Authors Posts by Mandi Carozza

Mandi Carozza

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Mandi craves adventure and confidently removes herself from her comfort zone in order to find it. Last year, she abandoned the mundane security of a desk job to pursue her passions for travel and writing. Since then, she spent eight months cruising cross-country, milking goats and climbing mountains along the way. When she's not on the road, exploring a new city, or on a hiking trail, she's recording every absurd albeit enlightening experience in her travel journal and right here.

Below are the best Bay Area spots to unroll a blanket, unpack a basket and dine outdoors.

Welcome to the City by the Bay, a peninsula of steep and rolling hills. San Francisco is no stranger to open space and waterfront activities, which is why picnicking is a popular pastime. Choose from countless parks, fields, and beaches. Each provides a unique ambiance – with a view! Below are the best Bay Area spots to unroll a blanket, unpack a basket and dine outdoors.

Mission Dolores Park

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Flickr photo via Mik Scheper

It’s so much more than a grassy hill. This park has one of the best views of the San Francisco skyline. Set up camp under a palm tree and enjoy. As one of the city’s favorite parks, Mission Dolores fills up quick with nothing but good vibes.

Exploring the Windy City for the first time? No worries. Whether you’re a foodie or a fitness fiend, Chicago has it all. Here are some must-see and do Chicago attractions!

Binge on Chicago-style deep-dish pizza:

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Flickr photo via Sara B.

You won’t be able to stop at one slice. Similar to the way Chicagoans argue over which of its two baseball teams is better, it’s hard to find a unanimous deep-dish favorite. The three best known Chicago-style deep-dish pies come from Lou Malnati’s, Gino’s East and Giordano’s, but there are plenty of other contenders who Chicagoans will avidly root for. For all sausage lovers, you can’t lose with Lou’s. If you crave a stuffed pie, head to Giordano’s. Check out Gino’s for a unique dining ambiance – you’ll find their walls decorated with graffiti. No matter which venue you choose, be sure to indulge in the pizza that defines Chicago.

Drink a cocktail in the sky:

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Flickr photo via lobstar28

Towering over downtown Chicago on Michigan Ave., the views from the Signature Lounge do not disappoint. You’ll ride the elevator of the John Hancock building to the 96th floor free of charge, as opposed to a $20 fee to reach the Skydeck at the Willis Tower. Once you reach the top and your ears stop popping, it’s time to order a cocktail, relax on the plush furniture, and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Hungry? Venture one floor lower for a truly lavish dining experience. The views are just as epic.

Get physical in the concrete jungle:

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Flickr photo via Daniel X. O’Neil

You don’t have to leave the city to experience the outdoors. Chicago is so much more than brick and mortar – it’s a playground. The newly renovated Maggie Daley Park hosts two 40-foot rock-climbing walls. Surrounding these structures is an ice skating loop, providing an “alpine in the city” experience. And if you’re more into water sports, you can rent a kayak and paddle down the Chicago River, which takes you through the heart of downtown. You’ll escape the bustle but still enjoy Chicago’s architectural grandeur.

Explore the lakeshore:

chicago attractions

Flickr photo via Rachel Kramer

Chicago sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes, and it would be a shame not to enjoy the scenery. Rent a Divvy, one of those blue bicycles found at bike share stations across the city, and cruise down the lakefront path from north to south. Be sure to take breaks at Montrose and North Ave. beaches. Then, ride all the way to Navy Pier and lock your bike into a nearby station. Can’t get enough of Lake Michigan’s vast expanse? Hop on a Seadog speedboat tour for a different, adrenaline-packed perspective of Chicago’s great lake.

Go out to a ball game:

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Flickr photo via Joe Penniston

Pick a game, any game: Chicago’s full of them. Sit in the bleachers at iconic Wrigley Field, watch the Bulls or the Blackhawks at the United Center, or cheer on the Bears at Solider Field. There’s no better way to feel Chicago’s energy than through a professional sporting event. And if you’d rather play your own game, tap into Whirlyball. This one-of-a-kind “sport” combines bumper cars, lacrosse and basketball for a whirlwind of chaotic fun. One way or another, you must experience Chicago sports.

What amazing Chicago attractions did we miss?

Part of the beauty of exploring a national park is the feeling that you’re the first to discover it. But this is difficult to accomplish when you’re the umpteenth person to gaze over a scenic overlook. Want to escape to national parks where you can be at one with the surroundings? Below you’ll find five places where you can still hear birdcalls instead of camera flashes. They’re out there, and they’re waiting for you to find them.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Michigan

national parks

 

Flickr photo via NOAA Photo Library

Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rocks spotlights the pristine shoreline of Lake Superior. Admission to the park is free, and a trek through the hardwood forest reveals waterfalls, sandstone cliffs and freshwater creeks. If you don’t wish to explore the park by foot, you can hire a boat and cruise along the 40-mile lakeshore. Don’t forget to look up – birds of prey frequent the park, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a bald eagle swooping overhead.

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