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.

Minibus

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.

Chicago

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

DOTERRA

Chicago’s Doghouse

Asian Outpost

Sprout

El Campeon

Joycoast

Tubby’s Taste

Smashbowl

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.