Love Star Wars, C2E2, BTS, or Beer? Ray’s is the Chicago Bed and Breakfast for you!

Hey B&B fans, Katrina here. The temperatures in Chicago are rising, the snow has disappeared (for now) and things are looking bright for a great Bucktown spring. With this spring comes a slew of absolutely poppin’ events to help shake off the winter blues. As always, Ray’s Bucktown Bnb is here to help you experience a great, unique Chicago experience. 

Image result for c2e2 cosplay For you nerds out there, and I say that as a term of endearment, C2E2, the largest comic-con in the Midwest, is right around the corner on March 22nd-24that McCormick Place. Or for a sneak peek at the new Star Wars film, the highly anticipated Star Wars Celebration starts April 11th, also at McCormick Place.

Image result for chicago flower show Are you an amateur gardener, floral enthusiast or in need of more greenery post St. Paddy’s day? The Chicago Flower and Garden Show starts March 20th. There are amateur gardener classes, workshops, and an ocean of floral and garden displays. Sounds like a bouquet of fun!

 Prefer to have some beers and cheers? The Chicago Beer Classic, featuring hundreds of beer vendors, games, and entertainment, starts May 4th on Soldier Field. That leaves you plenty of time to buy tickets and then book at Ray’s for a lovely hungover breakfast on May 5th

Image result for bts Musically inclined? Into KPop? American Pop? BTS, the mega-popular, super-cute Korean boy band, has a leg of their North American tour at Soldier Field on Saturday May 11th and Sunday May 12th. Ariana Grande, the pop princess of the Billboard charts, also has a concert on April 7that the United Center. Tickets are selling fast, and so will our rooms!  

If you’re looking to stick around and explore the neighborhood, our friends over at the Corner Bar, a stone’s throw from Ray’s, has drink specials every night, trivia Tuesdays, Bingo, and is a great spot to watch a Cubs game. If you’re looking to party without spending money on an uber, this is the spot.

As always, we at Ray’s Bucktown Bed and Breakfast are ready and waiting to help facilitate an end to winter cabin fever, so if you’re ready for winter to be completely over, check out these events and our website, 

Holiday Cheers

 Happy Holidays from the Ray’s crew! We’re gearing up for a busy holiday break, with folks coming to stay from all over. Whether you’re looking for a New Year’s party spot, or a quiet Christmas hamlet to escape the family drama, Ray’s still has a few rooms available to further your holiday cheer. Speaking of cheer, the Bucktown neighborhood has a royal ton of bars and boutiques to either finish off, or if you’re like me and drastically unprepared for this gift season, jump-start your shopping and celebrations. These are all within walking distance of Ray’s, so put on your coat and get to adventuring!

For any and all cocktail/beer needs:

Burk’s Web Pub, 2026 W. Webster Ave.
Jukebox, darts, $3 dollar drafts and two blocks from Ray’s. What more could ya need?

Charleston Bar, 2076 N. Hoyne 
Hip lights, a unusually good looking person is usually spinning records. If you’re cool, or want to be, this is the bar for you. 

Corner Bar, Bell and Leavitt
Sports, ten-dollar PBR pitchers. So close to Ray’s you’ll only have to brave the winter for exactly three whole seconds.

Map Room, 1949 N. Hoyne
Good coffee, better beer. I freakin’ love this bar. 

For any and all eclectic gift needs: 

Sideshow Gallery, 2219 Western Ave. 
Tarot cards, crystals, and shrunken heads, oh my!  Half art gallery, half funky gift shop, worth a look just for a full-on weird experience.
Red Balloon Toy Store, 1940 N. Damen Ave.
            Classic toys, whimsical vibes.

Three Stars Resale Shop, 2600 W. Fullerton Ave.
Looking for a mid-century modern couch that will make your apartment look straight out of Mad Men? Welp, here ya go. Really beautiful used and antique furniture. 

Staff Night Showdown

Fun fact about Ray Reiss, the namesake of Ray’s Bucktown Bed and Breakfast, he’s a crack-shot poker player. Once a year he makes a point of showing off these well-honed poker skills at staff poker night. This year, though, the staff also came to play. After a long and uphill battle of chips and wits, it was not Ray but our Manager, Kelly who came out victorious. It was truly epic, y’all. I’m sure Ray is already looking for a rematch.

That poker game wasn’t the only competition of the night. Pre-poker, we had a Taco Showdown. First, we ordered beef tacos from every taco joint within a 3/4 radius (that’s six places!). Then, we took notes and voted on the quality of tacos, and yes, I finished all six. The winners are as follows:

Aurturo’s Tacos, Western Ave. Good meat/ onion balance, great salsa.
Las Asadas, Western Ave. Great beef.
Flash Taco, Damen Ave. A hipster favorite.

And, if we’ve inspired you to either play poker or get into the Latin-American spirit, here’s some inspiration for ya:

1. National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, Humbolt Park. The only museum focused solely on Puerto Rican Culture in the US, free parking and admission, and close to Ray’s, surely the making of a lovely afternoon.

2. Pilsen Murals, Pilsen. This walk of mosaic and mural, established by the Chicago Urban Art society, makes for a lovely outing in an eclectic neighborhood.

C3PO, 1452 W. 16th Street, 2013 3. National Museum of Mexican Art, Pilsen. With one of the largest collections of Mexican Art in the US, this awe-inspiring museum is a can’t miss.

Image result for gamblers chicago

4. Horseshoe Hammond Casino, Hammond, IN. If you’re looking for a real casino experience, the drive out of Chicago is certainly worth it!

5. Gamblers, Albany Park. Darts, Poker, Pool, drink specials, what more could you ask for?

All Hallows B&B

Lions and tigers and bears? Oh yeah! It’s about that time y’all, that spooky scary time where the leaves are turning, the air crisping, and the storefront that was once the home of a dodgy Ponderosa is now a neon-orange Spirit Halloween. The biggest decision of my year is about to be made: what to be for Halloween? I’m thinking Zombie Jackie Kennedy, demon big bird, or Hot Abraham Lincoln. All the staff here at Ray’s love Halloween. I’m not sure if Ray does himself, but he’s enough of a character that he still fits in.  

Halloween in Chicago is an entire weekend extravaganza, with Halloween on a Wednesday this year, there’s no shortage of festive activities to fully tune into your witchy side. What kind of Halloweener are you? Haunted house type? Costume dance party type? Eat so much candy your body physically explodes and you turn that into a zombie costume type? All of the above?  Chicago’s got events for ya, and Ray’s will always be here to cushion your sugar fallout post- Devil’s Night. 

If you’re not a fan of Halloween, go to a few of these events and open your mind to the possibilities of becoming a fun person. I believe in you. Anyways, Halloween events as follows:

In the Neighborhood:
Looking for a safe space to get some free candy? This map of safe businesses and homes has all you need to get them sweet sweet snickers bars. 
2.    Boo-Pallooza
Dog costume contests, food, dancing, this daytime events has a ton of live music and activities to get you into the Halloween Spirit. 

Around town:
1.    Hell’s Gate Haunted House, Lockport IL
A multi-level mansion filled with horrors. There’s a fright slide, and if you find the skeleton key hidden somewhere in the mansion, your ticket is free. 
2.    Masque Macabre, North Center
Interactive, Poe-inspired theatre. As an audience member, and integral part to the show, walk through an art gallery where horror comes to life.

The Classics: 
1.    Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up, River West
Sponsored by Goose Island Brewing Company, there’s a corn maze, live performances, and good beer. Not so spooky, but definitely so fun. 
This family friendly event at Wrigley field has trick or treating, farm animals, and a screening of “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” Simple, innocent, classic Halloween fun.
You can actually see those lions and tigers and bears! Plus, crafts,  hay mountain, a Ferris wheel, live music, and fall-themed zoo activites. 

New Season, New Me

It’s been a maxin’, relaxin’ week here at Ray’s B&B. Temperatures are dropping; the jalapeño plant on the deck is in overdrive, trying to grow 15 peppers before the frost hits. We do love fall, but I find that I am always a little sad to see our busy, bright summer go. If you’re also feeling a bit of Jon Snow-dread that Winter is Coming, not to worry. Ray’s will remain cozy and pancake-ready no matter the weather, and there’s a bunch of fun, funky upcoming events around town that will keep fall fresh and exciting.            

This week two of our guests took a cooking class at Naveen’s Cuisine, right around the corner on North Avenue. They had a blast, and raved about how much they learned and how good their dish was. Naveen’s specializes in Indian and Thai cuisine, so definitely the place to go if you’re looking to spice things up- literally. 

A bit less literally, but still spicy, the Wild Party Variety Hour is a late-night cabaret show featuring risqué burlesque numbers, comedic slapstick, and who knows what else. Put on by the Silent Theatre Company on North Milwaukee Ave., if you’ve been curious about Adult Theatre, take the plunge and hit these artists up.       

Trying to pick up a new, healthy hobby this fall? The Chicago Marathon is right around the corner, Sunday October 7th. Have someone you know in the race? An app is available to track your favorite runner! Or, if a marathon is a little too wild for ya, Saturday, Sept. 27this the Bucktown 5k, a lovely little route along our neighborhood. It’s not too late to register, but if the thought of jogging makes you somewhat nauseous, try and steer clear of Bucktown that morning, parking might be a challenge. Lucky for you, the CTA Blue line has added new cars, making public transportation from Ray’s faster and more accessible than ever. 
Take the blue line a little further into Chicago for more out of the box activities, like the WNDR Museum, an art and science pop up in the West Loop. There’s a Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room, Instagram-worthy installations, everything you need for a quirky contemporary art experience. 

The resemblance to Ray: uncanny.
If you’re more of a film buff, the Music Box Theatre is having a Universal Horror series Sept. 29th– Oct 28th, it’s never too early to get ready for Halloween. Or, if you’re looking for something a little tamer, the Lincoln Park Zoo Fall Festival is happening every weekend until October 28th. Bring the kiddos for some fall themed crafts and enrichment activities. It’s fall in Chicago, there’s a little something for everyone, whether at Ray’s or the Loop!

Fallin’ for Chicago

We had a lovely Poodle, Frida, stay with us this week. Every time she walked through the building she would get a treat from Ray and pats from the staff. We were happy to spoil her with attention. Being a dog-friendly B&B has its rewards for us also!

The temperatures are dropping here in Chi-Town so guests are starting to utilize both our sauna and steam room. We joke that our sauna does not get used a lot in the summer because it’s the same as sitting outside. Although a summer steam does feel slightly more refreshing than the relentless outdoor humidity. These lower outdoor temperatures also create the perfect conditions for enjoying our rooftop deck, a regular jungle of plants and homegrown produce. On that note, if you need habaneros, we’ve got dozens of them. We’re getting too spicy over here at Ray’s. 

If you’re looking for other ways to spice up your life, besides in the vegetable department, the end of September is absolutely hip-happenin’ here in Bucktown and the greater Chicagoland. 

On Tuesday Sept. 25th, for those looking to explore the neighborhood, the 7thAnnual Wicker Park Bucktown Fall Dinner Crawl will give ticket holders a taste of nine different restaurants and bars in the area. In between dinner stops, the quirky guys from Bizarre Bucktown will lead patrons through micro-tours, so fun facts and food galore. 

If you’re looking for a little less eating, and a little more boozing, Goose Island Brewing Company is having their annual 312 Block Party on Friday Sept. 21st, and Saturday Sept 22nd. Beer, live music, and good wild company. 

Both the Wicker Park and Logan Square farmer’s Market are still in full swing for Sunday Sept. 23rd for all of your boutique farmer’s market needs.

Got kids? Saturday, Sept. 22ndis the 15thAnniversary Celebration Bubblespalooza, an all-day family fun zone with crafts, snacks, and kid-oriented entertainment.  

After the kids go to bed, check out the Gallery Cabaret, right down the street from the Ray’s. Live music, no cover every night. This place quite literally rocks. 

As always, this newfound fall weather makes old favorites like Cloudgate (the Bean) and Navy Pier, and the rest of Chicago particularly enjoyable. Double as always, Ray’s is here for all your fall bed and breakfast needs. 

Chicago Winter Wonderland

Those of us from no-winter states (shout out California!) can truly appreciate the snowy winter wonderland that Chicago is this time of year. Most of my life I thought snow was only something we saw in movies. When I’m not slipping on ice and falling on my face, I do take time to marvel at the scenic portrait a snowy December brings.

Chicago isn’t known for being subtle – the city really takes “Holiday Spirit” to the next level. Here are our picks of Chicago Holiday attractions that are worth trekking through the snow for!

Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo

Did you know that our very own Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoo’s in North America? It’s also one of the few free admission zoo’s available to the public! Every Holiday Season, the Lincoln Park Zoo adorns itself in twinkling lights. Zoo Lights is available until January 7, 4:30 PM – 9:00 PM. Enjoy some hot spiced wine, live ice sculpting and animals at Lincoln Park Zoo this winter.


A homage to a Nuremberg market founded in 1545, Christkindlmarket is a Chicago favorite. Celebrate Chicago with traditional German drinks, foods and entertainment. They even provide a scavenger hunt to learn about German Heritage available to download on their website. The market lasts in three locations (Chicago Loop, Park at Wrigley and Naperville) until Christmas Eve. 

Caroling At Cloud Gate

Let’s be clear – It’s called THE BEAN. Head over to Chicago’s favorite bean shaped mirror this Friday, Dec. 15,  and hear hundred of carolers from across our great city singing some Christmas classics!

Music Box Christmas Show 

Historic and beloved Chicago movie theater, The Music Box, will be playing a double feature (and sing-a-long!) of classics White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life all December long. Tickets are $13.00 for a single feature and $20.00 for the double feature.

Ice Skating at Millennium Park

We can’t promise you won’t fall down. Ice skating millennium park is must for Chicagoans and tourists alike. Hit the rink with friends and family at Millennium Park.

Halloween Town, USA

If your Halloween plans are already figured out, you are my idol. 
I should go as you for Halloween (…please tell me you wear comfy shoes ?). If you are like the rest of us 
and procrastinating up until the bitter end, you still have time. From Bucktown and beyond,
here are some ideas for finding the perfect Halloween costume and the perfect place to wear it! 

From our own Bucktown and Wicker Park neighborhood the following stores have great options for curating your costume. I’ve found anything from 80s sections that never end, and racks of prom and wedding dresses. To wigs that I would buy even if it wasn’t halloween, and always the classic hot dog suit. 
Zip up. Done. 
Plus so many more vintage and costume shops in Chicago! 
So if you’re caught in between wanting to achieve your best costume ever, and/or maybe just watching a scary movie on the couch. What can it hurt to peruse one more list of Costume Ideas and where to find them. And while you’re at, a list of Chicago Inspired Costume Ideas. Because maybe you already have this lying around…and if not, (Chicago) hot dog suit!

Once you’re dressed and ready to go, we have great neighborhood events leading up to Halloween: 
Our friend Gordon is back with a special Halloween edition of his Bizarre Bucktown Walking Tour! This 90 minute tour is guided by flashlight, and for this one, must be 21 or older as the tour ends with a drink at Club Lucky. Gordon dares you to ditch the dress-up ghosts and go after the real ones. I ask you to find a buddy early, because that system always works, right?

Click Here for more events in Bucktown and Wicker Park, with a special shout out to: 

  • Costume Party and Parade at Holstein Park. This park is right in our back yard and is always hosting wonderful events for the neighborhood!
  • Boo-Palooza and Trick-or-Treating on the 606. This trail has continued to gain interest since it’s construction. The flowers and greenery have come in, some seating areas now boast sculptural installations, and my favorite is the bridge overlooking Milwaukee Ave. that lights up at night. I can’t wait to see this overrun with little monsters ???and to protect from any big kids stealing candy bags because that’s not cool (and people don’t forget).              
For events in downtown Chicago the Arts in the Dark Parade is happening this Saturday, October 21! 

A nighttime parade bringing together the variety of family and culture that define Chicago, and celebrating the artistry of our city and of Halloween. It’s free, it’s family friendly, and it truly has something for everyone! From groups marching in medieval armor, to local artists creating lanterns specific to this event, and even a mariachi band. Plus! Where else can you go to a house dance party at “The Bean” and also be dressed up as “The Bean” (insert pause to reflect on or in front of that). Click Here for more information, and for costume instruction kits of course.   

From everyone here at Ray’s B&B, 
we hope you have a safe and scary, and above all else, 

This weekend Chicago!

I’ll admit it – I’m sad summer is over. This was my very first summer in Chicago and it did not disappoint. I was overwhlemed by the amount of food-themed festivals, neighborhood festivals and block parties. Every weekend brought about a new neighborhood to explore and, let’s face it, more fantastic food. Even though summer is over, we still have a lot to look forward to this fall! Here’s what to checkout this weekend in Chicago.

This weekend is Oktoberfest! Chicago welcomes you to celebrate German heritage, eat handmade  bratworst and enjoy German beers all weekend long. Get a peek at the local Chicago bands playing at this years Oktoberfest by liking the event facebook page!

Doth looketh for a laugh this weekend? iO theaters long running show Improvised Shakespeare is every Saturday at 8:00 PM. The talented ensemble will create a Shakespeare-styled play based on your suggestions.

If you’re looking to stay in the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood, check out the new Haven Lounge. A part of Den Theater, the Haven Lounge offers coffee, cocktails, food and lovely decor. Welcome to the neighborhood, Haven Lounge!

We’re always looking for new events to check out in Chicago. Let us know if you have something to recommend.

Food Destinations, Big and Small.

Our garage top deck is nearly complete, making us more of a Chicago Bed & Breakfast than ever before. 
Chicago summer is a race to covet as much outdoor, deck seating, as humanly possible.
We are so happy to offer our guests their own little piece☀☀☀

Exciting changes still to come: we’ll be transitioning to more permanent seating and larger planters, with possible green house and wood burning stove! Plus! For anyone staying in our Skylight Room, you now have direct access to the deck and garages. Your own private entrance without having to go through the B&B (pack a baseball cap and dark sunglasses to complete your celebrity on holiday look ?).

Our deck is also home to our beautiful herb garden, pictured here. These herbs help decorate each breakfast plate and are combined to season some of our omelettes and scrambles. But as much as we love breakfast, we know there are two other important meals of the day, and although they can be substituted by a 2nd and 3rd breakfast, our Bucktown and Wicker Park neighborhoods have tons of great dining options to try! 

Don’t know where to start, why not try it all? 
Buy your tickets for the 6th Annual Fall Dinner Crawl in Bucktown and Wicker Park! Scheduled for Tuesday, September 26th, 6 – 9pm. Sample small bites and appetizers especially made for you, and while you’re at it, get a guided neighborhood tour. 

(The Royal Grocer & Co. has one of Bucktown’s newest brunch menus. They are hosting a brunch with DJ Fess Grandiose on Saturday, September 23rd, noon – 4pm. Come back that same night for vinyl and cocktails, as Royal Grocer and Double Door present Saturday Evenings with Uncle El, 10pm – 2am. Both events are FREE. Check them out HERE

Want to go bigger?! 
Chicago was recently named Restaurant City Of The Year by Bon Appetit magazine, an honor given to the most innovative and exciting dining city in the country! Chicago also earned two spots on this year’s Hot 10 List where Bon Appetit selects the Best New Restaurants in America! If you’re still with me, I posted some of our favorites below. If your stomach has taken over and you’re scouring the links above, I trust you’re on a good journey ???????