Labor Day Weekend in San Antonio

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Spending a day in San Antonio is something we’ve been planning to do since we moved to Austin, so we decided to make it happen over Labor Day weekend.

Spoiler alert: that may not have been one of our wisest decisions.

My sister, a San Antonio native (practically), was our tour guide for the day and suggested brunch at The Guenther House… which had a 1:45 wait. Not really feasible with a three-year-old. So we tried nearby Liberty Bar… which also had a wait longer than Nora could handle. We ended up at Stella Public House, and it did not disappoint.

Prosciutto, arugula, fried egg

You really can’t go wrong with a fried egg on top of anything. It was especially tasty on this savory, salty prosciutto, arugula and burrata pizza. Honestly, they had me at “burrata.” Okay, and “prosciutto.” It was so yummy. Nora was quite content with her chocolate chip Nutella pancakes, too.

Nutella chocolate chippers
“Have Ninja Turtle cup; will travel.”

And Joan, with her mimosa flight. I’m 100% certain that this is the only brunch I’ve ever attended with a mimosa flight. How has no other restaurant thought of this? Genius!

Mimosa flight

Walking back to the car after brunch, we passed so many quaint homes, beautifully manicured lawns and picturesque streets; admittedly, not what comes to mind when I think of San Antonio. The fact that we had to park a ways away from the restaurant was okay because we got to take it all in.

San Antonio

No shortage of crepe myrtles!

Crepe myrtles for days

Our post-brunch plan was to hit the infamous Riverwalk and take Nora on a gondola ride and a trolley ride, and go by the Alamo. KP had never been to downtown San Antonio so the tourist spots were a must.

We missed our queue when every single parking garage and lot near the Riverwalk was full. We persisted and parked a decent walk away from the Riverwalk, still intent on taking Nora on a gondola ride. Because, when you tell a three-year-old you’re going to do something, you damn well better do it!

Nope. We didn’t do it. We didn’t do the gondola. We didn’t do the trolley. The lines were beyond. Apparently everyone thought the Riverwalk was a grand idea for Labor Day weekend. Nora rebounded better than I anticipated. Maybe she, too, was secretly looking for an escape in the AC, gondola ride or not.

Riverwalk

Walking to the Alamo, it started to get downright comical. Thanks to endless construction downtown, there were multiple detours on our path to the Alamo. But we made it!

Remember the Alamo

Granted, this is as close as we made it, but it appeased the history buff in the family. (I am not the history buff. I know, you’re surprised. In fact, upon arriving at the Alamo I said, “This is bad, but I don’t even know the details as to why the Alamo is significant.” Don’t worry; KP filled me in on the spot.)

We ended our day hot, sweaty and tired (and hot and sweaty). So, it was almost like we saw all the sights, anyway!

A Visit to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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We kicked off our Labor Day holiday weekend with a visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I had visited a couple of times before — in fact, my first visit there was enough to convince me that we should become members. It’s so close to our house and a great place to take Nora when we both need to get out of the house a great place to go and become one with nature and get our Zen on.

The mission of the center is to conserve, restore and create healthy landscapes. There are walking trails, lush gardens (well, most of the year) and a kid-friendly area that has the dinosaur creek and waterfall.

Dinosaur Creek waterfall

Nora was perfectly content hanging out at Dinosaur Creek. There are stepping stones in and out of the water and she eventually got daring enough to step on the ones in the water. They have plenty of watering pots available to encourage kids to get in and get wet. And she did. Another family was there and showed her the frog eggs they found in the creek, too.

Watering the water
Watering the water

You might think, why go during the hot Texas summer when everything’s dead? Well, the accurate answer is because KP took the day off and we were looking for something to do! But there was plenty in bloom, and I actually learned a thing or two. Every morning when I drop Nora off at school I see these fuchsia berries on these bushes at drop-off and had no idea what they were — until today. They’re American Beautyberry.

American Beautyberry

And yes, it was hot. And yes, we sweated. But I’m not going to not do something because it’s hot. That would be like not doing something in Chicago because it’s cold!

After experiencing the blooms in spring and summer, I look forward to a (hopefully cooler) visit in the fall!

Millennium Park: An Anatomy in Photographs

Millennium Park | Chicago, Illlinois

Millennium Park is one of my favorite places in Chicago. If you walk away from Michigan Avenue and find the fields of wildflowers, it really does feel like you’ve escaped the city — especially on gray days when you can’t see the tops of the skyscrapers.

When we were in Chicago a few months ago, I had a morning to myself while KP worked and I made it a point to walk through the park (conveniently, it was on my way to lunch at The Gage).

Millennium Park: An Anatomy in Photographs

I stumbled upon this great art exhibit in the park — Millennium Park: An Anatomy in Photographs. It celebrates the 10th anniversary of the park with over 50 images before, during and after construction (it ends in October). A free art exhibit in the park? Yes, thank you.

Millennium Park: An Anatomy in Photographs

One image in particular drew me in — this one by Kenneth Tanaka of a little boy splashing in Crown Fountain on a hot summer day. I just love it! Without the skyline or anything quintessential Chicago pictured, it’s still just so Chicago to me.

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Stumbling upon this exhibit was just the cherry on top of my visit to Millennium Park this summer.

A Trip to Grant’s Farm in St. Louis

The Bauernhof
The Bauernhof at Grant’s Farm

We recently spent a week at my parents’ house in Southern Illinois. I love returning to the sleepy town that I grew up in, and more specifically, to the house that I grew up in — not just because my mom cooks for us and does our laundry (thanks, Mom!). Though, those are nice perks. Going home is almost always so relaxing. The pace is much slower than our normal day-to-day.

While I welcome a slower pace with open arms, I have a two-year-old who has yet to learn the definition of “slow pace.” So I tried to think of some things to do with Nora while we were in Illinois. Grant’s Farm in St. Louis was at the top of my list. It’s a great place to take kids of all ages, including toddlers. Grant’s Farm is essentially a mini zoo with some hands-on activities. I find it to be a little bit less of a production than the St. Louis Zoo (which is also great, by the way). I hadn’t been to Grant’s Farm in probably over 20 years, but not much has changed since then.

Upon arrival, you board a tram and are driven through the area called Deer Park. We saw animals from all over the world, including cows from India and deer from China. Riding the tram was the main fascination for Nora, though, not so much the animals. The ride ends at Tier Garten, where you disembark and see other animals like llamas, camels, zebras and birds. You can also choose to ride a carousel or a camel, depending on how risky you’re feeling. There are baby goats to feed, as well as parakeets. Yes, if it strikes your fancy, you can walk into a cage full of birds and feed them.

Parakeet feeding, AKA, my worst nightmare
Parakeet feeding, AKA, my worst nightmare

I don’t think Nora even realized there was a massive cage full of birds when we walked by (phew). She was content to simply watch those that had a bit more freedom.

Checking out the macaws
Checking out the macaws

The path through Grant’s Farm ends at The Bauernhof, where you can indulge in brats and pretzels in the European-feeling courtyard. Off of the courtyard are the stables which house the famous Clydesdales, as well as the hospitality room, where you can enjoy Anheuser-Busch products (if you’re 21, of course).

We spent somewhere around an hour and a half to two hours at Grant’s Farm. There’s no admission fee but it costs $12 to park. A great little way to spend a morning!

Summer Bucket List

Chicago summer
Chicago summer

It felt like it would never come, but it’s finally on the horizon. Summer is only a month away! Granted, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee consistently warm weather here in Chicago, but I’ll take what I can get. And we’ve already had our air-conditioner running once this year, so I’ll chalk that up as a win.

I put together my summer bucket list for those days I’m scratching my head wondering how to fill mine and Nora’s day. And while I most look forward to everything Chicago has to offer in the summertime, I also look forward to a few road trips, including one to the East Coast which will for sure be an adventure with Nora in tow.

Summer Bucket List

A: Adler Planetarium, Air & Water Show

B: Beaches, blow bubbles (seriously the best bubbles), BBQ

C: Cubs game, celebrate our fourth anniversary in NYC

D: Day drinking, dining al fresco

E: Eat my way through the summer festivals, East Coast road trip

F: Foster Avenue Beach, fireworks, finger-painting, Father’s Day

G: Gene’s Sausage Shop, Greek Fest

H: Hamlin Park pool

I: Ice-cream

J: J Parker rooftop, July 4th

K: Kite flying

L: Lincoln Park Zoo, Low-Line Market, Lake Ozark trip

M: Manning’s, Monkey’s Paw patio

N: New York City trip, Navy Pier fireworks

O: Osaka Garden

P: peach cobbler, Portillo’s cake shake, picnic, Peju Provence

Q: quiet reading time

R: running outside, road trips, Ravinia

S: Shedd Aquarium, Scooter’s Frozen Custard, sparklers, sunscreen

T: take walks, throw a frisbee

U: unplug

V: vacations

W: Wrightwood Park, Washington D.C. trip, Willis Tower (at night!)

X: eXplore the city

Y: yodel (seriously, Y is hard!)

Z: Zoo

What’s on your summer bucket list?