I’ve been on a recent hunt for little gems hidden in Chicago.

I have a two-page list of book shops, coffee shops, boutiques and café lounges spread throughout the city that I’m set out to find.

My friends and I are looking for an apartment for next fall and the more we look outside of the South Loop, the more we don’t like the South Loop. We found a neighborhood called Old Town. It’s a very old part of the city with an incredibly charming (my word of the week) European vibe. It has character and color, two things that the South Loop lacks. The sun shines a little bit longer because it’s not hiding behind skyscrapers. There’s not a Starbucks on every block and the people are warmer. I immediately fell in love.

It has the same feeling as… home. Home. Exactly where I didn’t want to be, but I find myself attracted to this place with an unmistakable similarity. Interesting how that works.

I didn’t really starting drinking Starbucks (heavily) until I moved here. I basically lived in small coffee shops where local music spilled out onto the street, where people are slack lining from tree-to-tree in the park across the street, where there are just as many dogs as there are people. It’s my own little gem.

I lose that feeling here. Character turns into corporate. It’s a little bit colder.

I didn’t even realize this until I ventured outside of downtown. I saw those little coffee shops that I spent so much of my time in and it brought be right back.

I guess the point of my list of hidden gems is to find that charm and character I so desperately crave. I need more sun and more color.

I need those little gems.

Old Town

Old Town

Manitou Springs

Manitou Springs

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