Three Great Shows in Six Days
We just finished a whirlwind six day tour. Total cost for our accommodations was $0! Since we have the SouthWest companion pass we only paid for three airline tickets not six ( total cost $571 see breakdown at the end of the post), and one of our three shows was comped.
It all started with a concert in St Paul, Minnesota. My husband and I decided this was going to be our year of music, so we began watching for acts that we would like to see. One of the first concerts I purchased tickets for was Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Soul to Soul, in St Paul Minnesota. My favorite cousin lives there, and we thought it would be fun to visit and show them some country music.
If you have read prior posts, we really enjoy going to Ravinia in Highland Park, Illinois, outside of Chicago. When their schedule came out we realized that John Mellencamp was going to be there the night after our St Paul concert. That is how show number two came about.
As for show number three, you also may have noticed, we like Vegas. I got an offer for two free tickets to see Jeff Dunham on the Wednesday before our St Paul concert and Voila!!!! the third concert/show was booked. Now before you suggest Gamblers Anonymous, you should know that neither my husband or I are big gamblers in terms of money. We take cash, and when it is gone, it is gone. Oh, and we don’t need an armored car to carry the cash. Our gambling budget per day is about the equivalent of two club seats at a professional football game. So you may wonder, how did they get free rooms and tickets. Well, we stay at Caesars properties when we go to Vegas. Lately we have stayed at Caesars and Bally’s. Bally’s is my favorite. It is newly remodeled (more on that in a minute) and centrally located. You get credit for staying on property. We also frequently eat at restaurants on Caesar’s property. Vegas is a foodie’s paradise, so we don’t limit our choices to only restaurants on Caesar’s properties, but we are vigilant about giving our players card to the waiter when we pay our bill. This accrues points as well. I play slots, penny slots, so if my luck is good, I can play for two or three hours for $200. The machine tracks your playing time so this increases our points total as well. My husband plays craps and even though his bets are much larger than mine, I have a higher rating and receive more offers. Ok, enough on that for this post before you start to worry about my ability to retire someday soon or pay the mortgage.
In St Paul we stayed with my cousin and her husband. Their neighborhood is very walkable. There is a coffee shop at the end of the block and a few blocks over is one of our favorites spots, The Nook. The Nook was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the FoodNetwork. It is a quaint little neighborhood bar that make fabulous hamburgers. There is even a burger named after Guy Fieri, Guys Big Bite. It is one of the Nook’s special stuffed burgers with the cheese stuffed inside the burger. Guy’s burger is stuffed with pepper jack cheese and topped with bacon, roast beef and cheddar. Warning!!! These stuffed cheese burgers are HOT when they arrive at your table. Wait a few minutes before taking that first big bite or you will have hot cheese dripping down your chin and onto your shirt. Trust me, I know.
We also went to the Commodore Bar for a cocktail. The Commodore was originally built in 1920. It was a hotel and hosted F Scott Fitzgerald, who lived just up the street for a period of time, as well as Chicago gangsters, thanks to the O’Conner Rule which gave the mobsters protection from prosecution in St Paul in return for leaving the residents alone. Stepping into the bar you are transported back in time. You expect to see a flapper or gangster to round the corner at any minute. The menu has a wide variety of delicious cocktails named after local and national famous figures. Among my favorites are the Fitzgerald (gin, lemon, simple syrup and bitters) and the Zelda (sparkling wine, ginger liqueur, lime and bitters). They also have a menu of current creations that were inspired by less iconic figures of the time. I tried the The Last Bradford named after a popular variety of watermelon produced in the south. It was made with cucumber vodka, aperol, rhubarb liqueur, lime and black peppercorn. It was fabulous!!!
Our last stop was Chicago, and it was a very quick stop, less than 24 hours. Once again, we flew into Midway and took the El to the Loop (total cost $16). This time we stayed at the Palmer House. It was half a block from the Hampton Inn we stayed at in July and about half a mile from the Wit where we stayed the year before. Both my husband and I agreed that the Palmer House was our favorite! We definitely plan on staying there for our next trip and hopefully having more time to explore.
The Palmer House opened in 1873. It is one of Chicago’s oldest hotels. Guests have included Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Charles Dickens. The hotel is so iconic, it has its own historian, Ken Price. On my next trip, I definitely want to participate in the History is Hott program. For $70 you can have lunch and take a tour with Price both through the hotel museum and throughout the hotel itself. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-palmer-house-hilton-chicago-museum-ae-1129-20151126-column.html)
Of course, our concert at Ravinia was fabulous. We saw John Mellencamp and Carlene Carter. We got tacos and tortas at the Ravinia Market. It is kind of an upscale food court. There is limited seating on the patio outside. Ravinia does rent tables and chairs so that you don’t have to haul all of our supplies on the train. It is fun to walk through and see all the different set ups that people have assembled. I even saw one table with a candelabra! I think it would be fun to get some yummy Chicago deli food and try sitting on the lawn next time.