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Polar Vortex Armchair Travel

Trying to stay warm? Add another log to the fire and indulge in a bit of armchair travel curtsey of Kendra Thornton, fulltime mom of three and former Orbitz Director of Corporate Communications.

Kendra is currently collaborating with bloggers to highlight hometowns around the country. She suggested we share our favorite things about her hometown and mine.

Stay tuned at the end of this post for my favorite things about Edmonds.

But first, here is Kendra’s introduction to Chicago:

Chicago Beach

Chicago Beach


The Local Experience For Your Visit to Chicago, by Kendra Thornton

Chicago is home to some of the world’s most famous landmarks, sports teams and chefs, but if you ask people what they like most about this city, you’ll probably get “how nice everyone is.” Chicagoans have a lot of time to bond during the harsh winter seasons and enjoyable summers, but it’s also because this Midwestern metropolis has some incredible arts and culture, restaurants, architectural wonders and luxurious hotels for pretty affordable prices. In fact, many of the sights are free to enjoy. Here are some of the best places to check out when you’re visiting Chicago and want a genuine local experience.

Ah, That Bascule Bridge in Downtown

The Michigan Avenue Bridge is a rather famous landmark for Chicago being that another one of its names is the “City of Bridges.” However, the Michigan Avenue Bridge is arguably the most famous one. It was finished in 1920 and features impressive sculptures on four pylons that recall major Chicago events like the Fort Dearborn Massacre of 1812. The bridge goes across the Chicago River in downtown. It’s a great place to walk for an afternoon or at least take a ride to get to connecting parts of downtown.

Chi Boat Tour

Chi Boat Tour

Restoring the Beauty in Chicago

It was once a wasteland, but in 1997, Mayor Richard Daley decided to change something about downtown Chicago that had been forgotten about. He took an area that had been abandoned and gave it a purpose. Now it’s known as Millennium Park. This public park is now the heart of the city. It features modern architectural pieces, sculptures, landscape design and all kinds of art. There are also a few different free cultural programs to enjoy every week. If you want an afternoon to explore and take photos, Millennium Park is one of the best places to do it in Chicago.

A Place for Chefs

Chicago is well known for its food. No one can deny the goodness of a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, but when you’re looking for variety, there’s no end to the type of restaurants that you’ll find across Chicago. The South Water Kitchen is one of the most ideal places to catch breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it’s located right in the Loop. The chef is a native Chicagoan, so the menu is mostly American classic fare. However, you’ll find something for every kind of eater in your party, particularly if you have some children traveling with you. The restaurant is open for early breakfast at 6 AM as well, and it has pretty fair prices for the amount of food.

The Chicago Skyline at Night and Where to Stay

If you’re going to visit Chicago, you’ll be upset if you miss the chance to see the Chicago skyline. There are a few hotels in downtown that can provide you with this incredible view. The Drake Hotel is a historic spot to stay that is also quite luxurious, but if you want to compare all of the different luxury hotels and check out ratings, you can use a site like Gogobot.com to find the right hotel. It’s easy-to-use and has all of the different Chicago neighborhoods to select from so you find the ideal place to stay.

Now here’s a little bit about my hometown, Edmonds, WA:

Merry Christmas from Edmonds!

The Edmonds-Kingston Ferry

Welcome to Edmonds, by Jennifer Bardsley

Everyone has heard of Seattle, but do you know about Edmonds, the quaint little town in Washington State that’s thirty minutes north of the Space Needle? With a population of about 40,000 people, Edmonds is hometown to such notable figures as Rick Steves, Rosalynn Sumners and Anna Farris. Edmonds boasts mountain views, art galleries and beaches. Parking is plentiful, and there are activities for every price point and age level.

A walk down Main Street is a great place to start. Here are some family favorites:

Nama’s Candy Store on 5th Avenue is an old time candy store that smells good as soon as you open the door.  They sell bags of taffy for as little as a dollar, plus they have old fashioned candy sticks for ten cents each.  So no matter what your allowance, there is fun to be had.

Also on 5th Avenue is Baicha Tearoom. Four dollars will get you a huge pot of tea to share with your whole family. Another four dollars will buy my daughter’s favorite lunch of all time: a sandwich, grapes, and her own personal pot of hot chocolate.

If you are in the mood for a healthy treat, try out Revelations Yogurt on Main Street. My kids love Revelations because they get to taste all of the different frozen yogurts available, and then serve themselves. There is also an extensive topping bar full of candy and fresh fruit. You pay by the ounce at Revelations, and the prices are comparable with Dairy Queen.

Down the street from Revelations Yogurt is Teri’s Toybox, an Edmond’s icon. You won’t find any junky toys in Teri’s Toybox, just classic toys and cool things from Europe. But FYI! Don’t take kids into Teri’s Toybox unless they each have ten dollars to spend. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for drama.

Glazed & Amazed is also on Main Street, and is a really fun place to go with kids of all ages. It’s a paint-your-own-pottery store that also offers the opportunity to do fused glass. My kids know that a trip to Glazed & Amazed is a really big treat because it costs about fifteen to twenty dollars a kid. (There are less expensive options to paint, but the piggy banks are hard to say no to.) Another fun thing about Glazed & Amazed is keeping an eye out for the store cat.

If there is a particular place on this list that you really want to see, be sure to check the store hours before you visit. At the time of this blog post, Nama’s Candy Store is closed on Mondays and Baicha Tearoom is closed on Sundays. Revelations Yogurt usually isn’t open until noon on most weekdays in the winter.

But guess what’s open every day of the week? Brackett’s Landing. This is one of my favorite Puget Sound beaches and it is right by the Edmonds ferry dock. Even when it is pouring down rain, it is fun to park the car and watch the ferry come and go. If you’re lucky, you might even see a train go by.

Olympic Mountain View

Olympic Mountains

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