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Travel Buddy

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Travel Buddy is a collection of reviews by SAIC students on their favorite neighborhood hangouts, shops, restaurants, and attractions in Chicago. If you’d like to submit a review, please email

Botanical Wonders
By Stephanie Plenner

Escape the concrete jungle and immerse yourself in a fresh world of wonder at The Chicago Botanic Garden, twenty miles north in Glencoe. The place is quite expansive, 385-acres await to arouse and ease your senses, from the amazingly aromatic Rose Garden to the peaceful Japanese Garden, not to mention the especially the Sensory Garden. Be on the lookout for wildlife: from the infamous moth hummingbird to photographers looking for a natural backdrop. Open 8 a.m. till sunset, later during the summer—when the sun goes down and the gardens light up. For more information visit

The Loop is Alive with The Sound of Karaoke
By Stephanie Plenner

If you want to sing your heart out or watch those that do, Brando’s is the spot for those looking to not be seen. Reminiscent of a speakeasy with an art nouveau touch, this karaoke bar harbors a motley crew of folks looking to unwind after a long day. Come for the song and stay for the specials—Brando’s is proof that the loop does not die at five; it’s alive and armed with a set of pipes! The entrance is just steps from the Jackson Blue Line stop at 343 South Dearborn Street.

The Border of Urbanity
By Britany Robinson

As the emaciated snowmen and swimming pool puddles finally disappear into the earth this spring, a surprise is waiting on Chicago’s Lakefront Path. For three years, the stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline between Addison and Diversey has been shielded from the path for construction and landscaping. This winter, the landscaping project was finally completed, and the Lakefront Path is set to provide an iconic backdrop to summer. The path now boasts healthy lawns, restored rock walls, and young trees, leaving an open view of the lake that would make Burnham proud.

Cabinet of Curiosities
By Mia DiMeo

Komoda sits on the far west edge of Ukrainian Village, where the pierogi and domed churches abruptly end. I’ve walked into the quirky boutique with many requests: a birthday card with an octopus on it, a Chicago-themed baby present, a vintage garnet ring, a wallet made from recycled material, even perfume that smells like burning wood, and somehow, all have been met. Two sleepy sheepdogs and their owner, Sherry, are always waiting for me on the corner of Chicago and Rockwell, offering locally made letterpress cards and a range of clever gifts that can’t be found on Michigan Avenue.

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