5 Reasons Wicker Park Is The Place To Be In Chicago

5 Reasons Wicker Park Is The Place To Be In Chicago

The guide to fully experiencing Wicker Park
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One of my favorite pastimes includes adventuring around the beautiful city of Chicago. Every time that I think that I’ve gotten familiar with one the many nationhood’s, I take a wrong turn and find myself in a whole new area that I wasn’t aware of. And with every nationhood comes a unique culture that I crave to experience.

Among my many adventures, I have had some of the best in Wicker Park, where the outcome of gentrification is so completely apparent. And while at the expense of many, something truly incredible did come out of it. A neighborhood bursting with unbelievable culture and life.

To many, Wicker Park is the nationhood of hipsters and vegans, however to me it is just another section of Chicago that is defined by the culture of its people. So I would encourage everyone in the Chicago land area to set a day aside for the sole purpose of adventuring around Wicker Park. And if you do decide to go on this little adventure, then these are some of the places you have to go to, in order to fully experience Wicker Park.

1. The Coffee Shops

If you know anything about me at all, then you should know that coffee consumes about 60% of my life and 99.99% of my daily liquid consumption. With that in mind, it was imperative for me to learn more about Wicker Park’s coffee scene, and let me just tell you, it didn’t fail to impress.

One of my favorite things in the world is sitting in one of Wicker Parks many little coffee shops with a perfectly roasted cup of black coffee and a good book. It is the only way that I know how to relax, and possibly a game changer for you. The first coffee shop that I would recommend (and my favorite) would be The Wormhole Café. The second you walk through the doors, you are sure to notice the back to the future car hanging on the wall, and the incredible aroma. And while I am a loyal black coffee drinker, when I am at The Wormhole, I always indulge in the Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa (which is literally one of the best cups of coffee I have ever had). Some other shops that are close runner ups would be The Dollop, Bru (incredible smoothies), Buzz Killer Espresso, and Volume Bookcafe (a bookstore and a café… I mean come on).

2. Thrifting

Wicker Park thrift stores are like the Tiffanies of thrift stores. And by that I mean that the clothes are so nice, that the items are actually regularly price, and could be mistaken as brand new. So while the whole concept of “going thrifting” is slightly inappropriate for this situation, it is still one of my favorite things to do. And if you are struggling to keep up with ever changing fashion trends, then you can just walk into any thrift store in Wicker Park and everything that is in that store is guaranteed to be the coolest thing right now.

With that being said I find some to be better than others, and The Buffalo Exchange to be the absolute best. While extremely small in square feet, The Wicker Park Buffalo Exchange is overflowing with style. I have found some of my absolute favorite pieces of clothing there, and judging by the outrageous amounts of people in there at all times, I wouldn’t just say it’s not just my belief. And If you manage to come out of the Buffalo Exchange with any money at all, you should head right over to Crossroads Trading co. and Ragstock.

3. Bookstores

I have searched the city of Chicago for the most incredible book stores, and while some of my favorites are scattered around the city, Myopic Books will always be up there. If not for the great selection of books, then for the simple fact that every inch of that shop is occupied by numerous books. There are little cave like hallways that are just wide enough for one person to walk down, and those hallways are literally create by huge book cases. And if that isn’t cool enough for you, then the fact that I have gotten lost in the maze of floor to ceiling book cases should do it for you.

I have truly never seen so many books packed into a space in my life. After checking out this gem of shop, you should head over to volumes Bookcafe (mentioned earlier), and enjoy the marvelous combination of literature and caffeine. And if you haven’t got a headache from all the caffeine and reading, you should stop by Quimby’s Bookstore, for perhaps the quirkiest experience of your life.

4. Food, Food, Food

I really should dedicate a whole article to Wicker Park food, but for today Im going to have to keep it short. Now please do keeping mind that I have been to almost all of the cheaper options, but haven’t really gotten to try anything over about $15. So if you aren’t a college student, I wouldn’t limit yourself to this list. When you go to Wicker you have to get a donut from Stan’s, and I would recommend the one with the most calories. And if you do check out Stan’s, then please make sure to appreciate the colorful Kitchenette mixers that line the walls as art.

If you are still in need of some sweets after Stan’s, then you have to go to Jeni’s Ice Cream Shop. As you approach Jeni’s there will be a line out of the door (guaranteed), but it is so worth it once you get inside. I would highly recommend getting their 4 scoop option in a bowl, that way you can try four of their dozens of flavors. And If you are not looking for ice-cream or donuts, then I can’t help you. Just kidding, I would recommend the big star, it is right next to the park itself and is always completely packed.

5. The Little Things

There are a few places that don’t fall under any of these categories that you should definitely check out. One of my all-time favorite places in Wicker Park is Sprout Home. It is a cute little flower shop that has classes on terrarium making and the best succulents around. Overall it just has a really pleasing aesthetic, and is necessary for the Wicker experience. And lastly I would highly recommend you check out the Wicker Park itself (actual park) and the tire art installation in Wicker that is titled “Brick House”.

To conclude this little Wicker Park guide, I would like to express how important it is for everyone to step outside of their comfort zones and experience the culture around them. This one just so happens to be about an hour away for most and will open your eyes to a lifestyle that perhaps you aren’t used to.

Cover Image Credit: How I Travel

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The Cold, Refreshing, Stimulating Truth About Energy Drinks

Am I ruining my body with these? Am I going to DIE???

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The thing about energy drinks... they have a bad rap.

I often bring one to work and then my coworkers will begin to tell me how bad they are for my health. And then I usually reply with how delicious they are or something. Because quite frankly, I absolutely love energy drinks.

I never have more than one on the same day, and I don't drink 5-Hour Energy or any of those energy shots. THOSE can't be safe. I also don't drink Redbull for some reason. I have always thought that they weren't good for you and so I guess I just stand by that. But I drink every flavor of Monster and Rockstar and have now expanded my horizons to Nos, Bang, etc. I sip them like a drink, I don't chug them or start my day with them. Usually. And I like to get the sugar-free or low-calorie ones, although that's a whole other debate on whether or not it's healthier to digest real sugar or fake sweetener.

But my habits are not the focus of this article. Instead, I want to summarize some of the factual information about energy drinks and why you shouldn't assume I'm going to have a heart attack after I finish my delicious beverage. Now, I admit right off the bat that I didn't do any extensive research about this, I didn't look into cases of specific people's injuries or experiences, I just want to state a few facts to put this entire debate into perspective:

The average Monster has anywhere from 140-160 mg of caffeine in a 16oz can. This is the equivalent of a tall Starbucks cafe Americano. And ordering an Americano every morning is perfectly fine to most people.

My absolute favorite flavor of Monster is the Pipeline Punch from the Monster Juice series. This one is not low-calorie or low-sugar, it's just a normal Monster drink. It has 23g of sugar in it. Arguably one of the most popular sugary Starbucks drinks is the caramel macchiato. The grande size has 33g of sugar in it. Not to mention, it's also the exact same caffeine count as an energy drink.

Anytime you order your Starbucks drink with an extra shot, that's an added 75mg of caffeine. So with every double shot or even triple shot, if you dare, you are well over the caffeine amount of 99% of energy drinks.

In light of these facts, it's still fair to criticize energy drinks because of their artificial, sugary nature. Sure, carbonated sugary drinks lead to teeth erosion and dental issues. But then how come people don't freak out every time the waiter asks if you would like a Coke with that?

The Bang drinks actually require you be over eighteen to purchase them. Grocery stores treat it like alcohol and ask for your ID before buying. And maybe this is how it should be for every energy drink brand. It would surely help prevent young children and teens from over-consuming something that they probably don't need in their systems at a young age.

As for bodily defects as a result of drinking energy drinks—do everything in moderation! Stories are released of people drinking energy drinks and then dying from heart attacks or what have you. But 99% of the time it's because they drank three in a row or mixed them with substances you shouldn't be mixing them with. These aren't just drinks. People should be taking them seriously. You wouldn't throw back five shots of tequila and then not expect to suffer the consequences or order three triple shot lattes and not expect to feel a little heartburn afterward.

So, I urge you to take this with a grain of salt. 99% of the time I drink an energy drink, it just keeps me from falling asleep. It doesn't really give me energy or make me stay awake. So maybe I have an extremely high tolerance to caffeine, but I see it as evidence that energy drinks can't be that bad for you or else the supposed "high" levels of chemicals and caffeine would have you bouncing off the walls every single time.

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