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TRAVEL: Seeing the Chicago I Knew Growing Up Through a Sightseers Lens

We grew up traveling to Chicago for family visits. Just starting to think of myself as a tourist in this hot spot city.

(The Greetings from Chicago wall mural above is located in Logan Square at 2226 N. Milwaukee Avenue)

We grew up traveling to Chicago's Southside to visit family as far back as I can remember. Sometimes we would drive there (14-16 hours) and more rarely, we would fly there. On all of our recent trips to Chicago though, we flew, and this trip, just like the one before, we rented our own car. We drove on so many quiet, tree-lined, Southside neighborhood streets there and my cousins Southside neighborhood is one of the most scenic, peaceful and quiet neighborhoods that we've ever been in. I think it's ridiculous that this great city, especially Chicago's Southside, gets such a bad rap.

It hasn't been until recently that we started to rediscover the city as curious tourists whenever we visited. It's been like an awakening! Chicago has always been a busy, dense, historic, gritty, creatively artistic and awesome city. Renting a car and exploring the city on our own always feels like an adventure! And as a style and travel blogger, you tend to follow other bloggers who do similar work as you do, which is how I even found out about this giant flamingo wall art in downtown Chicago (above). This artwork is located at The Flamingo Rum Club at 601 N. Wells Street in River North. I spotted blogger The Everygirl in a beautiful pic in front of this flamingo wall and I immediately knew I wanted to attempt to capture a fun shot while we were there visiting.

My family y'all! I heart them. And I'm kicking myself (HARD) for not getting a group pic when so many of us were there in one place. We were at my cousins celebrating a late Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas gathering complete with delicious food, lots of wine and festive holiday tree-trimming. My cousins did a beautiful job on this party which brings me back to the question of why in the world did I not get a group pic of any of this?! This handful of fun Snapchat pics along with a shot of a couple young cousins trimming the tree (above) was everything I got from this amazing family night. Look, don't mind me, I'm just gonna be mad at myself for a minute for not thinking to get a group shot of my family (boo).

The day before the holiday gathering after Googling a few breakfast spots, we asked my cousin Brittany where she liked to have breakfast, she told us about her spot and we were sold, so we met up later at The Original Pancake House on South Western Avenue and what a treat this spot was.The food was really tasty and there were so many different pancakes to choose from! And look, the portions there were huge, so make sure you're hungry when you eat there.

I snapped this pic in the bathroom while at breakfast at The Original Pancake House because my hair was really trying to cooperate with me while we were on vacation there. This is not a small deal because this hair does WHAT IT WANTS. And if your hair is anything like mine, you have to document it when it tries to act halfway decent.

Portillo's! We stopped by here the morning of the holiday gathering because we learned that the food wasn't going to be ready until 4pm that afternoon and we were hungry right now, lol. Portillo's felt like a quick spot to get a classic Chicago style hot dog right from the drive thru. The hot dog (that we split) hit the spot, which helped us make it through to the afternoon. Score.

Uncle J's BBQ! Full disclosure, we were actually trying to get to Lem's BBQ after the Mr. spotted a segment about Lem's on the Food Network, but they were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, so Uncle J's BBQ was our fallback after a suggestion by my cousin. Uncle J's is a true mom and pop shop that does all manor of different BBQ plates. It's absolutely no frills, but if the steady stream of customers that were in and out of there was any indication while we waited on our order, then this place is a real hot spot, shout out to my cousin Jerryce who suggested it, rode with us and led us straight there. This is what a reviewer said on Yelp about Uncle J's below:

“I'm hoping to try everything on that menu before I croak from a heart attack eating their rib tips!”

The look when you're about to get your own order of BBQ rib tips from Uncle J's.

This was another trip where the city of Chicago did not disappoint. The city delivered near perfect weather the entire time we were there, we had fun with family, we had fun exploring more of the city and we always look forward to going back for more visits. So long Chicago, until next time.

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