sized bed. 

Dusk arrival in Solvang.

Dusk arrival in Solvang.

First things first, a drink at the lobby bar at The Landsby.

First things first, a drink at the lobby bar at The Landsby.

Clean and minimal design in the rooms at The Landsby.

Clean and minimal design in the rooms at The Landsby.

Dinner at Mad & Vin Restaurant was one of the best food decisions we made during the trip. We ordered the short rib skillet, the seafood hot pot, and sampled a few local pinots with our entrees. It was the perfect balance of California-inspired cuisine - homey and delicious, bursting with an array of balanced flavors that didn't feel pretentious or "trying too hard". 

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The following morning, breakfast was served in the main dining room, a striking light-filled space with a side patio. Continental style juice and muffins were available for the taking, and protein options could be made to order from the menu. It was a lively scene that ranged from families to new couples on their first LA getaway. 

Continental breakfast options available as part of our stay.

Continental breakfast options available as part of our stay.

The light-filled space transforms into a moody dining room in the evening.

The light-filled space transforms into a moody dining room in the evening.

Love the Scandinavian details and the contrast of light and shadow in the late morning. 

Love the Scandinavian details and the contrast of light and shadow in the late morning. 

The patio is just as well-thought out as the interior. 

The patio is just as well-thought out as the interior. 

Needless to say, we were not in a hurry to leave. After breakfast, we lingered in the lobby that felt more like a well-designed (yet cozy) living room. We admired all of the thoughtful design accents, from the knickknacks on the wall shelving, the hanging succulents, to the Scandinavian bird sculptures by the window. 

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Alas, it was then time to check out so we brought ourselves upstairs to pack up and venture into downtown Solvang. 

The Landsby: 1576 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463 | @thelandsby


10am-Noon: Stroll around downtown Solvang

Founded in 1911, Solvang means "sunny field", and while it is no longer much of a 'field', the sunny description remains. Originally established as a town for Danish immigrants, its unique history, authentic architecture, and prime location (not to mention gorgeous weather) in the fertile Santa Ynez Valley has turned it into an enticing destination for eating, wine tasting, and shopping. 

The quaint streets of downtown Solvang, California.

The quaint streets of downtown Solvang, California.

Our first stop was Copenhagen House, a haven of Scandinavian-designed home goods, beauty products, and accessories. It is located on Copenhagen Drive, which was originally Solvang's Main Street back in the early 1900s when Danish settlers began establishing businesses in this little town away from home. 

With all of the Danish sweets to partake in around town, it can get a bit overwhelming. The family-owned Mortensen's Danish Bakery is a must-stop for traditional pastries. Optional is the Old Danish Fudge Kitchen with heaps of fudge sold by the pound alongside of cotton candy and caramel apples. However, the Aebleskiver, translated as "pancake balls" is not to be missed. It is popular as a Christmas dessert in Denmark but eaten year round in California. Usually a line forms pretty quickly in front of this small window at Solvang Restaurant. 

After sufficiently walking off the sweets and exploring the cobblestone corridors, make your way to a vineyard to lull away the rest of the afternoon away before heading back to Los Angeles

Get in line early for this in-demand Danish delicacy.

Get in line early for this in-demand Danish delicacy.

The famous aebleskiver from Solvang Restaurant, topped with a generous heaping of powdered sugar.

The famous aebleskiver from Solvang Restaurant, topped with a generous heaping of powdered sugar.

One of the signature Solvang landmarks. 

One of the signature Solvang landmarks. 

Indulge your sweet tooth at Mortensen's Danish Bakery.

Indulge your sweet tooth at Mortensen's Danish Bakery.

Solvang Restaurant: 1672 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463

Mortensen's Danish Bakery: 1588 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 9346

Old Danish Fudge Kitchen: 441 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463

Copenhagen House: 1660 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463


1pm - dusk: Rusack Vineyards

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It wouldn't quite be fair to say we saved the best for last, but after a restful night at The Landsby and a languid stroll through downtown Solvang, it doesn't get any better than a crisp bottle of sauvignon blanc enjoyed in the open air at Rusack Vineyards. With ample patio seating as well as space to sprawl on the lawn, the warm and friendly atmosphere is perfect for families, groups, or couples. We brought our go-to picnic blanket and spread our charcuterie out on the lawn, sipping our wine with views of the vineyard it came from right in front of us. 

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It was the perfect end to a brief yet relaxing trip before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. 

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Rusack Vineyards: 1819 Ballard Canyon Rd, Solvang, CA 93463 | @rusackvineyards

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Friday Five: 5 Essential Stops In Santa Monica: part 1

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Friday Five: 5 Essential Stops In Santa Monica: part 1

Sometimes, its easy to take your immediate surroundings for granted, even in a place like Santa Monica, where the ocean air is always evident. For today's Friday Five, I'm excited to share a few of our local favorites; places old and new that we love spending time at over and over again. 


1. Bergamot Station

Bergamot Station: 2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90404 | @platformbergamot

While the east side of Los Angeles tends to get most of the credit for all of the hip, artsy haunts, the west side has it's gem, Bergamot Station, tucked just next to the 10 Freeway. A former railroad station from 1875 to 1953, Bergamot Station debuted its transformation into an art gallery in 1994 after Santa Monica City purchased the land from Southern Pacific Railroad to prevent it from being split up and sold. Now as one of the Metro Stops along the Subway to the Sea, it's possible to see over 40 galleries en route to the beach. Current favorite at time of this post: Moses@90 at William Turner Gallery. With so many galleries in one spot, there is almost always an opening or event happening, attended by lots of westside locals. 

Cool courtyard corner at Robert Berman Gallery

Cool courtyard corner at Robert Berman Gallery

So much light and space at Latin American Masters Gallery

So much light and space at Latin American Masters Gallery


2. Blue Plate Oysterette

Blue Plate Oysterette: 1355 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | @blueplateoysterette

Whenever the seafood (aka oyster) mood strikes, there's no question about where to go. Just minutes away and never disappointing, Blue Plate Oysterette is the go-to restaurant in our household. Sometimes our frequency there alarms us... "Are we becoming creatures of habit?", we wonder...However, each time we place our order of a dozen oysters, the lobster mac, and a crisp glass of wine or prosecco  and settle into the cozy, intimate atmosphere, we are reminded us of why we return again and again. On a gorgeous day (more often than not), sitting on the patio watching the sun set over the Santa Monica Mountains is simply icing on the cake. 

Ocean facing exterior of BP Oysterette.

Ocean facing exterior of BP Oysterette.

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3. LOVE ADORNED

Love Adorned: 2923 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | @loveadorned

While there is no shortage of shopping on Main Street, Love Adorned is in a class of its own. Stepping into this gorgeous boutique is an instant mood-lifter (possibly because of the huge skylight pouring light right into the middle of the store). Sure, it will make you want to redo all of your decor or rearrange your living room, but feeling inspired is one of the best parts about traveling and discovering, whether at home or abroad. Originating in New York by Lori Leven, the eclectic boutique focuses on handcrafted goods both from her own travels and from local artisans. There is also an cactus garden tucked in back with cute outdoor goods displayed along with a little seating area to soak up the Santa Monica sun. 

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4. COAST AT Shutters On The Beach

Shutters On The Beach: 1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | @shuttersca

Whether you're here to grab a cocktail and appetizer or staying at one of the legendary ocean facing rooms, Shutters On The Beach and it's sister property Casa del Mar are two classic beachfront hotels in Santa Monica. Arrive before sunset and snag a seat on the ocean-facing patio with a drink (maybe two) in hand and observe the beach goers, bike riders, rollerbladers and surfers reveling in that so-cal lifestyle. California-inspired bites like spicy guac and roasted rainbow cauliflower are available as you linger over one of the best happy hours on the West Coast.  

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Mini lobster rolls from the lobby bar menu

Mini lobster rolls from the lobby bar menu


5. TWILIGHT CONCERTS AT THE PIER

Twilight Concert Series: Santa Monica Pier | @santamonicapier

There's nothing quite like that gold-hued Southern California light at dusk that exists only on the West Coast. No matter many beach visits we've clocked or how many times we've seen the hazy outline of the pier and the mountains behind it, that light has the power to reenergize and reinspire. And to be in it's presence during live music is even better. Every Thursday from July to September, the Twilight Concert series at the pier draws locals and tourists who picnic and gather on the sand for free music by renowned artists (this year's lineup included indie faves Mayer Hawthorne and Unknown Mortal Orchestra), a truly memorable experience. 

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@hammockliving at Santa Monica Pier

@hammockliving at Santa Monica Pier


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