Editor’s Note: Our #LocalInsiderTips interviews give you a peek at local gems and top travel tips from influential travelers in the know.

This week we are chatting with Romper lifestyle writer Lauren Schumacker who is based in Chicago. Schumacker writes about food, drinks and spirits, health, relationships and other topics while eating and drinking her way through Chicago and as many other cities as she possibly can. She attended culinary school in Chicago and tries to always save room for dessert. You can snag her phenomenal recipes over on her blog Constantly Craving Cake.

A photo of the inside bar area at Big Star restaurant in Chicago, Illinois.
When it Comes to Cocktails and Tacos, Locals Love Big Star in Chicago – Photo Courtesy of Lauren Schumacker

Best Local Food in Chicago

One of my favorite places to eat in Chicago is Big Star. I’ve never had a bad taco (or a bad cocktail) at Big Star. When the weather is warmer, I love soaking up the sun and reveling in Chicago’s beautiful summer weather on Big Star’s patio, it’s pretty much my happy place.


Don’t Drink the Water in Chicago, Drink Hot Chocolate at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate

The hot chocolate at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate just might be the best hot chocolate you’ll ever drink. There are a variety of options from a basic option (which, let me tell you, is still out-of-this-world) to fancier concoctions. Each drink comes with a house-made marshmallow. Drink it as dessert after dinner at the restaurant or take it to go and walk around the neighborhood or the 606. If you can’t finish it, I’m here to tell you that you can freeze it and eat it as ice cream the next day.

In addition to Schumacker’s awesome advice on where locals hang out in Chicago, here are more insider guest posts and expert travel tips we’ve compiled from globetrotters around the world.

Best Local Designer, Shoes or Fashion Shop in Chicago

Merz Apothecary is a Chicago institution that has an extremely loyal following. The shop carries an impressive (like, really impressive) selection of soaps and other beauty products as well as many homeopathic remedies and other wellness-focused offerings.

A photo of the view of Chicago’s city skyline from Millennium Park.
The View of Chicago’s City Skyline From Millennium Park is Stunning Year Round – Photo Courtesy of Lauren Schumacker

Best Thing to Do in Chicago

There are so many great things to do and the best varies based on the time of year, but one of my favorites is wandering around the Art Institute of Chicago. At Christmas time, the museum’s Thorne Miniature Rooms get all dressed up for the occasion. Having drinks at Cindy’s or on LondonHouse’s rooftop is a must-do in the summer, if only for the picturesque views (though the drinks are good too!).

——Now Let’s Take This Interview Abroad——

Stamp My Passport Again Please

The last time I traveled to Italy was a decade ago, but I’d go back in a minute. There’s so much to see (and eat) throughout the entire country that our whirlwind, 10-day trip mostly focused on Tuscany wasn’t nearly enough. Plus, it was the first trip that made me feel like I needed to see and experience everything, everywhere.


Travel Experience that Most Left an Impression on You

The first time I saw the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed. It’s mesmerizing and awe-inspiring and I just could not get over it. I kept thinking, ‘it looks just like the pictures, but prettier somehow.’ I’ll never forget that moment.

A photo of Chicago local and lifestyle writer Lauren Schumacker.
Chicago Local and Lifestyle Writer Lauren Schumacker – Photo Courtesy of Lauren Schumacker


Dream Destination

I haven’t been yet, but I’m headed to Peru in a few months to see Lima, Cusco and, of course, Machu Picchu. It’s a dream trip and I’m so excited to make it happen.

Favorite Travel Hack or Item of Travel Gear You Can’t Live Without

When I’m traveling through an airport early in the morning, rather than eating a greasy breakfast sandwich, I always opt for a relatively basic turkey sandwich because it makes me feel less gross and lessens the chance that I’ll feel nauseous or otherwise under the weather on travel days. It’s weird, but it works.

I also always try to pack makeup wipes in my tote bag. I’m especially fond of Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing Towelettes and the makeup remover cleansing towelettes from Neutrogena. They’re great for, of course, removing makeup on overnight flights or general freshening up (traveling often makes my skin feel less-than-fresh). Plus, they make fixing any makeup mistakes a breeze.

Connect With This Globetrotter

   Facebook Lauren Schumacker

   Instagram @constantlycravingcake and @lashoe_maker

   LinkedIn Lauren Schumacker

   Pinterest Lauren Schumacker

   Twitter @lashoe_maker

Are you an in-the-know traveler on the go who has favorite local spots you want to give a shout out to? Send us an email at need@foodwatershoes.com and share your hidden gems with FoodWaterShoes. You can get more #LocalInsiderTips and read more of our fabulous #FoodWaterShoes guest posts here