Monday, December 11, 2017

Chicago Winter Wonderland

Those of us from no-winter states (shout out California!) can truly appreciate the snowy winter wonderland that Chicago is this time of year. Most of my life I thought snow was only something we saw in movies. When I'm not slipping on ice and falling on my face, I do take time to marvel at the scenic portrait a snowy December brings.

Chicago isn't known for being subtle - the city really takes "Holiday Spirit" to the next level. Here are our picks of Chicago Holiday attractions that are worth trekking through the snow for!

Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo

Did you know that our very own Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoo's in North America? It's also one of the few free admission zoo's available to the public! Every Holiday Season, the Lincoln Park Zoo adorns itself in twinkling lights. Zoo Lights is available until January 7, 4:30 PM - 9:00 PM. Enjoy some hot spiced wine, live ice sculpting and animals at Lincoln Park Zoo this winter.


A homage to a Nuremberg market founded in 1545, Christkindlmarket is a Chicago favorite. Celebrate Chicago with traditional German drinks, foods and entertainment. They even provide a scavenger hunt to learn about German Heritage available to download on their website. The market lasts in three locations (Chicago Loop, Park at Wrigley and Naperville) until Christmas Eve. 

Caroling At Cloud Gate

Let's be clear - It's called THE BEAN. Head over to Chicago's favorite bean shaped mirror this Friday, Dec. 15,  and hear hundred of carolers from across our great city singing some Christmas classics!

Music Box Christmas Show 

Historic and beloved Chicago movie theater, The Music Box, will be playing a double feature (and sing-a-long!) of classics White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life all December long. Tickets are $13.00 for a single feature and $20.00 for the double feature.

Ice Skating at Millennium Park

We can't promise you won't fall down. Ice skating millennium park is must for Chicagoans and tourists alike. Hit the rink with friends and family at Millennium Park.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Halloween Town, USA

If your Halloween plans are already figured out, you are my idol. 
I should go as you for Halloween (...please tell me you wear comfy shoes ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ). If you are like the rest of us 
and procrastinating up until the bitter end, you still have time. From Bucktown and beyond,
here are some ideas for finding the perfect Halloween costume and the perfect place to wear it! 

From our own Bucktown and Wicker Park neighborhood the following stores have great options for curating your costume. I’ve found anything from 80s sections that never end, and racks of prom and wedding dresses. To wigs that I would buy even if it wasn’t halloween, and always the classic hot dog suit. 
Zip up. Done. 
Plus so many more vintage and costume shops in Chicago! 
So if you’re caught in between wanting to achieve your best costume ever, and/or maybe just watching a scary movie on the couch. What can it hurt to peruse one more list of Costume Ideas and where to find them. And while you’re at, a list of Chicago Inspired Costume Ideas. Because maybe you already have this lying around…and if not, (Chicago) hot dog suit!

Once you’re dressed and ready to go, we have great neighborhood events leading up to Halloween: 
Our friend Gordon is back with a special Halloween edition of his Bizarre Bucktown Walking Tour! This 90 minute tour is guided by flashlight, and for this one, must be 21 or older as the tour ends with a drink at Club Lucky. Gordon dares you to ditch the dress-up ghosts and go after the real ones. I ask you to find a buddy early, because that system always works, right?

Click Here for more events in Bucktown and Wicker Park, with a special shout out to: 

  • Costume Party and Parade at Holstein Park. This park is right in our back yard and is always hosting wonderful events for the neighborhood!
  • Boo-Palooza and Trick-or-Treating on the 606. This trail has continued to gain interest since it’s construction. The flowers and greenery have come in, some seating areas now boast sculptural installations, and my favorite is the bridge overlooking Milwaukee Ave. that lights up at night. I can’t wait to see this overrun with little monsters ๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿ’€and to protect from any big kids stealing candy bags because that’s not cool (and people don’t forget).              
For events in downtown Chicago the Arts in the Dark Parade is happening this Saturday, October 21! 

A nighttime parade bringing together the variety of family and culture that define Chicago, and celebrating the artistry of our city and of Halloween. It's free, it's family friendly, and it truly has something for everyone! From groups marching in medieval armor, to local artists creating lanterns specific to this event, and even a mariachi band. Plus! Where else can you go to a house dance party at "The Bean" and also be dressed up as "The Bean" (insert pause to reflect on or in front of that). Click Here for more information, and for costume instruction kits of course.   

From everyone here at Ray's B&B, 
we hope you have a safe and scary, and above all else, 

Friday, September 29, 2017

This weekend Chicago!

I'll admit it - I'm sad summer is over. This was my very first summer in Chicago and it did not disappoint. I was overwhlemed by the amount of food-themed festivals, neighborhood festivals and block parties. Every weekend brought about a new neighborhood to explore and, let's face it, more fantastic food. Even though summer is over, we still have a lot to look forward to this fall! Here's what to checkout this weekend in Chicago.

This weekend is Oktoberfest! Chicago welcomes you to celebrate German heritage, eat handmade  bratworst and enjoy German beers all weekend long. Get a peek at the local Chicago bands playing at this years Oktoberfest by liking the event facebook page!

Doth looketh for a laugh this weekend? iO theaters long running show Improvised Shakespeare is every Saturday at 8:00 PM. The talented ensemble will create a Shakespeare-styled play based on your suggestions.

If you're looking to stay in the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood, check out the new Haven Lounge. A part of Den Theater, the Haven Lounge offers coffee, cocktails, food and lovely decor. Welcome to the neighborhood, Haven Lounge!

We're always looking for new events to check out in Chicago. Let us know if you have something to recommend.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Food Destinations, Big and Small.

Our garage top deck is nearly complete, making us more of a Chicago Bed & Breakfast than ever before. 
Chicago summer is a race to covet as much outdoor, deck seating, as humanly possible.
We are so happy to offer our guests their own little piece☀☀☀

Ray's Bucktown Bed & Breakfast Herb Garden

Exciting changes still to come: we’ll be transitioning to more permanent seating and larger planters, with possible green house and wood burning stove! Plus! For anyone staying in our Skylight Room, you now have direct access to the deck and garages. Your own private entrance without having to go through the B&B (pack a baseball cap and dark sunglasses to complete your celebrity on holiday look ๐ŸŽฌ).

Our deck is also home to our beautiful herb garden, pictured here. These herbs help decorate each breakfast plate and are combined to season some of our omelettes and scrambles. But as much as we love breakfast, we know there are two other important meals of the day, and although they can be substituted by a 2nd and 3rd breakfast, our Bucktown and Wicker Park neighborhoods have tons of great dining options to try! 

Don’t know where to start, why not try it all? 
Buy your tickets for the 6th Annual Fall Dinner Crawl in Bucktown and Wicker Park! Scheduled for Tuesday, September 26th, 6 - 9pm. Sample small bites and appetizers especially made for you, and while you’re at it, get a guided neighborhood tour. 
Publican Anker Menu Art
Click for More Info and the Complete Walking Route.

(The Royal Grocer & Co. has one of Bucktown’s newest brunch menus. They are hosting a brunch with DJ Fess Grandiose on Saturday, September 23rd, noon - 4pm. Come back that same night for vinyl and cocktails, as Royal Grocer and Double Door present Saturday Evenings with Uncle El, 10pm - 2am. Both events are FREE. Check them out HERE

Want to go bigger?! 
Chicago was recently named Restaurant City Of The Year by Bon Appetit magazine, an honor given to the most innovative and exciting dining city in the country! Chicago also earned two spots on this year’s Hot 10 List where Bon Appetit selects the Best New Restaurants in America! If you’re still with me, I posted some of our favorites below. If your stomach has taken over and you’re scouring the links above, I trust you’re on a good journey ๐Ÿ—๐Ÿœ๐Ÿท๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿจ๐Ÿ๐Ÿถ
Mi Tocaya Antojiera Elotes Plate

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Adventures in Bizarre Bucktown

Being a recent transplant to Chicago, I still can't believe the amount of neighborhoods, each with their own style and flavor, all belong to one glorious city. I moved to Chicago about a year ago from sunny California with nothing but a deep love for pizza and a curiosity for snowflakes. I eventually found myself an Assistant Manager at Ray's Bucktown Bed and Breakfast (drawn in, of course, by the breakfast) and learned that the Manager, Sam, was also from California! Turns out we lived about 6 blocks away from each other before we moved to Chicago. Bizarre, huh?

Any transplant will tell you that moving to Chicago requires extensive research on each neighborhood. Bucktown is always at the top of any list we'd seen, notable for it's walkability, nightlife and overall "cool" factor. Sam and I both live in different neighborhoods now and decided it was time for us to learn more about Bucktown.

After some research, we found Bizarre Bucktown Walking Tours. Perfect! Something we can do together after work, get some exercise (ya know, because of the breakfasts) and learn more about the lovely neighborhood that houses our lovely B&B! The tour was created entirely by Gordon Meyer, a Bucktown resident of over twelve years. He's exactly what you'd want a walking tour guide to be - charismatic, funny and defiantly tall (no need to worry about losing the group!). We met Gordon and other walking tourists at Walsh Park. Gordon didn't skip a beat and launched into the history of Walsh park, it's namesake and the mysterious fire that left the area barren for so long. 

Chicago as a whole has a rich history of immigrants, mobsters and artists - Bucktown is no different! We definitely recommend taking the time to look at St. Mary of Angels Church. The church is rooted deeply in the hearts of Chicago's Polish community and it's architecture is absolutely beautiful!

If you're thirsty, walk over to Lottie's Pub. Lottie's has been a Bucktown treasure since 1934 is said to be the favored watering hole to some of Chicago's toughest crime bosses and is haunted to this day. Gordon's got a great story about Lottie herself! 

If the ghost's of mobsters isn't your thing, head over to Bucktown Pub for a cold one (and yes, a new  ghost). 

If you want to meet the different ghosts of Bucktown or simply learn why the neighborhood is called "Bucktown" - we definitely recommend Bizarre Bucktown Walking Tours with Gordon. He also offers private tours and Bizarre Wicker Park walking tour as well.  Gordon generously offers a 10% discount to any of our Guest's here at Ray's. 

Bucktown Neighbors: Gordon and Kelly
Feel free to ask us about other things to do during your stay at Ray's!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring is here!

Here at Ray’s we have been doing quite a bit of research in anticipation of our new organic permaculture rooftop garden.  

Ray and some of the staff recently attended the Moses Organic Conference in La Crosse, WI. Some of the highlights were the bee and mushroom workshops, the talks on added

value, lean farming, and learning about companion planting* (which we are planning on using in our new rooftop garden). 

Some of the staff also attended the Good Food Festival right here in Chicago. It was wonderful to see various urban farms in action, and to connect with urban agriculture folks from all around. Leah particularly enjoyed walking around Metropolitan Farm, a large aquaponics greenhouse.

Fun Fact
*Native American planting method of x3 sisters = Corn, bean and squash.
Corn grows tall, beans use as a trellis and also provide nitrogen for soil. Squash covers the ground area to eliminate weeds and provide natural mulch.

That's all for now,


Thursday, March 9, 2017

All things GREEN!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day! Well, in 8 more days…but Chicago is ready to kick off the celebration this weekend with events happening from Bucktown to downtown, and plenty of activity right here at the B&B! With a little luck you'll find that same green shirt from last year, or go glamrocks and buy a new one just for the occasion. 

Saturday, March 11th, marks the 62nd anniversary of Chicago’s downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade. One of the largest in the country! There are designated viewing areas, some with option to pay for prime seating, or classic option to arrive early and cozy up along the parade route. It’s undetermined if donning a kilt and bare legs will grant you more or less standing room, but we suggest you give it a try! We also suggest getting there early. 

Parade starts at noon, but at 9am the Chicago River turns GREEN! Don’t ask us how this works. Just watch one boat dump vegetable dye and another mix it into the water and be mesmerized by all those emerald hues. For more event info, check out the links below:

If downtown isn’t your destination, try our Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood! Filled with great bars and restaurants, many hosting their own St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. 
For some local spots to start your weekend: 

For us here at Ray’s, we’re celebrating GREEN of a different kind. Work has officially begun on our new 2-car garage with rooftop deck! And as sad as it is to see our garden up-rooted, we're busy mapping that rooftop with fruit trees and veggies and standing on large piles of dirt! Excited to bring more parking and a little permaculture to the B&B! Follow our Facebook for updates

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Weekend Suggestions Near Ray's

This Saturday just a short train ride away from Ray's, 50,000 people are expected to show up between 8:30am and 2pm at the Women's March. Starting at Grant Park in downtown Chicago, speakers will address reproductive rights, racial justice, immigration, gun violence and issues involving LGBTQ. (*A special edition of SlutTalk diaries will be happening after the Women's March. The free event will have group discussions and writing exercises January 21 7-9pm at Volumes Bookcafe 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave. )

For all those Jazz lovers, 88 year old Sheila Jordan will be making an appearance at the acclaimed Green Mill Jazz Club. She will be accompanied by pianist Alan Broadbent and bassist Dennis Carroll  9pm Friday or 8pm Saturday at 4802 N. Broadway.
Try over 10 varieties of comforting ramen at Kizuki Ramen & Izakya, the "Best Ramen in Chicago". Open 11:30am to midnight, and located at 1482 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Check Out Plant Life in Chicago!

Some people like pet shops, and I do too,
but mostly when I have the urge to take a long look at something I frequent one of the many plant shops near Ray's.
Family owned Adams and Son Gardens (1057 N. California Ave) is a wonderful place to check out in nearby Humboldt Park. They are open all week, and even in winter offer a large assortmant of succulents, cacti, houseplants and more. The staff are super friendly and helpful.

Sprout Home (745 N. Damen Ave.) in nearby Ukrainian Village is open all week as well, and specializes in contemporary indoor and outdoor garden design. The shop is visually rewarding with beautiful displays and a large variety of plants.
They offer terrarium workshops that you can find by clicking --> here.

Finally, the Garfield Park Conservatory is a warm and serene sanctuary. A huge plant house showcasing all walks of plant life in beautifuly arranged rooms, the Conservatory is truly a Chicago gem. It can be enjoyed alone, with family, friends or a date. No one leaves unhappy, unless it is because they are leaving.