Monday, December 17, 2018

Holiday Cheers

 Happy Holidays from the Ray’s crew! We’re gearing up for a busy holiday break, with folks coming to stay from all over. Whether you’re looking for a New Year’s party spot, or a quiet Christmas hamlet to escape the family drama, Ray’s still has a few rooms available to further your holiday cheer. Speaking of cheer, the Bucktown neighborhood has a royal ton of bars and boutiques to either finish off, or if you’re like me and drastically unprepared for this gift season, jump-start your shopping and celebrations. These are all within walking distance of Ray’s, so put on your coat and get to adventuring!

For any and all cocktail/beer needs:

Burk’s Web Pub, 2026 W. Webster Ave.
Jukebox, darts, $3 dollar drafts and two blocks from Ray’s. What more could ya need?

Charleston Bar, 2076 N. Hoyne 
Hip lights, a unusually good looking person is usually spinning records. If you’re cool, or want to be, this is the bar for you. 

Corner Bar, Bell and Leavitt
Sports, ten-dollar PBR pitchers. So close to Ray’s you’ll only have to brave the winter for exactly three whole seconds.

Map Room, 1949 N. Hoyne
Good coffee, better beer. I freakin’ love this bar. 

For any and all eclectic gift needs: 

Sideshow Gallery, 2219 Western Ave. 
Tarot cards, crystals, and shrunken heads, oh my!  Half art gallery, half funky gift shop, worth a look just for a full-on weird experience.
Red Balloon Toy Store, 1940 N. Damen Ave.
            Classic toys, whimsical vibes.

Three Stars Resale Shop, 2600 W. Fullerton Ave.
Looking for a mid-century modern couch that will make your apartment look straight out of Mad Men? Welp, here ya go. Really beautiful used and antique furniture. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Staff Night Showdown

Fun fact about Ray Reiss, the namesake of Ray's Bucktown Bed and Breakfast, he's a crack-shot poker player. Once a year he makes a point of showing off these well-honed poker skills at staff poker night. This year, though, the staff also came to play. After a long and uphill battle of chips and wits, it was not Ray but our Manager, Kelly who came out victorious. It was truly epic, y'all. I'm sure Ray is already looking for a rematch.

That poker game wasn't the only competition of the night. Pre-poker, we had a Taco Showdown. First, we ordered beef tacos from every taco joint within a 3/4 radius (that's six places!). Then, we took notes and voted on the quality of tacos, and yes, I finished all six. The winners are as follows:

Aurturo's Tacos, Western Ave. Good meat/ onion balance, great salsa.
Las Asadas, Western Ave. Great beef.
Flash Taco, Damen Ave. A hipster favorite.

And, if we've inspired you to either play poker or get into the Latin-American spirit, here's some inspiration for ya:

1. National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, Humbolt Park. The only museum focused solely on Puerto Rican Culture in the US, free parking and admission, and close to Ray's, surely the making of a lovely afternoon.

2. Pilsen Murals, Pilsen. This walk of mosaic and mural, established by the Chicago Urban Art society, makes for a lovely outing in an eclectic neighborhood.

C3PO, 1452 W. 16th Street, 20133. National Museum of Mexican Art, Pilsen. With one of the largest collections of Mexican Art in the US, this awe-inspiring museum is a can't miss.

Image result for gamblers chicago

4. Horseshoe Hammond Casino, Hammond, IN. If you're looking for a real casino experience, the drive out of Chicago is certainly worth it!

5. Gamblers, Albany Park. Darts, Poker, Pool, drink specials, what more could you ask for?

Friday, October 26, 2018

All Hallows B&B

Lions and tigers and bears? Oh yeah! It’s about that time y’all, that spooky scary time where the leaves are turning, the air crisping, and the storefront that was once the home of a dodgy Ponderosa is now a neon-orange Spirit Halloween. The biggest decision of my year is about to be made: what to be for Halloween? I’m thinking Zombie Jackie Kennedy, demon big bird, or Hot Abraham Lincoln. All the staff here at Ray’s love Halloween. I’m not sure if Ray does himself, but he’s enough of a character that he still fits in.  

Halloween in Chicago is an entire weekend extravaganza, with Halloween on a Wednesday this year, there’s no shortage of festive activities to fully tune into your witchy side. What kind of Halloweener are you? Haunted house type? Costume dance party type? Eat so much candy your body physically explodes and you turn that into a zombie costume type? All of the above?  Chicago’s got events for ya, and Ray’s will always be here to cushion your sugar fallout post- Devil’s Night. 

If you’re not a fan of Halloween, go to a few of these events and open your mind to the possibilities of becoming a fun person. I believe in you. Anyways, Halloween events as follows:

In the Neighborhood:
Looking for a safe space to get some free candy? This map of safe businesses and homes has all you need to get them sweet sweet snickers bars. 
2.    Boo-Pallooza
Dog costume contests, food, dancing, this daytime events has a ton of live music and activities to get you into the Halloween Spirit. 

Around town:
1.    Hell’s Gate Haunted House, Lockport IL
A multi-level mansion filled with horrors. There’s a fright slide, and if you find the skeleton key hidden somewhere in the mansion, your ticket is free. 
2.    Masque Macabre, North Center
Interactive, Poe-inspired theatre. As an audience member, and integral part to the show, walk through an art gallery where horror comes to life.

The Classics: 
1.    Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up, River West
Sponsored by Goose Island Brewing Company, there’s a corn maze, live performances, and good beer. Not so spooky, but definitely so fun. 
This family friendly event at Wrigley field has trick or treating, farm animals, and a screening of “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” Simple, innocent, classic Halloween fun.
You can actually see those lions and tigers and bears! Plus, crafts,  hay mountain, a Ferris wheel, live music, and fall-themed zoo activites. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

New Season, New Me

It’s been a maxin’, relaxin’ week here at Ray’s B&B. Temperatures are dropping; the jalapeño plant on the deck is in overdrive, trying to grow 15 peppers before the frost hits. We do love fall, but I find that I am always a little sad to see our busy, bright summer go. If you’re also feeling a bit of Jon Snow-dread that Winter is Coming, not to worry. Ray’s will remain cozy and pancake-ready no matter the weather, and there’s a bunch of fun, funky upcoming events around town that will keep fall fresh and exciting.            

This week two of our guests took a cooking class at Naveen’s Cuisine, right around the corner on North Avenue. They had a blast, and raved about how much they learned and how good their dish was. Naveen’s specializes in Indian and Thai cuisine, so definitely the place to go if you’re looking to spice things up- literally. 

A bit less literally, but still spicy, the Wild Party Variety Hour is a late-night cabaret show featuring risqué burlesque numbers, comedic slapstick, and who knows what else. Put on by the Silent Theatre Company on North Milwaukee Ave., if you’ve been curious about Adult Theatre, take the plunge and hit these artists up.       

Trying to pick up a new, healthy hobby this fall? The Chicago Marathon is right around the corner, Sunday October 7th. Have someone you know in the race? An app is available to track your favorite runner! Or, if a marathon is a little too wild for ya, Saturday, Sept. 27this the Bucktown 5k, a lovely little route along our neighborhood. It’s not too late to register, but if the thought of jogging makes you somewhat nauseous, try and steer clear of Bucktown that morning, parking might be a challenge. Lucky for you, the CTA Blue line has added new cars, making public transportation from Ray’s faster and more accessible than ever. 
Take the blue line a little further into Chicago for more out of the box activities, like the WNDR Museum, an art and science pop up in the West Loop. There’s a Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room, Instagram-worthy installations, everything you need for a quirky contemporary art experience. 

The resemblance to Ray: uncanny.
If you’re more of a film buff, the Music Box Theatre is having a Universal Horror series Sept. 29th- Oct 28th, it’s never too early to get ready for Halloween. Or, if you’re looking for something a little tamer, the Lincoln Park Zoo Fall Festival is happening every weekend until October 28th. Bring the kiddos for some fall themed crafts and enrichment activities. It’s fall in Chicago, there’s a little something for everyone, whether at Ray’s or the Loop!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Fallin' for Chicago

We had a lovely Poodle, Frida, stay with us this week. Every time she walked through the building she would get a treat from Ray and pats from the staff. We were happy to spoil her with attention. Being a dog-friendly B&B has its rewards for us also!

The temperatures are dropping here in Chi-Town so guests are starting to utilize both our sauna and steam room. We joke that our sauna does not get used a lot in the summer because it’s the same as sitting outside. Although a summer steam does feel slightly more refreshing than the relentless outdoor humidity. These lower outdoor temperatures also create the perfect conditions for enjoying our rooftop deck, a regular jungle of plants and homegrown produce. On that note, if you need habaneros, we’ve got dozens of them. We’re getting too spicy over here at Ray’s. 

If you’re looking for other ways to spice up your life, besides in the vegetable department, the end of September is absolutely hip-happenin’ here in Bucktown and the greater Chicagoland. 

On Tuesday Sept. 25th, for those looking to explore the neighborhood, the 7thAnnual Wicker Park Bucktown Fall Dinner Crawl will give ticket holders a taste of nine different restaurants and bars in the area. In between dinner stops, the quirky guys from Bizarre Bucktown will lead patrons through micro-tours, so fun facts and food galore. 

If you’re looking for a little less eating, and a little more boozing, Goose Island Brewing Company is having their annual 312 Block Party on Friday Sept. 21st, and Saturday Sept 22nd. Beer, live music, and good wild company. 

Both the Wicker Park and Logan Square farmer’s Market are still in full swing for Sunday Sept. 23rd for all of your boutique farmer’s market needs.

Got kids? Saturday, Sept. 22ndis the 15thAnniversary Celebration Bubblespalooza, an all-day family fun zone with crafts, snacks, and kid-oriented entertainment.  

After the kids go to bed, check out the Gallery Cabaret, right down the street from the Ray’s. Live music, no cover every night. This place quite literally rocks. 

As always, this newfound fall weather makes old favorites like Cloudgate (the Bean) and Navy Pier, and the rest of Chicago particularly enjoyable. Double as always, Ray’s is here for all your fall bed and breakfast needs.