Girls’ night on the Gold Coast

You know how it is: once kids enter the picture, it gets harder and harder to find time for your squad, those ride-or-die chicks who’ve been with you through everything from Braxton Hicks to losing that baby weight. But girl power is meant to be celebrated, so it’s always worth it to make some time for a girls’ getaway.

We based our girls’ night at Thompson Chicago, a boutique hotel in the heart of the Gold Coast. This luxurious space pulses with urban energy, from the dark wood and quirky knickknacks in the lobby to the unique art that decorates most visible spots. Our room, a Deluxe Lakeview Double, lived up to its name, with clear views of Oak Street Beach in the distance. Our only discussion was about who would bunk together and which lucky lady would get to sleep in a blissfully kid-free bed for once.

Although none of us consider ourselves particularly artsy, we knew we couldn’t stay at the Thompson without taking advantage of the hotel’s partnership with the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art for the Thompson Murakami Experience.

In order to feel completely spoiled, we opted to use the hotel’s car service, booked through the concierge. Our friendly driver, Murphy, drove us the half-mile drive to the museum (it’s available for up to three miles) in a sleek black Lexus, making us feel like the belles of the ball for at least 10 minutes. (If you aren’t lucky enough to visit sans kids, the cars have complimentary booster seats available for the littles in your life.)  

If you’ve been downtown lately – or on Instagram – you’ve likely seen the brightly colored flowers that are iconic to Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s work. Those happy blooms are the centerpiece of MCA’s “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” exhibit, which is at the museum through Sept. 24. The brightly colored exhibit is basically begging to be photographed and hashtagged, and you’ll want to get a girl group selfie with the iconic flowers. As part of the package – also offered through Sept. 24 – museum admission is 20 percent off, and there’s a discount in the museum store if you want to take a souvenir home.

We visited MCA in the early evening, but our dinner reservation wasn’t until 8 p.m. So there was only one solution for our growling tummies: cupcakes! Fortunately, Sprinkles Cupcakes – and its too-good-to-be-true Cupcake ATM – was right on our walk back, so we indulged in a little dessert-before-dinner action. (Shhh, don’t tell the kids!)

As for dinner, the Gold Coast practically brims with food options, from the hotel’s own Nico Osteria to the elevated Mexican food at Velvet Taco and seafood at Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House. We opted for Maple & Ash, a hip combo of food and nightlife that made us all feel much cooler than we usually do. Full disclosure: the restaurant is pretty noisy, so if you have a quieter voice, be prepared to yell. We sampled some of the most popular items on the menu, including a carefully chosen Cabernet to go with the delectable House-Made Ricotta Anglonotti, Prime Beef Meatballs and Charred Sweet Corn with bacon and basil. For dessert (Two desserts in one night? Yes, we did!), we enjoyed a caramel-soaked Bombe, which doubled as a pretty epic Boomerang post.

By the time we got back to the Thompson, the clock read a later hour than we had seen in … ahem … a while, but we still took advantage of the opportunity to turn on the TV for something other than a kids’ show (HGTV really is the ultimate indulgence, isn’t it?) before turning in for the night.

Real-life responsibilities were right there the next morning, but for a few hours at least, we got to celebrate the beauty of friendship – and the fierce women who make it all possible.

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