Meet Kelly Russell, author of A Girl’s Guide To Chicago + check out her five favorite date ideas for the Holidays!

In honor of National Author’s Day, I sat down with my favorite local author, Kelly Russel. She recently published her first novel; A Girl’s Guide to Chicago which takes all of us on her personal journey from dreaming about moving to the city at the age of 7 to her dream becoming a reality as well as her experiences once she finally got there! Her passion for this beautiful city is so pure and her kindness and authenticity shines through in her writing and I’m excited to call Kelly my new friend.

A Girl’s Guide to Chicago is filled with so many fun ideas and little hidden neighborhood gems that you certainly do not want to miss!  Click the link to pick up your copy today and become a tourist in your own city again! It’s also the perfect holiday gift for anyone that needs a little motivation to follow their dream!


Buy Book Here

1. What inspired you to want to write your book, A Girl’s Guide to Chicago

Well, it might sound clichè but I’ve always wanted to write a novel. Chicago is truly my heart and soul and I just love living here, so I wanted to write a fun and girly story that would also inspire other girls and help them navigate their first year in the city. I love the process of publishing a book that I definitely can’t wait to do it again.

2. Do you have a favorite part from your book?

I love that my novel walks you through what it’s like to live a full year in Chicago. How to make it through the winters, enjoy every moment of the summers, and my book also guides you through the best things to experience throughout the city.

3. Where can you get the best dessert? (I am obsessed with finding the perfect cupcake, donut, gelato, pie!)

Oh me as well! I probably have to have something chocolate every single day. I actually wrote a girl’s guide all about the best desserts in Chicago. However, I have to say my favorite dessert in Chicago is the Buttercake at Mastros. If I’m looking for a quick little treat, I love Magnolia Bakery on State Street. Their cupcakes always taste homemade and I love that.

4. If someone was coming to Chicago for 24 hours what would you tell them they must do? Must see/eat/experience?

Haha, I’ve actually done a guide on this as well! This is such a difficult question because there is so much to see and do. If you are visiting Chicago during the summer and you had one day I would say, take the architecture boat tour, walk and sit along the Riverwalk, walk a little of the lakefront and see the skyline from Olive Park, visit the Art Institute of Chicago for an hour or so, enjoy a drink on Cindy’s rooftop. It’s one of the best views of the city. Followed by dinner on the patio at La Colonial. If you have time the next morning before you leave for the airport. Take the Blue Line to O’hare and stop at the Damen stop in Wicker Park see one of Chicago’s coolest neighborhoods and don’t forget to stop by Stan’s Donuts.

If you are visiting during the winter and you had one day, I would go up to the Hancock Building, enjoy lunch at RL Restaurant, the grilled cheese and tomato soup is the best!. See the holiday lights on Michigan Avenue and do a little holiday shopping. (It starts getting dark at four!) Watch the ice skaters or go ice staking at Millenium Park. Enjoy the spiced wine at the Christkindlmarket, or hop on the 151 bus and see the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo. End the night with deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s.

5. What do you think is the most overrated thing about the City? Most underrated? 

Ummm geez the most overrated thing? I don’t know, I love this city so much. Haha, I know. Navy Pier. It’s okay if you have a family, but there are so many other things to see and do in the city. Every time someone comes to visit Chicago, they say they have to go to Navy Pier. The most underrated thing is probably that our city always gets overlooked by New York and LA because it’s “not safe.” Chicago is truly such a beautiful city, nothing beats the lake and the skyline.

6. What do you think makes Chicago so unique/different than other major cities? 

The people and that our city sits around gorgeous Lake Michigan. There’s nothing better than walking along the lakefront.

7. What/where is the most romantic date you went on in Chicago?

I don’t know if it’s the most romantic thing ever but my boyfriend, now husband use to go out of his way to drop things off by my apartment. He would show up with hot chocolate, or a cozy blanket because my first apartment in Chicago was freezing all winter long. We would then cozy up on the couch and watch a movie. A memory that really stands out to me is the first official day we hung out, we did a whole bunch of fun holiday things all around the city.

Because my first date with my now husband was around the holidays, and we always love to do tons of holiday things around the city every year.

Here are my five favorite date ideas for the upcoming holidays. 

  1. See It’s a Wonderful Life at the Music Box Theatre. It’s one of my favorite tradition that I love to do every year.
  2. Go see the carolers on Friday nights in December in Millenium Park, followed by dinner downtown.
  3. Grab a peppermint mocha from Starbucks and walk down Michigan Avenue to see all the holiday lights.
  4. Take the CTA holiday train downtown and get some spiced mulled wine from the Christkindlmarket.
  5. Go to Bloomingdales Home and pick out an ornament together for your tree. Bloomingdales has the best ornaments.

Enjoy a date night with your favorite girls and celebrate the holidays with the chocolate bar at The Peninsula. Bring an ornament to exchange.

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