Michigan Wineries

Hello Loves,

I’m a natural born wanderer. I want to travel as far as the eye can see and completely immerse myself in as many cultures that I can get my hands on. Aspirational trips include Italy, Greece, Morocco, France, Spain. The mere thought of exploring lands across the pond makes my heart explode. It’s like a dream or a fantasy.

Realistically though, I do have a full-time job, responsibilities at home and my bank account would weep numerous tears, so I improvise. In order to feed my traveling soul, I often have to remind myself that there are countless destinations right here in the U.S., heck even in the Midwest that are both beautiful and enriching. That’s why when my mom wanted to travel up to Michigan for the day to go on a winery trip, I was the first to volunteer as tribute.

Going up to Michigan is always a treat. I honestly think their wineries are impeccable. You can drive through fields and fields of grapevines and going this time of the year allows you to experience early Fall foliage. I would say that I make a trip up to explore Michigan wineries about 5 times a year. It’s one of the easiest ways to escape daily life and not have to travel that far away. Since we go so often, I have developed quite the laundry list of some of my favorite wineries to stop at on our excursions. Here are my top 5 favorite wineries in Michigan if you are thinking of taking a weekend trip anytime soon!

1. Tabor Hill: An elegant, yet relaxed venue with expansive vineyard views, delectable wine tasting and dining options and beaming with natural light. I love doing a tasting at the bar, sitting outside with a charcuterie spread and then wandering the grounds lined with grape plants. I recommend tasting the Classic Demi-Sec (their best-selling wine) and the Pinot Blanc. You will love it here, it’s a little taste of heaven.

2. St. Julian: This is the oldest winery in Michigan, and you can definitely tell given their outstanding hospitality while you enjoy a tasting of six award-winning wines. The staff currently servicing customers are 3rd and 4th generation wine makers and let me tell you they’ve perfected the art over time. The tasting room is nothing special, although, they do have a cute little seating area outside if you visit during the warmer months. Enjoy the Gruner Veltliner and the Chancellor wines while perusing the store tasting nibbles of homemade jams, sauces and salsas along the way.

3. White Pine: White Pine winery is situated in one of my favorite towns in the U.S. St. Joe, Michigan is one of the cutest, quaintest, seaside town I’ve ever been to. Streets are lined with cafes, boutiques, home décor shops and obviously choice wineries. It almost looks like one of those East Coast towns from a Halloween movie where everyone knows everyone, where it’s charming but a little spooky. White Pine is one of the better wineries I’ve been to in St. Joe. It’s small on the inside, but the flavors pack a punch. My personal favorite, not available on the tasting menu but you can sample if you make friends with the ladies behind the counter, is a warm, malt wine It literally reminded me of Christmas in a glass. We bought the malt wine kit and I CANNOT wait to whip it up on the first snowfall this year!!

4. Round Barn: If I’m being completely, 100% honest, this place is not one of my favorites in terms of their wine BUT it is hands down the best place to go for the entire experience. Go with a group and make a reservation to do a private tasting upstairs in the actual round barn. It is absolutely beautiful. You get 7 tastings in total, 5 wines, 1 vodka (which they make from grapes) and then a creamy dessert-style wine. I think the best time to go to Round Barn is in the Summer because their property is so enormous that they constantly have things going on like pop-up boutiques, festivals and live music. There are tons of places to sit outside if after your tasting you want to buy a bottle and enjoy some food truck magic. I could easily spend a whole day here. My favorite wine on their whole tasting list is their Sauvignon Blanc.

5. Shady Creek: Shady Creek Winery is actually located in Michigan City, IN but is a great pit stop location on your way up to Michigan since it’s so close to a lot of the wineries listed above. The building is cute on the inside and if you have a big enough group, you can reserve a private room right off the main tasting room. You have the opportunity to sample six different wines while visiting and I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with any of them. I love the wild, eclectic names the wines have, some of my favorites include T-Wave and Beach Glass. The food here is also another staple as I recommend having the flatbread pizza and getting the meat and cheeses plate.

Finding places to travel to right outside of your hometown is kind of like fining a hidden treasure. It really isn’t all about flying thousands of miles just to get away but finding an oasis close to home allows you to escape more often for less. With the crazy busy, work-driven lives we lead, we need something we enjoy to take our minds off of things just for a bit. For me, that’s enjoying nice wines in a beautiful state. I’d love to know if you have found any other great wineries in Michigan or what your hidden gem travel spots are near where you live! If you travel to any of the above place, I’d also love to know what you think!


Why Macao?

Hello Loves,

Before last night, I was completely in the dark about Macao. I had no idea where it was, what it had to offer or even what it was if I’m being completely honest. About a week ago, I got an email inviting me to an influencer event to celebrate Art Macao right here in the heart of Chicago. Upon further research, I discovered that Art Macao is a five-month international arts and cultural event in which visual arts and works are presented across various exhibition venues in Macao. It is currently taking place now through October of this year. This all sounded wonderful. I was so honored to be invited to such an event and was excited to learn more, but I could have never imagined the wonderfulness that I was going to be exposed to. If you have seen my Instagram Stories, you can probably tell I am OBSESSED!

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Macao is a part of China actually just a quick road trip away from Hong Kong. Until 1999, Macao was under Portugal’s rule. That is why Macao is so heavily imbued with Portuguese style architecture, and it’s also where the first fusion food was created. Macao is the perfect blend of Portuguese and Chinese cultures and offers many amazing opportunities to experience the combination of both. It is the second richest territory in the world, the fastest growing travel destination in the world with over 200,000 Americans traveling there annually AND has over 12 Michelin-starred restaurants and 19 Michelin-recommended street food options. If that isn’t enough to pique your interest, Macao is also home to the world’s highest commercial bungee jump and the world’s longest lazy river. I mean this place literally has everything!! After learning all of this incredibly appealing information, Macao has quickly worked its way up to the top of my travel bucket list.

Last night’s event only intensified this wanting to travel there. It was the perfect opportunity to network with like-minded people, my kind of people, and be completely immersed in Macanese culture. We were offered authentic Macanese bites and sipped on bubbles while touring the Zhou B Foundation and Life Garden space. After an insightful and inspiring walk through Macanese culture by our amazing hosts, Mina Hsing, a famous artist, guided us through our own Art Macao painting of the famous A-Ma Temple. Painting may not be my forte, but it was so fun to sit together and hear stories of our host’s own travels to this hot spot. We all even got to take home hand painted fans with our names on them.

As traveling has been such a priority of mine in 2019, the travel bug inside of me was dancing and jumping around the entire evening. Not only did I get to add a new travel destination to my ever-growing bucket list, but I also got to meet a ton of boss babes in the process. If you are narrowing down options for your next trip, I highly recommend doing some research and putting Macao on that list! They have quite the list of exciting activities happening through the rest of 2019 and into 2020, including the opening of the Palazzo Versace and Karl Lagerfeld hotels, the annual Fireworks Display Contest takes place in September and Grand Prix in November. This is a place that is always celebrating, and that is something I can definitely get on board with!


Top 10 Rosé All Day Chicago Spots

Dear Fellow Chicagoans (or people traveling to Chicago soon),

Whenever I’m traveling and say I’m from Chicago, I often get asked the question “how do you survive those winters?” The reason I’m so passionate about Chicago and tough it through our brutal winters is because when the harsh months are a thing of the past, we can truly say that we’ve earned our Summer. And there is no better place in the world to be than in Chicago during Summertime. From beaches to parks, downtown to quaint neighborhoods, Chicago has it all. One of the best things to do in the city during the Summer is walk around until you find the perfect patio to set up camp at for the afternoon and sip on your favorite rosé. Okay, maybe that’s just me, but if it isn’t and you’re looking for the top spots in the city to rosé all day, I have curated a list of my top bucket list destinations for the perfect, crisp glass of blush-colored wine. I’d also love to know where you’ve been celebrating rosé season this year, so put some place down below in the comments!

1. Cindy’s Rooftop // Instagram

The highly-coveted Cindy’s rooftop bar and restaurant on the 13th floor of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel in the loop has been on my bucket list for quite some time now. The panoramic views of the city, overlooking Millennium Park, are just to die for. Not only do they have a rotating large-format list of cocktails and premium food options, but they also offer a variety of select rosés, perfect for those hot Summer nights. I hear getting in here can be a real pain, so make sure to reserve a spot as soon as you are considering. The high prices can also deter people away, so perhaps save this spot for a really special occasion.

2. Katana Chicago // Instagram

Katana Chicago is a chic, upscale Japanese eatery offering a robust menu including sushi and modern cocktails. This place was never on my radar until this year. I have followed a local PR agency called Monica Dixon PR and Katana happens to be one of their clients. The reason this hip spot caught my eye was because of their Rosé Friday specials. Bottomless fountains and rosé specials from 4-7pm every Friday to kick off your weekend with a bang. The menu looks inventive and eclectic, all up my alley, but again this is probably another place you’d want to reserve for a really special occasion.

3. Hampton Social // Instagram

I mean how could I not include this place on my list, it literally has a “Rosé all day” neon sign right in the dining room. This place has all of the iconic, East Coast vibes, which is perfect for a hot Summer afternoon. Many sources online revealed that The Hampton Social actually has ½ off rosé of the day Monday-Friday during their Happy Hour which runs from 3-6pm. I included this one because although I’ve never been there, it seems like one of those Instagrammable staples you have to try at least once in your life.

4. Beatnik on the River // Instagram

So I actually have been here before, but I just HAD to include it because it truly is that good. From the Spanish and Mediterranean décor, fringe umbrellas, colorful upholstery, this place is like magic. It offers up some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had in my life, which comes in small plates so you can try a little bit of everything. I’m telling you from an insider’s perspective, get the fried rice and the curry meatballs. The rosé selection is also abundant with options from all over the world making it, in my opinion, the perfect place to drink pink! Grab your girlfriends, your cameras, get there early to snag a prime spot and spend the entire afternoon here.

5. Parlor Pizza // Instagram

I have also been here, but thought it was a great place to include on this list for a couple of different reasons. One, the patio at this West Loop location is just unparalleled especially in this area. The patio is huge and has such a vibrant energy that makes it the perfect place for a Happy Hour after work or to hang at on the weekends. Two, the specialty pizzas are out of this world good. With a wide variety, there’s something on the menu for everyone in your party. And three, the rosé drink I always gravitate towards here is actually Frosé. For those unfamiliar, it’s basically frozen rosé, almost rose in margarita style, which makes this the ideal drink to order when temperatures are just a little too high. Sit at a table on the patio under an umbrella and spend your afternoon sipping on this frozen masterpiece. It’s a different take on your typical rosé, and that’s fun, but hurry before this location officially closes!

6. North Pond // Instagram

I found this place while doing research for this post and I’m kind of obsessed. North Pond is a Michelin-starred farm-to-table restaurant right on the edge of Lincoln Park’s North Pond (hence the name). Just from looking at pictures, this place totally reminds me of Central Park in New York. It just has that vibe. I assume prices are steep as they offer prix-fixe menus, but definitely a place to consider if you are looking to splurge. I also read they have a stellar selection of rosé options from still to sparkling, both of which I am not opposed to.

7. Etta // Instagram

I wanted to include Bucktown’s Etta because of the rosé special they offer. Bottomless rosé tub for a group of people for $35 a person? I didn’t think that was too shabby.

8. Piccolo Sogno // Instagram

I have been to Piccolo Sogno once for a baby shower and the food was incredible. I love going with a big group of people because you get to order and sample a bunch of menu items. Unfortunately, on the day of my visit to this iconic spot, it was raining hard, and I couldn’t sit outside in their renowned patio. At a glimpse, I could tell it would be the prettiest place to grab a table and sip on some sparkling rosé. It’s on my list before Summer ends for sure!

9. City Winery // Instagram

I had to include City Winery (the Riverwalk location) because the only time I’ve been here was on a team outing for work so we could sit in the iconic igloos. It was literally snowing outside….so now that I’ve had that experience, I now need to experience City Winery in all its glory on a nice, sunny Summer day. Sit out by the river right in the hustle and bustle of the loop and sip on rosé? Sounds like the perfect day to me!

10. Saint Lou’s Assembly // Instagram

I went to Saint Lou’s about two weeks ago and absolutely LOVED it! It is the perfect Happy Hour spot after work especially with a small group. During their Happy Hour, they have a 4-piece fried chicken, 2 biscuits and a bottle of rosé special for only $40. The food was incredible and the patio was so much fun!


24 Hour Seattle Travel Guide

Hi Guys,

Last month I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to travel all over both domestically and internationally. My month started out with my first ever trip to the upper Pacific Northwest on my annual family vacation. Our first stop…Seattle. It was my family’s first time in Seattle, and it did not disappoint. As soon as you step foot outside the airport, you can feel the culture change in the air as if it were a tangible being. The lackadaisical attitude was a shock from the hustle and bustle I’m used to in Chicago. The tall pine trees, winding roads and mountain views also boasted a paradoxical shift in my mind. Knowing I was going to be spending the next 7 days up here, I needed to adapt. It was a different way of living that I wasn’t used to but kind of sort of liked for vacation mode.

It was always in our plan to spend only one day in Seattle as a pit stop before making our way even further north to Vancouver, Canada. Before I go into our one-day itinerary in the Emerald City, I wanted to cover off on a few housekeeping notes first. First and foremost, if you are not used to seeing this, there are a lot of people facing homelessness in the Pacific Northwest. I actually heard on my trip up there and since have read articles that cities up in that corner of the US like San Francisco are the worst they’ve ever been. Now I’m used to seeing people who face homelessness as I work in Chicago every day, but Seattle was definitely worse, and I was not prepared for that reality going into it. No harm or danger was present any of the time I was in Seattle, but there was more of an uncomfortable factor when walking the downtown streets. I wanted to give this warning upfront in case this is not something you are accustomed to wherever you are from. Another note on the city is that one of the landmarks synonymous with Seattle is the first ever Starbucks…skip it. The line to get in was a mile long and it looks exactly like any other Joe Shmo Starbucks down the street from your house. I do not think your time should be spent waiting in this never-ending line. The last note for my fellow Midwesterners thinking of traveling to Seattle is that the streets are VERY hilly, some can even be described as extremely steep. In the Midwest, we are so used to flat lands, so walking long distances here can be difficult. Seattle does have Uber and Lyft though, so if walking the streets is a concern, just order a rideshare.

Okay, now that those pieces are out of the way, below you can find everything we did with the 24 hours we had in Seattle. If you have any questions on any of the places we visited, please leave a comment and I’ll answer in my most honest opinion!

Seattle Itinerary:

  • Arrived at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport around 9:30am PST and got a Lyft to the downtown area, which was about a 10-minute drive.
  • At this point we had been up since 3am CST and were starving, so we had the Lyft driver drop us off at a restaurant right down the street from where we were staying.
  • Ate an early lunch at Nate’s Wings and Waffles. Nate’s is a relaxed, order at the counter spot dishing up wings, waffles and sliders and co-owned by former NBA star Nate Robinson. I got the waffle sliders and they were easily some of the best sliders I’ve ever had in my entire life. Get them!
  • After lunch, we walked a couple blocks to our Air BnB to drop off our luggage before exploring the rest of the city. Pro tip: I would stay in an Air BnB in a nearby downtown neighborhood versus staying in a hotel right in the heart of downtown because the international food scene is just incredible in the outer parts. We stayed about 5 minutes from the downtown area (on the corner of 12th and Fir Street) and our condo was near the hidden gems of Ethiopian, Caribbean, Japanese and French restaurants. I wish we had more time in Seattle just to indulge in the outstanding food scene.
This was taken right across the street from our Air BnB.
  • One of the first landmarks we wanted to see was obviously the Space Needle. We took a 5-minute Lyft ride from our condo to the observation tower and bought $35 tickets to take a glass elevator all the way to the top. The views were to die for!! Sprawling views of Seattle can be seen from a 360-degree angle. I could have walked in circles for hours. What I didn’t know was that there is a full bar and restaurant at the top. You could sit and enjoy a nice cocktail and dinner up there if you wished and I thought that was awesome. Aside from the very top where you can walk outside to enjoy the views, you can also take a staircase one floor down to a fully enclosed area with a glass floor that rotates. If you stood in one spot, you would make an entire rotation in about one hour. Now I’m terrified of heights, I was having a mini panic attack from the moment I purchased my ticket to when I was actually outside on the top floor, but I’m so happy I pushed myself because in my opinion the Space Needle is totally worth it.
  • When we left the Space Needle, the other Seattle specialty we wanted to see was Pike Place Market. We took the Monorail (almost like an airport shuttle train) for $2.50 a ticket from the Space Needle to the stop nearest the market. After a couple block walk, we made it to the famous Pike Place sign and entrance, also near the first ever Starbucks. My advice is to start at one end and walk the entire way through the marketplace. I’ve never seen anything like this. Every station and every vendor had something new and interesting to look at. There were bouquets of flowers, nice flowers, for $10 and the food was so fresh they were literally throwing fish from the ocean onto ice right in front of your eyes. Nowhere has made me want to cook more. Fresh pastas and CBD lotions also lined the walkway. Again, this was one of those “worth it” kind of places.
  • While in the marketplace, we stopped at a small restaurant for seaside views, a glass of rose and a dozen oysters before we left.
  • My uncle was on the family trip with us this year and his cousin lives in Washington, so after Pike Place, he picked all of us up from the market and drove us about 25 minutes out of Seattle to Bellevue where we arrived at his gorgeous home greeted by his beautiful family.
  • We spent the rest of the night here, as we enjoyed stimulating conversation, a fabulous boat ride around Lake Washington (where we saw Bill Gates house) and a delicious backyard barbecue. It was the perfect ending to a long travel day and the best way to get us prepared for the next week of vacation ahead.
  • A short ride back to the Air BnB and we were all fast asleep, preparing for our train ride into Canada the next morning.

I know we didn’t spend a ton of time or do a ton of touristy things while in Seattle, but I had an absolute blast and would love to go back for a long weekend. There is so much more to see and so many more places I want to eat. In my honest opinion, I wouldn’t rush back to Seattle for my next vacation, but I will definitely be back! I hope this helps at least a little if you are planning a trip to this culturally-rich city soon. I think it was the perfect place to land and spend a day in to break up the travel in our journey further up to Canada. If you too are going up to our northern neighbor on the west coast side, my recommendation is to make a stop in Seattle first. The plane ride is faster and cheaper, and the city offers up amazing opportunities to see what the PNW is all about.


Boston (Work Trip) Guide

To the Interested Traveler,

Lobster rolls, Red Sox, Beacon Hill, Tom Brady…that’s right I’m talking about BOSTON! Last week, I spent a whopping 24 hours in one of the most historical cities in the United States for a work trip. It was my first ever overnight work trip, so getting to travel to a city that I had been to before and loved was already so great and of course I had all the lobster on my mind.

My whole purpose here is to try to be as helpful as I can, and even though my trip was short, it was JAM packed, so I thought I could be a trusted resource by breaking down how I packed for a 24-hour work trip and the cool places we went while in Boston. All you newer professionals or world travelers out there, I hope this can spark some ideas for your next trip to Beantown.

Where I Stayed:

We were a little concerned about where our hotel would be situated in the city because if you’ve ever been to Boston before, you know it’s a spread-out city. But the Marriott Long Wharf was perfect. Not only did it back right up to the harbor, which boasted amazing views of the water, it is also located far enough in the city where it’s not as crowded but still provides a great pathway to shops and cool sites to see. The hotel is newly renovated, super clean and has one of the best hotel restaurants to sit and have lunch. I had an Acorn Squash and Goat Cheese salad with Salmon, and it was to die for. Also, one of the best sleeps I’ve ever had in one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept on. Is it weird that I was off put by the front desk associate calling me Miss Thompson the whole trip? Lol

Where I Ate:

As mentioned above, we started with lunch at the Waterline restaurant, which is right inside the Marriott Long Wharf hotel. This would be a great spot to grab a drink before heading to dinner too because the bar in the restaurant is hugeeeeee. For dinner, we went to one of the premier steakhouses in the city called Grill 23. As soon as you walk in, you get that historical, old-timey, wood encrusted, grand staircase, classic vibe. I chose from the ample wine menu at the bar area, which is a popular Happy Hour spot, before being seated upstairs. For our meal, we did a little bit of everything. The sides and apps are meant to be shared family style so you can try many different options. My favorites of the night were my Halibut entrée which came with steamed mussels and the Lobster Mac n Cheese.

Where I Grabbed a Drink:

After dinner, we knew we only had a few more hours in the city, so we decided to grab a drink before bed somewhere close to the hotel. A local Bostonian referred us to the Envoy Hotel, which they claimed has the best skyline views of the whole city. Let me tell you, they were no lying as you can see from the first picture above! The hotel itself was very sleek and contemporary and then you go up an elevator to the trendy rooftop cocktail lounge. Great music and great drinks. It was such a cool spot to look past the Fort Point Channel right into the city.

What I Packed:

When I was packing for such a short work trip, I wanted to keep two things in mind – pack light but pack with intention. I’m the type of person that needs to have options, so I packed very strategically with five staple work pieces that could all be paired differently with one another: A blazer , a black work-appropriate dress, classic blue jeans, black trousers and a printed blouse.

All the combinations I could have worn with those pieces:

  • Blazer with dress
  • Blazer with blouse and jeans
  • Blazer with blouse and trousers
  • Blouse and trousers
  • Blouse with jeans
  • Just dress by itself

 One pair of Mark Fisher heels and that was it. I packed everything in a small, carry-on sized suitcase so I didn’t have to worry about the hassle of checking a bag. I would say, as a habitual over packer, I did pretty great for my first ever work trip.

This is a very random note to end on, but as this was my first work trip, I was very hypersensitive to my surroundings. I usually don’t fly with airlines that have a First Class section, but this one did. I noticed both flying to Boston and back home, the only type of person sitting in First Class were men, and men you could tell were traveling for business. I don’t know why this bothered me so much, but it made me think of how representative that is to what we are seeing in society every day. We need to get some more women up there enjoying luxury 30,000 feet in the air. Just some food for thought. All in all, Boston was amazing and I definitely need to go back for fun soon!