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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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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You Should 100 Percent Not Go Out To Eat If You're NOT Going To Tip 18 Percent, Or More

My current summer job is serving at a restaurant and it is the first serving job I have ever had. Here is what I have learned so far, in terms of tipping.

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Being a server can be the best job at times and the worst job at times.

Most servers only make between 3 and 3.50 hourly, we rely solely on tips.

There is nothing more disappointing than picking up the check from a table and seeing that they tipped you under 20 percent. I would say a good rule of thumb is to always tip your server 20 percent unless you have a valid reason not to. If their service was truly terrible, then tip them under, but when their service was good and the meal was good too, you have no reason not to tip 20 percent.

I've been serving about 2 weeks now and I have been undertipped or not tipped at all several times.

I'm still learning as I go, but I think I am a good server. I always greet my customers, offer input on the menu, and constantly check on them during the meal. I can confidently say that I think I am worth a 20 percent tip. When I see that someone did not tip me what they should have, it's upsetting. I always wonder what I could have done to earn a better tip but the fact is that some people are just oblivious.

Some people are not aware that you are supposed to tip 18 percent as the bare minimum.

When I don't receive a tip at all, it feels like a waste of time. I put in your orders, brought your food to you, made sure you were enjoying my meal, constantly offered my services, and you don't tip me? Not tipping your server is just plain rude.

There are always some people that tip over 20 percent so, for the most part, it evens out between these people and those who do not tip, but there is no excuse for not tipping your server.

In conclusion, don't eat out if you are not going to leave a decent tip for your server.

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