Road to Saint Paul (via Chicago and Madison): All the Rest

Columbus, OH

Downtown Columbus, Ohio

Searching for something different takes effort. We're hardwired to take the path of least resistance. Navigation tools and apps default to routes along the biggest, fastest highways that bypass towns, and rest stops are identical, appearing to have rolled off an assembly line and playing into our quest for the familiar. The vanilla* sameness of it all bums me out. I live in the suburbs of DC and am constantly struggling to find the beauty in my beige surroundings. I harbor fantasies of living someplace where I won't be able to tell you how to get to the 4 Wal-Marts, 3 Targets, 10 Starbucks and 11 McDonalds that all reside within 5 miles of my apartment. Google it. It's real.

Dirty Frank's
View from my hotel room in Chicago

 Dogs from Dirty Frank's in Columbus, Chicago River as seen from my hotel room

It's why I get a bit obsessive when planning to visit somewhere new. I'm the girl sitting on her couch at 10:30 at night googling "Chicago adaptive reuse hotel" and "Chicago historic hotel". I'll pour through Small Demons for ideas referenced in books and stalk local bloggers (thanks for being an inspiration, Allison!) for recommendations off the beaten path.

I do believe Chicago was flirting with me.
Palace Theater at St Paul
architectural detail in St Paul

Downtown Chicago (top), Saint Paul

It paid off. I had a great time, got some fun snapshots and ate well (mostly). I didn't hit everything on my list because there actually was a lot of work accomplished, but I made the bits in between count. I also passed by SO much I need to go back and explore. Chicago, Madison, Saint Paul and Minneapolis each left me wanting more.

The Bachelor Farmer

The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, MN. Good food, great atmosphere and cute, friendly guys. No cell phones allowed. ;-)

Eating/Drinking Highlights

Dirty Frank's

XOCO

Sweeney's Saloon

Mickies Dairy Bar

The Bachelor Farmer

Dunn Bros Coffee

Ruam Mit Thai

Places to Sleep

Club Quarters (reasonable!)

Hotel Ruby Marie

*I feel bad for using a lovely word like vanilla in this way. I love vanilla smells, vanilla flavor...all the vanilla!