Chicago Minibus Sightseeing Tour

Chicago is a beautiful city having lots of options for sightseeing and experiences to enjoy. There is a lot for everyone in this beautiful town says Gaurav Mohindra. You can visit world-class museums, dine at  Michelin-star restaurants or catch a show in one of over 200 theaters. It feels like there are nearly limitless options to experience and enjoy.

There are quite a few organized tours catering to various niches – such as city sights, sports, shopping, and other attractions. These tours are popular because they provide a curated guide to your particular interest. Chicago nightlife includes a variety of bars and nightclubs, live music and comedy clubs.


A popular way to enjoy Chicago – and experience what it has to offer is through the Chicago Minibus Sightseeing Tour.  The CMS Tour make major city attractions accessible without any hassle.  You can travel around the Windy City in a smart, convenient, long windowed minibus, as you scope out the city’s cloud-skimming skyscrapers, art-filled parks, and charming neighborhoods. Along with the enjoyable tour around the city, you can get an expert guide who shares interesting insight into Chicago’s storied past and make lots of stops to take memorable photos. 

On the tour, you will experience the view on the top of the Willis Tower, the biggest office building in North America, Picasso’s sculpture in Daley Plaza, and Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. You will also see Millennium Park’s reflective sculpture “The Bean”. The tour provides ample opportunity to stop and snap photos, capturing memories of the amazing skyline at Museum Campus, and then set a course for the historic architecture in The Loop says Gaurav Mohindra.  The bus will also take you inside one of the world’s first skyscrapers. This is an experience difficult to plan for by oneself.

While on the tour you can admire the Chicago River, along Wacker Drive; hear for lions roaring in Lincoln Park’s renowned zoo, also you can learn a bit about Chicago’s mobster past including the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. On your way back into town, the bus will take you through the scenic route along Lake Shore Drive for remarkable glimpses of Lake Michigan and the city horizon before arriving back to your hotel. This Chicago Minibus Sightseeing Tour is committed to make your visit to Chicago special and memorable.  So if you don’t want to miss the major attractions of  this city you should check out the Chicago Minibus Sightseeing Tour says Gaurav Mohindra.


New Non-Stop Travel from Chicago to Chengdu, China

Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently announced the launch of a non-stop direct flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Chengdu, China. This is the first non-stop direct flight from an interior US city to an interior Chinese city. The inclusion of this direct flight indicates the strong business relationship between Chicago and China, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Mayor Lightfoot indicated that the inclusion of this flight may bring at least $35 Million in revenue as an overall impact within the Chicago region. The new flight service is being offered by Hainan Airlines. Hainan Airlines is a well-known Chinese airline. It is currently the fourth largest Chinese commercial airlines and has been flying extensive routes throughout the world. They are currently operating 500 international and domestic routes to over 90 destinations. Other US cities that are serviced by Hainan Airlines include San Jose and Boston. Hainan Airlines has been offering a non-stop flight from Chicago to Beijing since 2014. The new service from Chicago to Chengdu will be offered twice a week. Flights will be offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The non-stop flight time heading eastbound is estimated to be 16 hours, and is westbound is estimated at nearly 15 hours.

The Mayor applauded the new flight service and indicated that it is a natural service offering as more international travelers are frequenting the Chicago-area. In addition, Mayor Lightfoot indicated that an increase in travelers and new flight routes will be complemented by the current and upcoming upgrades to O’Hare Airport’s infrastructure and facilities, says Gaurav Mohindra.

The upgrades are part of an $8.5 billion modernization plan being spearheaded by the City of Chicago to upgrade existing facilities, provide new passenger gates, and expand the terminal. Chicago is one of the busiest airports in the US and one of the most connected in the world. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is also one of the busiest hubs for transporting cargo to and from China, says Gaurav Mohindra. Currently, 25 percent of all cargo transported from China moved through O’Hare International Airport.

As the US and China business relations grow, having additional transit routes is important. China and the US are the largest economies in the world. Last year, the US imported over $530 Billion in Chinese goods and exported $120 Billion in goods to China. Having sufficient infrastructure to support this relationship is key to growing the relationship over the years.


O’Hare International Airport

The Chicago Department of Aviation recently announced that they are continuing an ongoing program to use grazing animals to help control the wild vegetation that is growing near O’Hare International Airport. The grazing will take place on nearly 12 acres of land adjacent to the airport. There will be 30 animals, including goats, sheep, and a donkey. The grazing program, called the Sustainable Vegetation Initiative, has been going on for six years as part of an effort to provide sustainable environmentally friendly initiatives throughout the airport, says Gaurav Mohindra. This initiative is the first of its kind in any US airport.

Previous seasons of the initiative have included grazing animals such as herds of sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, burros, and donkeys. The initiative has helped maintain green space near runways and on adjacent parcels of land surrounding O’Hare International Airport. The grazing herd provides a safe eco-friendly solution around the airport.

Seeing goats and sheep around O’Hare may raise some eyebrows, but herds of grazing animals have become an innovative solution to maintain healthy ecological environments in an environmentally friendly manner, says Gaurav Mohindra. A variety of animals have been leveraged in grazing hers. Animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, and goats can be included in such grazing herds.

The type of animal used for grazing can depend depending on the environment and vegetation of the area. Also, the size and weight of the animal is key to protect the soil compaction of the ground. Typically, Horses clip grasses off the ground. But, they are heavier animals which may result in more soil compaction. Cattle, which are even heavier than horses, consume large amounts of vegetation including grass, but they can’t clip the vegetation as low as horses. Sheep and goats are effective at clipping vegetation on steeper grounds.

There are numerous benefits in leveraging grazing herds in urban areas, particularly around airports. The herds will reduce the natural vegetation that can creep into runways. This vegetation, if left untreated, may pose an impact to planes on takeoff and landings. In addition, grazing herds do not cause pollution that traditional mowers and equipment causes. Using the grazing herds also provides motivation for other urban environments to adopt similar sustainability measures.

In 2013 the Sustainable Vegetation Management initiative was launched at O’Hare International Airport. It quickly became a beacon for other airports to aspire towards. The sustainability practices include providing green space on rooftops, environmentally friends utensils for eating and drinking, the grazing program, amongst others. As O’Hare continues with its several billion-dollar large facilities overhauls, hopefully, more ecologically friends initiatives are introduced, says Gaurav Mohindra.


Traverse City – A Quick Trip from Chicago

Ready for summer vacation?  Traverse City, Michigan is a short 5-hour drive from Chicago – and is the perfect place for a quick getaway from the city.

The fact that Traverse City is an easy drive, and one can avoid a flight, is a big consideration for families, says Gaurav Mohindra.  Traverse City offers great beaches and dunes.  Sleeping Bear Dunes provides a fun activity for families and provides scenic landscapes overlooking Glen Lake.  In the summertime, Traverse City provides vast dining and entertainment options.  One of the more popular options is the National Cherry Festival.  Northern Michigan is home to many cherry orchards – and the fruit is celebrated throughout the region.


Traverse City is close to Lake Michigan and provides miles and miles of beaches.  The lake is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the beaches or go sailing.  There are many fishing operators and tour guides in the area too.  In addition, there are numerous hiking and bike trails to take advantage of during the summer seasons, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Traverse City is also home to numerous craft breweries that are getting international attention.  There are numerous brewery tours which showcase local beers, which are often made with local ingredients.

Kayaking is also a big attraction in the area.  The Crystal River is a popular kayaking destination – and provides a scenic backdrop through parts of a national forest for kayakers to meander through.

Traverse City is considered the unofficial capital of northern Michigan.  The city has the largest population, and a vast array of restaurants, hotels, and cultural events.  As for the restaurants, there are a wide variety.  According to TripAdvisor, some of the most popular restaurants in Traverse City are Trattoria Stella, The Boathouse, Red Ginger, PepeNero, Mission Table, Slate, and Cook’s house.  When dining at certain restaurants one will find that chefs often take advantage of the excellent local ingredients available from the area. 

In light of Traverse City’s proximity to Lake Michigan, there are numerous old lighthouses situated along the shoreline.  These charming lighthouses are fun to check out.  Another popular hangout is the Village at Grand Traverse Commons.  The Commons are an old converted hospital that now includes shops, restaurants, and event space.  It truly blends old-world charm with modern vitality, says Gaurav Mohindra.

As you can see Traverse City is a short trip from Chicago and a great place for a visit – especially in Summer.


Illinois Passes Bill to Legalize Marijuana

On Tuesday, June 25, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that will legalize marijuana in the state. The passage of this bill was a key campaign message promoted by Pritzker throughout his campaign, says Gaurav Mohindra.

The new law will permit adults, aged 21 or older, to possess and consume marijuana within the state. The law also regulates how the marijuana will be sold and ensure that vendors are licensed by the state. Pritzker strongly advocated for the legalization of marijuana as an opportunity to empower communities negatively affected by criminal convictions related to the drug possession and sale.

The new law will be effective as of January 1, 2020. With the passage of the bill, Illinois becomes the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Other states with legal recreational marijuana are Alaska, California, Colorado, Main, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont. When signing the bill into law, Prizker made it a point to emphasize that Illinois was the only state to legalize recreational marijuana through the legislature rather than voter referendum.

The new law provides the automatic expungement of arrests for marijuana possession under 30 grams, says Gaurav Mohindra. Pritzker indicated that he will pardon convictions for possession up to 30 grams. However, people can seek expungement of cases involving up to 500 grams.

Legalize Marijuana

The new law stipulates that 25% of the revenue from marijuana taxes will go to marijuana business ownership in minority communities. Many of these communities were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, says Gaurav Mohindra. The new law will also direct 20% of marijuana tax revenue towards substance abuse treatment and prevention and mental health care. And additional funds will be allocated towards Illinois’ bills, law enforcement and public education on marijuana related health issues.

The bill was introduced into the Illinois state General Assembly and was overwhelmingly passed. It will allow Illinois residents to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana flower, 500 milligrams of THC in a marijuana-infused product such as edibles and 5 grams of marijuana concentrate. Non-Illinois visitors may possess up to half those amounts.

Only state-licensed businesses will be allowed to grow, process or sell the product. An important part of the plan calls for special consideration in licensing for social equity applicants. Social equity applicants include business owners and workers from disadvantaged minority areas, or those who were arrested for or convicted of misdemeanor marijuana crimes that are due to be expunged under the plan.


Chicago Bulls – 2019-2020 season

The Chicago Bulls finished the 2018-2019 season with a lackluster record.  They won 22 games and lost 60.  Their record clearly indicates that need to make some distinct changes to turn the team around, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Fortunately, the Chicago Bulls have an estimated $20 million to spend on free agents in the next year.  As a result of their excess cash, and desire to attract fresh talent – it’s safe to assume the Bulls will be active in the upcoming free agent season, says Gaurav Mohindra.

The Chicago Bulls drafted Colby White in the NBA draft.  The Bulls had the 7th pick in the NBA draft, and by using that pick on Colby White indicates that they have high hopes for him.  White played college basketball for the North Carolina Tar Heels.  White became the first player since Michael Jordan to be drafted from North Carolina in the 1st round by the Chicago Bulls.

In college, Colby White had an impressive career.  He played point guard had an innate ability to score himself, but also enable others to score – as he was one of the team leads in assists.  White surpassed Michael Jordan to become North Carolina’s all-time leading freshman scorer. 

The Bulls also drafted Daniel Gafford as the 38th overall draft pick.  Gifford played forward at the University of Arkansas.  In his last year at Arkansas, he put up some impressive numbers by averaging nearly 17 points per game, 8.7 rebounds, and .7 assists.  He brought a degree of consistency and power to the position which is something the Bulls can rely upon.  Gafford quickly became a fan favorite at Arkansas as became known for his explosive dunks, alley-oops, shot blocking ability, and just overall powerful play says Gaurav Mohindra.

While in high school, Gafford’s play attracted numerous colleges.  He received offers from several schools having top basketball programs, including Kansas, Vanderbilt, and Florida. 

The addition of Colby White and Daniel Gafford adds some impressive depth to the Chicago Bulls roster.  These young players will help provide the energy and skill the team needs to turn around their lackluster season.

There has been quite a bit of turmoil with the Bulls, particularly with the recent firing of head coach of Fred Hoiberg.  With new head coach Jim Boylen and the addition of new players – the Bulls can look forward to the fact that new strategies will be in play. 


Cricket World Cup 2019

There are much excitement and fanfare spanning across the globe for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.  This year’s World Cup is being hosted by England and Wales from May 30 through July 14.  This is the 12th l tournament being held by the International Cricket Council.  The tournament is held every four years.  This is the fifth time that the World Cup is being held in England and Wales.  The last time the tournament was played there was 1999.

This year’s World Cup features 10 teams.  In past years, there have been as many as 14 teams.  Matches will be played throughout England and Wales, and are expected to attract large crowds from around the world, says Gaurav MohindraIt is scheduled for matches to be played in Birmingham, Bristol, London (Lord’s), London (The Oval), Manchester, Cardiff, Chester-le-Street, Leeds, Nottingham, Southampton, and Taunton.

The teams participating in this year’s World Cup are England, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, India, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Australia, and West Indies.  England was never won the World Cup, yet many oddsmakers are considering the home team to be the favorite this year, says Gaurav Mohindra.  England has earned a 2nd place finish on three past occasions of World Cup Tournament play.  They’re most recently 2nd place finish happened to be in 1979 when they were hosting the tournament. 

While the winner of the World Cup certainly earns bragging rights, there is also a considerable monetary prize in place.  The World Cup winning team gets $4,000,000.  The 2nd place runner-up team gets $2,000,000.  The semi-finalists each get $800,000.  Each league winner gets $40,000.  All teams that do not pass the league stage earn $100,000.  There is a total of $10,000,000 in prize money distributed amongst the teams.

While the prize money may seem impressive, it’s a pittance compared to what the ICC earns in broadcasting rights, says Gaurav Mohindra. The World Cup is a global event that will broadcast around the world.  Many countries will be able to access the matches vis Fox Sports (Australia), Hotstar (Europe), ESPN (Carribean Islands), Star Sports (India, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives), Digicel (Oceania), Sky Sport (New Zealand), Willow TV (USA, Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands).

While Cricket is not a very popular sport in the US, there will be many fans watching the World Cup throughout Chicago.  Chicago has a large and diverse population including many immigrants from countries where Cricket is popular.  It’s always exciting to see fans root for their teams throughout the city.


Vegandale Festival – Chicago

On June 22, the Vegandale festival is coming to Chicago.  This event attracts an array of visitors to celebrate the vegan lifestyle.  As veganism is increasingly becoming more popular – this event will surely attract many visitors, says Gaurav Mohindra.

The Vegandale festival is the culmination of the Toronto based Vegandale brand.  The Vegandale brand has numerous vegan storefronts and product offerings in Toronto – from foods and clothes, but also encouraging the vegan lifestyle.

The festival celebrates the vegan lifestyle which is the practice of abstaining using animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.  The lifestyle has been popular throughout the world and is becoming increasingly popular for its health benefits, environmental impact, and animal welfare mission.  Accordingly, it’s refreshing to see such a large, well-coordinated, festival visit Chicago this year, says Gaurav MohindraThere are numerous vegan restaurants in Chicago, but there are more non-vegan restaurants starting to offer vegan fare for customers.  The diet, which was once viewed as “fringe”, is becoming more accepted.  I wouldn’t call it mainstream as yet, but definitely more widely accepted and understood.

The Vegandale festival is in various cities this year, including Chicago, Toronto, Miami, Houston, and NYC.  The festival attracts thousands of visitors and hundreds of vendors.  They have a large social media presence and have been advertising the festival by showcasing foods and large crowds on Instagram and Facebook.

The Chicago Vegandale festival will be hosted in Grant Park on June 22.  The festival will open at 11:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM. 

Some of the out of state vendors visiting the Chicago festival include:

Imerative (Tornot, ON)

Eggloo (New York, NY)

Snackrilege (Portland, OR)

Evolution Burgers (Los Angeles, CA)

Superieur Electrolytes (New York, NY)

Having the out of state vendors in Chicago will provide local Chicagoans access to new vendors and foods they typically could not try in Chicago, says Gaurav Mohindra.  Along with these vendors, there are dozens of Chicago vendors who will be present as well, a partial list including:

Art of Dosa

Higher Healing

Buddy’s Italian Ice

Crazies and Weirdos

Juice RX


Chicago’s Doghouse

Asian Outpost


El Campeon


Tubby’s Taste


The Guiltless Garden

Jamaican Me Krazy Vegan

Alongside all of the food, there will be DJ’s and MCs throughout the day keeping the energy live and activities running.  Tickets can be purchased online at the festival site or purchased on location.  Early-bird tickets are $10 through June 17 and increase thereafter.  This will surely be a fun event for all food-lovers, says Gaurav Mohindra.


The Rise of Plant-Based Burgers

There is a fast-growing new trend in the burger industry. And surprisingly, it’s not meat. Plant-based burgers have quickly become a rage throughout the country and becoming increasingly available in popular fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and on the dinner table throughout the country, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Vegetarian or “Veggie” burgers are not a new concept. Vegetable based burgers have been around for years and available in the frozen food section of grocery stores. However, the rise in plant-based burgers that getting much recent attention is different. These burgers look and taste like beef burgers. They go as far as having a similar texture, smell, color, and look – of typical burgers. With the similarities being so striking, the transition for meat eaters to sample the new plant-based burgers are rather simple. In addition, the plant-based burgers are healthier than their red meat, nitrate-laden, and counterparts – and leave a smaller ecological footprint. As consumers become more health conscious and environmentally aware, these alternatives are becoming more attractive, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Burgers Chicago

Beyond Meat made recent headlines with their IPO last month. The IPO shot up in value and received significant attention by earning a large valuation. Beyond Meat is a Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown. The company’s products became available across the United States in 2013. In May 2016, it released the first plant-based burger to be sold in the meat section of grocery stores, on an international basis. The company has products designed to replace chicken meat, beef, and pork sausage. Beyond Meat is offering its burgers in a number of fast food restaurants, such as Del Taco, Epic Burger, Angel Stadium, Harvard University, Stanford University, TGI Fridays, Yankee Stadium – they are in over 15,000 restaurants, stadiums, and universities.

Impossible Foods Inc. is another plant-based burger company that develops plant-based substitutes for meat and dairy products. The company was founded in 2011, and headquartered in Redwood City, California. The Impossible Burger recently made headlines by testing an Impossible Whopper at Burger King Locations in the St. Louis market. The test was wildly popular and resulted in an increase in over 18% foot traffic for the participating locations. As a result, Burger King decided to expand the offering to all of its US locations by the end of the year. The fact that a large fast food restaurant is willing to provide the offering is a testament to the existing demand, says Gaurav Mohindra.


Goodman Theater Chicago’s favorite theater

The Goodman Theater is a popular theater in Chicago for ensemble plays and productions.  The theater was founded in 1925 and is located in the Chicago Loop.  The theater has received numerous awards and accolades over the years, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Goodman Theater

One of the theaters most popular yearly productions is A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  The theater has been running A Christmas Carol every December since the 1970’s.  The production attracts visitors from the city and from around the country and is widely lauded for its strong production value and acting, says Gaurav Mohindra.

The current production running at the Goodman’s Albert Theater is The Winter’s Tale.  The Winter’s Tale was written by William Shakespeare and is directed by Robert Falls.  It will run through June 9, 2019.  Many critics have applauded Robert Falls direction and the entire production for providing a modern twist on a classic tale.  From the Goodman’s website, The Winter’s Tale is described as:

A jealous king accuses his wife of infidelity, setting off a calamitous series of events. But what begins as tragedy evolves, unexpectedly, into a fantastical journey—from wrath to redemption to reconciliation. Following his celebrated productions of King Lear and Measure for Measure, Robert Falls reimagines one of Shakespeare’s most wildly theatrical tales.

Tickets are available at the Goodman’s website and vary in price based on availability, date, and time.

With the Goodman theater being centrally located in Chicago’s Loop, there are numerous dining options within walking distance to grab a meal before or after the performance.  The following are some of the popular establishments nearby:

The Dearborn – Classic American fare with a large bar for cocktails.

Petterinos – Classic Italian fare, it’s often a good idea to inform your server if you are rushing to attend a show.

Pueblo – modern Mexican and latincusine.

Catch 35 – popular seafood options

With of all of the dining options in the area, one can plan for a memorable experience while attending a show. 

For out of town visitors, there are numerous hotels located within walking distance of the Theater.  One of the most popular is the Renaissance Hotel.

Gaurav Mohindra: Be sure to check out the Goodman’s website to check ticket availability and upcoming shows.  They typically list their upcoming shows on their calendar as far as 6 months to one year in advance, so visitors have ample time to plan their visit.


Chicago’s New Mayor – Lori Lightfoot

On May 20, 2019, Lori Lightfoot was sworn in as the new mayor of Chicago.  She became the first black woman and the first openly gay person to hold the office in Chicago’s history.  Her victory was widely lauded for changing the system and driving for improved policy throughout the city.  Lightfoot won the election over Toni Preckwinkle in a run-off election on April 2, 2019.

Prior to becoming Mayor, Lightfoot had practiced law at the firm Mayer Brown and served as the President of the Chicago Police Board.  She also chaired the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force. 

On Monday, during her swearing-in, she delivered a warm speech, addressing her desire to positively impact public safety, education, financial stability, and integrity, says Gaurav Mohindra.

During her inauguration speech at Wintrust Arena, Lightfoot vowed to challenge political corruption.  “You voted for change, and I plan to deliver change to our government. That means restoring trust in our city’s government and finally bringing some real integrity to the way this city works.”, said Lightfoot.

Lightfoot was busy on her first day in office as she signed an executive order decreasing aldermanic involvement in licensing and permits.  Chicago Alderman have previously been criticized for their role in influencing such services, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Lightfoot also discussed her desire to address incessant gun violence that has been plaguing Chicago for years and has become national news due to its widespread impact.  She has also expressed her commitment to neighborhood investment and improvement programs.  Lightfoot is inheriting a host of problems including a significant budget shortfall close to $700 million dollars.  Various City unions are also coming up on renewed contracts – including Chicago Police and Firefighters. 

Melissa Conyears-Ervin was also inaugurated as Chicago’s treasurer on Monday.  Conyears-Ervin is also a member of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 10th District.  She was elected to that position in 2017. Anna Valencia was also inaugurated as City Clerk of Chicago.  Valencia has a long history of political involvement in Chicago and Illinois.  She was previously a staff member for Mike Quigley’s campaign for United States Congress in 2005 and was a member of a Legislative Counsel and Government Affairs team for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  Most recently, in 2015, she was a Senior Advisor for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election.

There is a lot of excitement and hope with the City’s new leadership. 


Chicago Botanic Gardens – Fun Summer Events

The Chicago Botanic Gardens are a popular destination attracting visitors throughout the year.  However, their summertime free nightly concerts are a fun event that attract even greater crowds, says Gaurav Mohindra.  The Gardens are open until 9 p.m. from June through Labor Day.  Throughout the summer they offer concerts, and a fun atmosphere in a serene and beautiful setting.  The gardens are located at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe – Around a forty five minute drive north of Chicago.

Here are some of their scheduled concerts for this summer.

On Mondays, the Gardens host Carillon Concerts, which are a one hour musical concert of carillon bells.  The concerts provide an opportunity to meet the performers, tour the carillon, and even try ringing the bells yourself.  The concerts are scheduled from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

On Tuesdays, the Gardens host Music on the Esplanade, which includes a weekly concert of varying musical bands and styles.  Different kinds of musical genres include blue grass, swing, and big band.  A complete schedule and calendar of performers is accessible on their website.

On Wednesdays, the Gardens host Dancin’ Sporuts, which is a fun event for families and particularly children.  Musical performers focus their talents on kid’s songs – and there is a lively dancing environment for everyone.  The performances are scheduled from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.  These performances are scheduled to be held in the Rose Garden.

On Thursdays, the Gardens host Hot Summer Nights, which is a concert of high energy music enticing you to dance.  The musical genres includes upbeat tempo and great deal of variety.  The performances are scheduled to be located in McGinley Pavilion.

Some things to note while visiting the Gardens and enjoying the concerts – picnicking is permitted, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own chairs.  There are also dining establishments within the Gardens that will be open during the performances.  The Garden Grille Café is located within the Gardens and provides a variety of choices for visitors.  There is also outdoor seating where visitors can enjoy the views while dining.  The newly opened Rose Terrace Beer Garden showcases craft beers from local breweries along with a limited dining menu. 

As the summer concerts are popular, visitors are encouraged to purchase parking passes in advance.  Good planning can help avoid some of the long lines and crowds that are anticipated for these events, says Gaurav Mohindra.


Summer Fun at the Brookfield Zoo, Chicago

From May 11, 2019 to September 29, 2019, the Brookfield Zoo has a new and exciting event for kids of all ages.  The Brick Safari event is a widely anticipated summer event showcasing a variety of animals constructed by Legos®. 

The life sized animals are constructed by millions of Legos® bricks having individual colors.  The attention to detail and sheer magnitude of the displays is impressive, says Gaurav Mohindra.  The event features around 40 life sized animals positioned along the east side of the park and located along a winding, wooded pathway making for easy touring.

The displays include a variety of life sized animals including a lion, giraffe, elephant, panda, snow leopard and pangolin.  Colorful graphics and interesting facts are listed next to each display to provide for an interactive learning experience as well.  There are plenty of great photo opportunities along the path including a Safari Jeep and life sized photo frame. 

The exhibit is open during Zoo hours and admission costs $5 for adults, and $3 for children aged 3-11.

Another fun event at the Zoo is Roars and Pours.  This event is for adults 21 and older and offers a chance to view your favorite animals while sampling wines and spirits.  The event will have music and food.  This is the first time the Zoo is hosting this event and it seems like a great idea to attract new visitors, says Gaurav Mohindra.

The Roars and Pours event is being held on Saturday, May 18 and tickets costs $65 for general admission.  There are discounted tickets for members.

The Zoo is also holding its annual summer night’s concert season.  The concerts are held on Fridays and Saturdays from June 21 through August 10.  There is a diverse group of musical acts that perform at the Zoo.  After each concert there is a laser light show finale.  The summer night’s concerts are free for Zoo members, and always attract a large crowd.

Another fun event at the Zoo is Zoo Brew, sponsored by Blue Moon beer.  This event is being held on August 24 and is open for adults aged 21 or older.  It’s a fun event permitting visitors to view animals while sampling a wide variety of beers.  There will be over 80 beers to try and tickets include free parking, zoo admission, and a commemorative tasting glass. 

The Zoo is a great place for people of all ages and has a variety of fun events to check out this summer, says Gaurav Mohindra.


Illinois Seeks to Legalize Marijuana

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker proposes to legalize recreational marijuana by the end of the year.  The controversial new bill has been the in works for some time now and was a key campaign point for the governor, says Gaurav Mohindra. 

The proposed legislation would permit adults, those over the age of 21, to purchase recreational marijuana from a licensed dispensary.  Currently, the state of Illinois only permits approved patients to purchase marijuana from a medical dispensary.  The new legislation will now provide marijuana access to all adult residents and non-residents of the state.

Residents would be able to hold as much as 30 grams of marijuana and would be permitted to grow up to 5 plants at home.  Non-residents would be permitted to hold as much as 15 grams of marijuana.

The Governor and supporting lawmakers made it a point to note that the legislation is equity-centric, says Gaurav Mohindra.  The proposal includes expunging hundreds of thousand marijuana convictions, permitting people with past convictions to work in the marijuana industry and provide a $20 million low-interest loan program for minority-owned businesses.

The Governor further discussed the impact that the projected tax revenues would have on the state.  He noted that a significant portion of the revenues, 25%, would go directly into communities that have been impacted by the prosecution of drug laws.  He projected that nearly 20% of the revenue would go towards substance abuse and mental health, 35% would go towards the state’s General Revenue Fund, and 10% would go towards a portion of the state’s unpaid bills.

Currently, a number of states have taken a position on the legalization of marijuana.  Many states have adopted policy and laws around the medicinal use of marijuana.  If the proposed legislation passes, Illinois would become the 11th state to permit the use of recreational marijuana.  Illinois would join Michigan, as another Midwest state to permit the use of recreational marijuana.

The proposed legislation is referred to as Senate Bill 7 and specifies the amounts in which people may consume the product and the policies around licensing dispensaries and growers.  It is likely that the bill may be further refined in certain areas prior to becoming law – but the fact that the Governor has already put forward this position illustrates his desire to see legalized marijuana become law in the near future.  In recent polling, there seems to be widespread support for legalization.


Chicago – Things to Do This Summer

After a cold and long winter, it’s time to step out and enjoy the many attractions Chicago offers, says Gaurav Mohindra.

There are great museums, events, and tours that operate throughout Chicago that are always popular attractions when the weather is nice, says Gaurav Mohindra.  Below is a collection of some of the most popular things to do in the city.

Shedd Aquarium:  Located within Museum Campus the Shedd offers numerous attractions to visitors of all ages.  Some of their upcoming programs include Private and Personalized Tours.  These tours are led by one of their marine experts who can customize the tour to focus on things one is particularly interested in.  Another exciting event for children is Asleep with the Fishes.  At this event, you may spend the night exploring the aquarium and learn about marine life through a scavenger hunt and presentations.  The Shedd is also having a Mother’s Day special event in May for families.  For adults, the Shedd is offering a Penguin Party – where attendees can spend an evening at the Shedd with cocktails, eats, and penguins. 

Shedd Aquarium chicago

Art Institute:  Located near Millennium Park, the Art Institute is easily accessible for a visit.  The museum is considered to have one of the best art collections in the world.  Some of their upcoming exhibitions include Rembrandt’s Portraits, which is running from March 3 – June 9.  Another exciting exhibition includes Connoisseurship of Japanese Prints which is running from April 6 – June 22.  The museum is open daily from 10:30 – 5:00 PM, and on Thursdays, it is open until 8:00 PM.  The general admission for adults is $25, however, if you are a Chicago resident the fees are discounted to $20.

Art Institute

Adler Planetarium:    The Adler Planetarium provides visitors a showcase on space science.  They offer a number of exhibits, events, and shows for all ages.  Their current shows include Planet Nine, Imagine the Moon, Skywatch Live, Welcome to the Universe, Destination Solar System – amongst others!  One of their most popular exhibits is Mission Moon which provides the personal experience Captain Jim Lovell as he made the impossible possible.  One of their highly anticipated events for adults is Adler After Dark.  One of the Adler After Dark events in April is Cosmic Caper where attendees follow clues, solve puzzles, uncover the mole, and look to solve a caper.  The event will offer special drinks from Empirical Brewery, a talk from astronomer Mark Hammergren, and a special performance by Lakeside Pride Music Ensemble.


The Long Mile – A Beginners Running Guide

One mile is 5280 feet.  This distance seems trivial when in a car or train, but it often appears daunting to new runners desiring to hit this distance.  Running your first mile is an attainable goal, that can become a building block in your fitness journey.  Below are some steps to prepare to run the mile, and enjoy the process along the way.

Time – don’t worry about how long it takes to run the mile, says Gaurav Mohindra.  Your focus should be on improving your conditioning to be able to run the mile non-stop, without walking.  Your running times will improve over time.

Patience – is key.  Like anything else, have realistic expectations.  If you have never been able to run a mile – don’t expect to do so after one or two days of training.  This will simply frustrate you and may cause injury.  So – give yourself at least 4 weeks or regular training – and start with short distances that gradually increase over time, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Pre-workout Prep – prior to running, take a few measures to ensure you’re prepared for the distance.  Make sure you’re hydrated and have had something to eat.   It’s often suggested to eat a balanced small snack one hour before training.  A snack may be a balance of carbs and protein, like peanut butter spread over bread, or a yogurt parfait.  You don’t want to eat too much, but you want enough to fuel your run.  Make sure you have comfortable running shoes.  Most athletic shoe stores can fit you to ensure you’re getting a properly sized shoe for your foot.  And, keep some music.  Running to music is a great way to forget about the run and have fun.

Now that we’ve covered the basics – below is a 4-week running program to help you gradually hit the one-mile mark.

Week 1

Day 1: Run 1/16 mile, walk 3/16 mile; repeat 4 times
Day 2: Rest or cross-train
Day 3: Run 1/16 mile, walk 3/16 mile; repeat 4 times
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 1/16 mile, walk 3/16 mile; repeat 4 times
Day 6: Rest or cross-train
Day 7: Rest​

Week 2

Day 1: Run 1/8 mile, walk 1/8 mile; repeat 4 times
Day 2: Rest or cross-train
Day 3: Run 1/8 mile, walk 1/8 mile; repeat 4 times
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 1/8 mile, walk 1/8 mile; repeat 4 times
Day 6: Rest or cross-train
Day 7: Rest​

Week 3

Day 1: Run 3/16 mile, walk 1/16 mile; repeat 4 times
Day 2: Rest or cross-train
Day 3: Run 3/16 mile, walk 1/16 mile; repeat 4 times
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 3/16 mile, walk 1/16 mile; repeat 4 times
Day 6: Rest or cross-train
Day 7: Rest​

Week 4

Day 1: Run 1 mile
Day 2: Rest or cross-train
Day 3: Run 1 mile
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 1 mile
Day 6: Rest or cross-train
Day 7: Rest


Hudson Yards – A Visitor’s Perspective

So after hearing about Hudson Yards for some time, I finally made my over to check out the hype.  To sum up the experience in one word – Impressive, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Walking over from Penn Station is typically a mundane stroll, walking past drug stores and restaurants, and navigating around tourists and conference goers.  But suddenly, several glass towers appear – almost out of nowhere.  While approaching the glass and steel structures – it almost appears as though it doesn’t “fit” within the neighborhood.  When reaching the structures and appreciating the sheer size – you then realize the neighborhood may not “fit” Hudson Yards, says Gaurav Mohindra.

I entered through the shopping corridor.  It seemed like a big, shiny, new – mall.  Lots of high-end stores – and countless escalators leading up to more stores.  Neiman Marcus seems to be the largest store taking over a few stories, along with Aritzia, Altelier Cologne, Cartier, Brooks Brothers – and countless others.

The mall – in its entirety is spotlessly clean and just gives off a high end, modern, and stylish vibe.  The fact that it’s all less than one roof further distinguishes it from other shopping corridors in NYC.  Snark Park was an art installation situated near some stores.  It’s easy to miss, as it simply looks like a ticketing booth with a large window having hundreds – if not thousands – of stuffed toys.  Walking into the installation is a pretty cool experience – it’s a feast for all of the senses.  Interesting textures and colors – and amorphous shapes surround you.  It seemed appealing to visitors of all ages, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Prior to visiting, I had seen photos of the Vessel.  We had booked 2 tickets to walk through the installation and upon doing so – I am glad we did.  It’s hard to describe the structure – but it’s a dozen of stairwells positioned around a circular outdoor skeletal dome.  The stairs don’t lead anywhere in particular – but it was fun strolling around the structure and enjoying the views.  It’s definitely Instagram worthy.

Without a doubt, the best part of Hudson Yards is food options.  We sampled dishes at couple restaurants – our favorites were KAWI and LENA at Mercado Spain.  I am confident Hudson Yards will become a distinctive dining destination, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Overall, we had a fun afternoon at Hudson Yards.  I don’t think we will go back any time soon for the shopping or the art installations – but we will go back to check out more restaurants and revisit the ones we dined at.

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