Nails, Tales, and Sales — Chicago Nooks and Crannies

Wrapping up this week’s travel guide for visiting Chicago, I’m going to tell you about a day I spent in the city totally solo.

Last spring I found myself with an entire day to explore the Magnificent Mile area. Since sandal time was just around the corner, I decided that a pedicure would be a great way to spend some of that time. I also love checking out quirky bookstores and gift shops in places I visit. I managed to fit all of this in with some careful planning.

Glazed and Infused

What special day does not start with doughnuts?

The first stop was a trip to Glazed and Infused, a specialty doughnut shop that also serves excellent coffee. These are some big doughnuts, so don’t feel the need to eat breakfast before you get here. I stopped at the N. State and East Hubbard location, since my next stop would be the bookstore around the block.

Honestly, these are the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. They have an almost creamy texture, yet I couldn’t detect much grease. I opted for a traditional glazed doughnut, with sprinkles, of course! Even the black coffee, which I normally don’t like, was smooth and bitter-free. Now that I was properly fed, I was ready to explore.

After-Words Bookstore

photo credit: Hassan Elminyawi
Between N. Wabash and N. State on West Illinois, is this awesome bookstore that offers both new and used titles. Follow the creaky stairs down to the lower level to peruse the used book collection. Here, you’ll find a nicely curated selection, plus nooks and crannies to settle in and wile away some time.

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, is a poetically written novel I read and enjoyed many years ago. Lending it out and not getting it back, I was interested in finding a replacement copy at a reasonable price. Previous searching in Boston had yielded no luck. Bingo, here is was in Chicago in the used book section, at a garage sale price, plus an extra 20% off that day. Don’t those kinds of finds make your day?

Karen Nails

photo credit: Consumerist Dot Com
Next on my agenda was a pedicure. I found a small place on East Superior, between N. Wabash and N. Rush Street.

It is a bit tricky to find, as it is below street level. Look for the red neon “Karen Nails” sign on the north side of the street, just east of Sunny Side Up Coffee Shop.

I did not make an appointment ahead of time, as I didn’t want to be locked into any particular schedule. There was no problem accommodating me, though the shop was busy. The service was efficient and professional.  If you are looking for spa atmosphere, keep walking because this is a basic nail salon.

My pedicure lasted more than a month, and it had that wonderful, glossy finish that I just can’t seem to get at home. Plus, it was really inexpensive — $15.00! Between my book find and discount pedicure, I felt like I was batting a thousand.


After the pedicure, I headed south on N. State Street, and found this adorable little shop offering antique and European flea market finds, with some newer items in the mix.

P.O.S.H. reminds me of an old-timey boutique, and I always spend at least an hour looking at every single item in the store. This is the kind of shopping that really only works when you’re alone. I can’t even imagine taking a stroller, or my husband, in here.

I’ve come out of this shop with dish towels, French wine bottle openers, little plates and cups, and unique greeting cards. It’s the perfect place to find a little something for a friend who has it all.

This post ends a week of Chicago travel tips. I’ve enjoyed sharing my special, solo day with you. Next time you’re in Chicago, have some fun even if (maybe, especially if) you are on your own!

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