Monday, July 11, 2016

{Chicago} A Windy City Weekend #EatFreelyUSA

The #EatFreelyUSA tour, this post, and travel were sponsored by Enjoy Life Foods
All opinions are my own. Disclosure Statement

The second stop on our #EatFreelyUSA tour was the "Windy City" of Chicago! Chi-Town, Chicagoland, the Second City, whatever you like to refer to as, Erica and I had a blast exploring.

To see our #EatFreelyUSA intro video and see our Nashville recap video, click here. 

Not only did we visit awesome tourist destinations, we also found some delicious gluten free & allergy friendly eateries. Check out the video in this post below and see for yourself! 

Here are my favorite Chicago finds and highlights from our trip:

  • Millennium Park: Exhibits, gardens, architecture, and more. In the heart of the city, you can free enjoy concerts, films, family events, and even free workouts. Erica and I took a stab the Saturday morning we were there for their Yoga in the park class. We didn't have mats and I had never done yoga before so it was awesome to check out and try! Don't be afraid to hop right in and try it out. We did! A great way to start the day. In past visits I've taken to the city, I've caught symphony concerts there. One of my favorite things to do.

  • The Bean (Cloud Gate): Located in Millennium Park, it's a Chicago staple & must-see. Everyone needs a selfie with The Bean. ;) 
  • Lake Michigan/ The Beach: Having just moved from Michigan to AZ, I'm fortunate to have spent many a summer enjoying Lake Michigan from the otherside of the water. It's beautiful. You'd never imagine that a city like Chicago, however, would have public beaches for you to soak up the sun and enjoy in the summertime. If it's a sunny day, it will be packed though.

  • Navy Pier: The Centennial Wheel, a carousel, gardens, a Children's Museum, and more. Navy Pier is a great family-fun attraction. I've also been, in the past, to concerts inside their Grand Ballroom during the winter months. While we were visiting this trip, America's Cup World Series was going on. That was fun to watch.
  • Shedd Aquarium: I vividly remember a field trip I took in middle school all the way from Indiana to the Shedd. I loved it! Erica and I were so looking forward to spending our last afternoon visiting... but to our sadness, they closed early for a private gala event. (Oh, the sadness! Seriously.) If you're in town though, I still highly recommend it. 
  • Field Museum: Since we couldn't go to the Shedd, we spent our last few hours in Chicago checking out the Field Museum instead. One of the highlights while we were there was the Terracotta Warrior exhibit. I'm such a sucker for history and I just found it fascinating. 

  • Side note: If you're going to be in Chicago for multiple days and would like to check out the Shedd, Field Museum, Planetarium, Art Institute, etc. it may be worth your while to get a CityPASS. I also highly recommend The Art Institute - I've been on past trips and love it.
  • Enjoy Life Foods: Not going to lie, one of my favorite things we did was visit our friends at Enjoy Life Foods at the brand new corporate office in Chicago. It was great to catch-up with the team, see the new digs, and of course find out about all the new goodies coming soon! (More on this later.)
  • Old Town: While we were there, a Street Art Fair was going on in Old Town. We were lucky enough to meet up with fellow bloggers Kathleen & Brianna to show us around. It's a super cute part of the city with great shops, restaurants, and of course the amazing art for sale. 

  • Grocery: If you're staying downtown, the great thing is Whole Foods or Mariano's is probably a short walk away. Both of these stores offer an awesome selection of gluten free and/or allergen free goodies from the brands you know and love. This is perfect if you're looking for safe snacks, maybe a quick grab & go breakfast item to enjoy at the hotel or even take to the beach for the day. You can check out Erica's periscopes from our trip where we toured multiple grocery stores all over Chicago while in town. We stayed at the Hotel Felix which was a very short walk to the Whole Foods Gold Coast location and a few of the places we ate at, mentioned below.
  • Wildfire: The night we arrived in Chicago, we ventured out for a delicious dinner at Wildfire. They have multiple locations in Illinois, as well as, locations in Virginia and Minnesota. They had large gluten free specialty menu and were great about answering questions in an effort to accommodate all allergen concerns and questions. The staff was very knowledgeable. The wait staff alerts the manager and fills out a special allergy form for the chef when you order. This goes for the entertain group of Lettuce Entertain You restaurants. Check out their site for other restaurants they own/ operate. They're great handling allergen concerns/ requests.  

  • Rainforest Cafe: For those visiting the city with kiddos, the Rainforest Cafe is a great gluten free/ allergy-friendly option. Our experience with this chain in other cities has been wonderful. They too will fill out a special allergy form when you order and alert the chef. There is a location right in the heart of Downtown Chicago on Clark.
  • Snap Kitchen:  While visiting the Enjoy Life Foods new corporate office, we had lunch at their office from Snap Kitchen. They have multiple locations over Texas, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Their menus feature gluten free, vegan, dairy free, and paleo friendly options. 

  • Wheat's End Cafe: Oh my goodness, can I live next door to this place, please? 100% Gluten Free restaurant/ bakery, with delicious vegan (egg free, dairy free) baked goods and options. They even have signage on the tables alerting customers to not bring in any outside food/ drinks in an effort to keep the restaurant safe from cross contamination. 
  • Sweet Ali's Gluten Free Bakery: I first tried Sweet Ali's goodies a few years back at a gluten free expo in Illinois. We didn't have time this visit to stop out at the bakery but thankfully, many of their products are available at Whole Foods so Erica and I picked up a mini blueberry gluten free & dairy free loaf to eat at the hotel for breakfast one of the mornings. Side note: Sweet Ali's is a certified gluten free facility. They practice "good manufacturing practices", although their products are made in a shared facility with other allergens - nuts, soy, eggs, & dairy. Contact them for more info regarding other allergens, based on your comfort level.

  • Lyfe Kitchen: I love Erica for introducing me to Lyfe Kitchen. When you walk in, not only is it adorable inside, but they have a great menu dedicated for gluten free and for Vegan items. Not only that, if you ask the cashier, they have a complete allergen list so if you have any questions they can make sure what each item contains based on the brands they use and how the dish is compiled. The restaurant is not nut-free, but they do specifically mark on the menu which items contain nuts. Lyfe Kitchen has 16 locations across the country, so be sure to check with your local establishment and based upon your own comfort levels if it's safe for you.
  • Other Mentions: Depending on your comfort level and needs, there are many many other popular restaurants in the area of downtown Chicago that you know and love that are great with handling allergens... like Weber Grill, Red Robin, Fleming's, Chick-Fil-A, PF Chang's, Big Bowl, Chipotle, Blaze Pizza, Roti, Wildberry Cafe, Mon Ami Gabi, and more.
Chicago is great place to visit for family fun or just for you to get away and shop for the weekend. There are tons of excellent dining choices and you're sure to have an amazing trip!

Thanks Enjoy Life Foods for letting Erica and I explore the Windy City! Where will be end up next? Follow along at #EatFreelyUSA!

Snapchat: KeeleyMcGblog & CeliacBeast

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  1. I've always wanted to try yoga in the park! Thanks for outlining your trip, now I can copy + paste and have fun!!

  2. I am just loving your #EatFreelyUSA adventures. Now I have to plan a trip to Chicago...

  3. Sigh... I love ChiTown! :) Too bad you missed the aquarium.

  4. What a fun trip! Love reading about your adventures.

  5. Looks like such a fun trip you cute girls!!

  6. Looks like you guys did it up right! I'd love to go to Chicago and will save this for tips! THanks.


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