Chicago citizens welcome a new mayor

May 20, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Current, Politics, Politics (Non Front Menu), Rahm Emanuel

What’s going on in your neighborhood?

Apr 29, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Current, Summer

May marks the first of six festival-filled months in Chicago. With neighborhood celebrations, cultural events and performances all over the city, some are bound to be just around the corner. To help you make plans, Chicago Loopster has mapped out some of the top events happening in May. For additional events and to see what’s in store June through October, check Metromix and Time Out Chicago.

View Chicago Events – MAY 2011 in a larger map

Featured Events:
Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival – Now in its 27th year, this street party features national, regional and local bands, food, beer, fashion, and arts and crafts – all located at the epicenter of Lakeview.

Celtic Fest – Celtic musicians, bagpipes and fun contests.

Cinco de Mayo Festival – A three day festival celebrating Mexican culture and the holiday. There will be live music, food, arts and crafts, and activities for all ages.

Green City Market
– Outdoor farmers market.

Mayfest – This three-day event kicks off Chicago’s festival season with music, dancing, food and the seventh annual Chicago Pet Parade and Dog Expo.

Randolph Street Market Festival – A festival where you can shop for antiques, vintage collectibles and designer apparel from more than 200 dealers as well as enjoy some food and beer.

Turkish Festival
– From eating baklava to watching whirling dervishes spin in circles, this festival focusing on Turkish culture will be both educational and entertaining.

Wine Riot
– A national event that offers 250 wines from around the globe for you to sample along with wine seminars, fun activities and a DJ.

Lollapalooza 2011 – Chicago sounds off

Apr 29, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Current, Summer

The city is divided on the recent announcement of Lollapalooza’s 2011 lineup. Tell us what you think below!

A weather-proof summer solution

Apr 29, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Current, Summer

With how much rain Chicago’s been getting, planning weather-proof activities may be the thing to do this summer. Fortunately we’ve found just the place, Bottle & Bottega.

What is it Bottle & Bottega doesn’t offer your typical art classes. They organize BYOB “art parties” where you paint along with a professional artist and go home with something to hang up on your wall.

Who started it Stephanie King-Myers, 37, is the daughter of a French artist and has been painting her whole life, often replicating the work of others. Her husband, Nick, attended art school and mostly works with pencil and charcoal. Art was always more of a passion than a profession for the two of them, but that all changed in 2009 when they both got laid off from their jobs at a luxury spa network.

“A couple weeks later a friend of ours came over and we were painting,” King-Myers says. “She’d never painted before and told us how jealous she was that we could do it.” Convinced it was easy, King-Myers and her husband told their friend to print something she’d like to paint. Then they opened a bottle of wine and set her up with a canvas and paintbrush. “Her painting turned out great,” King-Myers says. “We thought, what a great idea this is.”

It turned out the concept already existed in several states and similar businesses were popping up everywhere. King-Myers knew they were on to something, so she started Bottles & Brushes with her husband playing a supportive role. The business was mobile and included private events at people’s homes and public events at local venues. But soon enough, King-Myers met Nancy Bigley who became co-owner and helped the company, now Bottle & Bottega, open its doors in Lakeview this March.

“We’re still the only ones in Chicago so far,” she says.

How it works The three-hour events range from BYOB studio parties to couple’s nights, kid’s parties, fundraisers, bachelorette parties – with optional nude models – and now, mosaics. A typical night has anywhere from a minimum of five to a maximum of 65 people and is led by local artists, with one artist for every 10 to 12 people.

The first half hour is devoted to mingling, enjoying light snacks and opening your bottle of wine, something King-Myers calls “uncorking your creativity.”

“A glass or two is all you need to feel more comfortable and a little braver,” she says. “It’s intimidating to look at a blank canvas or a piece of artwork that you think looks difficult.”

For the remainder of the time, participants follow along with a local artist teacher who shows them how to mix colors, draw the basic shapes and build upon them – all with a glass of wine nearby. For those who want something different, there is the option of replicating one of the paintings on the walls or in the art book.

“Everyone has an inner artist, even people who struggle with stick figures,” King-Myers says. “One of our greatest challenges is letting people know that there is absolutely no experience needed.”

But if someone is struggling or frustrated, the teachers are happy to help. Walking out unsatisfied “very, very, very rarely happens,” she says. “Everyone is always surprised.”

Why we like it There’s wine, nice people, soothing music and a beautifully decorated and colorful studio whose large street view windows evoke the feeling of painting outdoors. As if that’s not enough, the experience is therapeutic and provides the opportunity to exercise a part of the brain that often gets neglected sitting in front of a computer all day.

In the end, it doesn’t even matter if you get dirty or color outside the lines because you will walk away with something that holds personal meaning and can be hung in your home.

“Watching people who thought that they didn’t have an artistic bone in their bodies realize that they’re capable of something creative,” King-Myers says, “is an empowering thing.”

Details Classes are offered almost every day for around $35. Check their website to see the schedule and register for an event.



Summer music: Where to catch all your favorite acts

Apr 29, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Current, Summer

Summer Camp Music Festival
Summer Camp is a jam music festival where the three-day ticket price also includes camping for each night. The festival takes place in Chillicothe, Ill., which is about two and a half hours away from Chicago, but the experience boasts more than just music. There is also a kid-friendly camp area, parties and late-night shows.

A 50 minute drive from Chicago, Milwaukee’s Summerfest is a great day trip for people looking to get out of the city. It runs for longer than any of the other summer festivals, giving concertgoers ample time to get visit. Pair that with cheap ticket prices and you can’t miss.

Dave Matthews Band Caravan
The Dave Matthews Band is hosting four three-day music festivals this summer and one will be held on Chicago’s lakefront between 79th and 83rd streets. Throughout the day, bands will play on a variety of stages, and each night will be capped off by a set by the headliner. The Caravan is a must for any Dave Matthews Band fan.

Pitchfork Music Festival
Though all of the three-day passes for 2011’s Pitchfork Music Festival are sold out, concertgoers can still purchase tickets for single days. At $45 each, they are on the cheaper side of most of this summer’s music festivals and provide a great chance to catch new acts.

This year is the 20th anniversary of Lollapalooza, and while there has been some grumbling about the lineup, it’s still destined to be an epic year. Lollapalooza moved to Grant Park in 2005 and they have been working to make it an experience for the concertgoers with gourmet food and an arts and crafts area.

Ravinia isn’t a music festival, but it’s still a great place to catch some of your favorite acts this summer. There is a show almost every day from June to the beginning of September, and with prices ranging from free to $80, there is something for everyone.

North Coast Music Festival
While Labor Day weekend’s North Coast Music Festival is still pretty new to the concert scene, with headliners like Common and Wiz Khalifa, it could be a great way to end your summer. So far, six headliners have been announced with more on the way.

Battling winter humdrum via the air, land and sea

Apr 29, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Current, Summer

Winston Churchill once said in one of the most famous speeches of the second world war, “we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

In a lot of ways, this quote is analogous with a Chicagoan’s take on summer in the Chi. For months we are pounded with unforgiving snow and winds (blitzkrieg, anyone?). Finally, when we believe all could very well be lost, the month of June arrives. Much like Churchill’s speech did for the Allies, June fills residents of Chicago with a newfound hope. The warmer weather gives us the will to conquer the evils that are the wintertime blues, finally giving us the strength to proclaim:

We shall fight the wintertime blues on the lake, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength while watching the airshow, we defend our dogparks, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the lakefront beaches, we shall fight on the bike paths, we shall fight in the baseball fields and in the street festivals, we shall fight in museums, which are free on certain days; we shall never surrender.

Summer battleplans have been drawn, and ChicagoLoopster can’t wait to deploy them. So, without further adieu, here are some ways to defeat the axis of evil that is a Chicago winter via the air, land and sea (or lake).





Museum Free Days 2011


SEA (alright, lake)




So there you have it. You know the plan of attack, now get out there and execute.

Front page photo: DVIDSHUB

The best places for baseball, outside the park

Apr 29, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Current, Summer

It’s summertime in Chicago and that means it’s time to put away the winter jacket, gear up for the invasion of tourists and enjoy the long-awaited summer sun. One thing synonymous with summer in the Windy City is Cubs and Sox baseball. Don’t have tickets to a game? No problem! Chicago Loopster has your guide to the best rooftop bars at Wrigley as well as some South Side ballpark bars to watch your White Sox.

Photos courtesy of:
Beyond the Ivy
3639 Wrigley Rooftop
Brixen Ivy Rooftop

Additional Rooftops near Wrigley:
Skybox on Sheffield: 3627 N. Sheffield Ave. Skybox on Sheffield
Sheffield Baseball Club: 3619 Sheffield Ave. Sheffield Baseball Club
Down the Line Rooftop: 3621 Sheffield Ave. Down the Line Rooftop
Wrigley View Rooftop: 1050 W. Waveland Ave. Wrigley View Rooftop
Murphy’s Bleachers: 3649 N. Sheffield Ave. Murphy’s Bleachers
Lakeview Baseball Club: 3633 Sheffield Ave. Lakeview Baseball Club
Ivy League Baeball Club: 3637 Sheffield Ave. Ivy League Baseball Club

Although there are no rooftop bars that overlook U.S. Cellular Field, you can still be close to the action. Have no fear White Sox fans, here are some places you can have a beer and watch your team play:

Cork and Kerry at the Park: 3258 South Princeton Ave.
First Base: 3201 S. Normal Ave.
Rocky’s Bar and Grill: 234 W. 31st St. Rocky’s Bar and Grill
Turtle Bar and Grill: 238 W. 33rd St. Turtle Bar and Grill

Now, let’s play ball.

Where to vacation for locals

Apr 29, 2011 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Current, Summer

As summer approaches, Chicagoans are looking to get out of the city and hit up popular vacation spots from the lake to the dunes. Here’s a look at some of the top vacation spots for city dwellers.

View Vacation Spots in a larger map

Six Flags: Great America, Illinois

Photo by: Hendricks Photos, Creative Commons

Distance from Chicago: 42 miles

Location: 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, IL 60031

Located on I-94 at Route 132 (Grand Ave.)

Contact information: Guest Services Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. CST and during park operating hours. Contact the park at (847) 249-INFO (4636).


Why Chicagoans go: With dozens of attractions for riders of all ages, Six Flags is a magnet from the city for anyone looking to take a day off with family and friends. With Opening Day celebrations on May 7, events and special entertainment are a regular occurrence. Great America also boasts the “best waterpark in the nation,” making it an even better way to get out of the heat on those long summer days.

Harbor Country, Michigan

Distance from Chicago: 75 miles

Location: Eight towns along the Lake Michigan coast in Michigan: Three Oaks, Sawyer, Harbert, Lakeside, Union Pier, New Buffalo, Grand Beach and Michiana

Contact information: Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce Phone: 269-469-5409 Email:


Lakeside Cabins Resort

Photo courtesy of Ted O’Neil, Lakeside Cabins Resort

Location: 7650 Warren Woods Road, Three Oaks, MI 49128

Contact information: Phone: 269-469-3894 Email:


Why Chicagoans go: The resort is spread across 110 acres of wooded ravines, hiking trails, grassy areas and lakes, with Lake Michigan located just two miles away. Visitors can choose to purchase or rent cabins for their stay, and have access to two outdoor, heated pools, two lakes for fishing and kayaking, as well as basketball and beach volleyball courts and a playground. The resort also offers daily and weekend activities and themed events.

Author Caitlin O’Neil is related to resort owners and managers Tim O’Neil and Ted O’Neil.

Garden Grove Bed & Breakfast and Carriage House

Location: 9549 Union Pier Road, Union Pier MI 49129

Contact information: Phone: 269-469-6346 Email:


Why Chicagoans go: For couples looking to escape from the city for a weekend to the beaches and dunes of southern Lake Michigan, Garden Grove offers trees, gardens and relaxation on the decks and enclosed sun porch. All rooms have private baths and a double jacuzzi, hardwood floors, cathedral ceilings, fireplace and a wet bar. Garden Grove is also located less than a mile from the shops, restaurants and galleries in the Harbor Country area.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Photo by: Digital Sextant, Creative Commons

Distance from Chicago: 80 miles

Location: Lake Geneva Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, 201 Wrigley Drive, Lake Geneva, WI 53147

Contact information: Phone: 262-248-4416 Email:


Why Chicagoans go: Lake Geneva showcases beautiful local lodges, cottages, campgrounds and hotels to stay at along the lake, with over 40 restaurants and unlimited entertainment during your stay. For those wishing to get out of the city and into nature, Geneva offers outdoor adventure parks for ziplining, hiking/biking trails, festivals, orchards, parks, petting zoos, farms and even boat cruises. Geneva also offers a vast number of local shops for those looking for antiques, art and gifts.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Photo by: Chadly, Creative Commons

Distance from Chicago: 195 miles

Location: Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau Administrative Office 115 La Crosse Street, PO Box 390, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965-0390

Contact information: Phone: (608) 254-8088 Email:


Why Chicagoans go: Named the “Waterpark Capital of the World” on its website, the amusement parks and rides are the biggest attraction for Chicagoans looking to get away. For animal lovers, the Dells offers petting zoos of exotic and heartland animals, as well as horses available for riding. You can also observe the world’s rarest crane, the Whooping Crane, at the Dells. Festivals, golf, live entertainment, museums, tours, shopping and even spas complete the experience. To get away from it all and get a little bit of everything, travel out of the city and to the Dells.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area, Michigan

Photo by: Daniel Marchese, Creative Commons

Distance from Chicago: 221 miles

Location: Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area Chamber of Commerce, 2388 N. Comfort Drive, Hart, MI 49420

Contact information: Phone: 231-873-2247


Why Chicagoans go: Nominated by Travel & Leisure as one of America’s Best Little Beachtowns (, the sand dunes are what make your stay in Hart. When you’re sick of the sand in your shoes, the dunes also offer golf courses, bike trails, farmers’ markets, fishing, parks and even boat and canoe rentals. Shopping, wineries and salons are also open to pamper you.