Top 10 Tourist Sites In Washington DC

The nation’s capitol, Washington DC, is full of things to do for locals and visitors alike. We recently shared the top tourist spots to visit in Boston and we’re kicking off our DC adventures with a list of 10 tourist sites as well. According to a recent article from Business Insider, Washington DC is the 12th most popular destination in the US for travel. You might think that’s a pretty low number but not if you consider Hawaii, New York City and California. I’m proud to say my home city of Chicago is listed at #7! Anyway, I digress. Regardless of DC’s place on any list, it does have a lot of incredible things to do, most of which pay homage to United States history. A few of these sites will also be included on our list of historical sites to visit coming soon. A lot of the tourist sites and historical sites are interchangeable in their category because the historical sites are the ones people most want to see. The number of things to do, not only in DC, but any city could fill up pages of research. So we don’t make your eyes cross, we’ve narrowed the list down to ten. Mention other suggestions that you have in the comments below.

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Capitol Building
Every city has one building or specific site that defines it. For Chicago, we have the Sears Tower (aka Willis Tower). San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge. New York City, the Empire State Building. In Washington, DC, it’s the Capitol Building. The domed structure is one of the most photographed spots in the city. Many tours can be a waste of time but not this one. Take a tour of the Capitol Building and if you get a chance (and you have the patience for politics), see Congress in session. It’s a memorable experience and you will learn so much. Tour passes are available the day of at the Visitor’s Center but they recommend to schedule one in advance. They make it simple to do so on their website or you can book one through your Representative or Senators. Looking up tours for the next two months, many of the time slots are already full up so this is something you do not want to chance.

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Jefferson Memorial
Embodying Neoclassical architecture, this memorial was made for Thomas Jefferson, the third president. The memorial is surrounded by water on the National Mall and located near many of the famous Cherry Blossom trees. This is one of my favorite memorials because of how beautiful it is. If it weren’t crowded with people so often, you might even find it a serene memorial because of the water.

International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum opened in July of 2002 as the only public museum dedicated to espionage. It has the “largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display” according to their website. Many of the people who had a hand in putting this museum together were either spies themselves or involved in the “spy world.” The museum features interactive exhibits for the ultimate experience. One in particular is the “Covers & Legends” experience. Visitors adopt a cover identity and memorize everything they need to know to understand the importance of keeping that cover. Learn about the history of the spy business, go through 50 years of James Bond villains, learn about modern challenges spies face today and more. It’s a fun, educational experiment for people of all ages. This is another one we recommend buying tickets for in advance.

Lincoln Memorial
This will forever be the memorial that Megatron destroyed in Transformers to me. Dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, this is one of the more magnificent memorials in DC. It’s considered the most beautiful at sunrise when the sun shines directly on Lincoln. I was not lucky enough to experience this but my cousin has and she assures me it’s a memorable moment and worth the early wake up call. The memorial also includes a carving of the Gettysburg Address on one side of Lincoln.

Memorials - All of Them
There are a few particular memorials included in this list but to include all of them would mean a very long post. I don’t even know what all of the memorials are to include them all! There’s a memorial for both World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Franklin Roosevelt, Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt, the Navy, The Marines. According to a recent article by CBS, there are more than 160 monuments and memorials. To visit them all, you either need superspeed or months to dedicate visiting each of them. My advice, think about what you’re interested in the most. A certain part of history? Architecture? Specific individuals? Wars? Start from there and narrow down which memorials and monuments pay respect to those interests. Once you have that list, decide which ones you’d most like to visit and hit those. Otherwise, you’ll spend an entire trip to DC seeing a fraction of the memorials it is home to and nothing else.

National Archives
The National Archives are one of the more interesting sites on this list. This is a huge building full of letters, records, photographs, maps and so much more. If you are a history buff, this site is for you. A few things to do while visiting the National Archives include browsing historical records and presidential papers, records specific to research, attending a public event and more. You can see photographs documenting history, arrest warrants, telegrams, speech notes from public figures. So much! Make a plan and visit.

National Mall + All the Museums
The National Mall is visited by millions of people each year. It’s home to many different monuments, memorials and museums including the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Museums, White House, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial and more. The National Mall is a wonderful place to take a minute, slow down and take it all in. The lawns are meticulously manicured and there is no shortage of things to see.

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United States Holocaust Museum
The Holocaust Museum is not an uplifting site to visit by any means. It’s sad and sobering in many ways but it’s an experience everyone should have at least once. This is a piece of history that should never be forgotten. Walking through the museum, you’ll be taken through a history of the era with displayed artifacts, video and photographed footage as well as personal accounts. It informs on how the Holocaust came to be and what made it possible to exist. It takes you through the experience as a child which is emotional beyond words. Besides their regular exhibitions, they also have several temporary ones including a look inside Nazi propaganda and the Nazi Germany plans to create a “master race.” It’s not an uplifting experience but it is an important one. You can purchase tickets in advance or buy them same day from March through August only but it’s recommended you buy them in advance.

Washington Monument
If the Capitol Building didn’t exist, I’d say the Washington Monument was the one piece of architecture that defined DC. This 555-foot monument is made of marble and was built to honor George Washington. Normally, you can take a ride to the top for spectacular views of the capitol but it’s currently closed for repairs (as of September 2017). You can still take photos of the monument and visit the gift shop where they have fun old-fashioned mugs.

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The White House
It would be remiss to not include the White House as part of this list. Visiting is not easy though. If you insist on having a tour of the White House, this is something you have to do in advance. There is a process to being invited inside the house for tours and it means you have to go through your member of Congress. If you’re not a US citizen, this means going through your embassy in Washington DC. If you absolutely have to see inside the building, go through the proper methods to get that tour. If you’re content with taking a photo of the outside, don’t bother. Others may disagree and say that the White House is an absolute MUST when visiting the capitol but it’s not something that I find worth the effort.

Prosciutto + Ricotta Pizza with Spring Onions | Summer Recipes

Pizza isn’t something that I get to experiment with very often. The two teenagers in my house are very opposed to anything BUT traditional pizza. I made a barbecue chicken pizza once and you would have thought the sky was falling with the reaction it received. Fortunately, that was not long after I moved in and they’ve since become a bit more open to experimentation. Just not when it comes to pizza. I was really craving a “white” pizza one night earlier this summer which inspired this recipe. To get away with it at dinner, I called it a flatbread instead. You’d be surprised what tweaking the language can actually do in this house.

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A “white” pizza is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of a red sauce at the base, it’s a white “sauce” or in this case...cheese. Ricotta is an ingredient I fall more and more in love with. It has a mild flavor making it a perfect canvas ingredient. Use it as your base and build up. I love to mix it with herbs which is how this creamy and herby base came about. It’s a summery pizza, light but full of natural flavors.

Ricotta, unlike many other cheeses is not salty. Prosciutto, on the other hand, is super salty. They were practically made for each other! Add some sauteed spinach and onions, a little more flavor with additional herbs and a touch more cheese. A nice, pungent Parmesan on top rounds out the flavors well. The secret ingredient that will add brightness is the lemon zest. It’s hardly noticeable but brings a touch of acid to the pizza cutting the saltiness. This is a pizza that you’ll want to make year round, but especially in these last few summer days. And if the kids insist that they only want “real” pizza, just do what I did and tell them it’s a flatbread.

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Prosciutto + Ricotta Pizza with Spring Onions
Ingredients:
1 roll or package of store-bought Pizza Dough
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
4-6 Spring Onions, sliced
5 ounces Spinach
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
¼ cup Parsley, chopped
⅓ cup Basil, chopped
1 tsp. Lemon Zest
5 ounces thinly sliced Prosciutto (about 8-10 pieces)
1 tbsp. Chives, finely chopped
¼ cup Parmesan, shredded
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
1 - Preheat the oven to 425 degrees*. Arrange the pizza dough onto a rectangular baking sheet or pizza pan and brush with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Set aside. (The shape of your pizza crust will depend on the store-bought version you buy. Mine rolled out in a rectangular shape.)

2 - Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the onions and cook 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the spinach has wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

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3 - Mix together the ricotta, parsley, basil and lemon zest until all of the ingredients are well-incorporated. Spread evenly over the pizza dough using a small rubber spatula. Be careful not to pierce or rip the pizza dough.

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4 - Top the ricotta mixture with the sauteed onions and spinach. Rip the prosciutto slices once or twice and arrange on top of the pizza. Sprinkle with Parmesan and chives. Bake 10-15 minutes until the dough is golden and the Parmesan cheese has melted. Cut into squares and serve.

*For the temperature, follow the directions according to your pizza dough. The directions for mine required a 425 degree oven but if your dough says differently, use that temperature instead. All of the ingredients are cooked except for the pizza dough so you’re baking it specifically for the crust.

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Chicago Coffee Shop Series | West Loop + Ukrainian Village

Coffee is in my blood. I swear the smell of it alone can instantly put me in a good mood. Unique coffee shops with interesting stories or funky vibes indulge my addiction. One of my favorite things to do while traveling is find the local favorites. What I love to do in my own city is become the expert so I can share the best spots whether you’re looking to unplug, catch up with a friend or get things done. We’re heading to the West Side of Chicago for a few gems that have become personal favorites. From hidden spots in the West Loop to a unique coffee shop with cool history in the Ukrainian Village, you’ll be heading to at least a few of these whether you’re in town visiting or a local.

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Atomix | 1957 West Chicago Avenue
Located in West Town, Atomix Cafe is more diner-like than coffee shop. Classic diner tables, chairs and booths fill the space for a cafeteria-like feeling. For not being a particularly large space, Atomix has plenty of seating . You'll find people getting in a few emails during a break or using the coffee shop as a makeshift office for a few hours. Their food and drink menu is expansive offering organic goods as well as vegan options. It’s a spot for everyone with plenty of natural lighting, good music and most important...lots of outlets. **Expert tip: Make sure to try the chips and salsa. DIVINE!

Wi-Fi: ✓ ← can be slow at times
Good for working: ✓
Food Selection: Full breakfast, lunch & dinner menus including vegan and vegetarian options.
Service: Friendly staff
Noise Level: Mild. Nothing too extreme to note.
Seating Space: Plenty of tables to crank out your day.
Outlets: Plentiful
Music: Great mix

Big Shoulders | 1105 West Chicago Avenue
For a classic corner coffee shop with tons of natural light, an ideal location and great coffee, Big Shoulders is your spot. With plenty of space and large tables for co-working, this would be a great spot for group work sessions. Host team meetings, interviews, whatever you need. If you need a place to chill between appointments, Big Shoulders is right off the blue line for easy transportation access.

Wi-Fi: ✓
Good for working: ✓
Food Selection: pastries and snacks
Service: Friendly
Noise Level: Low
Seating Space: Decent. Spacious but it’s a small space so it fills up during peak times.
Outlets: Not too many
Music: N/A

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C.C. Ferns | 2806 West Augusta
As far as uniqueness and originality go, C.C. Ferns wins the award. Located in Humboldt Park, C.C. Ferns is unlike any other coffee shop you will visit, guaranteed. The coffee shop has a funky, old-school vibe...kind of like you entered your grandfather’s dream den from 1955. It’s the type of place you could picture Marlon Brando or James Dean having a cigar or cigarette in the morning reading the paper and sipping the coffee. Did they even read the paper? Regardless, you get where I’m going with this. As if the design wasn’t enough to contribute to C.C. Ferns’ originality, they also sell a curated cigar selection. What’s even more, there’s a space in the back where you can book events or attend local musical gigs once in awhile. Like I said, award-winner for originality.

Wi-Fi: ✓
Good for working: ✓
Food Selection: Selection of doughnuts from Doughnut Vault, house-made croissants and local oatmeal
Service: Friendly
Noise Level: Low-Medium
Seating Space: Tons
Outlets: N/A
Music: N/A

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La Columbe - West Loop | 955 West Randolph
La Columbe and I had a rough start. When visiting a coffee shop, I almost always expect wi-fi...that was until I met La Columbe. I must have been the only person on the planet that didn’t know it was a “thing” that they didn’t have wi-fi. So when I stopped in on my first visit, expecting to have a productive morning, you bet I was let down. After that first visit and knowing what to expect, my next visits were much more pleasant. For example, I didn’t look like a complete idiot by asking the barista what the internet was. I also made sure that I had a day of writing planned for myself. The internet is a deadly distraction when it comes to productivity sometimes, especially while writing. Many of the visitors at La Columbe have their own means of attaining internet capabilities but I like to visit for an internet-free day of work. I’ll use my tablet or phone to stay on top of emails and social media but when I’m turned to my computer, my focus is on point. As far as customer service, they’re pretty chill. Besides that weird look I got that one time I asked for internet, I’ve always had friendly baristas who handle your drink order in superhuman speed.

Wi-Fi: NONE! I did not know this the first time I visited so please be advised if you don’t have some sort of traveling wi-fi or hotspot.
Good for working: ✓
Food Selection: Pastries and Snacks
Service: Efficient and Friendly
Noise Level: Varies
Seating Space: Plenty - Long tables for co-working and smaller tables for privacy
Outlets: Bountiful
Music: N/A

Sawada Coffee | 112 North Green Street
Located across the street from Soho House Chicago, this is one of the most un-coffee shop like coffee shops I’ve ever been to. It’s a funky spot in the West Loop that has become one of my favorites. The entrance door is adorned with graffiti making it blend in. If you’re not looking for it, you’ll definitely miss it. The coffeeshop is located within a loft building (like every other business in the West Loop). It expands farther because it’s also home to Green Street Smoked Meats. Find a selection of doughnuts from Doughnut Vault at Sawada while they last and expect one hell of a fantastic cup o’ joe. They also happen to own C.C. Ferns! Masterminds, these people are! **Expert Tip: Beware the blinding sun at the window seat in the morning. It’s brutal.

Wi-Fi: ✓
Good for working: ✓
Food Selection: Pastries available at the coffee shop but if you get hungry, just walk over to Green Street.
Service: Fantastic
Noise Level: Low during non-meal times, a little noisy when diners come in for lunch but not too bad.
Seating Space: Plenty of space especially since it extends into Green Street Smoked Meats.
Outlets: Scattered generously
Music: N/A

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5 Day Boston Itinerary

With a few extra days in a trip, you can afford to take your time seeing the sites. While that may be nice, you also don’t want to waste any time. The trick is to find a nice balance so you cover a lot of ground without feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Being a walkable city, Boston makes that easy. And if a destination happens to be a little too far for walking, their public transportation system has you covered. Keep reading while we take you through a five-day trip in Boston.

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DAY 1: The Natural Side of Boston
Your first day in any city should always have flexible plans. You never know what delays you’ll run into and then there’s always traffic. Isn’t that fun? Assuming your first day has at least a few hours to explore, go without a specific plan. Visit the Boston Common and the Esplanade. Both are open to the public and have plenty to see and do. It’s an easy way to get your trip started and they should be on your Boston bucket list anyway.

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DAY 2: Embrace Your Inner Tourist
Let go of all the negative connotations that come with being a “tourist” and embrace it for a day. Every city, including Boston, is full of sites that are considered tourist attractions. Chicago has Navy Pier, Boston has the USS Constitution. Chicago has Millennium Park, Boston has the Boston Common. Chicago has Lou Malnati’s, Boston has Neptune’s Oyster Bar. I could go on for days. To encourage tourist behavior even more, we recently shared 8 tourist spots to visit in Boston. This includes the Cheers Restaurant and Fenway Park among other popular destinations you will find groups of tourists visiting.

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This is also a great day to visit a few monumental sites like the JFK Library & Museum, USS Constitution or Museum of Fine Arts. A few tips to keep in mind, do a little research before you go. Make sure you know the hours of the locations you’d like to browse around like museums and historical sites. Find out what their entrance fees are, if there are any tours available and buy tickets in advance for everything that you can. This will save you lots of time and it will usually guarantee your entry.

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DAY 3: Day Trip to Cambridge
Even in our three-day guide to Boston, I still included a trip to Cambridge. This neighbor city is a gem all on its own. With the Harvard and MIT campuses located here, it’s full of lively coffee shops, restaurants, bars and town squares. Walk through the Harvard Yard, take a photo on the steps of the Widener Library, enjoy one of the many museums from archaeology to art. Take a tour of the Harvard campus led by students, grab a cup of coffee in one of the local cafes and reflect on what you’ve seen and done in Boston so far. It’s a great place to pretend like you’re a local and just enjoy the beautiful day.

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For the history lovers, take a walk over to the Longfellow House - Washington’s National Headquarters. This gorgeous historical home takes tours through late October/early November before closing for the season. Grab photos of Memorial Church which has a beautiful architectural design before a bite to eat at one of Cambridge’s many restaurants. Check out our recommendations in our Cambridge Neighborhood Guide.

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DAY 4: Walk the Freedom Trail
This is the ultimate tour of Boston. It takes you through all the hottest spots in the city including the sites with the most historical significance. It’s also a great route to deviate off of in case you want to see extra sites like Acorn Street. The tour itself is free and will take you through the North End, Downtown and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. Most of the sites are free like the Granary Burying Ground, Boston Common and many churches. You can view all of them and grab photos but several like the Paul Revere House cost an admittance fee.

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Do a little research beforehand to create a route that suits your interests and allows you to veer off course if you’d like. This is also a great time to check out any of the freedom trail destinations that allow you to explore inside. Check out their hours and if there are any admittance fees so you can budget both time and money. Again, anything that you can purchase in advance is ideal so you can skip potential lines and save time.

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DAY 5: Eat Your Way Through the North End
I can’t think of a better way to end a trip than eating your way through an Italian neighborhood. Am I right? The North End has everything from Neptune’s Oyster Bar to traditional white tablecloth Italian restaurants and pastries so divine and indulgent, you’ll feel guilty for weeks. If you’re lucky enough to walk through on the weekends, they have a farmer’s market in the morning with all kinds of produce and fish that were caught that morning. Being a Midwestern native, this is something I have never seen before so it was pretty cool.

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A few recommendations while you’re eating your way through the North End. Grab coffee at Thinking Cup. This local coffee shop has incredible lattes and cappuccinos and there’s a ton of space to sit down and take your time. Grab some pizza at Umberto’s Galleria or Locale. They’re two different experiences so it depends on what you’re looking for. Umberto’s has traditional Sicilian-style pizza offered first come-first serve during lunch and is cash-only. Locale is a more trendy pizza joint with equally tasty pizzas that have every topping you can imagine plus appetizers and a great drink list. Grab some sweets at Mike’s Pastries but be ready to wait in line. If you still have room left, head over to La Galleria 33 for mind-blowing pasta. As far as I’m concerned, you haven’t had Italian until you’ve had pasta.

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Mini Lamb Meatballs with Quinoa & Roasted Veggies | Weeknight Recipes

Lamb a treat in my family. There are few of us who really enjoy it and it's not easily available so buying it is an occasional thing. I was craving a lamb dinner one week but not a heavy one and it inspired this recipe idea. Quinoa is such a versatile grain and works with almost anything. The tricky party was finding a combination of veggies that would compliment the meat well without taking over the dish.

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Lamb is similar to beef in texture, color and cooking method but the flavor is a bit more gamey. It's really delicious and almost lighter in a way because lamb pairs beautifully with lemon and rosemary, both ingredients that I took advantage bit in a subtle way. The quinoa can be mixed with any veggies you have on hand but being a fan of seasonal ingredients, the pepper, asparagus and radishes felt right in the moment. You could also try mushrooms, tomatoes, different squash and other veggies as well. The trick is roasting them to bring out all of their natural flavor. Be careful you don't let the vegetables outshine the meatballs though. They should be the star of this dish.

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As excited as I am for fall and all the amazing produce that comes with it, spring and summer veggies are something I look forward to every year. The vibrant colors and bold flavors are an easy way to brighten a day and bring a little happiness to the dinner table. You don’t need much to create a great meal full of flavor. All it takes is seasonal produce, herbs and the right combinations.

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Mini Lamb Meatballs with Quinoa & Roasted Veggies
Ingredients for the Meatballs:
1 tsp. Fresh Oregano, chopped
1 tsp. Fresh Thyme, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
½ tsp. Grated Lemon Zest
¼ cup Breadcrumbs
1lb. Ground Lamb

For the Quinoa:
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
½ lb. Radishes, quartered
1 bunch Asparagus, trimmed
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 sprigs Rosemary
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Quinoa
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
1 - Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets with tin foil. Mix the meatballs. Gently acclimate the oregano, thyme, garlic, lemon zest and breadcrumbs into the ground lamb. Roll into 1-inch balls, about the size of a jumbo gumball. Place on one of the baking sheets and bake 15-20 minutes.

2 - Prepare the veggies. Toss the pepper, radishes and asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto the second baking sheet and top with rosemary sprigs. Roast 8-10 minutes until the veggies have softened but still have a bite to them.

3 - Bring two cups of chicken stock to a boil. Add in the quinoa, stir and cover to cook about 15 minutes until all of the liquid has absorbed. Toss with the veggies and top with meatballs. Serve.

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Coming Face To Face With History - Granary Burying Ground | Boston

As odd as it sounds, cemeteries are some of my favorite places to visit when traveling to a city with a rich history. In Paris, it was Pere l’Chaise. In Boston, it was the Granary Burying Ground. Part of Boston’s Freedom Trail, it seems I’m not the only one interested in cemeteries. There are visitors walking through this historical site the moment it opens to the second the gates close. It’s a site that is not only the resting place of many historical figures but also a memorial for many others.

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If you take a professional tour of the Freedom Trail, you’ll get a great history lesson with facts that aren’t included in history books. If you don’t take a tour but one happens to be walking through as you’re visiting the Granary, get close enough to listen. I did this while visiting and learned quite a few fun facts about Paul Revere and Alexander Hamilton.

Some of the historical figures the Granary is known for include Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Mary Goose, James Otis, Benjamin Franklin’s parents, and more. There are several men who signed the Declaration of Independence, victims of the Boston Massacre, political figures, well-known benefactors, Revolutionary veterans and even a judge from the Salem Witch Trials.

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Many of the grave markers and memorials for the more significant historical figures in history have received upgrades. They’re rather magnificent in their presentation especially those for Benjamin Franklin’s family and John Hancock. Yet, the cemetery as a whole is full of original gravestones. They’re worn, tilted, broken down a little bit and sunk. While that might sound creepy or even sad, I found it the opposite. Many of these people had been gone for at least 250 years yet their memory still carries on through these stones that families put thought, creativity and love into. After all this time, you might say they're still alive in some ways because of those grave markers.

You can even see Paul Revere’s old gravestone. I believe he didn’t have one at first but it ended up being marked not long after his death. They’ve since erected a larger memorial for him since we’ve come to idolize his involvement in the Revolutionary War and American Independence. That small gravestone marking his place shows a bit of humility which seems appropriate. For anyone familiar with American history in particular, you may know that Paul Revere’s famous actions became more eccentric as time passed. Henry Longfellow idolized Paul Revere and amplified his famous actions during the war in “Paul Revere’s Ride.". A little food for thought…

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The Granary is located in the heart of downtown Boston making it easy to pass through. If it’s not in your plans, I strongly encourage you to consider making it a stop in your itinerary. Even if it is just to pass through on your way from one place to another, it’s a memorable experience and won’t take much of your time.

Where To Go For Bachelorette Parties In Chicago

Wedding season is in full swing and with it, bachelorette parties galore. The girls’ night out on steroids has gotten a reputation for strippers and lots of alcohol. After having attended a few on top of discussing ideas with friends, the time for janky strip clubs and rent-a-strippers is past. Instead, ladies are looking forward to weekend getaways, relaxing spa retreats and even good ol’ athletic fun. That’s not to say strippers and alcohol are completely out of the question. Do your thing but keep your options open and try one of these ideas as well. If nothing else, it’s an incredible time spent with the girls.

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Host a Wine Dinner (or have a restaurant host one for you)
A close friend of mine got married last summer and instead of going crazy, she had her closest friends and family over for a nice dinner. Her idea of a great bachelorette party was spending time with her girls while enjoying good food and amazing wine (and let me tell you, her wine cellar is something to be reckoned with). If you have confidence in your sommelier skills, host a wine dinner yourself. If not, or you don’t want the responsibility of setting and cleaning up, find a spot in the city.

  • CITY WINERY (1200 West Randolph Street): Take the girls for a tour, tasting or both at City Winery. Not only do they have a variety of wines on tap year-round, they also have a great dinner and brunch menu. City Winery is also a great spot for the bride who loves music. They always have a great band or performer lined up for weekend live entertainment
  • NIA (803 West Randolph Street): This Mediterranean tapas place has a seven course tasting option perfect for a small to mid-size bachelorette party. They also have a private event space in case you’d rather not worry about bothering other patrons. Book in advance because this tapas place has become a favorite in the West Loop.

Go to a Game
Another close friend of mine has no interest in getting wasted for her bachelorette party. If she had her way, she’d go to a Chicago White Sox game and hit up a local spot for a burger afterwards. If you have a bride that’s a die hard sports fan, take her to a game. This idea depends on timing, affordability and ticket availability but for the most part, you can make it happen. The easiest teams to get tickets for would be the Chicago Cubs, White Sox and Bulls. The Blackhawks and Bears can get tricky and expensive but if you are all committed, I say go for it. Check out one of the spots below for a bite to eat before or after the game:

  • Heading to a Bears game? Don’t go anywhere to grab a bite. Pregame instead. It’s part of the experience. Not only will you save money, you’ll have a blast and meet a ton of great people.
  • Save a buck after a Blackhawks or Bulls game by grabbing classic “Cheezborgers” at Billy Goat Tavern (1535 West Madison). These babies are unbeatable and if you head here after the game, you’ll wait out traffic and crowds. If it’s a late game, Billygoat closes at 10pm so head over to Au Cheval (800 West Randolph) instead for another incredible burger. They’re open till 12am or 1am, depending on the night.
  • Wrigleyville, home of the Chicago Cubs, is never short of places to eat or drink. There’s a space for whatever mood you’re in. The Cubby Bear (1059 West Addison Street) is a classic sports bar and favorite of Cub fans with traditional bar food for munching. Head towards East Lakeview for great brews and food at DryHop Brewers (3155 North Broadway Street), the best Pad Thai you’ll ever have at Joy’s Noodles (3257 North Broadway Street), or classic diner food and breakfast at Melrose Diner (3233 North Broadway Street).
  • The White Sox aren't located in an ideal spot, especially for grabbing a bite to eat. You could head to a local joint somewhere in the area but I’d recommend heading a little north to University Village/Little Italy. Grab empanadas at Chilango Mexican Street Food (1437 West Taylor Street), burgers and milkshakes at Busy Burger (1120 West Taylor Street), or beef sandwiches at Al’s Beef (1079 West Taylor Street), a Chicago favorite.

Spa Staycation
Sometimes the best thing you can give a bride before her wedding day is a spa getaway. Chicago has many fantastic places to stay for a night or two and get pampered. This idea requires a bit more of a financial commitment so if that’s a concern for a few people, consider an afternoon of pampering instead. Check out a few of these hotels for your peaceful escape.

  • dana Hotel & Spa (660 North State Street): a boutique hotel in Chicago’s Gold Coast, the dana is an all-in-one package. The perfect location, schedule a day of spa services then party it up on their rooftop lounge, Apogee.
  • The Godfrey Chicago (127 West Huron): Experience luxury in River North at The Godfrey. Modern and unique in design, The Godfrey provides an unparalleled experience. Enjoy a variety of services from massages to facials and more.
  • The Peninsula Chicago (108 East Superior Street): Known for having one of the best spas in Chicago, The Peninsula will cost you a few dollars but it’s well worth it. The Peninsula is a beautiful hotel and I recommend staying an entire weekend with the girls. If that's too much, an afternoon of spa treatments will leave you feeling rejuvenated in time for the wedding.

I don’t know who started the stripper thing for bachelorette parties but if you ask me, they’re overrated. I mean...unless you take a trip out to Vegas and experience that new Magic Mike show they have. No complaints for that one. But if you’re planning to stay in the area, there are plenty of fun, creative ideas for spending time with the girls to celebrate the bride-to-be. Why not have a night to remember instead of a morning you’d rather forget?

8 Tourist Sites To Visit In Boston

Traveling “like a tourist” has gotten a negative connotation over the years. Think about what comes to mind with the word tourist…”obnoxious,” “fanny packs,” “cameras.” They’re the people who get in your way when you need to be somewhere in your own hometown. They’re the people who grab you to ask for directions when the building they’re looking for is right across the street...or on the other side of town. They’re the people that pool together at the same five spots when you know there is SO much more to discover.

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Travel seems to have gone through some changes over the last few years. Culture and local hot spots are things that newcomers are eager to find. Those “hole in the wall” spots that your friends won’t expect you to know about when you get home. However, some of those “touristy” spots many of us avoid to ditch crowds are 100% worth venturing to. Every city has them, including Boston. We’ve made it simple and put a list of 8 together with tips to improve your experience.

Acorn Street
This gem is an Instagram user’s dream. Beautifully lined with colorful leaves in the fall, Acorn Street is a small street tucked in the middle of the Beacon Hill neighborhood. It’s small with a brick and cobblestone road and lined on either side with townhouses, old-school lamp posts and trees. I’m not quite sure how this street became so popular or even why because there is nothing extraordinary about it. It’s just a beautiful street famous for being used in photos.

*TIP: Head over to Acorn Street early in the morning or on a rainy day. The cloudy skies will give your photos a better quality and avoid any glares. There will also be few people around to fight for photos with.

Acorn St. tucked away in the Beacon Hill neighborhood.

Acorn St. tucked away in the Beacon Hill neighborhood.

Boston Common
The Boston Common pops up in many of our round-ups. It’s one of the stars of Boston. Besides being free and enormous, it’s absolutely gorgeous any time of year. Locals and tourists flock to this site but if you want to feel like a local, here are a few ideas:

  • Grab a sandwich or some snacks and have a picnic. It’s the perfect spot for a lazy weekend afternoon people watching.
  • Go for a jog. Breeze through the park while still taking everything in, just a little faster.
  • Watch a performance. You’ll find live music throughout the park most of the year. Head to the common for a free concert.

Cambridge, MA
Famous for being the home to Harvard University, Cambridge can get a bit touristy during high travel months. Not like Boston but enough to feel like a popular destination. It’s a gorgeous city with beautiful campuses and quaint downtown squares. If you want to feel less like a tourist and more like a local, visit during the weekday while classes are in session and visitors are less likely to be crowding the streets.

*TIP: Bring a book with you and spend an hour or so in a coffee shop. You’ll fit in with everyone else in no time.

Harvard Square in downtown Cambridge

Harvard Square in downtown Cambridge

Cheers Restaurant
While I don’t have any local tips for this one, it would be negligent of me not to include the Cheers Restaurant in our tourist spot list. In case you’re unfamiliar, the Cheers Restaurant was the famous inspiration for the TV show back in the day. It’s still in business today with a classic bar menu and unforgettable experience.

*TIP: The Cheers Restaurant is located right across the street from the Boston Common. If you’re short on time, hit both in an afternoon!

Faneuil Hall
One of the top tourist sites, Faneuil Hall probably got so popular because of how many things it has to do. From shops and stores to live entertainment, the marketplace is one of the heaviest traffic sites in Boston as far as people are concerned. There is an infinite number of things to do and for every budget. Walk through and watch live performers without spending a dollar or shop at one of the many stores.

*TIP: Faneuil Hall is one of the central locations in Boston making it a great place to establish a home base during your trip. The Bostonian is across the street and there are several other hotels within walking distance including The Boxer Boston.

Fenway Park
Whether or not you’re a baseball fan, everyone knows that being a Boston Red Sox fan is practically in the native blood. For the ultimate experience, book a tour on non-game days. As you can imagine, these book up pretty fast so we recommend buying your tickets in advance to play it safe.

*TIP: The Museum of Fine Arts is a 10 minute walk away from Fenway Park so head on over after your tour. Looking for something else? Fenway/Kenmore, the neighborhood the park is in, borders Back Bay. Head east to explore for a day packed with plenty of activity and exploration.

Boston Common

Boston Common

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
The JKF library and museum is located a bit out of the way of everything else but a must-visit if you can swing it. Filled with exhibits dedicated to John F. Kennedy, his presidency and life, it’s a great opportunity to see pieces of history up close and personal. Something else the institution has is the Hemingway collection. JFK was a huge admirer of Ernest Hemingway and his family donated many documents, letters and photographs to the library to immortalize the literary genius.

*TIP: There’s no ideal time to visit the museum since weekdays you chance running into field trips and weekends can get crazy. We suggest visiting early when the doors open and spend the morning before heading to the rest of your plans for the day.

USS Constitution Museum
A great place to take the kids, the USS Constitution Museum is home to the oldest commissioned naval vessel still floating. It’s exactly what you’d imagine thinking back to Revolutionary Times and the museum does a terrific job embodying the history to provide a realistic experience. The Constitution was recently restored so now is the time to see the ship in all its glory.

What about you? Do you travel “like a tourist” or do you avoid looking like a visitor at all costs?

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