Hey friends! I wanted to get this post up so much sooner, but I clearly forgot how hectic December is. It’s hard to believe Christmas has already come and gone and we’re already into the first few days of 2019. I’ve been super sick for the last week or so, but it’s still been a very productive new year for me so far. I’ve got big plans for this year and I don’t want to waste any time so I’ve been busy plugging away at my goals already. Check out my plans for 2019 in my latest blog post if you’re interested in what’s going on in my life in the coming months.
Anyway, on to the important stuff! We took a trip to Bloomington (IL) a few weeks ago and I wanted to share what we did with you guys. I have always loved to surprise Mike whenever I can. He put me on to Lindsey Stirling back when we first started dating (if you’re not familiar with her, def check her out – she is an incredible violinist). I surprised him with tickets to her show in Chicago a few years back and it was such an awesome show. When I saw she was coming to Bloomington, I snagged floor tickets as soon as they went on sale a few months ago. The concert wasn’t until December, but I thought they would make a great early birthday present for him and even better if I could pull it off as a surprise so I managed to keep my lips sealed.
I somehow convinced him that my work Christmas party was being held in Bloomington (I even made a fake invitation and stuck it on the fridge weeks in advance LOL). Instead of just going up for the concert and driving back home, I decided to plan an overnight getaway since we don’t get to get out of town as often as we would like. I am a planner by nature so I worked hard to put together a special little trip for us.
I booked a room at Hyatt Place Bloomington-Normal and it was truly the perfect place to stay. This hotel stands out from most other hotels in the area. It’s modern, very clean and right in the middle of the downtown area in a prime location near dining and other things to do. I have always had a great experience staying with Hyatt and this was no exception.
Some specifics to point out… The staff were all so great – very friendly and accommodating. They have 24 hour room service available along with an indoor pool, business center and fitness center (also open 24/7). Breakfast is free if you are a World of Hyatt member and they have a bar area near the lobby (open until midnight) if you’re looking for a casual cocktail during your stay. They are also pet friendly (for an additional fee) if you are traveling with your pet(s). There is a parking garage across the street and the hotel provides you with a validation receipt so your parking is free while you’re staying there. They have a great terrace area outside (unfortunately closed for the season while we were there), but looks like a great place to unwind and relax during the warmer months! They also have a Starbucks located inside to the left of the lobby which seemed to be a popular place for locals and hotel guests alike. Many people were hanging out around the lobby/bar area at the open tables and near the fireplace. They had it all decorated for Christmas – it was so cozy!
After we got checked in, we went upstairs to our room to freshen up and get ready for the night. Meanwhile, he still thinks we’re going to my work party. So while he was in the bathroom, I sneakily unpacked and set out the box holding the tickets that I had wrapped up with the tackiest (but cute) flamingo wrapping paper I could find. When he walked out, he was convinced there was a glitter bomb or something in the box. Unfortunately, there was not. However, when he opened it, he was totally surprised. He is big into music so I knew he would love it and we would have a great time.
Our room itself was really nice and comfortable. I snapped a few pics so I could give you guys a quick little tour of everything. There is a spacious living room area where you can stretch out and relax along with a desk if you need to catch up on some work (free Wi-Fi!). The bedroom area is separated from the living room by a small divider. It came with an awesome view as well overlooking the downtown area with all of the Christmas lights. Plenty of storage space for clothes and personal items if you are there for an extended stay or prefer to not live out of your suitcase. The bed was super comfy – zero complaints there. The bathroom was also really spacious and had a big tiled/glass walk-in shower as well as plenty of room on the vanity for all of our things.
I was originally planning to have dinner at Medici which is right across the street from the hotel, but I dropped the ball and forgot to make reservations. By the time we got there, there was an hour wait and we didn’t have time before the show. I would definitely like to try them next time we’re up that way, but note to self – make reservations in advance!
Instead, we ended up at Avanti’s, a cozy Italian restaurant with 2 locations in the Bloomington area. I’ve had friends recommend Avanti’s to me before and it definitely lived up to the hype! I ordered broccoli cheese soup for an app and cheese-stuffed ravioli with chicken and alfredo sauce for my entree. Mike ordered pizza bread and a pepperoni and black olive pizza. The food was excellent and we both had plenty of leftovers (our room also had a mini fridge so that was really convenient).
Another restaurant I would highly recommend in Bloomington is DESTIHL Restaurant and Brew Works. I went there a while back and it was excellent!
After dinner, we made our way over to Grossinger Motors Arena where the concert was being held. I was so happy with our seats other than the people in front of us were tall so it was kind of hard to see around them during the show. The concert itself was absolutely amazing. It was her Christmas tour and she puts on such a phenomenal show. The choreography, the music, everything is really just incredible. And it’s always a very diverse audience – old, young, men, women, kids. I definitely recommend going to one of her shows if you get the chance! I really wish I would have been able to get some decent photos or video to show you guys, but it just didn’t happen. After the show, we didn’t really have any plans so we just headed back to the hotel, got a late night snack from the bar downstairs and cuddled up in bed to watch tv. We slept so good – our bed was so comfy!
I wanted to plan something fun for breakfast the next morning so after doing a little research on breakfast spots in the area, I was of course enticed to check out The Donut Experiment. They are actually a donut shop franchise with several locations throughout the US, mainly in the Midwest and southern regions, and Bloomington-Normal is lucky enough to now have one as well. This isn’t your average donut shop. What’s fun about this place is that you can either let them whip up some of their staple donut specialty concoctions or you can fill out an order form and choose your own icing and toppings.
We picked up a dozen yummy donuts and I got a Peppermint House Iced Coffee (highly recommend!) to take back to the hotel and have breakfast in bed. If you don’t feel like getting out of bed though, I have good news! You can order your donuts online and get them delivered through Door Dash. Also, if you’re local and looking to cater a special event, they can do this too. If you want more than just boxes of donuts for an event, donut walls are so trendy right now and they can make it happen for you!
The donuts lasted us a few days and I have to say it is for sure hard to pick which was my favorite. They were all really good! But if I had to choose, I would say it was a 3-way tie between the maple cinnamon sugar, the vanilla Oreo with marshmallow drizzle and the Reeses with peanut butter. Mike’s faves were the maple bacon and s’mores. Just looking at these photos has me craving more of their donuts. We will definitely be back!
I wish we could have spent more time in Bloomington, but we had to get back home. I really enjoyed our time there. Even for being a “college town”, it’s very quaint and cozy and I loved the whole vibe. It was definitely a good spot to get away, even if it was for just a night. I always love to find good places to visit around Illinois and this was definitely one of them. Looking forward to our next trip here!
Hope you all have a great weekend! I’m going to try and kick this sickness so I can get back to getting some more things done for the blog and hopefully get some things caught up around the house. Talk soon!
Thank you Hyatt Place Bloomington-Normal and The Donut Experiment Bloomington for sponsoring this post. All opinions, photos and content are my own.