Chicago Weekend Fun

Ahhh Fall weddings. Last weekend I had the pleasure of a attending a beautiful wedding in the suburbs of Chicago in a cute little town called Saint Charles.
Having been to Chicago once before, I was somewhat familiar with all that downtown has to offer but hadn’t spent more than 24 hours there and wanted to take advantage of being back. I flew in Thursday night so I could spend Friday exploring downtown and brunch Saturday morning before my hour drive to Saint Charles.
Whether you’re in Chicago for a wedding or a weekend getaway, here is a compilation of sites to see and some of the best restaurants, treats and cocktail lounges you can easily hit in 48 hours!

SITE SEEING

Cloud Gate
Located in the heart of downtown Chicago in Millennium Park, Cloud Gate is a giant reflective sculpture dubbed ‘The Bean’ because of it’s bean shape. This massive work of art was inspired by liquid mercury and weighs 110 tons! It’s famously one of the most photographed landmarks in downtown due to its reflection of the Chicago skyline.
In addition to the bean, there are a ton of activities and additional things to see in Millennium Park.
The Bean
Navy Pier
One of my favorite areas of downtown Chicago is Navy pier on Lake Michigan. Open year round, this 3,300 foot pier offers a lot of fun activities including a giant ferris wheel, a children’s museum, AMC movie theater, Shakespeare theater, beer garden, shopping center, indoor eating hall and more!
See more info here.
Navy Pier
Architecture Boat Tour
Although it was highly recommended and one of the most popular activities in Chicago, I didn’t have time for an architecture boat tour but will mostly definitely do this next time I visit! Cruise along the Chicago River for a live tour and learn about Chicago’s historic landmarks, hidden gems and how the skyscraper was invented. You can even go on a sunset dinner boat tour!
Get tickets here.

Willis Tower

Formally known as the Sears Tower, Willis Tower is 110 stories high and you can ride an elevator all the way to the top to view the Chicago skyline through glass walls and floor enclosures for MILES. I’m terrified of heights so this wasn’t on my list of things to do, however, tickets start at only $22 and it looks pretty cool.
Get tickets here.

Chicago Theater
The Chicago theater is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city so of course I had to get a photo in front of it!
View upcoming comedy and music shows at Chicago Theater here.
Chicago Theater

The River Walk

One thing that makes downtown Chicago unbelievable beautiful is the Chicago River that feeds into Lake Michigan. It runs throughout different parts of downtown with the river walk being a pedestrian walk way lined with restaurants, bridges, fishing piers and boat docks. You can easily walk this path while you’re out sight seeing.
River WalkThe Flamingo Wall
Located at 601 N Wells street, I was blown away by this huge work of art and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a photo in front of a giant pink flamingo! I have a special place in my heart for anything pink so naturally I was convinced this wall was placed here just for me. =)
If you’re looking for more murals in Chicago, check out this Guide to Chicago murals.Flamingo WallLake Front Trail (Lake Michigan)
If you walk East of Millennium Park, you will eventually run into Lake Front Trail, a paved walking path along Lake Michigan. It was a PERFECT October day and I was stunned to see how blue the water was! Living in NYC, it was refreshing that such a peaceful and beautiful view was such a short walk from the hustle and bustle of the city.Lake Michigan

Magnificent Mile
Although it’s not technically not a site to see, Magnificent Mile is the premier shopping destination in downtown Chicago full of upscale stores, beautiful hotels and cool restaurants. You will most likely run into it at some point while you’re out exploring the city but should definitely check it out!

DINING & DRINKS

If the words ‘Rose all day’ exist in your vocabulary, you HAVE to brunch at the Hampton social! Classic brunch options, a raw bar, lobster rolls and fish tacos are staples on their menu. You cant go wrong with anything you order.
After site seeing for several hours, I was craving something sweet and definitely needed an afternoon pick me up. I sadly have a gluten intolerance so Stan’s donuts was perfect because they offer gluten free and even vegan donuts! They also have the most delicious cold brew coffee which paired nicely with my GF blueberry and chocolate donuts. (DO NUT judge me for ordering 2!!) Stan’s was a sweet excuse to rest my feet before venturing out for more site seeing.
Stans Donuts

Deep Dish Pizza at Giordano’s
Chicago is famously known as the original creator of deep dish pizza. Even among the locals, Giordano’s is the most famous pizza place in the city. I was excited to know they have gluten free thin crust pizza as well!
Pizza
Dinner at Avec or Girl & The Goat

Noted as two of the most popular restaurants in Chicago, I would suggest dining at one or both of these places.

Tiki Cocktails at Three Dots & A Dash 
This was my ultimate favorite find in downtown Chicago! I stumbled upon this place as a last minute ‘google maps’ find and it was a memorable experience to say the least. A back alleyway with a lit tiki torch is the entrance to this speakeasy tiki bar and the ambiance takes you to a tropical paradise with a menu full of mai tais and tropical cocktails. I was literally OBSESSED! Not to mention, each cocktail is served in their own unique glass.
tiki
SHOP MY STYLE:Look #1 (Cloud Gate)
SheIn Jumpsuit $13
Moonlight Gypsy Miami Sunglasses $16
Zara Faux Suede Biker Jacket $89.90
SheIn Velvet Bow Bag $11
Steve Madden Heeled Sandals $49.95
Kendra Scott Sophia Drop Earrings $50

Look #2: (Navy Pier)
Moonlight Gypsy Embroidered Flower Boho Sweater $48
Zara Pink Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans $39.90
Moonlight Gypsy Miami Sunglasses $16
Moonlight Gypsy Velvet Quilted Shoulder Bag $50
SheIn Flat Boots $60
Kendra Scott Sophia Drop Earrings $50

 

Jane’s Carousel

One of my favorite things about living in NYC is that I’m constantly running across new places to check out and explore. New restaurants, new sweet treats, new brunch spots, new cocktail bars and rooftop lounges…the list goes on and on! I’ve lived in NYC for 8 years but even though there’s new stuff popping up each day, there’s still a bucket list of historical places or sites I try to see on the regular.
FullSizeRender (80)Jane’s carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park has been one of those places for me and I finally went to check it out last weekend!
Jane’s carousel was built in 1922 but has since then been restored and opened in Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2011. Tickets are only $2 a person and the ride includes a beautiful scenic view of New York City. YES, of course I rode it and YES I resorted to my inner 6 year old when I jumped on my chosen horse!
Janes Carousel NYCWhether you’re a tourist or a long time New Yorker, Brooklyn Bridge Park is a must see! There are tons of great restaurants and shopping within walking distance to the carousel. My personal favorites inclue the original Grimaldi’s Pizza (for some reason it just tastes SO MUCH BETTER here than any other location!), Gran Electrica for Mexican & River Cafe which has a gorgeous waterfront view.
Brooklyn Bridge Park NYC
FullSizeRender2

bridge 2I also had the pleasure of getting my hair and makeup done at Jeffery Stein Salon on the Upper East Side before heading to Brooklyn! The salon is gorgeous and the staff was super friendly upon arrival. Not only were they experts at nailing the look I was going for, but I’m am in LOVE with these braids and curls which were perfect for my Bohemian style look. Highly recommend!
Jeffery Stein Salon NYC Upper East Side

Shop my look!

Planet Blue

Party Romper

Moonlight Gypsy

Straw Basket Tassel Circle Bag

JustFab

Mosha Heeled Sandal

 

Exploring Soho, Boho Style!

close up
beach towels
Manhattan is hands down the most amazing city in the United States. I’ve lived here for 8 years after graduating from college {not counting my 14 month beach getaway to Santa Monica last year. I had to break up with East coast winters for a little bit!}

Despite my undying love (literally) of beachy SoCal cities, I have grown to really appreciate living in New York. It’s definitely not an easy place to live. I moved here when I turned 21 and absolutely fell in LOVE. I had never been to New York in my life but had nailed a Summer internship at Chanel’s corporate office and I would have been CRAZY to turn the opportunity down. Since then I have built my resume at companies like Jimmy Choo, Bergdorf Goodman, Victorias Secret, Macys & JustFab.
Full body shot_outfit 2
Sitting shot_outfit 2The best thing about NYC? The fact that it’s the fashion capital of the world!!

My second favorite thing about New York is the fact that every neighborhood has a different character, a different personality and a different vibe. You could be walking down a deserted cobblestone street, turn the corner, and find the most remarkable stores or unique coffee shops and cafes.

Soho is one of my top favorite neighborhoods in the city and my absolute favorite for shopping! There are so many cute boutiques that line Broadway as well as high end luxury retailers, up and coming brands and pop up shops. Every time I’m there, I can’t help but automatically feel cool living in NYC. (If you live here, you know what I mean!)

With that said, here are some of the highest rated places to stay, best coffee shops, best sweet treats and the best cafes to grab brunch or dinner in Soho!*I have linked each place to websites where you can find more info on each place!

sohoWhere to Stay
soho grand

Soho Grand Hotel ($$)*
Arlo Soho ($$)
SIXTY Soho ($$)
The James Hotel ($$$)
Nomo Soho ($$$)
Trump Soho ($$$)
Crosby Street Hotel ($$$$)
*Pictured

Best Brunch
jwf

Laduree (French + outdoor patio)
Jacks wife Frieda (Mediterranean) *Pictured
By Chloe (Vegan)
Pietro Nolita (Italian)
The Butchers Daughter (Vegetarian & Vegan)
Pera Soho (Mediterranean + outdoor Patio)
Hundred Acres (American)
Aurora Soho (Italian)

Best Coffee Shops
birch

Everyman Espresso (Coffee & Espresso)
Birch Coffee (Coffee & Espresso) *Pictured
Gasoline Alley (Coffee & Espresso)
La Colombe (Coffee, Espresso & Tea)
Cha Cha Matcha (Coffee, Tea & Soft Serve)
Joe & the Juice (Coffe & Fresh Pressed Juices)
Juice Press (Fresh Pressed Juices & Smoothies)

Best Soho Sweet Treats
laduree

Dominique Ansel Bakery (The original cronut + donuts)
Eileens Special Cheesecake (cheesecake)
Laduree (macaroons) *Pictured
Brigadeiro Bakery (Brigadeiros & Cakes)
Jars by Dani (Mason jar desserts)
Kith Treats (ice cream with unique cereal mix ins)
Georgetown cupcake (cupcakes)

Best Cocktail Bars
jimmy

The Ship (Speakeasy)
The Jimmy at the James Hotel (Rooftop bar)*
The Mulberry Project (Craft Cocktails)
Houston Hall (Beer)
Pegu (Craft Cocktails)
The Handy Liquor Bar (Piano Bar)

Best Dinner Spots
BALTH

Balthazar (French) *Pictured
Blue Ribbon (Sushi)
La Esquina (Mexican)
Ed’s Lobster Bar (Seafood)
Charlie Bird (Italian)
Lombardi’s (Pizza)
Boqueria Soho (Tapas)

SHOP MY STYLEnecklace closeup

All photos of locations are from respective establishments websites. Please note this list is curated by me and is solely based off of my own personal opinions and research.

Turks & Caicos: Providenciales

If you’ve already explored the Bahamas, Jamaica and Puerto Rico and are looking for somewhere different to explore in the Caribbean, Turks & Caicos is perfect for your next Spring Break, Summer or holiday vacation! I would highly recommend it for both couples and families because there are a multitude of activities for adults and kiddos. It’s also a great place for a romantic getaway or just  to unplug from the outside world!
Located just 550 miles off the coast of Miami, Turks & Caicos is a British Territory and consists of 40 islands, 8 of which are inhabited. The most popular island in Turks & Caicos where we visited for 9 days is the island of Providenciales, voted the #1 island in the world on Trip Advisor in 2015!
WHAT TO BRING
Check out MoonlightGypsyShop.com for all of your beach essentials before you go. Our beach shop is the perfect place to find handmade beach bags and beach jewelry with a Bohemian vibe. Don’t forget your sunscreen + sunnies!
MoonlightGypsyShop.com The Beach Shop   MoonlightGypsyShop.com Pom Pom Wristlet
WHERE TO STAY
Known for it’s gorgeous turquoise waters and pristine beaches, Turks & Caicos is famous for Grace Bay, the main beach area where you can find a plethora of resorts, restaurants and shops. If you’re looking to stay where the action is, Grace Bay is definitely the place for you! Voted the #1 beach in the world in 2016, you can work on your tan, casually snorkel right off the beach, eat at restaurants overlooking the beach and find plenty of activities to do in the bay.
Grace Bay Turks & Caicos
Photo from GetsReady.com
If you’re looking to live like a local in a more secluded area of the island with no tourists, I would suggest suggest booking a private house or villa on Airbnb or RVBO on the opposite side of the island.
We stayed in a secluded beautiful home with an infinity edge pool and private beach on for the first half of the week of our vacation.
Check out this view!
Turks & Caicos beach view   MoonlightGypsyShop.com Embroidered Pom Pom Tote
For the second half of the week, we stayed at La Vista Azul which is walkable to Turtle Cove, a cute and casual area filled with great restaurants and water views. La Vista Azul was cozy and comfortable. I would highly recommend staying here and would definitely go back!
La Vista Azul Turks & Caicos   La Vista Azul Turks & Caicos
For more resort and hotel information on the island, check out hotels.com to input the dates of your trip, read reviews and check availability.
You can also click here to read reviews on top rated places to stay.
ACTIVITIES
There are a number of outdoor activities for both adults and children in Turks & Caicos.
We decided to spend one afternoon reef fishing with Grand Slam Fishing Charters which turned out to be more fun than I expected.
The staff on the boat made it super easy and helped us bait our fishing lines which was nice, especially because I didnt want to be the one touching slimy fish guts. I had never been fishing before, but caught 3 fish including this grouper! They gave us some great tips and also would take the fish off the hook for you (after you take all necessary insta worthy photos and selfies of course!)
To book a fishing trip with Grand Slam Fishing Charters, click here.
Grand Slam Fishing Charters Turks & Caicos
Fishing was a lot of fun, but the ultimate highlight of our trip was  Snuba diving in in Coral Gardens around Bight Reef.
Jodi is well known on the island for her Snuba expertise and was an absolutely amazing instructor. I only had previous experience with snorkeling so was a bit intimidated at first with having to learn how to breath from an air tank, but if my 65 year old mom could do it, you can too! It was honestly one of the most amazing experiences of my life!
Unlike a typical snorkel experience, you can get up close and personal with some really cool wildlife. We saw huge green turtles, lobster, eel, a giant sting ray and tons of gorgeous tropical fish. Jodi even picked up a sea spider and shrimp under water to show us which was REALLY cool. I highly recommend this activity as a must on your trip!
To schedule snuba with Jodi, click here.
Snuba Turks & Caicos   Snuba Turks & Caicos
 After an afternoon of activities in Grace Bay, cool off with a tropical cocktail at Ozmosis Bar, a beachside bar at The Palms resort. You can enjoy a full bar, daiquiris or the island’s famous Rum Punch, my personal favorite!
Rum Punch Ozmosis Bar Turks & Caicos   Ozmosis Bar The Plams Turks & Caicos
Photo from TrueViralNews.com
One of the best local activities to do in Provinciales is the Thursday night Fish Fry. Unfortunately our Thursday night got rained out so we weren’t able to attend but it is highly recommended and frequented by the locals. From 5:30 to 9:30 in Bights Park, you can enjoy local food vendors, entertainment and cultural activities. This is also a great activity for kids and all ages.
For a full list of top rated activities in Provo, check here.
WHERE TO EAT
Breakfast & Brunch
If you’re looking for a great brunch spot, I would highly recommend Bay Bistro at the Sibonne Beach Hotel. You can enjoy delicious banana coconut pancakes or lobster Benedict while overlooking the ocean from a causal shaded patio. The food was fantastic and they have an awesome $16 brunch deal that includes a menu entree + a Bloody Mary, screwdriver or mimosa. 😉

Bay Bistro Coconut Pancakes   Bay Bistro View
Photo from TripAdvisor.com

If you’re staying near Turtle Cove, Green Bean Island Bistro is the perfect place to grab your morning joe and a casual bite. Their breakfast bagel sandwiches really hit the spot! We put in a to go order before heading over to the secluded beach area where Smith’s Reef is located. This is another great area to snorkel if you dont make it to Coral Gardens to check out Bights Reef or want to snorkel somewhere less crowded. Certain areas are rocky getting in the water though so make sure you bring water shoes or flippers.

Green Bean Coffee Turks & Caicos
Lunch & Small Bites
One of my favorite lunch spots in Turks & Caicos was Bugalos Conch Crawl which is well known for their conch dishes. You can eat outside under the shade of palm trees with a fabulous view of the beach and listen to their live music while enjoying a frozen tropical cocktails. I would absolutely recommend their conch fritters here because they are known for having the best on the island!
Check out this gorgeous view!
Conch Fritters Bugaloos Turks & Caicos   Strawberry Daquari Bugaloos Turks & Caicos
Photo from TripAdvisor.com
Shark Bite was also a favorite of mine for lunch. Located in Turtle Cove Marina, this spot has some great bar bites and fish sandwiches. Their crab cakes were AMAZING! You can casually dine outside on the patio and enjoy this great view of the marina while watching the boats go by.
Shark Bite Turtle Cove Marina View Turks & Caicos
 Dinner
Coco Bistro is the islands most popular restaurant for dinner, but you’ll need to make a reservation about a month or two in advance. Unfortunately, we booked too late but we were able to walk next door to Cocovan which is the restaurant’s new outdoor food truck. They offer yummy lobster dishes and tacos as well as a full bar. If you dont make the cut fora reservation at Coco Bistro or want just something more causal with outdoor seating, check this place out!
Coco Bistro Turks & Caicos   Cocovan Turks & Caicos
Photos from Pintrest.com & Twitter.com
If you love fresh sushi, Yoshi Sushi is the top rated sushi restaurant on the island. This was definitely one of my favorite meals on our trip. We tried some great lobster dishes including the Tempura Lobster & Lobster Fried Rice but my ultimate favorite was the volcano roll. It was honestly one of the BEST sushi dishes I’ve ever had and I LOVE my sushi! (I’m still dreaming of it by the way…)
Yoshi Sushi Turks & Caicos
Photo from TripAdvisor.com
Specializing in French cuisine, we enjoyed Le Bouchon Du Village so much that we ate there twice for dinner! Their romantic outdoor ambiance sets the mood for a pleasant evening. We started with a selection of cheese and meats to pair with our wine and enjoyed their Mediterranean salad which was one of the best Ive ever had. Their menu had so many fresh seafood dishes, it was hard to choose! Their sea scallops are a must and if you’re a meat lover, their steak is absolutely delicious.
Le Bouchon Turks & Caicos   Le Bouchon Scallops Turks & Caicos
Photos from Pintrest.com & TripAdvisor.com
WHERE TO RELAX
Voted the #3 best spa in Turks & Caicos on Trip Advisor, we spent one morning at The Palms Spa. Upon arrival, the staff were extremely attentive and gave us a tour of the locker room and meditation pool where you can relax and enjoy a variety of warm tea before and after your services. Talk about heaven on earth! My stone massage was hands down, the BEST stone massage I’ve ever had! I will definitely be back on my next vacay here.
To view the spa services offered at the Palms, click here.
The Palms Spa Turks & Caicos   The Palms Spa Turks & Caicos   The Palms Spa Turks & Caicos
To check out other top ranted spas on the island, click here.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
If you need more info about visiting Turks & Caicos islands, I would definitely read reviews on Trip Advisor and I have included some other fantastic resources below.
I hope this blog post was helpful and that you enjoy your trip to Turks & Caicos!
Happy Travels!
Turtle Cove Marina Turks & Caicos   MoonlightGypsyShop.com Boho Bracelets Beach Jewelry