Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park | Starved Rock | Utica, IL

Starved Rock State Park was my #1 must-see on the outdoor Illinois summer bucket list I created back in May. Guess what? After 21 years of living in the area, I finally made it! One Saturday my mom and I packed up the car with snacks and water bottles, dressed in workout clothes and tennis shoes and headed to Utica, IL to hike through the park.

Weekend Getaway: Door County, WI

Door County, WI

If we’re being honest, working from home has not been what I thought it would be. It’s a huge adjustment! With that being said, my mom and I decided we needed to get away for a long weekend. This past weekend we drove up to Door County (you can check out our trip from last year here). It was a quick trip, but I swear, it was just what the doctor ordered. My mom and I had so much quality time together, and there was never a dull moment. Even though we were returning to the same place, we explored and did different things than we did the time before. Because how could you ever see a whole county in just one weekend?

Outdoor Illinois Summer Bucket List

Outdoor Illinois Summer Bucket List - 7 outdoor activities to add to your Illinois summer bucket list. It's time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather months!

The truth is, I’m graduating college in 8 days, and I don’t know where life is going to take me. I might be in Illinois for the next few years, or I might fall in love with a job halfway across the country… or the world! So, my goal for this summer is to spend as much time enjoying all of the wonders my home state has to offer with my friends and family. To keep my focus on being active and adventurous, I’m making a list (because how else would I stay organized without a list, right?)! I’ve searched the internet for the best outdoor hidden gems in Illinois, and I found some places I have been before and want to revisit (like Galena and Anderson Japanese Gardens) and others that I want to explore for the first time.

Where to Eat in Naples, Florida


Where to Eat in Naples, Florida | Ali in Bloom

This is my last post about my vacation, I swear! But with below zero temperatures and classes starting again, it’s hard not to think about it. Naples has so many things to do and also so many places to eat; I could never claim to be an expert on the local eateries even after all the years I’ve visited, but I have definitely formed some opinions during my time in Naples. So here are my restaurant recommendations for your next trip to the Naples, Florida area.

A casual meal – Pelican Larry’s

Pelican Larry’s has a laid back bar atmosphere with walls lined with TVs, friendly service and great food. Although it may look like any other ordinary bar, Pelican Larry’s website is packed with awards they have received for their food, service and atmosphere. Try anything from the Chili to the Buffalo Chicken Wrap – or my mom’s favorite: the Grouper Sandwich.

The favorite – Bonefish

I’ve been to Bonefish a number of times and have never been disappointed. They offer great food, fair portions and a decent price. Nothing to complain about there! The Bang Bang Shrimp, Shrimp Pad Thai, Crème Brûlée and Filet Mignon are all delicious!

Straight off the airplane – Cheddar’s

Cheddar’s is a chain, but I’d never been to one before, so it still felt like a novelty to me. The best part? It’s located nearby the Fort Lauderdale airport, so you don’t have to go far after landing. The menu is huge, with a wide variety of different styles of food to choose from, so it is bound to please your whole group. I had the Key West Chicken & Shrimp, because I was in the Florida spirit. So good!

The special occasion – The Turtle Club

The Turtle Club is my grandpa’s favorite for an extra special meal. It’s also great for first time Florida goers, because it’s quite the experience. You just might be dining a little early, because you’ll want to make it there before the sunsets, so you can look out across the ocean to view it from your table on the sand.

Breakfast – Skillets

I’ve never personally been to Skillets, but a fellow sorority sister and good friend swears by it, so I’m listening to her (and my grandpa seconded her opinion, so I thought it was safe)! Need a Sunday brunch or early breakfast? This place is the place to be for tourists and locals alike.

Lunch with a view – CJ’s on the Bay

The atmosphere and view at CJ’s on the Bay is one of my all time favorites. Sitting outside on the patio during lunch is such a relaxing experience. CJ’s on the Bay is actually on Marco Island, where we always go to the beach. Lucky for you, CJ’s on the Bay is on the way back to Naples from the beach. Stop in! You won’t be disappointed.

A quaint cafe – Amigo’s

Amigo’s serves (according to their website, because I can’t really be one to judge) authentic Mexican in the most quaint, adorable cafe on Tamiami Trail. The atmosphere is fun, the food is good and most importantly, the owner and staff are friendly. My family and I ate dinner at the bar and had a blast laughing and chatting with the owner. I’ve only been twice, but I’ll definitely be going again.

Have you ever been to Naples, Florida before? What are your favorite restaurants in southwest Florida? Let me know in the comments below. I always need suggestions for my next trip back!