UPDATE: Tiki Takeover - Lost Lake in Chicago

A few weeks ago, I shared my take on the top Midwestern tiki bars, with the disclaimer that I'd personally only visited two of the three. Well, I'm happy to share that as of last week, I crossed the third off my bucket list -- and it's just as good, if not better, than expected.

On the outskirts of Chicago's Logan Square, Lost Lake is a landlocked tropical oasis. It was a chilly weeknight when we walked into its sticky-sweet haze of balmy air, bamboo and banana-soaked rum -- seriously, if a bar can take on a persona, this place is Ricky Ricardo crossed with a dash of Sean Connery

Get there are soon as you can! I hear the line forms even before its 4 p.m. Saturday opening -- but I promise, it's totally worth it. When you make it in, you have to try the Mystery Gardenia -- and I dare you to limit it to just one. 

Only adding to its intrigue, you have to be looking to find Lost Lake. The only indication is a small neon "tiki" sign out front, along with a discrete hanging parrot-shaped sign. 

Only adding to its intrigue, you have to be looking to find Lost Lake. The only indication is a small neon "tiki" sign out front, along with a discrete hanging parrot-shaped sign. 

I started with the Ripples on an Evaporated Lake -- a curious coffee-laden choice for a weeknight. It was good, but certainly not something to put on your must-try list.

I started with the Ripples on an Evaporated Lake -- a curious coffee-laden choice for a weeknight. It was good, but certainly not something to put on your must-try list.

Easily our favorite cocktail on the menu -- the Mystery Gardenia!

Easily our favorite cocktail on the menu -- the Mystery Gardenia!

My partners in "lime," enjoying the Mystery Gardenia and that night's vacation beer selection.

My partners in "lime," enjoying the Mystery Gardenia and that night's vacation beer selection.



Shopping Geneva's Picturesque Third Street

Chicago is surrounded by an intricate web of suburbs. Lots of these burbs are busy mini-metropolises packed with box stores, mega-malls and chain restaurants -- the stereotype that keeps many city dwellers from striking out to explore.

Geneva, on the very outskirts of the suburban spread, is one of those hidden gems well worth a trip. At just 40 miles from Chicago's center and right on the Metra West Line, it's perfect for a girl's day trip to wander the boutique-lined downtown. Or for a romantic getaway, the Herrington Inn & Spa within walking distance to the train offers a quaint stay for a quiet couple's retreat.

The Herrington Inn is an all-season escape, but in warmer weather there's a fantastic gazebo for romantic dining. Chris and I actually considered this venue for our wedding before we ultimately decided on a space in Lake Geneva, WI. Source:  Facebook

The Herrington Inn is an all-season escape, but in warmer weather there's a fantastic gazebo for romantic dining. Chris and I actually considered this venue for our wedding before we ultimately decided on a space in Lake Geneva, WI. Source: Facebook

A few weeks ago, I was in Geneva with my mom and sister, who just happens to live there, for a relaxing day of girls-only shopping. We started off our trip with a quick brunch at Egg Harbor Cafe and then spent the afternoon wandering from boutique to boutique on popular Third Street -- including a few stops for chocolate and cupcakes, of course.

Near the end of our shopping trip, we stopped in for cupcakes at  The Latest Crave . That's my mom and sister enjoying our chocolate peanut butter and chocolate  selections -- delicious!

Near the end of our shopping trip, we stopped in for cupcakes at The Latest Crave. That's my mom and sister enjoying our chocolate peanut butter and chocolate  selections -- delicious!

Geneva has something for everyone, with a variety of clothing, home decor and stationery shops, among many others. Below are some of my favorite stops on Third Street to check out next time you're in the area.

If you're looking for even more ideas off the main drag, check out my Geneva Jauntful Guide for a full weekend's worth of places to try!

Denise's Adornments, 221 South Third Street

This is a relatively new shop in Geneva, and it's by far one of my favorite places to visit. Anyone who loves a monochromatic color scheme of grays and whites will have a field day in here. Denise's features French-inspired home decor along with an eclectic selection of frilly clothing. I fell in love with a faux fur vest and their understated glam jewelry collection. The storefront looks small, but the store goes on and on -- make sure you make it all the way to the sale rack in the back.

DenisesDecor.jpg

Graham's Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream, 302 South Third Street

Graham's is a Geneva staple. In the entryway, there's a large glass viewing window where you can watch the confectioners molding, dipping and icing the chocolaty treats. I like to visit this shop to buy individual truffles or chocolate-covered pretzels for carry-out. For a cafe environment, just down the street is Graham's 318 Coffeehouse, where local espresso enthusiasts gather over fancy hot chocolate and pastries. 

Source:  Facebook

Source: Facebook

Cocoon, 212 South Third Street

I've never left Cocoon empty-handed. This shop has so many great home accessories, along with a huge stationery section with cute notebooks and journals to fit every personality. This is my go-to gift store, with so many can't-find-it-anywhere-else specialties. Upstairs, there's a huge children's section, along with a row of Little Miss Sunshine-themed mugs and books -- a great way to express your feelings to your significant other. Mr. Perfect, anyone?

Source:  Chicago Now

Source: Chicago Now

Source:  Facebook

Source: Facebook

Anastazia Treasures for the Home, 447 South Third Street

Anastazia's home decor collection is seasonally driven, and when we were there in late winter they were already thinking about Easter and spring -- something very welcome in my book. Most notably, they stock my favorite soy candles from Sugar Mint Candle Co., a natural candlemaker based in nearby Montgomery, IL. They smell so fresh, burn cleanly -- and were recently featured in an Oscar party swag bag this year!

Source:  Facebook

Source: Facebook

Source:  Facebook

Source: Facebook

Source:  Facebook

Source: Facebook

Three Midwest Places That Wear Winter Well

Braving snow-covered sidewalks and below-zero temps on my morning commute accentuates the less glamorous side of winter. But in the right setting, snow and ice can bring out the best in some of the Midwest's best gathering spots. Below are three of my favorite winter respites in the region.

Seven Saints - Champaign, Illinois

IMG_1625-1600x884.jpg

As a proud University of Illinois alum, I can vouch that most of the time students don't venture too far away from campus. That said, Seven Saints is a Champaign restaurant well worth the trip -- and I spent a good deal of Sunday afternoons warming up with a cup of soup and sandwich at this cozy eatery on the outskirts of downtown. Seven Saints is especially welcoming for whiskey enthusiasts, with a wide selection ranging from Canadian and Irish whiskeys to bourbon and scotch. 

Boyne Mountain - Boyne Falls, Michigan

The Midwest's ski slopes may pale in comparison to the West and Northeast -- but the buzzing atmosphere at Michigan's Boyne Mountain more than makes up for it. The Mountain Grand Lodge & Spa is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, with downhill and cross country skiing, tubing, snow shoeing, horseback riding and ice skating, just to name a few. Plus, the lodge is a cozy gathering spot with bars and restaurants to gather and indulge your apres-ski appetite. 

Copperstone Inn - Rockton, Illinois

queens1.jpg

Just a few miles from my childhood home lies a new, world-class bed and breakfast catering to those looking for a quiet, rustic chic retreat. The Copperstone Inn in Rockton, Illinois, is the perfect respite to seek solitude by a cozy fire as the snow piles up outside. Plus, a jacuzzi and full-service spa adds an upscale touch to a romantic weekend getaway.