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Laura Rote

Laura Rote

Laura Rote is Time Out's former Chicago Editor.

Articles (75)

The best family weekend getaways from Chicago

The best family weekend getaways from Chicago

Chicago boasts plenty of kid-friendly activities, but if you're planning a family vacation out of town, there are plenty of approachable, fun and memorable destinations close by for a weekend away. Cities, state parks, and lakes across the region are full of hiking for all ages and engaging, hands-on ways to learn about history, ecology and wildlife. Along the way, find quirky shops and hidden gems, kid-friendly restaurants with decadent desserts and recreational activities that kids of all ages will enjoy. From the wacky and weird the to active and relaxing, here are the best family weekend getaways from Chicago (all within four hours of the city).

The best places for berry picking near Chicago

The best places for berry picking near Chicago

Few things can compete with the joy of picking your own produce—from the adventure of the outing, to the communal vibe, to the bountiful (and delicious!) end result. This summer, take a day trip to find a farm where you can pick your own strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and more. While these farms are a bit further out than the suburbs, the drive will be worth it for you and the whole family, thanks to the fun, kid-friendly attractions like petting zoos, wagon rides and live music that many farms offer. Bring your berry haul home and make pies, frozen cocktails and preserves to last through winter. Keep in mind that you should check ahead with any of these spots to make sure your fruits of choice are currently in season. But otherwise? Just get picking at these farms near Chicago! RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in the summer in Chicago  

The best hotels in Chicago

The best hotels in Chicago

The best hotels in Chicago run the gamut, whether you want plush surroundings with incredible rooftop bars or prefer to spend the night in an boutique hotel with unique touches. And more and more these days, you’re not restricted to staying downtown (or, ugh, next to O’Hare). With so many great choices, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. We took the guesswork out of the equation and selected the very best. These hand-picked spots offer excellent restaurants, unparalleled service and close proximity to some of the city's best attractions. From pure luxury to cheap and chic(ago), all the options you need are right here.  This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here. RECOMMENDED: Check out our pick of the coolest Airbnb Chicago rentals

Valentine’s Day ideas for her under $100

Valentine’s Day ideas for her under $100

Sure, you could take your girl to the perfect romantic restaurant for a candlelit Valentine's Day dinner. Or maybe you’ve already planned a creative romantic date to take her by surprise. Either way, you should probably still pick her out something nice, just to be extra certain she knows you care. But before you run out to your local chocolate shop, check out our selection of 15 affordable gifts for women, all less than $100. Think outside the box with these fun and thoughtful Valentine’s Day ideas for her. RECOMMENDED: See more Valentine’s Day ideas // var vglnk = { key: 'b1dd7a2b35c8ab61d18b653f5d33bbe2' };    (function(d, t) {     var s = d.createElement(t); s.type = 'text/javascript'; s.async = true;     s.src = '//cdn.viglink.com/api/vglnk.js';     var r = d.getElementsByTagName(t)[0]; r.parentNode.insertBefore(s, r);    }(document, 'script')); //

The best things to do in Glacier National Park

The best things to do in Glacier National Park

Adventure awaits, if you want it, no matter the season at northwest Montana’s Glacier National Park. Those who love their extreme outdoor adventures can go dog sledding, skiing, hiking or whitewater rafting, while those who prefer a leisurely hike or want to feast their eyes on local art are equally well served. Established in 1910, the vast park—it makes up more than 1 million acres—is older than the national park system itself (the system was established in 1916). Whether you arrive by plane or on Amtrak on one of the country’s most scenic train rides, get ready to discover one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. This is Big Sky Country.

The best things to do in Madison

The best things to do in Madison

Chances are you know a few things about Madison. It’s a big-time college town about three hours from Chicago, and it’s in Wisconsin, so there’s lots of beer and cheese, right? Right, but this vibrant Midwestern city is also so much more, with a wealth of lakefront dining—on not one but two lakes—and outdoor recreation opportunities out the wazoo. Arriving in Wisconsin’s capital, you might first be struck by the number of bicycles—bike shops dot most neighborhood corners and dozens of BCycle (madison.bcycle.com) stations offer easy access if you’re in town without your own two wheels ($3 for 30 minutes or $6 a day). You’ll see couples out rollerblading, people jogging and twentysomethings on skateboards. The thing is, you really don’t need a car to explore this city of 250,000. Madison is so bike-friendly that hotels like the lakefront Hilton Madison Monona Terrace (9 E Wilson St; 608-255-5100) have bike elevators and many businesses across town offer special discounts for cyclists (bb2.bicyclebenefits.org). But it’s not all go, go, go. If you want to spend the day in the grass, in a kayak or on a restaurant patio, you can. Make it more relaxing with a beer, like local favorite farmhouse ale New Glarus Spotted Cow, while dining at downtown Madison’s only rooftop restaurant, Fresco (227 State St; 608-663-7374, frescomadison.com) or sitting outside at Wisconsin Brewing Co. Tap Haus (107 State St; 608-310-1010, wisconsinbrewingtaphaus.com), and people-watching. For a serious dive

The best furniture stores in Chicago

The best furniture stores in Chicago

The best furniture stores in Chicago have everything you need, with the perfect statement pieces offering up a hefty dose of both style and function. The best new shops are also fun to peruse, no matter whether you can usually be found at vintage stores, thrift stores or have a more modern sensibility.

Top indoor playgrounds in Chicago

Top indoor playgrounds in Chicago

Rain, rain, go away. All the kids want to do is play. Fortunately, the top indoor playgrounds for kids in Chicago offer plenty to keep them busy—even on the most miserable of days. So when the family tires of free museum days and the little ones really just want to run around like they would at any of the city's best playgrounds, let them go wild at one of these tops spots. Many of them just happen to be great for birthday party ideas, too.

The best bridal shops in Chicago

The best bridal shops in Chicago

The best bridal shops in Chicago know it's all about the dress. No other shopping experience can rival the hunt for the gown you'll wear when you say "I do" standing nervously in front of all of your closest family and friends—all eyes on you. (No pressure.) Whether you're a couture gown seeker or the thrift store queen, you'll be saying "yes to the dress" in no time at these beautiful stores. Then it's off to the shoe shops, hair salons and nail salons. Happy planning! 

The best Airbnbs for weekend getaways from Chicago

The best Airbnbs for weekend getaways from Chicago

We know you can find some of the coolest Airbnb rentals in Chicago, but living in the Midwest also means we’re surrounded by some phenomenal long weekend opportunities, including stellar Airbnb options in Michigan, Wisconsin and elsewhere in Illinois. The next time you sit down to plan a weekend getaway from Chicago instead of a day trip, check out this list for some of the coolest Airbnb rentals we found online. Just remember: Always do your research and check for reviews, availability and pricing before booking.

Chicago summer camp guide: academic camps

Chicago summer camp guide: academic camps

There's no way your little Einstein is going to spend his or her summer lazing at the beach. No, they'd much rather be exploring Chicago's top museums, studying the stars or learning how to code. Don't waste a single second of the summer on anything less—these academic camps offer interactive workshops and fun field trips that will expose your tots to cool new skills. Your kids can master the French language, learn how to program a robot, study insects and butterflies and even learn how to use a 3-D printer. What are you waiting for? RECOMMENDED: Chicago summer camp guide

Chicago summer camp guide: sports camps

Chicago summer camp guide: sports camps

Summer sports camps are the perfect way to keep active kids from going stir-crazy when they're not busy with school or away on a family day trip. Chicago has no shortage of great athletic camps, from some sponsored by the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls to camps featuring schoolyard sports like kickball and capture the flag. You should have no problem getting the little ones off the couch this season.  RECOMMENDED: Chicago summer camp guide

News (82)

Logan Square fire may affect local businesses on Milwaukee Avenue

Logan Square fire may affect local businesses on Milwaukee Avenue

Update: Revolution Brewing opened for regular business at noon Friday. Fire and emergency crews were onsite near the busy intersection of Milwaukee and California avenues this morning when a fire broke out at Threads Etc, the charming resale shop at 2327 N Milwaukee Ave. Chicago Fire Media tweeted this morning that there were no victims.   Employees of nearby businesses, including Revolution Brewing, were waiting outside just before 9am to await word on the damage, and the street was blocked off as crews continued to break windows to the resale shop's second floor to fight the smoke. Revolution Brewing Communications Specialist Rachael Ritrovato said everyone at the brewpub was safe, though the space was pretty smoky. “The fire is contained. Chances are we will be closed for a couple of days,” Ritrovato said. The two-story Threads Etc. resale shop, with offerings ranging from tables and chairs to dishes and other antiques, is also next door to Chicago Diner.    STILL & BOX 2327 N MILWAUKEE fire is out extensive overhaul no victims. pic.twitter.com/pzu8ObUsPl — Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) September 30, 2016

Boutique hotel to open by Wrigley Field will have a local focus, from food to retail

Boutique hotel to open by Wrigley Field will have a local focus, from food to retail

Hotel Zachary is coming to Wrigleyville, right by the home of the Cubs, and you can bet it’s going to feel like home when you see the list of who’s involved in the project. Hickory Street Capital, the real estate development company owned by the Ricketts family who also own the Cubs, recently revealed the plans for Hotel Zachary, due to open in early 2018 on the corner of Clark and Addison streets. The seven-story, 238,000-square-foot building is not only set to be a beautiful place to rest your head, but will also include retail space for Chicago shops and local chef-driven restaurants. It will feature some of the city’s most popular hospitality groups, including One Off Hospitality (Big Star, the Publican), 4 Star Restaurant Group (The Smoke Daddy, Remington’s), Folkart Restaurant Management (Yusho, Billy Sunday) and West Town Bakery, so you can bet it’s going to be good. The hotel is named for famed Chicago architect Zachary Taylor Davis, who designed Wrigley Field in 1914. “From inception, we felt it was important to partner with Chicago-based, chef-driven restaurant groups to curate a distinctly local experience unique to Wrigleyville,” said Eric Nordness, vice president of Hickory Street Capital, in a press release. “We feel fortunate to have partnered with passionate chef-driven restaurant operators who are at the forefront of Chicago’s culinary community.” Oh, and the 175-room hotel will be a part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, so you can still earn those points for a

17 Chicago-centric Halloween costume ideas

17 Chicago-centric Halloween costume ideas

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Halloween in Chicago   This Halloween, Al’s Beefcake is the new sexy kitten. That’s right, Al’s Italian Beef plus total beefcake equals award-winning costume idea. You’re welcome. Seriously, though. Chicago is a wonderland of hilarious, quirky and just plain fun costume ideas out there for the taking. This October, you’ve got no excuse not to show off your city pride and do something different. Just check out our list of Chicago-centric Halloween costume ideas before you head to your next bash or the Northalsted Halloween Parade. 1. Tamale guy. Small red or blue cooler, light jacket, mustache and a smile. 2. The Sears Tower (or Willis. Whatever). Just cover yourself in black boxes over a black outfit, make some pipe cleaner antennae for your head, and you’re the hit of the party. 3. Harry Caray. Black, thick-framed glasses, white hair, suspenders and a serious love of baseball. 4. The Billy Goat Tavern cook. Paper hat, white button-down and short-sleeved shirt with name tag, mustache, chips, no fries! 5. Jeppson’s Malört. Just don some Malört gear, carry around a bottle of Chicago’s finest liquor and make lots of friends (or enemies) with free shots. 6. Dibs. This one is for the really creative. We all know winter is coming. Make like a chair in a parking spot.  7. Smokin' Jay Cutler. This one may be too easy. 8. Charles J. Wicker. Who? You know. Charles J. Wicker—the statue in Wicker Park. All you need is a straw broom, a top hat and maybe

Explore new neighborhoods and sites as part of Open House Chicago in October

Explore new neighborhoods and sites as part of Open House Chicago in October

If you’re looking for an excuse to get off the couch and get out of your own neighborhood this fall, mark your calendar. The Chicago Architecture Foundation recently revealed the full lineup for its sixth annual Open House Chicago, set to take place on October 15 and 16, with access to more than 200 sites spread across 20 neighborhoods. And these aren’t your typical museums or churches—this year’s lineup includes some truly wonderful and off-the-beaten-path examples of architecture across the city. Oh, and you can visit them all for free. Take, for example, the beautiful Yale Building in Englewood—a bright, seven-story Richardsonian-Romanesque building built in 1892, complete with skylit atrium and a plethora of plants. The Yale was originally a luxury apartment building during the World’s Fair. The landmark building was saved, restored and converted into senior living apartments in 2003, and it’s one of countless surprising pieces of architecture you probably don’t realize is right in your backyard. “Open House Chicago is such a special event in the way that it showcases the city’s culturally rich communities and encourages locals and visitors to explore new neighborhoods,” said Lynn Osmond, President and CEO of CAF, in a statement. “OHC does more than open the public’s eyes to Chicago’s world-renowned architecture. It’s an event that raises awareness to the wider community of the role design plays in creating a vibrant and livable city.” From architectural wonders in Bridg

A life-size origami elephant will be in Chicago this weekend

A life-size origami elephant will be in Chicago this weekend

Yes, a life-size elephant, made origami-style, will be among the many artworks on display through the weekend at Navy Pier. And you should probably care about it. Beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday at 6pm (you can get a peek earlier if you manage to snag opening reception tickets), Expo Chicago (a.k.a. the Fifth International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art) will take over Navy Pier, shining a light on the work of inspiring artists from all over the world. Among this year’s pieces, you’ll find the work of Sipho Mabona, a Swiss artist with South African roots. Together with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Mabona draws attention to illegal wildlife trade using his depiction of an elephant (shown above, in progress) made from a single, albeit large, sheet of paper—beautiful and delicate. The NRDC, an international nonprofit since 1970, hopes the exhibit will highlight the illegal trafficking of wildlife, especially the trade of ivory and rhino horn. It’s the second-largest threat to wildlife after habitat loss, and the fourth-largest illegal trade in the world—behind narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking—worth at least $19 billion per year, according to the NRDC. Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.

Amazon Prime will now deliver local beauty products to your door

Amazon Prime will now deliver local beauty products to your door

You can get a whole lot of goods delivered to your door in Chicago in as little as an hour (Sprinkles Cupcakes, anyone?), but now you can also get great local health and beauty items from Merz Apothecary. Amazon Prime Now, Amazon’s one-hour delivery service, has made the Chicago-based store its first beauty brand as part of the crazy-quick service. If you aren’t familiar with Merz, you probably should be, as it’s one of the city’s best beauty supply stores. It also has quite the history—dating back to 1875, when Chicago pharmacist Peter Merz opened the apothecary on the North Side. These days, Merz has a little bit of everything in two locations (downtown and in Lincoln Square), all finely curated, whether you want lotions and shampoo or even tea. And starting today, Prime members in Chicago can have all their favorite Merz offerings delivered to their door in as little as an hour, whether you need a quick gift like a fragrance set or a must-have like, you know, deodorant. In Chicago, Prime Now offers tens of thousands of Amazon items in addition to local restaurant and grocery delivery. One-hour delivery is $7.99 and two-hour delivery is free, and Prime Now is available from 8 a.m. to midnight every day in the Chicago area. Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.        

Lincoln Park's new 'bookbar' will ask you to step away from the internet

Lincoln Park's new 'bookbar' will ask you to step away from the internet

Put down your phone, close your laptop and talk to people. Okay, not right this second—right now you should finish reading this post, but beginning October 6, one wifi-free “bookbar” is challenging us all to actually connect with one another. Using words. And eye contact. Kibbitznest Books, Brews & Blarney is a wifi-free zone, as owners Annie and Lewis Kostiner focus on creating a space where people really talk to one another, face to face. Excessive use of smartphones will be discouraged (minus tagging the space on Instagram) and laptops must be kept in their cases or out of sight. Instead of refreshing Facebook while you’re there, the owners hope you’ll browse the books (both used and new), maybe do a little shopping, hang out, play games and chat with other guests over snacks like Chicago-style hot dogs, cheese or ice cream, along with beer, wine and slow-brewed coffee. “It’s time to step back in time and take notice of what the potential negative impact will be on our society if we choose face-to-face social interaction less and less,” Annie Kostiner said in a press release. You can try out real human interaction yourself during Kibbitznest’s grand opening at 2212 North Clybourn Avenue from 5:30–8pm on Thursday, October 6. The excitement kicks off with a book drive, so feel free to bring along any donations of used liberal arts books. Profits from the bookbar will benefit the nonprofit Kibbitznest, to emphasize appreciation of the liberal arts by working with colleges, mu

Fun ways to get a workout in this fall

Fun ways to get a workout in this fall

Sure, you’ve spent all summer running around the city, biking the 606 and playing volleyball at North Avenue Beach. But now what? It seems unlikely that you’ll be letting off quite as much steam this fall as you did all summer. Instead of sitting on the couch watching bad reality TV until spring, take advantage of one of the many fun ways you can squeeze a workout in this fall in Chicago.  Capture the flag. In flag football, that is. Chicago Sport & Social Club offers men’s and coed divisions at all levels at spots across the city. Football not your thing? Check out the basketball schedule. Note: Fall leagues fill up fast, so register soon. Climb a mountain. Indoors. Spots like Brooklyn Boulders offer a chance to try rock climbing whether you’re a beginner or advanced climber. Become a mermaid. You can learn how to swim like Ariel—complete with tail (fin?)—when you take a class with AquaMermaid. Sign up some friends and you'll all be doing synchronized routines in no time.  Jump in a foam pit. Seriously. At Sky High Sports Trampoline Park in Naperville, you can bounce off—you guessed it—a trampoline and do your best belly flop into a massive pit of foam squares. I’m not entirely certain how many calories this will burn, but it sure looks like fun. Spike it. It’s never too late to get the gang together again for some volleyball. Take the sport indoors and join a fall league, no matter your skill level.  Go dancing. I mean, why not? Friday, Saturday, whenever you feel like it.

We spent all of our money at Renegade thanks to our new favorite local makers

We spent all of our money at Renegade thanks to our new favorite local makers

Judging by the faces of the hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of shoppers at Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park on Saturday and Sunday, it was a great weekend. The sun came out, everyone brought their babies and pups (and at least one mini pig), some of us had quite a few brews from Half Acre, and we all spent a little more money than we probably anticipated. But it’s okay. When you’re taking home toys and screen-printed onesies for your friend’s baby shower or maybe, just maybe, splurging on a little handmade necklace for yourself, you can take solace in the fact that at least you’re shopping local. Of the many makers we loved at this season’s fair (including those who made all of the amazing goodies in this $1,600-plus giveaway), these are just some of our new favorite local artists and artisans. Earth Cadets (pictured)You’ve probably seen these prints before, and the tent at Renegade was buzzing with shoppers looking for adorable Chicago-themed onesies and throw pillows. Chicago’s Krissy Callahan designs and screen-prints each item using eco-friendly, water-based inks. Yes, we went back for more. Allison Mooney DesignWe also took home a couple of things from Allison Mooney this season, including some gold climber earrings. The Chicago jewelry designer focuses on creating pieces you can wear with anything, with clean, minimalist design.   ZerobirdWe love the screen-printed pillows and prints from Zerobird, based in West Town and made by Jennifer Burak and Dan Spielman.

The results are in for Time Out's first photo competition

The results are in for Time Out's first photo competition

When we first called for submissions of photos and reviews of readers' favorite spots in Chicago, we weren’t sure what we’d get. Well, the results are in, and let’s just say you guys love this city. From photos of your favorite dishes at the city's best new restaurants to surprising scenes in nature, we were taken aback by your response. Without further ado, here are the winner and runners up in our first Time Out photo competition. FIRST PLACE, and winner of a $200 restaurant voucher: Jacob Y, Promontory Point (pictured above)  Jacob says, “Located in Burnham Park and along Lake Michigan, Promontory Point has everything you may want in a Chicago Park that includes beaches, a vast amount of open space, fire pits, steps made of limestone blocks along the shore, and a historical field house that looks like a castle. Promontory Point is a place for never-ending exploration, and on a beautiful day, you may not ever want to leave.” RUNNERS UP: Tim L, Kimski   KimskiPhotograph: Tim Loeffler   Tim says, "This place has only been open a few months but they are killing it. With how busy it always is, I am shocked that I'm the first one to write about it. Maria's made the right move by bringing this place in. The partnership of one of the best bars south of the loop and some crazy good food makes the perfect combo for a night out. You have a few options for a dining experience here. You can sit in front of Kimski's and just grab some food, or you can enter through Maria's and head to

Look at all 131 of these adorable endangered baby turtles

Look at all 131 of these adorable endangered baby turtles

You can now marvel over more than 100 baby Blanding’s turtles—an endangered North American species—at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The museum’s newest arrivals measure about one inch and weigh less than an ounce. And they are precious. The new baby turtles will live at the Nature Museum for up to two years so they have a chance to grow in a predator-free environment before being released into the wild. You can also get a glimpse of the tiny turtles here. Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.  

It's not too late to try these top hair trends

It's not too late to try these top hair trends

The dog days of summer may be behind us, but it doesn’t mean we can’t still have a little fun—and that goes for our hair, too. All season, people have been talking about “hand-painted hair,” and I know I can’t be the only one who was like, “Wait—what?” Most recently, the experts at Sparrow—one of Chicago’s best hair salons—explained just what some of the most popular hair trends are. It’s not too late to try one on for yourself. Oh, and in more good news, Sparrow recently brought on two new stylists, so the normally booked-solid salon is taking new clients for the first time in a long time.  1. Balayage (pictured). For this style, a lightener is hand-painted on natural hair, creating sun-kissed color that’s both bright and soft. 2. Tone on tone color-painting. The technique is similar to balayage, but without any lightening agents. A stylist paints two colors of the same family in alternating layers over the whole head of hair, giving a deep color that intensifies towards the end.   3. Freelights. These might look like what you call “highlights,” but these are done using a high lift tint, hand-painted to look more natural.   4. Pastels. Obviously.   Photographs: Courtesy Sparrow